June 30, 2008

Another Weird Dream and Sleepless Night

My parents in their prime


I don't mean to whine, but I woke to crazy dreams again. Then I couldn't return to sleep. So I've been playing around on the computer for a couple of hours. I guess it's a good thing since I caught up on a lot of dangling issues.

I dreamt I was in high school again. In the beginning everything was great, kind of like a reunion. I hung out with my friends, marched in band, and revisited all my favorite teachers.

The dream covered what seemed to be several months of my life. Isn't it funny how some dreams go on and on yet only last a minute or so--or so the dream researchers say. Anyhow, I would go home after school every day to the home I grew up in. Oddly, I never went inside of the house.

It was a two story rock house with brown trim. It always had brown trim and any non-rock areas were painted a creamy color that matched the rock almost perfectly. In the dream, when I returned home every day, the house would be different. Either the trim would be a different color or the door would change. Even angles and gables would take on a different appearance. It was just weird.

On the last day, I was dropped off by the bus--that was the weirdest thing because I never rode the bus. My mom was walking up to the house in a bathing suit--not too odd because we had a pool. A friend of mine scampered off the bus with me and called to my mom. She turned to speak with us. She looked so young, just as she did years ago.

I stood there and never uttered a word. I just stared at my mother. My friend rattled on and on. I felt like telling her to shut up. Before I knew it mom said, "Okay" and turned back to the house. Then her appearance began to change.

My friend was pulling my arm. I pulled it away and stood watching my mother walk back to the house. Her gait began to shuffle, her back hunched over, her hair began to turn straw-like. I reached for her and screamed, "NOOO!" Then I woke up.

Why would my mind play such a dirty trick on me? It was a decent dream until the end. The last thing I want is to watch my mother age, get sickly, and die all over again. And why only a short visit with her? Where was my dad? My sister?

And what was up with my childhood home? The changes were creepy.

Thinking about it now, the dream was very isolating. I never got in the house. My family was probably in there the whole time. I really would have loved to see dad again, even for just a moment.

Oh well, it was only a dream. I shouldn't let it bother me so.
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June 27, 2008

Summer Demands, My Temptations, and Some Inspiration

This has been one crazy hectic week. I'm only just getting to writing a post here, which is unusual for me. It seems summer has taken a tug on my time. The kids are so whiny--especially the teen.

I had to take my little one in for her yearly check-up this week. They gave her 4 vaccines! Poor little thing. She was pretty brave though, until the needles did their number.

We went to Wal-Mart this week too. I really hate going there. I always spend too much. However, the teen received a gift card and alas we had to go. I held my own and looked away from all of the temptation. We were there for 3 hours so you must realize that the temptation was overwhelming.

I've been building more lenses. The more I do it, the easier it gets. I'm up to 18. I was reading through some other lenses and I decided to set the 32 goal to be accomplished by the end of summer. I was wrong about the Giant Squid number, it's 50 not 40.

The other day I stumbled across a very inspirational video.



I'll have to look into the book.

A wonderful weekend to everyone!

June 18, 2008

Squidoo Talk Time

I've been updating. I like to go through pages, check links, and decide if I'm ready to change up the format, style, or direction. I play with the blog constantly, so if you're looking for changes here you probably won't see much.

The biggest changes I've made were on the Squidoo lenses. I decided to work on those a bit since they are getting a little traffic. I was reading through some tips Squidoo has to make desirable lenses and get them to produce. So I've started applying some of the tricks and adding relevent fun applications and widgets.

I read that some lensmasters are earning quite an income from their lenses. I can see how that's possible. I can also see those top earners have bucket loads of lenses--many are similar in nature. I guess I need to make more lenses so I can cash in.

I need to gather ideas. The last few posts here have covered some topic discovery tricks I use for my articles. The lenses are different though. They're not really articles. They're more of a lead to some of my other stuff.

Right now I have two I'm working up but haven't published yet. One may not get published at all because I'm waiting for an okay to use an image. Without the image the lens would be rather lame. If I can't use it I'll just delete it.

I want to build some hobby lenses, a few more local attraction lenses, and of course a few more promotional lenses. Then comes content, which takes time. Given I'm always short of time, I've decided to start the lenses and add to them as I can to freshen them up.

On the lenses I've got up, some of my content is short. Some of the content only directs to other articles. Some of the content is pictures and links--something different I was trying.

Since Squidoo only requires 5 modules to publish a lens, you can have a table of contents, a text/write, an Amazon and eBay selling module, and a guest book--there's 5. Lens started and published tout suite.

The trick is updating the lens and adding to it over time. So much to do...

I was hoping to build 30 more lenses before June 30. If I could accomplish that I would become a Giant Squid. I don't think it will come to fruition at least not this go around. With summer, the kids, and family stuff, I can barely keep up posting to the blog twice a week--I was doing 3 but I cut back for summer break.

Maybe I could still get the lenses done... Three a day... No, I'm not even going to try. I have bigger fish to fry.

Have you built your first lens yet? Join Squidoo
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June 12, 2008

For the Love of Boating: Pass the Clean Boating Act of 2008!


