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Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Writer's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, #BookADay, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives, and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate).
I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi
I interviewed Christina Katz last September about her book, Get Known Before The Book Deal. During the interview, I was astounded at the number of projects Christina has on the go. Christina graciously agreed to do a second interview, this time focused on how she manages her time. What's your typical workday? I try to get up early so I have a couple of hours to work before my daughter needs help getting ready for school. That process takes about an hour. Then the dogs need me for about a half hour. After that I’m free to work my brains out until it is time to pick my daughter up from school with the occasional short break. The afternoon is a negotiation between my work needs and my daughter’s needs. Luckily for me, she can often use some down town after a busy, social day at school and she’s quite good at keeping herself busy drawing, playing imagination games or (last resort) watching TV or some other kind of screen time. Samantha also has regularly scheduled activities like dance, swimming and Brownies, which makes those days a bit more hectic. Often in the late afternoon, when she doesn’t have activities, we do errands together. Then it’s time to make dinner and have some family time. Thankfully, even though my husband basically has two jobs, one as a high school teacher and the other running the theater department, when he’s home we share the chores. That’s a thumbnail of the rhythm of my days. As far as what I do in those hours when I work, it’s never the same because I write articles, blog posts and books. I administrate, I travel, I run classes, and I create presentations. Lately, I’ve been innovating new products and services and I want to do more of that. I am also busy with social networking, platform cultivation and maintenance, pitching myself and goofing off. I keep in regular touch with a small tribe of writer moms and go out for lunch with a writer friend once in a while, when I’m not too busy. Believe it or not, within all of this variety, there actually is a rhythm to how I work. But it’s one that is constantly evolving. I find if I try to pin it down or force it, then that same rhythm that once worked, no longer works. Occasionally, in my blog, I discuss a particular tool that helps me keep all the balls in the air. Basically, I just do it. Whatever “it” happens to be. How do you balance your writing time with everything else you do? This is an easy one. I’m a morning person, so my most productive time is in the morning. I can sketch out an idea in the afternoon by hand or jot notes but I write fastest and best in the morning. So regardless of the rest of the day, I get my writing done early. Here’s something that might be interesting to writers: since I’m an author and I wrote two books back-to-back, I can write a lot faster now. Also, I don’t hesitate before I write something. When I was a beginner, and even when I was working as a journalist, I would often hesitate before I wrote. I think it was that moment of perfectionism anxiety where I’d think: what if it’s not good enough? So even though I generally think of myself as a fairly slow writer (compared to some people I know who are so fast you would not believe it), writing 1,000 words now is a lot easier than it used to. I wrote 60,000 words in a row, twice. So what’s 1,000 words? Nothing I can’t handle. What advice do you have for writers who are "time management"-challenged? I’d tell them there is no such thing as time-management challenged. What we are probably talking about is that most left-brained time-management techniques don’t work for right-brained people. So people are not actually “time-management challenged.” They are likely right-brained trying to live in a left-brained world. What I think what we’re dealing with here, Debbie, is a classic permission issue. If a right-brain person is waiting to be more like a left-brain person before they can master time, they are going to be waiting for a long time. But if they explore and experiment with what works for them within their current work context, and strive for their own definition of time-management success (assuming it harmonizes with those around them), they will start to thrive and be more productive. I’ve read that more Generation X & Y companies are allowing their employees to follow flex-time techniques that work for them and are creating a higher rate of productivity with less sick days. That’s what I’m talking about. I’ve heard and read a myth that left-brained techniques work for right-brained people, if we’d only use them. But I’m pretty sure that’s the road to misery and frustration for anybody right-brained person, who buys into that myth. What are your current and upcoming projects? My most exciting current project is The Prosperous