Category Archives: resources

WRITERS: 8 Amazing University Classes You Can Take For Free

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

As our very own Joe Wallace begins his Recording Arts For Film program at Tribeca Flashpoint Media Academy in Chicago,

  • I celebrate his multi-tasking insanity and
  • I seize the opportunity to take Free, WORLD-CLASS, (online) University classes, through the innovative site Coursera.

Take a look at these 8 classes to power-up your BUSINESS and WRITING.

Set Your Words On Fire

#1 Modern & Contemporary American Poetry

Al Filreis, University of Pennsylvania

This course is a fast-paced introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, from Dickinson and Whitman to the present. Participants (who need no prior experience with poetry) will learn how to read poems that are supposedly “difficult.”

Next session: 10 September 2012 (10 weeks long)
Workload: 5-8 hours/ week

About the Instructor:

Al Filreis is Kelly Professor; founder, and faculty director of the Kelly Writers House; director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing; co-director (with Charles Bernstein) of PennSound; and publisher of Jacket2 — all at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been teaching since 1985.

Among his books: Counter-Revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945-60; Wallace Stevens and the Actual World; and Modernism from Right to Left.

He has also (with Beverly Coyle) edited the letters of José Rodríguez-Feo and Wallace Stevens (Secretaries of the Moon), and has edited and introduced a new edition of Ira Wolfert’s Tucker’s People. He hosts an ongoing podcast series,PoemTalk, a collaboration of the Kelly Writers House, PennSound, and the Poetry Foundation. He is currently working on a book about poetry and poetics in 1960.

He has won every major teaching award given to faculty at Penn, and in 1999-2000 he was chosen as the Pennsylvania Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation.

Write With the Power of Myth

#2 Greek and Roman Mythology

Peter Struck, University of Pennsylvania Continue reading WRITERS: 8 Amazing University Classes You Can Take For Free

Homework Help for Writers – Social Media Tips

"Lamb diaper" was, oddly enough, not a very strong search term.
"Lamb diaper" was, oddly enough, not a very strong search term.

By Amanda Smyth Connor

Before starting any new writing project, you need to do your homework. Any new client will either enjoy or demand the added benefit of linking and keyword usage, and not everyone has the money to spend on high-end social media tools like Radian6. is a good place to start for keyword research. It’s free to use and will get you off and running in terms of weighing the strength of the brand you are writing about, or narrowing down the subject matter that you are tackling.

Here’s how to start:

Let’s use “diapers” as an example.

1.  Go to and type in “diapers.”

2.  For the sake of this trial run, adjust your search results to reflect the time period as being “one day,” but you can track back as far as one month.

3.  Now that you have searched “diapers,” you will see your search results on the left hand side of the screen, as well as a running timeline of live mentions from Twitter and Facebook.  You will see a variety of results that estimate the strength of “diapers” as a keyword and search term, such as:

  • The word “diapers” is mentioned online every 21 seconds, on average.
  • The information sentiment surrounding “diapers” is strongly neutral but this word is also often used positively.
  • You can view a list of the top keywords used in conjunction with diapers, with “baby” as the most often used keyword and “wings” (a feature in some adult diapers) as the second most commonly used term associated with diapers. (Oddly enough, when I started writing this blog post a few days ago, “porn” was the number 3 result on this list of terms associated with diapers. What??)
  • You can also view the top hashtags associated with diapers (“moms,”) and the top sources where this word is mentioned most frequently (Twitter.)

4. You can continue to investigate what social media users are saying about “diapers” by clicking along the top navigation bar. You can then view results within specific sources, like microblogs, comments, images, news, etc. This way, you can see what people really think about diapers…and it just might surprise you! (I’m kidding. It’s pretty much what you would expect.)

5. Now that you have a good overview of the buzz on diapers, you can dig deeper by investigating specific brands (“Pampers diapers,” “Luvs Diapers,” “cloth diapers,” etc) so that when you do start your writing project, not only do you know what keywords are being used heavily in support of your content, but you will have a better understanding of your product and how it is perceived by users.

By using this tool, you’ll give yourself a leg up on the research end of your project, and you can tack this simple leg work on as part of your overall billable hours, or you can use it as added value to impress your clients…and BLAMO! You can call it a day and put on your “Team Awesomesauce” jacket. You earned it.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Gifts of Writing Love: a Valentine’s Gift for Our Writers

No matter what you write, these little gifts of writer’s resources will speak to the heart and soul of your writing life, with  unique, fresh insight (and some rappin’ too).

Career Survival

From award-winning novelist Jenny Cruisie:

Rats with Islands: How To Survive Your Publishing Career

Excerpt:  “My plan was to make this column about the realities of publishing, giving you all a head’s up on what you’re about to face. Then I realized that was a remarkably bad idea.

“Here’s the thing about reality: It’s not good for you.”

Powerful Technique

From Mary Jaksch at Write to Done:

Why Disconnectors Are Critical In Keeping Your Readers Awake A guest post by Sean DSouza of Psychotactics

Excerpt: “Disconnectors create a jolt

“Imagine you’re driving a car. And the highway stretches in front of you straight as an arrow. Mile after mile of the same, same seems to suck you into vortex of yawns.