I came across something that will affect my family. Something that is near and dear to the future of recreational boating. Something that will affect all recreational boaters, anglers, and charters in the United States.


If you are a boater, like boats, or have ever seen a boat, you can help. There is a Clean Boating Act that must be passed before September 30, 2008. You can read "Pass the Clean Boating Act of 2008: Protect the Future of Recreational Boating" to find out what it is about and how you can help.


For the love of boating, read the article and please take action now!

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June 11, 2008

The UC4C and Generating Article Topics

And the winner for the Ultimate Call for Content is Rodney Southern! Congratulations!

The top ten finalists and the winning article can be viewed from the AC News Team: "Ultimate Call for Content Winner and Runners-Up."

As for me, I'll just keep trying. I actually came up with several article topics from my submission, "Collaborative Media Editing is "What's Next?" for the Internet." (Now I just have to get to writing them). I believe AC was trying to push producers into thinking outside of the box with this contest, giving us free reign on article topic choice. Hopefully the trend will continue.

Generating article topics can be rough. Swubird, of Swubird's Nest, mentioned in his last comment that reading helps him come up with article topics. I use reading myself. Sometimes I read something and think, "I need to write about that."

Ideas don't just come to me from Internet reading. Junk mail, magazines, books, and sometimes even billboards give me leads. Occasionally one word will get me off on a writing spree.

I've been working on developing a wider perspective on things. For instance my article, "Go Green Eternally: Green Burials, Sky Burials, Cremation, or Promessa," developed from a conversation I had with my Father-in-law about his funeral preparations. Talking to people can generate many good article topics. Heck, even eavesdropping can give you an idea or two...

I keep a notepad handy to jot down things down when I get hit with an idea for an article. Most of my topics sit in contemplation before I actually get to writing about them. Some topics are scratched off or narrowed because they are too involved or overly done.

I'm finally figuring out the ropes at AC. They want articles readers want to read. They want articles that have good ad alignment--something I've read over and over on the forum. They want the articles to be well written with good SEO. I'm finally getting the SEO thing. With those things in place page views rise, the site makes money, and the producers get paid.

I believe I'm doing pretty well. Considering I've got a few articles that are dead, a couple of poems, seasonal, and local interest only pieces. My page view average for 51 articles is about 488 and continues to rise. Take away the poetry and the dead entries and I'd be well over a 550 average.

I need to keep up the momentum. My anniversary with AC is the end of August. I'd love to raise my average to at least the 550 to 600 range by then. Now I'm off to work on it...
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June 4, 2008

Topic to Theme: Brainstorming, Freewriting, or Clustering


My article submission for the contest (I mentioned in Friday's post) went in at about 6 pm yesterday. I did as I said; I let it sit and edited it to the bone on Monday. Yesterday morning I spent some time working on my links and finding an appropriate picture to accompany it.


I mentioned my brainstorming in Friday's post also. Since the submissions are all in, I'll tell some of what I did.


The theme was "What's Next?" Content producers had carte blanche on topic choice. I went through a myriad of ideas. I went to Yahoo and Google top searches and discovered "Stand up to cancer" was in the top ten. I mused about it for a while and decided there would be too much involved in writing about and narrowing a topic like that. However, I may do something on it in the future.


Other than cancer, the lists were like a "who's who" of the stars. I knew the UC4C might get some submissions about the stars but I don't write about people like that. My thinking was on the mark as the actual UC4C clearly stated submissions should not be about who will get pregnant next?


On that note, I did think about writing on teen pregnancy. The Spears teen pregnancy, being a mother of a teenager, and the movie Juno kind of made me sway towards it. I opted against it. Again, the topic was too large to do in 400-500 words.


I thought about work at home, blog marketing, and citizen journalism. All pretty big topics...


What I ended up doing was taking the last three thematic topics, combining them, and narrowing to something I could manage. My topic is something I have a lot of interest in and relates to photography, videography, writing, editing, and publishing.


I did my best with it. I employed all the keyword and SEO tricks I've been learning and writing about here. We'll see how it goes. The finalists are supposed to be picked today and judged through the 10th. I'll let know when my article goes live for a looksy.


Since it's Wednesday, let me throw this in for Workshop Wednesday. I know I'm cutting away from my fiction practice again, but it's all in good writing fun.


There are so many wonderful ways to come up with a topic. Brainstorming is a good one. It can be done alone or in a group. Group brainstorming is more fun because you gather more input and variation. To brainstorm you take a theme and develop topics from it. Write your topics out on a piece of paper, one after the other, as quickly as you can.


Another great way to get to a topic is freewriting. In freewriting, you just start writing. Take 10 or 15 minutes and write non-stop, without constraint from grammar or sense. Start with a keyword or phrase and go from there. Write everything you know and let it ride.


A combination of freewriting and brainstorming is clustering. Clustering takes your theme and gives you a pictorial reference of it. I never could cluster very well. One would think clustering would be my favorite since I'm more visual than anything else. Oh well, that's how the cookie crumbles.


There you have it, my textbook post on topic to theme development.

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