Read Aloud Tips and Strategies

Using read-aloud tips and strategies, educators should model enthusiasm for books and reading. Both educators, and ultimately parents, play a strong role in ensuring that their young preschoolers are engaged during read aloud time.

Tips on How to Read Aloud

Think about your style of speaking. If you know that you speak quickly, for example, make an effort to slow down when you read. Conversely, speeding up a little if you tend to speak and read slowly can help keep a child engaged. Read with expression, buy stay within your comfort zone. If you are uncomfortable trying something new, your child will be too.

If you find your child losing interest feel free to skip paragraphs, paraphrase or, in some cases, stop. Remember, the object is to make your sessions fun and enjoyable. You can always come back to that story another time if you feel it is worthwhile.

Other Read Aloud Tips for Holding Interest

  • Invite your partner to guess what will happen next
  • Supply a repeated word or phrase
  • Share reading turns if he or she is able and comfortable with reading aloud
  • Vary the story lengths and the type of book
  • Allow "wigglers" to move about on the floor while you read (as long as they are quiet and attentive)
  • Invite restless preschoolers to draw or work on a puzzle while you read.
Invite children who want to share in reading aloud to do so, but do not require them to "sound it out" or "practice silent reading." Instead, you are modeling enthusiasm for books and reading for your young preschoolers.

Tips on Choosing Read Alouds

  • When choosing books, strike a balance between following the children's preferences and inviting some of them to try new types of books. Some children can never hear too many dinosaur stories, others may love fairy books. Follow their lead, but also introduce an occasional book of a different sort to expand the children's horizons and spark new interests. Say "This looks like a good story. Let's give it a try!" This can be the beginning of exciting new discoveries. If the children express disappointment, however, either verbally or in body language, move on to something else.
  • Try to also read books that speak to different family ethnic backgrounds or family situations. Use the backgrounds of your ELLs (English language learners) to guide you. It is reassuring to hear about people from one's own ethnic group. It is also interesting of course, to hear about other peoples and places.
  • Do not hesitate to repeat children's favorite stories. By hearing a story again and again, soon even a little child is able to "read" it by heart and feel like a reader.
  • From time to time, read stories just out of your child's skill range. Younger children enjoy listening to books beyond their own reading skills and older preschoolers enjoy revisiting a good book even if it is well below their skill or age level.
  • Expand your choices beyond commonly held views of "boy" and "girl" books. Well written and interesting stories will hold the attention of children, whatever the subject or the gender of the central character.

Teaching Read-Aloud Tips: What to Avoid
  • Be cautious about reading scary stories until you know the child well enough to gauge whether he or she would enjoy them. Many five-year-olds and older children like the ghoulish, but others are genuinely traumatized by certain stories. Beware, especially, of frightening illustrations. Adults often remember being truly frightened in childhood by a picture in a book.
  • Watch for television or film versions of good children's books. Some media version may be too violent and not captivating for a young reader.
Remember, good read-alouds should foster early literacy, so you'll want to model your enthusiasm for books and reading for the children. Keep creating enjoyable, participatory literacy experiences that nourish a child's growth as a reader and writer.

Creative Writing MFA - Do You Really Need One to Be a Writer?

There has been a debate in the literary world for a long time about whether writing is something that can be taught or if it is a subject beyond teaching and that "real writers" are just born. To my way of thinking this is a silly argument. Just as any other art can be taught, writing can be taught. That said, there is such a thing as innate talent, and that is perhaps a little harder to define and in some ways is perhaps not teachable. What I mean is this - painters like Picasso and writers like Hemingway, had a certain measure of innate talent that would have been there without formal training, but, through training and development their talents flourished. Picasso did have formal instruction in art before he left his native Spain, and Hemingway, while not studying at what one would term a traditional writing college, chose to develop his skill as a writer by working as a newspaper reporter and war correspondent.

This brings me to the point about training to be a writer. Is it necessary to obtain an MFA in creative writing in order to become a writer? Of course not. MFAs are not for everyone, and some writers would be set back or stifled by the rigid structure within an MFA program. Hemingway's style of writing is not one that an MFA program would likely produce. In fact, there has been criticism of late that MFA programs produce bland, tepid writing where all the angst filled stories of contemporary life sound alike. In other words, in order to succeed in an MFA program, writers learn to write stories that sound like MFA program stories.

Jack Kerouac is another example of a writer who found his own way to learn his chosen craft of writing. When he was still in high school, Kerouac decided that he wanted to be a writer above all else. The story goes that he got a copy of a story collection by William Saroyan and had the epiphany that one could write about everyday life and make it interesting art. Saroyan wrote about starving in San Francisco and living poor and on the edge in Fresno. Kerouac's "ah-ha" moment was that he could write about Lowell, Massachusetts and about the people he knew there. His fist book, one that is not read enough, was an exploration of a family's life in a fictionalized Lowell and New York City, called "The Town and the City".

Kerouac, like Hemingway, had some innate talent, but both worked hard to develop what they had. Neither attended an MFA program nor graduated from college, but both worked hard to learn their craft and how to write effectively. Kerouac wrote for several hours daily. One summer, Kerouac set himself the goal of writing a story a day no matter what. The book, "From Atop an Underwood" includes many of the short pieces he wrote during this period of intense writing-study. Hemingway, in similar fashion, went to Paris and filled notebook after notebook with stories and notes, all in the quest to become a writer. So, do you need to attend an MFA program to become a good writer? No, but you do have to decide on what will develop you into the type of writer you want to be, and then find the discipline to carry out your plan. For many of us it is writing every day and taking each piece of writing seriously. Look for models around you in the writers you love to read. What did they do? How did they develop as writers? Who were their mentors and models?

In the end, becoming a writer is an individual path and each of us has to find what works for us. It may be that an MFA is what you need in order to develop as a writer, and it may be that you need to establish a serious writing discipline and a particular method unique to you as a writer. In the end it is about desire and commitment. If you really want to be a writer commit to learning what you need to learn and then start off on your path with the will to stay the course no matter what.

Teaching a Memoir Workshop - Easy is Usually Not Best

In leading memoir writing workshops, the teacher's task is to help individuals to go through and beyond two kinds of barriers to their writing: the technical and the psychological blocks that keep them from success. Our job is to facilitate our participants' arrival at a point where they are able to "own" their stories, to acknowledge their life stories as they are and to accept themselves as they are.

A technical barrier to grasping the meaning of the work might be a writer's lack of familiarity with using varied or complex sentence structure. A psychological barrier would be a a writer's reluctance to search out and tell the truth of the story, or to identify and sustain the persona in which s/he writes.

It is not easy to deal with these hard issues, to take hold of the moment in the workshop when these points present themselves and to insist that the author and the group deal with them.

But I am always struck by how grateful workshoppers are when we hold them to high standards.

People will say, "I never knew writing was so hard" or, "So this is what writers do. I always wondered what the big deal was--I guess it's harder than I thought." Sometimes it's an "aha!" moment of recognition; other times, the awareness comes quite slowly as writers leave the workshop session and return to the story that challenged them.

The moment of gratitude is often later--after considerable struggle in which the teacher has refused every opportunity to overlook difficulties and has pushed and pushed. It is reassuring to experience, once again, that one's responsibility is not to "be nice." A teacher's job is to do all s/he can to help people to record honest, meaningful, and interesting personal and family stories.

To do that job, the memoir teacher must focus workshops on the present and purposely give stories back to those who lived them. This is not easy; there seems to be an impulse (in every one of us!) to write a smaller, easier version, to let the writer stay comfortable and unchallenged. In fact, it is my experience that most lifewriters are at first content to write smaller stories than the ones they lived. Recently, when I pointed out that there were discrepancies in the emotional tone of a workshopper's story, she replied quite easily, "Well, no, it didn't happen that way. I put that ending in because it made it easier to wrap up the story."

It is the teacher's task to challenge the impulse to do less, to be less of a writer. It's the leader's job to see to it that writers don't "get away with" writing the smaller, shorter, easier, TV-movie version of their life stories. Rewriting, inevitably, is what allows the story to become larger and deeper, to assume its real size and shape. When we fail to urge our participants towards the fully examined, fully expressed meaning of their stories, we are settling for being less fully realized as teachers and writers ourselves.

When a teacher holds out for the larger, often more complex and difficult story, writers seem--if sometimes only later--to appreciate the effort. This is true leadership in a workshop, for it is only the instructor who can and should affirm his/her authority by saying, "You can do more. Let's examine how."

Good luck with your teaching.

Fitness and Health Industry Writers and Public Relations

If you are in the Health Care Industry or Fitness Industry did you know you can get free articles for your newsletters without paying free-lance writers those outrageous fees? There are many on-line free-lance writers who write articles for 100s of dollars and if you are paying them, then you are wasting your money. Why?

To tell you the truth most of there stuff really is not that good. In fact one writer I know of; she writes PR stuff for the Health Industry out of Arizona and charges exorbitant fees and even teaches other writers how to hold businesses out for ransom for the largest fees; so much for professional parasites?

Sounds like writers have turned into a bunch of lawyers by their billing hours? Sheesh. You can go online and look for Ezine Articles or Free Content Articles, then simply click on the Health and Fitness Sections and get real; "Free-Lance" articles, do not pay professional writers for your articles that you need.

