Jun 162014
 
Post topics to end confusion

Perplexed about something? What post topics would help?

I’ve come to appreciate the online community of writers. Authors generously sharing advice, experience, and expertise has made me feel a whole lot less of a clueless newbie. In fact, I’ve gotten so used to it, that when I face a quandary, I simply search Google to see what other authors have to posted on the topic.

The Redwoods Society was conceived for just this purpose. We’re always looking for informative articles to share with other authors. If you have expertise or an experience to share, contact us about guest posting.

In the meantime, here’s three post topics that would be helpful—at least to me. Continue reading »

May 192014
 

On cloud nineBefore I jump into my post with my mature author’s pen (or typewriter or metaphor of your choice), I’d like to share a huge WHOOPPEE and thank-you. Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life is now available! Oddly, I don’t feel the great sense of accomplishment I expected to feel. Instead, I feel an overwhelming and humbling sense of gratitude for all my supporters and cheerleaders. (If you’re one of them, read my thank you post!) Continue reading »

May 152014
 

Hell ImageI swoon for summer. I get hot for the heat. The waft of barbecue in the summer air is like an aphrodisiac. For my money, nothing beats a road trip with the windows down and a great music playlist. Yep, nothing gets my dopamine flowing better than a pleasant day. But that’s the problem. As a lifelong Michigander, I’ve come to learn that pleasant days aren’t exactly something you can plan a picnic around. Continue reading »

May 032014
 

As a follow up to Writing for SEO: Does it Ruin Good Writing?, I’d like to illustrate some painless tricks to elevate your Search Engine Optimization that will have minimal impact on your article content or writing style.

Give Search Engines Information about Your Image(s)

Easy SEO Tricks aren't magic

Easy SEO Tricks are simply ways of helping search engines understanding your content.

Two easy SEO tricks are setting your image file name and image description. When you place an image on your page, the source code of your post offers text for search engines to evaluate. If you upload an image with the filename of pic.jpg, Google finds no added value in that.

If your image is directly related to your content, help search engines out by giving your image a relevant file name. For instance, if your post is an interview with author Stephen King, your image file name should be something along the lines of Stephen-King-Author.jpg. (This is especially true of your own author photo. Always name your photos with your full name followed with the word “author.”)

When you upload and select an image to place in your post, you also have the option of setting a description for it. Most platforms call this an “alt text” or “alt title.” By including your key word phrase in your alt tag, you give Google reason to believe that your image is relevant to your content. Continue reading »

Apr 282014
 
Writing for SEO gets google results

Writing for SEO: Can writers maximize search engine results and still put their best foot forward?

Writing for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can help our content reach a maximum number of readers. But, on the other hand, we’ve developed our craft so that when readers do find us, they’ll want to read more. Do we really want to alter our writing?

‘‘ search-engine optimization
the methods used to boost the ranking or frequency of a website in results returned by a search engine, in an effort to maximize user traffic to the site… (Dictionary.com)

Does writing without regard to SEO limit our audience? Will writing for SEO ruin our craft?

The answer to both is, “it depends.”

Continue reading »

Apr 202014
 
Mug Shot

The author as “Corey Brown”

Without even trying, I tend to be attracted to literary and film characters that, like me, share a nihilistic view of life and morality. Pretty ironic, given the fact that my day job requires me to uphold and enforce laws enacted from a bunch of handed-down, subjective truths. Perhaps it’s a bit of the Preacher’s Kid Syndrome in me, but there’s a part of me that envies those pesky trickster figures that get everyone all up in a twitter. You need ‘em to challenge the status quo; to point out the ideological hypocrisies of personal values. But above all, they’re just a heck of a lot more interesting to have around.

Back in my undercover days, I had one of the most succinct, albeit brief, conversations about this very topic with the unlikeliest of persons: a coke addict. For the past month, I’d been meeting “Ken” (not his real name) in his sad, flat apartment where, beneath the seizure-inducing flicker of a dying fluorescent light, I’d hand him $160 in exchange for an 8-ball of cocaine. Quick and simple. In-and-out. Continue reading »

Apr 042014
 
Proofreading difficulties

Proofreading: this writer’s bane

Recently, a professional editor edited my manuscript. His work underscored a fact I’ve already faced. I suck at proofreading. (Before you gleefully start looking for errors, I have to confess that John and/or Justin look over my posts before I publish them.)

One repeated error arose from my ignorance of a grammar rule. You’re all probably aware that when I own up to being related to Aunt Nancy, she becomes my aunt Nancy. I wasn’t. Continue reading »

Jan 272014
 
Writing good enough critics

Is my writing good enough? Writers are often their own worst critics

Warning: This post contains hero-worship.

We all wonder if our writing is good enough. Good enough for an agent, a publisher, a reviewer, our cat.

Last fall, I followed Rachel Thompson’s exchanges with a not-to-be mentioned book guru who was slamming all self-published authors with a broad brush. She, and her commenters, made many valid counter-points (better slams). Proud as I was of Rachel (whom I met once for a few seconds at SFWC13, so we’re almost friends), I have to admit the whole episode made me quake in my boots a little. Putting my writing “out there” might just be akin to showing off the new dress my mother made to the mean girls on the playground. No Matter how great of a seamstress my mom was, mean girls are, well, …mean. Continue reading »

Jan 132014
 

DSC_0056To know in a way mortality could never award how rhythmic and intertwined the dance of night and day was. To know the Darwinistic injustice of a jay-raided nest and hear the first hymn of autumn as it roared across the valley and cry in happy sadness with the stars at night. If some period of servitude was required from all who die, and if the grand design required one to ache from the sting of life’s missteps, then let it happen here. For every meadow was its own village, every weed and sprig its own prefecture.                      

                                  –The Portraits of Gods (excerpt)

Emerging from a week spent alone in the solitude of our cabin is like stepping out from a dark theater into the bright day. Traffic lights blare like neon. Storefront windows reflect the sun like a thousand mirrors. The people on the street glance at you in passing as if sensing your struggle to readjust. When I stop for fuel, I make idle chatter with the guy at the pump next to mine and my voice sounds tinny from its underuse.

In solitude, you see life through a different filter. It’s the catalyst for creativity. Everything is stripped down. Empirical. Shedding the fear of being judged, the taint of seeking acceptance, you get to be yourself; so much so that you feel almost fraudulent when you consider the person you are when you’re with others.

There’s a transformation that takes over when I’m alone. The funny, self-deprecating guy you might encounter in social gatherings is gone, replaced by a man whom I suspect—and hope—is my essential self. Genuine. Calm. Perceptive to every nuance of my existence. Accepting in knowing that everything I see will outlast me.

Campfires by night. Hiking by day. Sitting out in a golden meadow where dragonflies dip and rise over the reeds in a summer dance. Clothing-optional dips in our lake. The truth is, I’m a better man—and writer—because of it. For as long as you don’t equate periods of being alone with sadness, the inner peace you feel from a bit of solitude makes you realize that in life, there is nothing more to wish for.

Jan 062014
 
When Inspriation hits the Grand Canyon

Do you know when inspiration hits you…

We know what’s supposed to inspire us. Nature. Music. Other things that inspire awe. But, do we really recognize inspiration when we see it? Do we recognize it when inspiration hits us?

I don’t. Especially when I hold “inspiring” to a higher standard. Inspiration isn’t just a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s what galvanizes someone to take action.

Looking back at the interactions and events that sparked a change in my life, I call them by other names. Continue reading »

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