Writer blog and e-zine. I am thrilled about both of them because they are the fruition of many months of preparation and planning. What I’m trying to do is set a positive example of what it means to be a prosperous writer in these rapidly changing times. I’ve already accomplished one of my primary goals with the e-zine, which was to get readers blogging about the topic of prosperity in their blogs. I think this is going to create a fascinating, growing movement about what true prosperity means in the new Web 2.0 world we are living in. The blog is the public mouthpiece and the e-zine is strictly for my fans. I don’t plan to make it public. Therefore it’s a safer, more private context and the only way for the ideas to get out into the public eye is when readers respond to them. I love it when they do! As far as the future goes, I think, for me the new living-out-loud lifestyle means revealing only the most manageable amount of news about where I am headed. If I reveal a lot and then don’t follow through or change directions at the last minute, I risk coming across as flaky. So, I’ve learned that when I’m dreaming and visioning the future, I’m much better off, except for a very few close, personal friends, keeping my plans contained until they are ripe and ready to blossom. So what’s coming up in my future? A lot of really cool stuff! And that’s all I can say…for now. Here are just a few of Christina Katz's current projects: Nonfiction Writing-for-publication Classes From Beginner to Book Deal http://christinakatz.com Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer's Digest Books, October 2008) http://getknownbeforethebookdeal.com/ http://getknownbeforethebookdeal.typepad.com/ Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer's Digest Books, March 2007) http://thewritermama.com/ http://thewritermama.wordpress.com/ Writers on the Rise E-zine http://writersontherise.wordpress.com/ The Northwest Author Series http://northwestauthorseries.wordpress.com/ Sponsored by the Wilsonville Public Library, The Friends of the Wilsonville Public Library & the Wilsonville Arts and Culture Council Created and hosted by Christina Katz Christina on Twitter: http://twitter.com/thewritermama Christina on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Christina-Katz/716153807
Review Fuse sponsoring a Poetry contest and are accepting entries until February 28th. Details: Title: Review Fuse Poetry Contest - February 2010 Prize: $100 Cash Entry Fee: $0 (must register for free Review Fuse account if haven't already) Length: 50 lines or fewer Theme: Open More Info: http://www.reviewfuse.com/blog/2009/11/poetry-contest-february-2010/ Deadline: February 28th, 2010 Contact Info: email@example.com To enter: 1. Sign up for Review Fuse (it's free) 2. Upload your entry and choose "Poetry Contest" as the category.
Great minds think alike, Debbie (or fools seldom differ – take your pick!) – I’ve recently started doing exactly this. For me the catalyst was FaceBook – because friending is mutual, I tend to be a bit more cautious about who I connect to. So I reserve it for family and real-life friends, and I use a “personal” twitter feed to update my status. I also use the personal twitter account to follow family, friends and a handful of celebs. Then I have a “writing” account, which is my original @annelyle username, for following writers, agents, podcasters, etc. I mostly tweet writing stuff, though I do put the occasional personal thing in if I think it would interest/amuse my followers. This feed also goes onto the homepage of my writing-oriented website – another reason to keep it writing-focused. Finally I have a “chat” account which I use for #writechat and similar – I don’t want either FaceBook or my website cluttered up with disjointed chatter! I manage all these using groups in Seesmic Desktop, usually in the evening here in the UK since I’m more likely to coincide with my US friends then. On my iPhone I prefer Tweetie, which I have used to tweet “live” events such as my research trip to the Tower of London and the British Fantasy Society Awards. This might seem like overkill since I only have a few dozen followers at the moment, but I like to think that I’m building a good foundation for the future.From Sarah:
Interesting to read your reasoning. I blended my accounts to reflect my policy of personal transparency. You’ve shown me transparency doesn’t have to mean throwing my work, life and sexual secrets into a big Googleified blender. (NOW you tell me?!) With only 500ish followers and very few @ or RTs (despite relevant content…more often than not), it’s much easier for me to streamline accounts than it would be for you. And thanks for giving me an option for how to handle it when I hit the four-digit follower mark Cheers, Sarah
Congrats to Kevin McGill of Dallas, TX for being the 1000th person to put @inkyelbows on a Twitter list. Kevin wins a US$20 Amazon.com gift certificate. For those that don't know, Twitter lists to organize the people you’re following on Twitter, or find new people. Here's Mashable's guide for how to use Twitter lists.