And certainly if you are in the Health and Fitness Industry do not do it. It is one of the largest categories of articles out there, with thousands to choose from. Never pay another Health and Fitness writer again. They charge too much, put out questionable work and only slightly better than average content. Stop over paying and start saving money on your content. Consider all this in 2006.

The Whys and Wherefores of Writing

I bought a collection of short stories last night by the American writer, James Lee Burke. It was the last of Mr Burke's books, to complete my collection. It's called The Convict and Other Stories. In his Introduction: Jailhouses, English Departments and the Electric Chair, he writes about his own experience as a writer; the rejections, the defiance, the drinking, the teaching and then his inability to learn.

James Lee Burke is not only one of the most successful detective crime writers alive today, he's also one of the best living American writers. His powers of description are breathtaking and he can stop you breathing with the emotion of a moment. He stands with John Steinbeck and Kurt Vonnegut Jr as my all time, favourite American authors.

I've learned from all three of these writers and many more. One of the first lesson any writer learns, is to become a reader, then, an observer. Sometimes, after reading someone like Burke, I'd begin to think there was nothing I could write about to match someone like him. Louisiana, Texas and Montana - his favoured locations - just seemed to have that much more going for them. John Steinbeck wrote about hobos and the dust trail from the Texas panhandle to the Californian fruit fields, migrant workers and underground agitators. Kurt Vonnegut wrote about soldiers and aliens. Desperation set in if I thought about my own paltry settings.

Then I realized I wasn't looking at things from the right angle. I could say James Joyce taught me that, but I won't. I've read big chunks of Ulysses and the short story collection, Dubliners. But it took me four weeks to get through 15 pages of Ulysses on my first attempt. Brendan Behan and Sean O'Casey taught me a valuable lesson. Stories are not just on your doorstep; they're in your head. You have to get them out. I've got more pleasure out of reading John McGahern, William Trevor, Sebastien Barry and Joe O'Connor. These are writers who understand scene and setting. Roddy Doyle has the same talent.

Reading can satisfy writers, but it also makes them restless. Restless, to get their own words and thoughts down in print. And that makes the difference between a reader and a writer. Every reader will entertain the thought of being better and more able than a writer, to capture the moment of their lives that encapsulates their thought processes and sums up their existence. It is the writer who writes it.

Tips on Breaking Through Writer's Block

Many writers have said I have a fertile imagination. But what good is a fertile imagination when trying to write through writer's block?

Most recently, I came face to face with an almost empty screen with just one paragraph of text. I noticed writer's block starting to set in. Had I reached the end of my creativity for the day?

When that happened I did a couple of things that seemed to help put an end to my writer's block.

Many writers I know can write amid all sorts of clutter. But, I am the kind of person that gets easily distracted by piles of laundry that need to be folded, mail that must be sorted, or newspapers and magazines that start to pile up in the corner. So I started cleaning out some of this clutter so I could focus on my writing. I took time out to clean out!

When my workspace was finally in order and free of clutter, I still couldn't seem to write. I knew right then and there that one of 2 things was probably at fault.

For the children's story I was writing, I came to the realization that I didn't know my characters well enough and that was why they weren't cooperating and doing what I want them to do.

I backed away from the story and started to learn more about my characters. I opened my journal to a fresh page and made a list of questions to ask them. Then I sat down and answered the questions as if my characters were answering them. Usually, as I'm doing this I gain some new insight about my characters and that insight helps me get back on track with the story.

For the teaching article I was struggling with, I checked for two things:

• Do I have enough information? Maybe I need to locate a few more sources.

• Once I thought I had plenty of information, then usually the problem is with the way I'm trying to structure the piece. I analyzed the structure to see if the information I had seemed to fold into that particular structure. When I realized that was the problem, I restructured the article (or that chapter, etc.), and after a while, I was able to get back on track.

But the real secret cure to Writer's Block is to just learn to relax and let the words flow. When I am relaxed, I let go of all expectations and allow myself to write all sorts of junky stuff! I purge my system and when I do that, I notice the good stuff starting to surface.

So if you're finding that your writing just isn't going anywhere, perhaps you need to declutter, get to know your characters, redo the structure for your material or just write like the wind! And eventually, the writing will flow and magic will start to happen.

Make Money Teaching and Coaching Others to Write

Professional writers can make extra money, earn a living or even create a new career for themselves by becoming writing coaches or teaching others to improve their writing, the number one skill many job seekers need to sharpen.

A survey by the National Writing Project--the premier effort to improve writing in America, which is located on university campuses, serving more than 135,000 educators annually--supports the need for increasing writing education in American classrooms and among the general populace in the United States. "The survey clearly demonstrates that the public understands that writing is a critical skill, one that must not be ignored," said Richard Sterling, executive director of the National Writing Project. "Americans also recognize that to teach writing well, teachers need access to quality professional development. These findings underscore all the recent reports about the importance of writing-from business leaders and from educators themselves. The word is out: writing must be an integral part of the curriculum."

Recognizing the need in the marketplace for writing skills, professional writers can chose from a list of options to market themselves as writing instructors to teach people who are looking to achieve employment or advancement in their current positions. Schools, city colleges and local universities are places for prospective writing instructors to investigate. Do not be afraid to offer your writing instruction skills to educational institutions, even if you do not have a teaching credential or formal teaching experience because your ability to teach writing and communication skills to others is in the highest demand.

Often writers are invited to teach writing classes, especially writers who have written a book or have written for a long list of publications. However, these invitations to teach do not drop from the sky into our laps. We must seek them out. If there is no position for which you can apply, use your writing skills to prepare a proposal that describes the course you would like to teach and discuss how you will go about teaching the course. Extension departments at colleges and universities are often more receptive to outside teaching proposals from prospective instructors because extension departments usually are not required to make long-term commitments to its instructors.

As a prospective teacher, you must decide upon your focus, using your own interest and skill levels to determine what and how you plan to teach your course. When writing your course proposal, remember, the title of your proposed course will help you to sell the course to the persons in charge, usually a committee that must agree upon new course offerings. So, treat your course title the same way you treat the proposed title of any article you are submitting to a publication. The title must be attractive to potential readers of a publication and potential students of a course. Readers and students are sources of income for institutions and publications. In either case, your title must be intriguing enough to attract attention, even if it is renamed later, which is what usually happens.

Include in your proposal a list of your publications with abstracts or article summaries, publication contributions, publication names and dates. Also list your speaking engagements to show your experience in front of groups. Lead with the speaking experience in front of classes, if any. Don't forget to list small gathering where you have spoken to book clubs, church groups and social organizations. They all count, especially if your list of publications is thin or dated.

Update your resume, include some published clips, and send it to a school. If you decide to prepare and email an e-proposal with hyperlinks to your web page or links to other internet documents about you, and your publications and career, also send a hard copy of the proposal to the appropriate person. Some schools and organizations are not prepared to take advantage of all the features that an e-proposal can provide. Do your research to make sure you target the right audience. And, if you do not have a web page, consider creating one.

Do not limit your teaching realm to the classroom. You can be a writing coach in your home, in your office, on the telephone or over the internet by appointment. Teach groups of students or take students individually, whichever suits your style. Basic writing and communication skills are needed by a variety of potential students. Those skills may range from simple grammar or spelling lessons to the use of word processing software and internet research. Do not try to include too much information in one course, whether you are in the classroom or your living room. Pick a topic and cover it thoroughly. Design your private classes in your home or office to suit your students' needs. Some may need to learn to write press releases or advertising copy. Others may need to learn how to write letters to raise funds. Still others may need to learn to write formal reports and grants.

When advertising yourself as a writing coach or instructor, indicate lessons for which you can confidently offer competent coaching and training. Meeting this requirement will increase your chances to obtain classroom opportunities to teach writing and also help you to gain status as a writing coach in your local or global community.

Creative Writers Learn Best From a Mentoring System

Creative writing is a finely honed skill. We can temper it and study it until we are blue in the face, and we still will not have plummeted its depths. That is what makes it so fascinating.

Many writers go to the traditional educational system to sharpen their skills. While there is nothing wrong with that (and indeed, this writer applauds all efforts of learning), not everyone can afford that approach. Nor is it necessary to spend multiple thousands of dollars per year to learn the writing trade - not when mentoring is available; and now it is.

America seems to have forgotten from whence she came. It wasn't the college-educated people who founded our country. It was pioneers who perhaps didn't have the best handle on the English language, but certainly knew more about building new lives and government than their forefathers.

In a space-age world, should the lack of a diploma, a cap and a gown, disqualify mentored teaching? Perhaps not, as there are many inadequate teachers in the public school system whose diploma, cap and gown have failed to qualify them.

In fact, the overall population is so disconcerted with traditional education that over one million disgruntled families mentor their children at home. We might ask the question: Do parents qualify as mentors? Indeed, some are high school dropouts; nevertheless, they seem to get the job done. The National Home Education Research Institute reports show mentored children outscored their public school counterparts by 30%.

Perhaps the real question is, what qualifies a person to teach? According to the dictionary, teaching is "imparting knowledge of or skill in; giving instructions". By definition, trained mentors would certainly qualify as bonafide teachers.

Staunch, dyed-in-the wool supporters of college bred teachers may not realize that Abraham Lincoln attended school only a few months; George Washington had the equivalent of an elementary school education; Davy Crockett, who was elected to the State Legislature, had almost no formal education; the eloquent diplomat, statesman and scientist, Benjamin Franklin, quit school at the age of ten, and Thomas Edison, the father of 1,093 patented inventions, only briefly attended school.