“Then suddenly you you see a curve in the road.

”The curve is the disconnector

“It’s the thingamajig on the journey that jolts you back to life. You’re all alert. You’re all eyes and ears. And you’re paying close attention.”

Insanity vs. Humor

from LifeHacker:

How to Work from Home Without Going Insane

Excerpt:  “When you work at a location of your choice you can control what distracts you. If you want to work for 4 hours and not use the bathroom you can do it; if you want to work with 2 lbs of nachos taped to your face like a beard while wearing a sombrero filled with nacho cheese for snacking you can do this. Most people think they will be far more productive due to being able to control large blocks of time, but I found that the experience was quite jarring.”

Making the Professional Leap

From Junhax 

The 10 Blogs That Taught Me (Almost) Everything I Know (And Why You Should Be Reading Them)

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ? Mark Twain

Excerpt: “Truer words have never been spoken.

“I was a failing student before I started my blog; I went to community college just because my parents told me to — yeah, I know, I was one of those guys.

“But when I started my blog, I had a sudden epiphany: I started to read many books (and as weird as it sounds, I used to never crack open a book), I read many blogs, took advantage of newsletters and Google Reader (RSS), and put what I read into action.

“My life from last year till now is a completely different book; I established myself as a writer, I’m about to publish my first eBook, I met many new friends and networked with incredible people, and overall my attitude and mindset became positive. I learned to live frugally, to be content, to stay focused and follow my passion.

“I’m thankful for all the positivity and people that came into my life, but there’s a reason for all of this: I read all the right blogs.”

Making It Yours

Fron LatinaPen 

2011 Best of Writing Articles and a Rap on Writing



clip_image004Diane writes two alternating columns for Freelance-Zone:Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.

A Digital Freelancer Shares His “How I Did It” Story

Even though Tim Diggle is a freelance Flash developer, non-techie freelancers can learn or at least be inspired by Tim’s story. This video clip is created by a U.K. digital placement agency called Major Players. A lot of freelancers turn to placement/temp services like this for a variety of reasons, but Tim’s advice applies whether you’re with an agency or going it alone.

His short section on how to deal with an agency is pretty good stuff for anyone about to explore that option–you really do have to be on top of your game to compete at the agency level, but more on that in another post.

Freelancing in 2012

Joe Wallace Vinyl Collector and authorby Joe Wallace

About 20 days ago, long before 11:59 PM on December 31, a lot of freelancing blogs made predictions about the freelance landscape in 2012.

And the same as every year, a lot of predictions basically read, “more people will start freelancing, more people will quit freelancing, and more companies will hire more freelancers than ever before.”

You don’t have to be Nostradamus, really, to issue predictions like these.

I ignored all that sort of thing this year in favor of looking at the freelance landscape from a completely different perspective, thanks to a blog post by Dave Allen at the Portland-based brand agency North.

Allen was talking about an experiment he started in early January to work with all-mobile tools, namely the iPad2 and the iPhone.

He writes, “Since January 2nd I have been attempting to live without my MacBook Pro to work exclusively on my iPad2. I can honestly say that for 90% of the time the iPad is the perfect tool for my daily work activities. As an added bonus it’s many pounds lighter than the MBP and the battery lasts hours longer. Yet, as to be expected, there are some shortcomings that are holding me back from becoming a 100% mobile user.”

If you want a prediction about the state of freelancing in 2012, you need look no further than mobile–for some of us, it really is going to be the future of the business in terms of the portable office, working from the road, and making the most of every given second when needed.

I was on the fence about the iPad2 as a freelancing tool until reading Dave Allen’s post, and while he points to a few shortcomings, I personally believe–and here’s my prediction for 2012–that these issues can and will be addressed by some savvy developers who know the need to do business on these lightweight, flexible, and highly desirable platforms.

Freelancers, writers and editors in particular, are often stuck in the previous decade when it comes to technology. But the business is evolving as fast as the new toys hit the market. Are you keeping up? Treading water? I’m trying to get out of the wading pool and into the deep end with this stuff…it seems like the best way to survive.

Joe Wallace is an author, professional blogger, and vinyl collector. He blogs about rare and strange vinyl records at, sells vinyl records at horror and sci fi conventions across the USA and is currently photographing more than 100 record albums for his forthcoming book WTF Records: The Turntabling Guide To Weird And Wonderful Vinyl. He is very busy but does consider freelance writing and editing gigs on a per-project basis. Contact him at jwallace (at) turntabling (dot) net.

Resource For Writers: Workflowy

workflowy_logo_largeLet’s face it–one of the biggest things most people tackle in the New Year is organization, right? Well here’s a resource for you…WorkFlowy.

A well-0rganized “to do” list is key when it comes to getting things done, and that is basically what this tool gives you. The company puts a short series of video overviews up for you so you can get acquainted with how the site works, and then off you go! Everything is customizable and easily adjusted, so you can re-arrange your day if need be–or carry tasks over if they didn’t get done.

Fans of the written list will find this useful, as it’s the same idea, just modernized.

Take a look and let us know what you think!