For those who want to keep track of their story submissions on their iPhone and iPod, Andrew Nicolle has just updated his Story Tracker app for writers. I have the app on my iPhone but haven't had a chance to really check it out thoroughly because I'm not submitting short stories/articles right now. According to the Storytracker Web site, here's what you can do with the app: - Check the status of your stories, markets, and submissions at a glance. - Use the index to jump through long lists of stories and markets fast. - Add or remove stories, markets and submissions with ease. - Add details for each story, including title, word-count, genre, and notes. - View total income earned for each story. - 'Trunk' stories to hide them from the story list when creating submissions. - View the submission history for each story, sorted by date. - Add details for each market, including title, genre, editor and more. - Use the embedded web-browser to quickly check on market websites. - Launch email or phonecalls directly from market details. - Log whether a particular market is open or closed to submissions. - Closed markets are hidden from the market list when creating submissions. - Quickly check whether you already have a submission at each market. - View submission history for each market, sorted by date. - View response times for each submission. - Add details for each submission, including story, market, and sent/response dates. - Log whether a market has rejected, bought, or published a story submission. - Store income earned for each submission. - Statistics show totals for: stories, markets, and submissions, stories that have never been submitted, or have been abandoned (ie trunked), submitted stories still out to market, rejections, sales, and publications. - income earned. - Always remembers what screen you were looking at last. - Saves changes on exit, or when interrupted by a phonecall. - Database backup, restore, import and export over WiFi to your computer's web browser. Found out more at: http://andrewnicolle.com/storytracker/
Don't know about the rest of you, but I have a tendency to let my e-mail pile up...or at least I did. This year, I'm determined to keep better control over my e-mail Inbox (or Inboxes, since I have more than one e-mail account). What I'm finding: bad e-mail organization/handling results in wasted time (time that could be spent writing) and missing important messages. Here's a list of things I did toward achieving a better e-mail system, in case any of you want to try the same: 1. Did a mass search for certain senders and subject header phrases to make it easier to list messages for mass deletion. I've been getting notices from Twitter about new followers, for instance. I use Gmail, so I clicked on the "Show Search Options Link" to the right of the search field, specified that I only wanted to search mail in my Inbox, entered the phrase "is now following" in the search subject field, then hit SEARCH: Once you get a list of all the messages, then click on SELECT ALL: Click on "Select all conversations that match this search" to also select the e-mail results on other search results pages (else you have to repeat the process): ..and then DELETE: 2. Unsubscribed from as many e-mail lists as I possibly could. I had initially subscribed to various mailing lists with grand dreams of being able to scan all of them, but I'm realizing that there is just NO WAY I can keep up. The messages inevitably start piling up, and more important e-mail messages get lost in the mix. Instead, I read the lists on the Web whenever possible (bookmarking them in my To Read list -- browser bookmark organization is another topic I probably should cover sometime). And I'm going through each of these e-mails in my Inbox and taking the time to find the "To unsubscribe, click here" link. If there IS no link, I go to the source Web site and look for it, e-mailing the administrator if I have to: Some companies make it a real challenge to get taken off their their e-mail lists, counting on you giving up before you manage to unsubscribe. DON'T GIVE UP. Just think of how much time and hassle you'll save in the future by making some effort now. If there are lists whose mailings you'd really like to keep, filter them into a separate folder/mailbox. You'll have to remember to check this separate mailbox but at least it gets them out of your Inbox. As for improving my e-mail system, I'm trying to get into the habit of NOT CHECKING E-MAIL SO MANY TIMES THROUGHOUT THE DAY. Or at least not feeling compelled to drop everything I'm doing and responding immediately. This is going to take some self-discipline, but I'm already finding that it's paying off. Part of this is also training my regular contacts to my new system as well, that I may not be able to respond to all messages right away. What about the rest of you? What does your e-mail inbox look like right now? Any other tips or ideas to share about improving your e-mail system with the goal of getting more time to write? I may post a Part 2 for this topic, depending on responses. Related Resources: 4 ways to take control of your e-mail Inbox Fifteen Practical Tips for Managing Your E-mail : more for lawyers, but includes some useful tips. 7 Ways To Manage Your Email Like An Expert Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload: also includes tips on how to send better e-mail.