None of these great people were uneducated, however. They were the product of a mentoring system.

Productive Article Writing - Teaching Article Writers to Write Best Selling Ones

It is no more of essence to debate the powers that lie behind article writing as a marketing tool. Business people coming from various generations and era all agree that there is a certain pull that article writing does that makes it a life lasting marketing instrument. Truly, this fact remains a great insight that no business tycoon or empire can ever contest to. However, as the demands for article materials have gone stiffer due to the evolving needs and wants of the consuming public, certain and specific details in the method of writing an article were mandated to be modified and enhanced. The following enhanced tips and techniques are best suggested to address the growing needs of the readers.

o Make sure that you create an outline that will structuralize your article content. By allowing for an outline to be made, you are able to concentrate on giving emphasis on the details of the article. This means that with the use of the outline, the article writer can now be able to list down the specific details of the material eliminating the chances of overlooking some essential details or specifics in the content.

o When writing the article, stick with the outline. Make a general division of the content to be made either by priority or interest. But I would suggest that you as a writer should start focusing on doing the major parts or components of your article based on the outline.

o In writing the article, remember to write for your readers and not for yourself. The information that you wish to convey with your readers are the things that you already know. Therefore, it is essential that you think about how readers will be able to catch the information through you as a medium or channel of communicating your own ideas.

Creative Writing Teach With No Book Published - Fine No Tenure They Said

Well, enter the world of publish or perish I thought to myself as a brilliant creative writing professor from the university told me her true life tale. You see, she taught creative writing at the University extension center, but she had not published any fictional works of her own after many years of teaching, and therefore could not get tenured, and since the pay wasn't that great, she quit.

That's really too bad I thought to myself, and as a writer, I think I might've gotten off my butt, realizing that my future depended on it, along with my retirement and pension, and come up with a novel, even if it meant slaving away and locking myself in a room.

Of course, I am on my side of the fence, and she is on hers, and it's easy to make a judgment calls when you're not in the middle of things. It makes sense that the university would want their professors, especially in creative writing to have published works, as those paying for those degrees, and their parents who may be footing the bill will want success of their own, and they will want to learn from those who have achieved. Even if there is a big difference between teaching and doing.

Now then, I have purchased the writer's guide every year since 2002, and I have noted that many of the companies that were publishing fictional works in 2002 are no longer in business today, and it seems like every week or so I read about another publishing company, major newspaper, or even a textbook publisher going out of business or filing bankruptcy. This makes it very hard for those that need to publish or perish, especially if they need to write more than just research reports, studies, and papers. You see the point there, and how hard it would be today to get a publisher? Not easy, not even a little bit, and I don't care who you know.

Having belonged to a rather large and well-known writers club in the past, I know how difficult it is to get published - I've heard all the stories. I've also talked to Screen Writer's Guild members and the tough time they had selling their first screenplay. It's not easy, and if you are teaching at a university, most of your mind and your time is taken up on other things - just think of the onslaught of reading all your student's work - major time commitment, and that's an understatement.

Thus, this additional burden to get published is going to get tougher in the future. Further, I imagine the universities are making the requirements tighter because they are having problems themselves staying within their budget, and trying to keep the tuition costs down. This means that bar keeps getting higher - ouch.

What does all this mean? It means that a good many University writing professors, and professors of literature may have a more difficult time in the future with the academia standard that we know as; Publish or Perish. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Teaching Article Writing - How to Teach Aspiring Writers to Produce Award-Winning Articles

If you're tired of writing articles, I suggest that you move your cheese and make money by sharing what you know to other people. Teach aspiring writers, particularly those who want to make money online on how to create award-winning articles that can help in growing their ebusiness. If you're really good and if you're genuinely interested in helping each of your clients, there is no doubt in my mind that you'll be able to make thousands of dollars in this endeavor. Here's how you can get started:

1. First, choose your medium. What medium do you want to use in teaching your potential clients? Do you want to use the internet or the phone? Perhaps, you want to send courses through emails or you may want to conduct live seminars and training programs. Just make sure that your chosen medium compliments the preference of your target audience.

2. Choose your clients. It's important that you select the people that you'll be serving. Would you want to teach those who are beginners or those who need advanced tips and techniques? Knowing your target audience early on can help you make your courses, seminars, and trainings more effective and more targeted.

3. Talk to your clients. Before you design your seminars or trainings, make sure that you consult your clients first. Although you may already have an idea about their learning needs, it's still better if you just make sure. Ask them exactly what they would like to learn. This can help you save time in the process while you make your courses more focused.

How Exciting It Is When A Leader Is Told Where To Go And What To Say And Speak And Teach!

There is so much contemporary leadership could learn and apply from the opening words of this prophetic book, which is inspired by a leader and written by an experienced leader and it can be applied to all in leadership no matter in what area that leadership is being exercised.

I have been reading and studying carefully the opening words of the book of Revelation with regard to modern day leadership and I discover in these opening sentences an atmosphere and indication where John the 90 year old writer is filled with humility as he places himself on the same level as all the other disciples of Jesus.

Humility is not a very obvious characteristic among today's local and national and international leaders.

John is the last of the twelve disciples still alive. We read of Peter, James and John.

He is the only one left on earth who had walked with Jesus. All the others had gone.

He is in prison on the isle of Patmos off the west coast of Turkey because of the Word of God and testimony of Jesus. Here we see something of John's uncompromising stand for Jesus and His Word, as he experiences suffering pains and kingdom power and patient endurance. They all go together! But do they do so among today's leaders?

It was and is a privilege to suffer for the Name of Jesus. It is not a complaint. You will get suffering and you will be marginalised.

Imagine hearing a voice saying "I AM". The voice sounded like a trumpet, which calls and attracts one's attention. This is the book of trumpets, piercing and penetrating at times.

Trumpets have to emit a clear certain sound. This can happen when you are worshipping in the Spirit. The enemy was seeking to win by brutal persecution, and by isolation, but the Holy Spirit overrules and furthers the work of Jesus Christ.

Now, there is a word to the Church to challenge and exhort and encourage and teach, and it can be applied to every leader too.

Trumpets are often connected with being summoned for some specific purpose.

You can be alone with God in a service, and you see something, and you hear something, and you are alone with God, and shut in with God, and only the two of you know it. You are on a different wavelength.

John is commanded to write. God does tell you what to do! Jesus requires you to do certain things, even when you are 90! Leaders know how to obey commands as well as issue command and that never stops nor ceases.

Learn to do now what Almighty God wants you to do so that you will be able to do it at 90 if He calls you and commands you.

Normally the commands are - write - speak - go there, now.

This is what happened in my own life only a year ago when it was made so clear to me that I had to return and speak and teach in Kenya and out in the slums and jungle areas where it is not very pretty nor safe.

But, I went and how exciting it was to teach young leaders who wanted to be taught.

Fitness and Health Industry Writers and Public Relations

If you are in the Health Care Industry or Fitness Industry did you know you can get free articles for your newsletters without paying free-lance writers those outrageous fees? There are many on-line free-lance writers who write articles for 100s of dollars and if you are paying them, then you are wasting your money. Why?

To tell you the truth most of there stuff really is not that good. In fact one writer I know of; she writes PR stuff for the Health Industry out of Arizona and charges exorbitant fees and even teaches other writers how to hold businesses out for ransom for the largest fees; so much for professional parasites?

Sounds like writers have turned into a bunch of lawyers by their billing hours? Sheesh. You can go online and look for Ezine Articles or Free Content Articles, then simply click on the Health and Fitness Sections and get real; "Free-Lance" articles, do not pay professional writers for your articles that you need.

And certainly if you are in the Health and Fitness Industry do not do it. It is one of the largest categories of articles out there, with thousands to choose from. Never pay another Health and Fitness writer again. They charge too much, put out questionable work and only slightly better than average content. Stop over paying and start saving money on your content. Consider all this in 2006.

Create Your Author Platform to Hook a Literary Agent Or Publisher and Land a Book Contract

Unpublished and hungry for a book contract? Present yourself to literary agents and book publishers so as to stick in their minds. So that they will tell you, "Send me your manuscript. I want to read it."

1: Create and hone delivery out loud of a 3-minute pitch for your unpublished book project.

Sample fiction pitch (thanks to New York Times Book Review and author's website): "An Afghan-American returns to Kabul to learn how his friend has fared under the Taliban" is my first novel's story. I was an 11-year-old, thin-framed seventh-grader when I left Afghanistan with my family. I returned recently to Kabul after completing my manuscript, traveling as a 38-year-old physician residing in Northern California, a writer, a husband and father of two. My name is Khaled Hosseini. May I send you a synopsis and 50 opening pages for my manuscript titled The Kite Runner? Here is my business card."

Sample nonfiction pitch: "I am in my 80s, an accomplished working painter with studios in Paris and New York, as well as a published writer and poet, and a feminist. From the age of 22 in the 1940s, I lived for a decade with Picasso, left him, and then raised two of his children. I have since been married to the painter Luc Simon and to Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine. My name is Fran├žoise Gilot. May I send you a book proposal with sample chapters for my memoir? Here is my business card."

For practice, visit online the New York Times Book Review's and other best-seller lists, study the one-sentence blurbs, make up one pitching your own work. Practice your pitch at home in front of a mirror, with fellow writers, with friends and family, with strangers you meet in bookstores. Practice your pitch until your delivery is confident, short, sweet, and perfect.

2: Create a do-it-yourself website and start blogging. Launch an ezine, develop a following, and capture the visitor data. Keep writing your book.

3. Design author business cards and an email signature that include your 3-minute pitch and all your contact information, your blog, your website, your ezine. Keep these cards with tape and thumbtacks on your person, at work, in your car at all times. Hand your card out to everyone everywhere. Post your cards in coffee shops, on library notice boards, online at writers' communities.

4. Develop an author-platform database using information and cards you collect from people that you meet and who visit your website. Reach out personally and get to know the managers and buyers for your local chain and independent booksellers.

5. Contact book review editors across the country, from very local to very national, and start reviewing books for them off- and online using a byline with your "forthcoming" book's title, your URL, ezine, and blog. Add these names to your platform database. Keep writing your book.

6. Write 250- to 500-word personal essays, short stories, articles about your book's subject using a byline with your "forthcoming" book's title, your URL, ezine, and blog. Send copies to agents and editors you have targeted, to fellow bloggers, eziners, webmavens, your local booksellers.

7. Join writers' and publishers' groups and volunteer. Write for the newsletters and insert your byline. Agree to help out at events and to escort speakers to and from lectures. Exchange business cards with everyone you meet. Add all to your platform database.

8. Research author readings and writers' conferences within driving distance of your house and attend them. Become a regular. Go for coffee with people you meet there; exchange business cards; write print and online reviews of the published books of the authors you meet to spread your byline around. Add more entries to your database. Attend conferences and publishing trade events and shows farther and farther from home. Network. Network. Collect business cards. Add to your database. Keep writing your book.

9. Find your way online to bloggers and writers interested in book publishing. Cross-link web sites and expand your database with addresses and links to people who read, write, sell, and publish books. Keep writing your book.

10. Give a talk on your subject at local libraries, to elementary and high school Language Arts or other classes. Teach adult-ed workshops on writing, blogging, ezining, and book reviewing. Make certain your full byline appears in course catalogs and websites. Hand out your business cards to students. Collect the addresses of every attendee and add them to your database. Keep writing your book.

11. Expand your website with new pages for your bylined online or in-print pieces to download, your writer's activities and schedule (volunteer events count!). Offer free online teleseminars and workshops. Keep writing your book.

12. Go for it, so we can buy your book when it is published and catch you on Oprah. Good luck!

Teaching Article Writing - How to Create an Instructional Ebook For Aspiring Writers Part 2

1. Practice what you preach. If you want your readers to take you seriously, make sure that you practice what you preach. For example, you cannot tell them to keep their paragraphs short if your paragraphs contain 15++ sentences, right?

2. Encourage hands-on practice. Ask your readers to put what they're learned into practice. Give them relevant activities after each chapter. For example, you can ask them to create sample titles after discussing how to create killer titles.

3. Topics to cover. Make sure that you do not skip any of these topics no matter how obvious they may sound to you: how to write killer titles, how to choose the best topics, how to research topics efficiently, how to start writing each article, how to put together sensible content, how to make words flow smoothly, how to make articles short, concise, and scannable, how to properly optimize articles, and how to end the article with a bang!

4. Encourage your readers to ask questions. Make these people feel that you're truly interested in helping them learn the ropes of article writing by giving them an email address where they can send their inquiries to should they get confuse with some of the instructions on your eBook or should they require more information and guidance. Make sure that you reply to them promptly. Although this is not really necessary, this is one way of building longer business relationship with your clients.

5. Encourage regular practice. Emphasize the need to practice everyday. Tell your readers that this can surely help in speeding up the learning process.

Tao, Zen, and Writer's-Mind

This morning I sat across from a friend of mine at the breakfast table. Shoving hard-boiled eggs into his mouth with one hand and gesticulating with the other, he garbled dryly at the same time, "How is a writer's state of consciousness different from anyone else's? How do you," he aimed his crooked finger at me, "become inspired?"

His question amazed me, and not in the least because of those roundly stuffed cheeks.

I selected an egg out of the bowl sitting between us and held it up with my thumb and forefinger in the early morning light. I cracked the shell, though not before noticing a fine-grained texture and feeling the weight of the warm white oval resting in my palm. "Have I ever told you the story of how a single egg destroyed the finest barn ever raised in the Midwest?" I asked my friend. "You see, my great-grandfather, Wiley Vaslexi, was not a man who did things in a small way. It seems he and Lenin struggled over a fundamental disagreement; Grandpa Wiley left Russia because the party would not allow him to run the revolution by himself. So, instead," I said, concentrating on peeling my egg, "he became a chicken rancher in the Midwestern United States. And being a rancher in the grand style - my great-grandmother never clear on what defined the grand style, and Grandpa Wiley having only a handful of diseased, naked chickens - he invested their life savings in building the finest, most prodigious barn the Bible Belt had ever seen.

Neighboring farmers and ranchers traveled from all over the territory to stand gawking at Grandpa Wiley's shocking example of contemporaneous architecture, scratching their jaws in wonder. 'Why, I believe, sir, that Noah himself, taking instruction from the Almighty, could not have built such a fine barn,' the county preacher said to Grandpa. It stood a proud red and white affair planted solidly against the sky, and at night Grandpa Wiley threw a giant switch handle, and twenty-six spotlights blazed its wide sloping roof before shadows of the gently rolling fields and flat lands. 'But, if I might inquire, Mr. Vaslexi,' the preacher asked, 'what will you put in it? The chickens live in their hen houses, and you only have two horses and one cow. If you were of the faith, I'd say it's dandy for prayer meetings, but...' and the preacher clasped his bony hands together in a gesture of hopelessness, because in such hard times as these every inch of space remained precious, every farm animal worth its weight in gold; and a chicken rancher could not afford to lose one chicken or a single egg. While better men than my great-grandfather were starving, no one dared plumb the mystery of why Grandpa Wiley spent his hard earned money on a barn the size of Nebraska instead of increasing his number of chickens and selling more eggs. Whenever asked, Grandpa smiled and said softly, 'I have a plan.'

In Russia, Lenin sat my great-grandfather on a horse, because in Russia everyone knew. But in America, no one knew, and one day when Grandpa Wiley went to town to purchase an automobile with the last of his fortune, they sold it to him. Of course, Grandpa couldn't drive.

That afternoon, Grandpa Wiley came barreling down the road leading into his ranch in a forty-five mile per hour swerving dust cloud. Since leaving town for the chicken ranch, the automobile refused to spin more than two tires on the road at any time, and the other two plowed ditch dirt first on one side and then the other; and it grew inexplicable to Grandpa why 'The Machine', as he called it, continually built up speed until the wind in his eyes nearly blinded him. He would have liked to stop The Machine, but he couldn't decide whether to turn the key or step on one of those odd shaped pedals down by his feet, or both, and quickly picking up speed with the wind in his eyes made choosing impossible.

Closing on the yard he panicked, twisting the wheel this way and that, knowing he'd built a barn with nothing in it, knowing he'd bought The Machine intending to park it in the barn so that he'd have something in it, but not knowing how to drive it there - all of this, and then he saw the egg. It sat small, round, and white in the middle of the road during such hard times when better men than he were starving.

Grandpa Wiley wouldn't run over the egg and couldn't turn off The Machine. He did the only thing he could do; he turned the wheel and The Machine smashed into the barn at fifty miles per hour taking one wall and three quarters of the roof and twenty-one of the twenty-six spot lights with it into the gently rolling fields and flat lands of the Bible Belt.

After that, and at the prodding of my great-grandmother, Grandpa Wiley Vaslexi apologized by special letter to Lenin, who being a revolutionary in the grand style, took him back into Russia and returned him to his horse; and that is the story of how a single egg destroyed the greatest barn ever built in the Midwest."

I picked the last speck of shell off my hard-boiled egg, smiling at my friend who stared speechless at the white shiny oval. He had ceased chewing and his hands rested on the table. I said, "You ask me how I, a writer, become inspired. I ask, my friend, how is it that you do not?"


Now, at the risk of using a few well-worn words like 'Zen' and 'Tao', I want to put this writing we do in a philosophical perspective, and this is important because the world is not only as it is, but also, it is as we perceive it to be, or, a mountain is not only a mountain, then again, it is a mountain. So, listen.

Writing with clarity and courage, we become as children witnessing the spectacle of a three-ring circus for the first time. Without preconceptions, the hues, textures, tastes, odors, actions, sounds, and silences perform magic, and we take no detail for granted because we have no notion of what to expect; the professional writer is perpetually beginning - this is writer's-mind. With the mind of a beginner on the journey of life, the world reveals itself as wonder opening into wonder. Sensing the universe through writer's-mind, no such animal as writer's block can shake its woolly mane. Only expert's block exists - been there, done that block. A writing expert suffocates between the pages of a closed book.

Ordering our fiction through writer's-mind means participating in a universe of potential, an open volume of stories yet to unfold. Experienced writers are actually beginners in a world of drama, comedy, and mystery. We create legends tied to an artistic pact with our readers: "I will spin an absurd yarn, and you, dear reader, will trust my every word."

The story of Grandpa Wiley Vaslexi is the hybrid tale of my great-grandfather, a Polish chicken rancher, my wife's grandfather, who called his automobile 'The Machine', and both gentlemen who never mastered driving. For the audience, these elements of reality coexist as absolute truth and perceived truth simultaneously. Writers are aware that we straddle the abyss between two universal qualities - truth and perception. Well, there's not a damn thing a writer can do about the truth, but as artists, we can alter perception.

Perception fools us into mistaking the forms of our everyday life as fixed reality, as unchanging truth. Of course, the only reality in life is change. Understanding reality in this way, writer's-mind discovers a fresh universe everywhere, each moment - all is fodder for the muse. While I speak to you today, science is developing a theory of multiple universes. However, if the universe is an infinite whole, if its completion is in its never being complete, well, then no matter how many universes they find, there is only a single universe of mystery opening into mystery. But, I want to talk about an interesting observation author Kurt Vonnegut made in Publishers Weekly. He said, "...There is this prejudice on the part of critics, who customarily are English majors, that anybody who understands how a refrigerator works couldn't possibly be an artist...."

Mr. Vonnegut summed up my folk tale in a single sentence. Writers are fascinating people because they are easily inspired by a life appearing mundane to the uninitiated eye. My fictional characters often reflect my past as a shoe shine, stoop laborer, door to door salesman, department store clerk, ranch hand, loading dock laborer, and later, my life as a frightened, starving revolutionary jerk-off, a mystic pilgrim, and finally a literary professional and ego-maniacal academic: thank you, and yes, I have gone from bad to worse.

A writer is introspective, attentive, and aware, because ultimately we write about ourselves and our common condition, the human condition.

Writer's-mind creates characters through awareness that the human condition is a transcendent process. Understanding this process demands that we construct protagonists that are pro-active, that create experiences and are changed by their experiences; this transcendent character evolution is called 'character arc', and it is patterned after our own living arc.

Writer's-mind is an inspired sojourn. A trip to the doctor's office is an uproarious comedy worth at least three thousand words, if not more. Arguing with my wife, Ann, is miraculous, especially if I win, which I haven't - but after twenty-eight years, I know it is only a matter of time! Planting a rose bush in the garden and laying a footpath screams out an essay. The other day, a young lady asked my opinion on the modern miracle of Teflon, to which I responded with a letter the length of a novella. And, lastly, foods - particularly eggs - are excellent for folk tales.

Storytelling is not a thing we do, it is a deeply felt passion given form. Like all form, our pages yellow or our memory fades: but, not to worry - the potential for another story is omnipresent. Writing is a process we become!

Still, writers own a reputation for being moody. It is because we often introspect, digging through the muck and mire of our struggles and performing a post-mortem on dead issues from every angle, living at the bottom of the pond. We intuitively feel this process leads to triumph, and we must shout our discovery of the common thread that binds us, allowing us to relate to each other's irony, angst, humor, and joy. We write to save humankind, to save ourselves. We feel compelled to get it down in a story, a novel, a screenplay, and a poem, to tell others. It is more than something we do, it is what we are - writers, of course!


Recently, I performed an expanded reading of my poetry and prose at California State University, Northridge. Before reading my central piece, a narrative poem titled The Rugged Crossing, I mentioned this was my favorite piece of work. The professor immediately seized upon my comment shouting out from the rear of the class a simple one-word question, "Why?" The moment felt immediate, akin to facing one's roshi in dokusan. The class waited, stared, they too expected an answer. My thoughts fluttering and flying, I said, "I was searching for a way of making sense of a life that appeared directionless in my mind. I lived many experiences in a short period of time and I needed a map to understand their relationship with one another and their relevance along my path. Further, I desired to thoroughly comprehend my relationship to the universe, to nature. I felt guilt over some of my experiences; my peripheral involvement in supplying arms and ammunitions for a violent revolution in Guatemala, and a sense of joy and success over others; love at long last discovered, marriage, a healthy spiritual development, and my artistic success as a writer. I had creatively proceeded, transcending my past. I wanted to bring this living experience together into a cohesive whole that made sense to me, and writing The Rugged Crossing enabled me to formulate the questions and arrive at the answers. In this way, the art of writing helps me to stay in contact with The Path."

I nattered on, telling the class I am fifty-one, and for now, this poem suffices. But, if I live correctly, continuing to create my life through further experiences, when I am sixty-eight, I'm certain the poem will not suffice. Struggling through a rebellious, dangerously sincere youth 'I always knew', though the noble, conceited vision of always knowing lacked broad universal perspective. Youth lacks perspective. It never dawned on me, rather than being the center of my world, I exemplified but a single living facet of the gem through which an hoary universe shines its ancient light, and that in turn I light other facets. I did not know my true face, understand my practice or worth, nor suspect my age. The creative process cannot begin within you and I, because by the time it enters our awareness it is primigenial dynamism, operating through a breathing cosmos allowing space and time to create. This allowance pattern we call 'Tao'. If our universe did not demand a constant revolution of change inside the single cell, I wouldn't be here creating anything. The process is ancient, yet forever fresh! The creative process opens as nature's revolution, and nature evolves because of it. Each of us, as working aspects, reflects the nature of the universe through our desire to carry on the creative process. Nature imbues us simultaneously with insecurity; the quality of never really knowing, and the instinct for survival; our inner voice insisting that we must know, we must finally understand, and reflecting these qualities creates a challenge we strive to answer. What does any of this have to do with writing? Each human being undertakes a courageous expedition searching for answers through their individual manifestation of the universe, and for the artist this sojourn leads us through the labyrinths of auditory, visual, and intellectual expression. Often bewildered, we compose our songs, paint our canvases, choreograph dances, and write our books sharing this search with one another, the journey to make sense of our lives. We learn - a combination of collecting knowledge, arriving at a realistic understanding of compassion, and achieving wisdom - and cast light empowering others and ourselves in the unique fashion of our kind. The human mind is not designed to comprehend infinity - everything, everywhere, all time, here now. We visit our lives in sections, exploring each one, gaining bits of enlightenment, sometimes painfully, and often with joy, and then moving along. When we perform this way, we meet life creatively, we proceed, and we become and reflect the process. Meeting life creatively, consciously exercising awareness, is the practice we call 'Zen'.

Zen is an awareness practice. Contrary to popular misunderstanding, it is not free of structure, although, one may learn freedom through Zen structure. Writing is an awareness practice, and through its structure we learn - and, in a moment, I'll link the two practices. Understanding that the universe is pattern and relationship; we are pattern and relationship; this broad perspective of our sojourn nurtures individual expeditions, because when our vision matures realizing the unity of nature's elements, you and I become aware that we are part of a vast, deep adventure - the drama of creation - and we each transcend as beings greater than our sum, a reflective quality transcending our individuality. As artists, we desire to explore and express our new perspective to others. After a period of training designed to awaken our individual awareness to universal creativity, we say the muse clings to our robes: that art is not a thing we do, it is a process we are; we feel the calling.


In the beginning, our expression of the individual creative process grows out of an a priori belief. The statement that we hold an a priori belief is ironic. It must be, because humanity is only capable of a relative experience through which we view our universe. When I say relative, I mean, something, a quality must always already exist or we have nothing to build upon. We simply are not available to absolutes. During the day, first we are hot and then believe in a world of open doors and windows. At night, first we are cold, and then shutting our doors we burn wooden Buddhas for warmth. Yet, as far as it goes, we claim certain a priori beliefs, and that after the fact, as we learn to perceive the universe through these beliefs, we find the experience of living our days and nights strengthens this a priori knowledge. It is upon this knowledge that our individual reflection of the creative process grows, and eventually transcends itself.

This transcendence theory is critical and so I hope you all grasped it. Because books and screenplays don't appear. They are end products - at the moment - of a structure the writer put into practice to transcend itself and become the sum of its parts and more!

Now, I have to get back to Zen and Taoism because it's through those practices that I learned to express my artistic nature, and they are the structure through which I teach. They are my home ground, and I feel most comfortable through them, and I hope you will too. Often, when I'm teaching a class, I won't use those terms - Zen and Tao - because I don't wish to alienate people with strange sounding words, but the words I use are usually representative of those concepts.


As a philosophical Taoist, what is my a priori belief? As an artist, what is my individual springboard, the firm foundation from which, and through which, my artistic quest shapes itself? Today's Buddhism is widely believed to be a godless religion or philosophical practice. However, neither Buddha or Lao Tzu discussed God's existence one way or the other, though Buddha was schooled in a polytheistic culture, and Lao Tzu came close to admitting a monotheistic perception of the universe driven by an all-pervasive, political intelligence. My a priori statement; our universe is born, and burns, and blossoms using an all-pervasive intelligence with which the creative process develops. An inherent, intelligent, cosmological light is the first and continuing artist. I do not believe the statement can be made for a creative intelligence separate from the universe - creative intelligence and the universe is a single torch.

What qualities of the creative process support the existence of, and define intelligence?

Observe a quality of permission in the universe - the permission in space and time to become, to create. Some of us may view this creation process as willy-nilly, devoid of order and form. Although, science, while it cannot prove the existence of intelligence, can certainly measure the creative process's order and form. Science is in the business of taking what is visible and scientifically known, and utilizing it to measure that which is invisible, thereby decreeing it as known. So, old-field science uses classical physics to measure and predict, with some variables, a result called quantum physics. Science informs the west of what the east has known for centuries, that the creative process does indeed operate out of form, an intelligent order. The universe is born of creative process. The creative process is born of intelligence. If the universal creative process has intelligence working within to establish order and form, must it have a direction?

From note to measure to the bar, to the musical composition; from the letter to the word, to the sentence, the paragraph and finally the book; from seed to root, to the tree, to the forest - creativity develops along a virtual path from simple to complex. To creatively meet life is to harmonize with The Path. As artists, we use our chosen medium of expression to guide us along this path, to enable our realization of The Path. Living as a philosophical Taoist and daily sitting in zazen is part of my practice. Just as important, my art, the art of writing, plays a large role in my life practice.

For myself, art is much like science - that is, I use what is known to ask questions about those things in life I'm not so sure I've got a handle on, and I continue the writing, the intelligent process of creative discovery, until the unknown becomes known to me. Scientism within the creative process is another facet holding and spreading light throughout the gem. Science, art, and a spiritual belief in universal intelligence are all a part of the creative process. Sacrificing one to the other means losing touch with our path, it means living out of harmony with the universe. Humankind's true face is a naturally unified cosmos, our work is the practice of realizing our path, and our worth is the value of the writing process, the creative process - for the process is who and what we are.


Thank you for your comments!

Can You Become a Writer by Writing Online Articles?

Some folks believe that you cannot become a professional writer if you start out writing online articles. I completely disagree, especially after teaching myself to write in this manner. I'll have you know that you can become a writer and author by using the online article submission site venue. In fact, I am even writing an eBook on that exact subject.

Additionally, in further contemplation I believe that many of us have experiences, observations and things we want to say and one way to do this is through writing. Online article writing is perfect for that, to help get the word out. You see some people are of a creative nature and well these online writers cannot turn off their minds and it makes sense to become a writer. Unfortunately, writing is a skill that must be learned.

Many of us have a predisposition for writing and perhaps had some success as teens, but did not pursue that venue as we grew up and chose other majors in college or careers out in the world. If you are at the point where you would like to become a writer then you maybe pleasantly surprised that it is possible to teach yourself how to write. I recommend trying online article writing as a way to do just that.

There are an abundance of books, online courses and helpful writing consultants to help get you started. All you need to do is to set becoming a writer as your goal and then get busy writing and practicing until you become proficient. What should you start writing about you ask?

Well anything that comes to mind is the answer some professional writers give to novices. It is important to get use to writing a lot so that you can produce the word counts needed to complete your writing projects, essays, short stories, articles or novels on a timely basis. The more you write the better you will get provided you stick to the basics and do not teach yourself bad habits.

Try writing some online articles today! I certainly hope this article is of interest and that is has propelled thought. The goal is simple; to help you in your quest to be the best in 2007. I thank you for reading my many articles on diverse subjects, which interest you.

Great Philosopher and Writer - Voltaire

Although he was born as Francois-Marie Arouet, that was a name that has faded mostly into the more obscure parts of history, and he is much more commonly known by the name he used in his writings, and Voltaire trivia is likely to be interesting to anyone with an interest in the French philosophies of his time (1694-1778) as well as with the process and progress of the general enlightenment movement.

A Voltaire quiz will show that he was very well educated, and was the recipient of a Jesuit education which would teach him both Latin and Greek, and he would develop an affluence for languages there, becoming fluent in Italian, Spanish, and English throughout his life. His writings as he aged would often get him in trouble because of the issues he was taking with the government. He was frequently in and out of prison, and it was during his nearly year imprisonment in the Bastille where he first started using the name Voltaire, which was based on an anagram of the latinized version of his real last name.

A series of exiles and banishments will show that in Voltaire trivia that he was forced to spend time in many places outside of Paris, which likely would have been his chosen base of operations. He spent three years in England, and then after a return to France was living with a Marquise at the Chateau de Cirey. There was a period later in life when he even tried to return to Paris but Louis XV, who had a long history of disliking Voltaire, banned him from entering to the city - that incident lead to his residency in Geneva.

A Voltaire quiz will have to mention many of his most famous works. Some of the most important things that he wrote include Zadig and Candide. Zadig remains one of his works which is the most commonly studied. Although in novel form, the book is clearly a philosophical treatise which uses the setting of ancient Babylon to draw comparisons to the political and philosophical problems that Voltaire was observing in his contemporary France. The other, Candide, is a clear cut political satire in which Voltaire takes constant shots at religion and governments, generally considered to be the two things that he saw the most issue with. This isn't to say that Voltaire was an atheist though, but rather a deist that saw many problems with organized religion and in particular with Catholicism.

Five Steps to Teach You How to Be a Good Writer

Whether you're interested in writing for yourself, for publication or to make money, it's important to begin taking steps to improve your writing. You don't have to be an English major to become a good writer. Instead, you can focus on a few simple tips to teach yourself the basics. Here are five strategies to get you started.

1. Read Anything You Can
If you want to be a better writer, you need to start by reading anything you can get your hands on. The first thing you'll learn in any writing class is that the best writers are always avid readers. Reading work from other great authors is the best way to improve your writing, as you'll begin to pick up words, pacing and tone from their examples. However, you can also improve your writing by reading simple magazine articles and blog posts. Every bit of writing you encounter can teach you something about the craft.

2. Begin by Free-writing
One of the best ways to begin practicing writing is through free-writing. Many people have difficulty getting started with their writing. When you free-write, you simply sit down and write down whatever comes into your head. You don't have to worry about the flow of the writing or about forming coherent thoughts. Simply getting the words onto the page can clear your head and eliminate distractions, preparing you to write the things you really want to say.

3. Be Willing to Revise Your Work
Teaching yourself to be a good writer involves a lot of practice in reading and writing, but it also requires your willingness to edit. Writers often say that the writing process requires you to spend at least half of your time editing, if not more. In many cases, the way that you write something down the first time will not be perfect or polished. When you go back and edit, you have the opportunity to clean up phrases and rearrange your sentences, in order to create a more sound piece of writing.

4. Read Your Writing Out Loud
As you go through and edit, read your writing out loud to yourself. Many writers skip this step, because they believe that reading their work to themselves in their heads is enough to catch any mistakes. Unfortunately, it's not enough. Reading your work out loud can help you to pick up on mistakes that your eyes would otherwise pass over. You'll also get a greater sense of the rhythm of your writing, which can help you to improve the pacing and meter it follows.

5. Complete Writing Exercises and Experiment
Finally, complete writing exercises often to help yourself stay in tune with your abilities. Writing regularly is an essential component of becoming a better writer. When you write consistently, regardless of the topic, you can help yourself to keep your skills fine-tuned. You can write short stories, poems or news-style articles to help yourself stay in practice. Additionally, working in different forms than those of your normal writing can also help you to improve your writing skills. Branching out into other mediums is a great way to stretch your creative muscles.

What Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer Can Teach Freelance Writers About Staying on Top

The Jennifer Aniston, John Mayer romance and subsequent breakup can teach freelance writers a thing or two.

Like actors and musicians, freelance writers struggle to land the next gig. Actors --even Jennifer Aniston in some cases -- have to constantly audition. Freelance writers have to constantly query. Acting is synonymous with being broke; freelance writing is also (only we're not broke, we "struggle").

Jennifer Anniston, John Mayer and Lessons in Freelance Writing

Jennifer Aniston Media Blitz: Whomever Ms. Aniston dates seems to bring out the shutterbugs. But, when she hooks up with someone famous (eg, Vince Vaughn (Vaughniston)) or John Mayer, the glaring light of the media is white hot.

The Jennifer Aniston lesson for freelance writers: Write in niches that are red hot. Technical writing and SEO copywriting are two that come to mind.

Jennifer Aniston Work Ethic: No matter what seems to be happening with Jennifer, she always seems to be headed right into her next project. From the outside looking in, I see that as proof that she doesn't get distracted by what's going in her personal life.

The Jennifer Aniston lesson for freelance writers: Remain professional at all times. Outside of illness (you, your loved ones) there's rarely a good excuse for missing a client deadline. You must remain professional to keep your career on track. Missing a deadline because you were up crying half the night and fighting with your boyfriend is no excuse. Client deadlines should always be met.

Jennifer Aniston Health Habits: To be almost 40, Jennifer Aniston looks great. And, while having money certainly accounts for some of that, her obviously healthy habits are paying off as well as she ages.

The Jennifer Aniston lesson for freelance writers: Take care of yourself. Client deadlines can be unrealistic and downright brutal sometimes. Freelance writers -- because we work at home and can work 24-hours a day -- often put in long hours. It can be hard to say -- enough -- and log off!

If you don't take care of yourself, no one else is. Make time to exercise, eat right, and spend time with friends and family. A balanced life is as critical to your success as a freelance writer as finishing a client project on time -- don't forget this.

So, what happened to Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer's Romance?

According to the 8/16/08 article, John on Breakup with Jen: There Was No Lying, No Cheating, on, "Sources confirmed that the duo, whose whirlwind romance began in April, mutually decided to split earlier this week. Since the breakup, Aniston and Mayer have settled into their separate lives on different sides of the country."

And there's even a freelance writing lesson in that from John and Jen: Sometimes it just doesn't work out with a client. It doesn't mean that they're a bad client or you're a bad writer -- it's just that you want, need and expect different things (eg, rates, writing style, schedules, etc.)

Jennifer Aniston's romance with John Mayer can teach freelance writers a lot -- if they look beyond the headlines.

The Whys and Wherefores of Writing

I bought a collection of short stories last night by the American writer, James Lee Burke. It was the last of Mr Burke's books, to complete my collection. It's called The Convict and Other Stories. In his Introduction: Jailhouses, English Departments and the Electric Chair, he writes about his own experience as a writer; the rejections, the defiance, the drinking, the teaching and then his inability to learn.

James Lee Burke is not only one of the most successful detective crime writers alive today, he's also one of the best living American writers. His powers of description are breathtaking and he can stop you breathing with the emotion of a moment. He stands with John Steinbeck and Kurt Vonnegut Jr as my all time, favourite American authors.

I've learned from all three of these writers and many more. One of the first lesson any writer learns, is to become a reader, then, an observer. Sometimes, after reading someone like Burke, I'd begin to think there was nothing I could write about to match someone like him. Louisiana, Texas and Montana - his favoured locations - just seemed to have that much more going for them. John Steinbeck wrote about hobos and the dust trail from the Texas panhandle to the Californian fruit fields, migrant workers and underground agitators. Kurt Vonnegut wrote about soldiers and aliens. Desperation set in if I thought about my own paltry settings.

Then I realized I wasn't looking at things from the right angle. I could say James Joyce taught me that, but I won't. I've read big chunks of Ulysses and the short story collection, Dubliners. But it took me four weeks to get through 15 pages of Ulysses on my first attempt. Brendan Behan and Sean O'Casey taught me a valuable lesson. Stories are not just on your doorstep; they're in your head. You have to get them out. I've got more pleasure out of reading John McGahern, William Trevor, Sebastien Barry and Joe O'Connor. These are writers who understand scene and setting. Roddy Doyle has the same talent.

Reading can satisfy writers, but it also makes them restless. Restless, to get their own words and thoughts down in print. And that makes the difference between a reader and a writer. Every reader will entertain the thought of being better and more able than a writer, to capture the moment of their lives that encapsulates their thought processes and sums up their existence. It is the writer who writes it.

What Are the Qualifications Needed to Become a Technical Writer?

Technical writing is a writing style found fields such as computer hardware and software, chemistry, engineering, aerospace, finance, consumer electronics, biotechnology, and robotics. As a technical writer, you'll explain technology and other ideas to technical and nontechnical audiences (consumers). For example, you could tell a consumer how to use a television or computer. Technical writers are in demand and those interested in this field stand to earn good money. It's never been a better time to be a 'freelance' technical writer!

What Are the Qualifications Needed to Become a Technical Writer?

Solid writing and language skills. You'll need the following skills: illustration, typography, information architecture and design, and training material development. You'll interview people who are experts in a particular subject and then write materials such as reports and documents.

Writing ability. You must be able to convey information in a concise and effective manner. You must understand the audience and how to write information that's easy for them to follow and understand, especially for nontechnical audiences.

Training. Some technical writers have an Associate's Degree or Technical Writing Certification while others may have a Bachelor's or Master's degree. Majors include English, Journalism, Creative Writing, Computer Science, Engineering, or Chemistry. While it's not necessary to have any of these, it doesn't hurt you either.

Interpersonal skills. Technical writers interact with different people such as clients, project managers, editors, graphic designers, web designers, subject matter experts (SMEs), photographers, engineers, accountants, marketers, and programmers. Technical writers must get the input of others; therefore, they must be able to effectively communicate with people. It's imperative to have full cooperation from others at the same time being sensitive to the needs of others.

Teaching skills. Sometimes technical writers will teach a course to debug it. You must be able to teach and lead people. Organizational and timekeeping skills are imperative. You don't want a class to run over or extremely under time.

Able to accept criticism. If you can't handle criticism, you may want to forgo becoming a technical writer. You'll receive feedback from editors and clients. They'll expect rewrites to be done in a timely manner. While you may not agree with some of the rewrites and can certainly voice your opinion, editors and clients usually have the final say.

Able to concentration. Technical writers may work in busy offices. You'll benefit from learning how to 'tune out' the noise that surrounds you.

Experience. Possessing knowledge and experience within one or more technical fields will put you ahead of other technical writers. For example, if you have a background in accounting and have a CPA, a company could hire you to write a manual on tax preparation because of your accounting experience. You'll understand the terminology and how taxes are prepared. Companies select technical writers with hands-on experience because they'll feel more comfortable they can handle the assignments. It also reduces the amount of research that may be necessary for projects.

Professionalism. Technical writers take their job seriously and conduct themselves in a professional manner. Many enjoy research and can handle the demands of the career. They're hard workers who won't turn in sloppy work. They're well-educated and intelligent.

Are Artists Block and Writers Block the Same?

That's a good question, and how would you answer that...well as an artist and a trained writer myself, I have had a birds eye view of both sides of the fence. And I can tell you a few factors that I think you will be quite surprised to find, just how similar they are.

The points we are going to concentrate on looking at, are the similarities of the artist and the writer. Do these different forms cross paths in some way? And do writers and artists need to look for answers to their block in the same areas.

Are the workings of the artist and the writer similar.

We have all heard of "the arts" and it covers a pretty broad scope out there, from the performing arts to artistic expression. So with all this confusing usage of titles, what is the art world? How can we be sure we are on the right track.

I have known myself; well enough, when I type the word "art " into a web browser, it gives me such a broad scope from dancing to acting. I get frustrated with what I'm trying to find.

And to think, I'm just looking for art.... geesh! cant I just find art sites. You know.... the stuff you do with paints and clay!

Artists are in fact writers and writers are also artists. Let me explain.

Artists need a starting point when a new art piece is to be done, writers also need a starting point, and they also need to tap into their imagination, the same as artists do.

Are ideas formed the same way for writers and artists.

Written content and the artists content all start from the mind; the imagination. A writer needs to find a story in themselves. A spark for an idea, and the motive to tell a story.

The artist also needs to start from some where, a starting point to bring forth an idea. More or less, it is going to be something they like, and the public will be receptive to. Or the current trend or interest at that time. And as we know, the trends of society are forever changing as the natural way of life. Nothing stays the same, it seems to be the rule of life.

In order for a true piece of art to be receptive to people, it must also tell a story, surprised!. These are the elements of a piece of art that really needs to touch their onlookers soul. Not just a subject on a piece of canvas, or clay. As for writers, they need to tap into their imagination to make the same impact with words, as their form of expression is not with colours and shapes. They must conjure these forms up through words. To paint and motivate their form of expression to others by painting their own scenes, and also capturing the imagination.

Looking in the same places.

Writers block as with artists block, do stem from the same place. The imagination, and what can be gathered from what's around them in every day life to get the same result. Their story.... whether in the written form of words or the flamboyant form of shapes and colour. They both must look to what is around them to gather the fundamentals, the building blocks, as you could say. To find their starting point in their different professions. Both must tell stories, both need to paint a story. So why is it so hard at times to do this?

Don't you think after doing so much art, and writing so many stories that it would become easier. In fact it doesn't really get any easier. The birth of an idea needs to come from what has been seen, or from personal experience. Sure, the teachings of their trade can help guide them, but it certainly is not an instant fix for their problems when a new written piece, or artists work needs to be considered.

We all have this block of not knowing what to do, and I for one, know what its like. You wonder why....... and just how frustrating it can be . We, as with all natural forms, are forever changing. We have our off days, our days when our imagination soars like an eagle in the skies. We can train our minds so far, we are human and never static in mind as in anything else. So we, as writers and artists, need to seek out triggers for our minds to collect. And with those triggers, we find our starting point to create.

Are both writers and artists the same.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, we both need to paint our stories. An artist needs a story to their art, and a writer needs to form their words in just the right way to paint a picture in their readers minds.

Imagination.... that is the key. Without it we would not be able to construct a story that is new. Finding ways to get over writers block and artists block are to be found in many of the same places. Looking through books, pictures, what's around you can trigger off your imagination. Needing that extra help, when we fall short ,to know what will happen next - say in a story, is working the imagination till it reacts.

And if all else fails, which it does sometimes, you need to walk away and come back refreshed. There is no tried and proven way to make your writers block and artists block just go away. But there is allot you can do to get past it. Look at what's around you firstly, I have always found that a good place to start with is with my own personal library. And then to look out the window at what's around you. For both artists and writers alike.

Artists and writers follow the same path in capturing the imagination. And in turn, they need to use their creative instincts to do this. The imagination is wild and flexible. You can no more try to tame a wild animal that doesn't want to be tamed, than try to control the workings of the imagination.

So there has to be a certain amount of training and control that needs to be shown. But you will ever tame it to do your bidding completely. Work with it, and tap into its energy. And there are times you will experience the block. Not being able to let your imagination flow freely all the time, that is the nature of the imagination, and it takes allot of effort to harness it. So the writer and the artist lives by this flow of ideas and to accomplish what they do best. And that is why artists and writers together, find many of the same ways to accomplish their goals.

A Portrait Of Life For A CPA In Words As Expressed By A Fellow CPA And Writer

There is a great deal of pride working as a professional. When I think back to my school days I never really had a practical class that taught me how to develop my own practice or market myself to grow a client base so I feel that we need to approach our days in school as important in the sense that we need the formal education. We also have to have a vision and be open minded to what our education means to us. In college I remember we learned all the basics and fundamentals of accounting and mixed it with some psychology, calculus, English literature and tennis. No where in school was there a class that stressed the importance or options of developing a practice as a self employed CPA.

I remember it was routinely emphasized that we strive to attain our CPA by studying for the state licensing exam and seek employment with a large, regional or small CPA firm or secure a job in private industry. As I approach a new stage in my life and I have a son who will be going to college in about 7 years I need to focus on growing professionally and being resourceful in a down market. It seems the job market has changed considerably and there are a lot of unemployed professionals today. Even college graduates are not finding many opportunities as they had hoped. Due to the changing economic landscape it is now more important to consider options and alternatives. It seems there is way too much competition for lesser and lesser jobs. This is a big problem today and it seems that it will continue for some time. I just feel that college graduates should be more aware of this as they plan for their future.

For those who have worked many years and all of a sudden find themselves back in the job market after being displaced it can be a bit stressful, intimidating and a blow to their self esteem. I feel this is why it is so important to teach entrepreneurial skills and to have back up plans and to learn to be more resourceful in your career choice.

I believe that a CPA who has good training and is self confident surely can find opportunity but there is so much more competition for lesser job opportunities. What this means is that accounting professionals/CPA's have to also think about the prospects of working on developing a client base. It does not happen overnight and will take a great deal of patience and personal sacrifice. It is not something you want to have to do as a result of a layoff or change in work status. I believe that a recent college graduate could deal with the time it takes to build a practice because they have time on their side. As you get older it becomes increasingly more difficult to take that leap of faith and go out on your own. You need to establish contacts and make sure that you are actively searching and marketing yourself for your very own survival.

As a CPA knows it is mandatory to keep up to date with your training and maintain your CPE credentials each year. There are so many changes in the tax laws and clients need to always be properly advised, especially in down times like today. Small businesses are finding it increasingly more difficult to obtain bank financing as a result of the continual downturn in the economy.

If you are faced with the reality of having to market yourself whether it is for a job interview or a prospective client interview you need to distinguish yourself and your abilities. This can be somewhat challenging and very frustrating if you find yourself falling short in the process. You have to be upbeat and in control and not give a vibe that you need the job. The reality is you most likely do need the opportunity but you have to stay level headed and distinguish yourself from the pack.

A CPA needs to always stay current and should always entertain the thought of eventually creating a base of clients that they can build upon. This is now more critical than ever and it seems like it is almost a necessity.

In my experiences working as a CPA for the past 20 plus years I realize that your situation can change in the blink of an eye and you have to be truly ready to ride out the storm. It is with the promise and hope that a CPA can find the resources they need to avail themselves of so they can meet the current challenges today.

I am fortunate to have worked for quality CPA firms and interesting companies throughout my career and I started my career in 1985 and combine my engineering and accounting skills with the same dedication as I had while attending college. I believe sometimes as we are caught up in our careers we tend to lose ourselves in our jobs as we want to prove we can take on the workload and try to stay a step ahead of the competition and in our job. In all my positions held at my various employers I always found the staff and management to be very helpful and accommodating. I also like the diversity that each company offered as I learned in various industries and went to many types of clients at the CPA firms I worked at which paved the way for me in entering the private sector.

Since I had a background in both accounting and engineering in college I found that my skills and my dedication to the work earned me respect from my peers which was gratifying and helped boost my self esteem. I wore suits and ties and blended in as a guy but in my heart I wanted to wear pretty dresses and skirt suits but I was never able to take the risk back then since I was the sole provider when our son was born. When my wife gave birth it was truly special and one of the finest moments in our life and I felt happy for my wife's joy in becoming a mother.

As a professional I realize how important it is to maintain your career and stay devoted to your employer and I also realize how important it is to reinvent yourself and to be resourceful in developing your talents and skills so you have more options. I believe the ability and interest to create your website and your own opportunities is equally as important. Never give up on your dreams. The life of an accountant can be challenging at times but if they have a plan and they stay focused then things will get better over time. You just need a little patience and a lot of heart. You can not get discouraged and you have to be tough minded and know how to advise in such financially difficult times.

That is the life of a busy professional which can be challenging, demanding and in most cases puts a strain on the CPA in maintaining the same level of devotion to the family as the quality of time is affected and the children are caught in the middle not truly understanding the circumstances until they mature and realize it themselves. A CPA is a professional but the work is stressful and sometimes we feel a bit overwhelmed. There must be a healthy balance between work and family. The most stressful time for the CPA is during the tax season which starts usually right after the Christmas and New Year's holiday in early January and ends on the first tax filing due date of April 15. This is the time where the CPA starts to work late and usually is away from family due to the demands of meeting client needs and a heavy workload. The time spent with family at this stressful time is much less then any other period during the year and there is no family vacations for a CPA and their family at this time of year.

The CPA must make the most of their down time and that is when they need to focus on their family and schedule a nice family vacation just to spend the much needed time together and enjoy the family bonding time before they once again head into the tax season. CPA's usually risk their health and it eventually can take an emotional and physical toll on them and their family as they feel the pressure for the 4 months where they have to perform at a higher level to cope with the demands placed on them.

Why a Good Public Speaker Also Needs to Be a Great Writer

Many of the greatest public speakers of our time have also been amongst the greatest writers of our time. Winston Churchill -- he of the "we shall never surrender" speech -- was also a great writer. In fact, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The John F. Kennedy/Ted Sorensen combination earned the great speaker a Pulitzer Prize for profiles in courage.

It isn't a coincidence.

One of the techniques that I teach beginning writers is to always write as if they were speaking to a friend. To use their natural voice when writing. There is a reason for this.

In this article, I'm going to give you six reasons why a good public speaker also needs to be a great writer.

1. Both use their words as tools. It can be said, that a writer has only one real tool -- their words. But in fact, there are many tools that a writer uses -- her voice, his emotions, her imagination. However, in the end there is only one tool that the public sees. All the rest must be heard and felt in those words. A good public speaker also needs to use their words to drive the emotions of both themselves and their audience. Their voice, their emotions, their imagination are all part of the speech. But it's the words that the public hears.

2. Both need a love of words, communication and ideas. Both speaking in public and writing are difficult, energy draining pursuits. Those who practice enough to become good or great at it must be driven. And the drive that fuels that internal need is a love for ideas and communicating those ideas. Ultimately, the greatest expression of that love is a love of words and their use.

3. Both need to express passion with their words. We can express a great deal of our emotions with our voice -- the pitch, the pace, the inflection. But the words we use need to follow those emotions. They need to support the pitch, pace and inflection. You can't fly through your words when you're using two-penny scholars. Which words we use affect our ability to speak quickly. While others help us create a mood both contemplative and intellectually inquisitive.

4. Both need to move the audience with their words. It's not enough to simply appeal to the audience's emotions. You also need to appeal to their intellect. You need to convince them that the decisions they made emotionally were valid. In short, it's your words that will convince the audience, not your passion.

5. Both need to understand cadence and its effects. Have you ever heard Dylan Thomas speak? His singsong lilt dancing in the hills and valleys (and pubs) of Swansea. That lilt -- that rhythm -- is reproduced in his poems -- not by his voice alone but in the words he chose. That rhythm is called cadence. And it's what hypnotizes your audience and provides interest. The rhythm of English is not easily heard, lost as it is in the mixing bowl of its past. A great writer instinctively hears it in the words. And understands its use and value. A good public speaker also must understand its use, why the words have a cadence and how to emphasize the rhythm and not fight it.

6. Both need to understand pace and its effects. Rhythm and cadence may be difficult to hear in English. But the pace of its words is easily seen. Short words are fast. Longer words extend the chronological allotment and the passages' duration. And pace or how fast the words are flowing has an effect on one's audience. Both must understand that affect in order to best use pace in its most effective way.

Tips For Overcoming Poor Writing Habits and Writer's Block

Some people write for pleasure, be it articles, essays, short stories, which is great. It is a whole different ballgame when it becomes work though, with those tasked with writing against their will suffering from everything from extreme procrastination to writer's block. Fortunately, writing is and always has been really quite easy, and there are several quick techniques you can apply to effectively get the words flowing every time.

Plan Ahead

I find that if I know what I'm going to write about prior to sitting down and writing it helps my motivation enormously. Brainstorming can take time, so it is best done separated from the main body of work and allocated an exclusive session.

Depending on the particular writing assignment involved you may need to come up with a topic to write about, or you may already have one and simply need to lay out the composition of the piece. Both are pretty simple though they do take a bit of practice. Topics can be drummed up just about anywhere - the Internet is a good choice (look for subjects that interest you) but then again so are your surroundings. Outlining an article or other written work is equally simple - remember your introduction and conclusion, then simply list keywords for all the relevant point in roughly chronological order and fill in the gaps.

Take Breaks

It is a proven fact that we are less productive when forced to work for long stretches of time than we are when we take short, regular breaks to clear our minds, grab a snack and generally unwind. Why do you think major companies like Walmart now make taking breaks at set intervals mandatory? There's psychology at work here. A fifteen minute break every two to three hours is a good ratio, but if you're still easing your way into a new work schedule it's okay to take them a little closer together. Not too close, though, or they become disruptive, interfering with natural concentration and workflow.

Write Like You Talk

Everybody has something to say - if all else fails think about the words you'd physically use if someone asked you about a particular subject during a conversation. All you have to do is transfer these into writing, and bam! Usually one thing leads to another and you end up with too much to say. If you're unsure how to structure all of these ideas and information into a logical, coherent article that reads like an article and not a monologue, well, they did try to teach you all that stuff during high school. Even if that ship has sailed, the information is still readily available online or in libraries and is easy to pick up.

A lot of the time the most important factor is the sit down and just start writing. Writer's block can largely be attributed to over-analysis of potential choices of words, phrases, or subjects, and simply clearing your mind and let your pen (or fingers, in the case of typists) go where they will is enough to get you started and allow the words to flow.