I joined LinkedIn years ago when it first launched, but then deleted my account because I made the mistake of accepting a connection request from someone I knew only vaguely through a few e-mail exchanges. Because of that decision, I started accepting similar connection requests. Often these were from people on LinkedIn with hundreds of connections. Then I started receiving requests which were passed down through my connection links for favours -- either referrals or information or requests for me to suggest where they should send their manuscripts. At that point, I realized that I had made a mistake in accepting that first connection to someone I didn't really know. The purpose of LinkedIn, after all, is to establish a network of trusted business contacts. After I quit LinkedIn, I kept hearing good things from some of my friends and work associates about LinkedIn, about how they were using it and how much it was helping them. I decided to give LinkedIn another chance, but this time I added the following warning in my profile:
PLEASE NOTE: I only link to people with whom I have worked or know personally (e.g. have had at least one meaningful conversation). A single e-mail exchange, being members of the same LinkedIn group, and being a Facebook/Twitter friend is not enough for me to add you to my network, nor is just being familiar with each other's blogs. Either we've met in person and know each other personally, or have had a longterm working relationship. Thanks for your understanding.I recently got a request from someone I've never met in person but with whom I had interacted a few times by e-mail. I declined and explained my reasons: that I hope she understood, but I always figure I should be able to explain each connection to anyone who wants a business referral for that person. Her response:
Actually, no. I don't understand. You didn't seem to mind the free publicity you got for the [--deleted by me--] site I set up for you, which took hours to create and also promote. I didn't get a thing out of it, personally or professionally. Now it's just too embarrassing for you to add me in case some idiot asks why you are connected to someone? Never mind. I get it. Thanks anyway.Ouch. I admit I was pretty baffled by the site she described. Also felt terrible...I had forgotten that this woman had offered to enable people to send each other some of my cartoons (Nanowrimo comics, maybe?) as greeting cards years ago, but at the time, I had assumed the architecture was already being used by the woman for other purposes -- had she really created an entire SITE just for me without asking anything in return?? How could I not have noticed, either through traffic or e-mails? As soon as I got this woman's message, I went searching to check but I can't find any reference to the site anymore. Whatever the case, I wish she had reminded me about our connection before sending me the second message above. :-( I've apologized and tried to follow up, but haven't yet received a response. But to those using LinkedIn right now, I'm curious. Have you ever declined a LinkedIn invite? Do you have any policies for what kind of connections you will and will not accept?
I've been using voice-activated software from time to time, mainly when I'd like a break from long periods of intensive typing. I find voice dictation useful mainly for first drafts, not editing, but it's great to be able to "write" while I'm walking around in my office (my headphone/microphone set has a long cord). I use MacSpeech, which uses dictation technology from Nuance, the company that makes Naturally Speaking, voice dictation software for Windows. When I'm away from my laptop, I've started using Dragon Dictation for the iPhone (which is FREE right now) and I'm really impressed. The text in the screenshot above/left was dictated by me a few minutes ago, with no edits. You can dictate up to 20-30 seconds at a time, with the text accumulating on the iPhone screen. When you're finished, you can e-mail yourself the text or copy/paste it into the iPhone app of your choice. Like any voice-activated software, the transcription isn't always perfect, but it beats the heck out of trying to thumb-type text while you're walking or having to manually transcribe a recorded message later. You can read some reviews and find out more info here: Review: Dragon Dictation -- iPhone voice transcription by Dragon NaturallySpeaking MacRumors.com review Some useful tips for Dragon Dictation (be sure to read the comments section, too!) NOTE FOR THOSE NOT LIVING IN THE U.S.: At present, you can only buy Dragon Dictation for the iPhone from the U.S. iTunes store. Here are Apple's own instructions for how to create an iTunes App Store account without a credit card. Dragon Dictation for the iPhone is FREE for a limited time, so be sure to buy your copy soon!
Apparently Transport Canada is banning books and periodicals from their flights unless passengers buy them after going through security. Eek. Makes me even happier about being able to read e-books on my iPhone! Hope this ban doesn't last long. Also see: Books Banned on Canada-U.S. Flights (January Magazine) Stop Dumbing Down: Allow Books on Airplanes (Facebook Group)
From Charles Carroll, editor of www.xtremetravelstories.com: Are you fed up with travel writing as it exists today? Are you looking for a fresh approach to this medium; one that focuses on the extreme nature of traveling as opposed to the “Club Med” stories that so often fill the pages of travel writing these days? If so, this contest is perfect for you! Send us your story, any language, any topic; as long as it’s original and interesting it constitutes as Xtreme! The winning author will be awarded a $100 cash prize! This is our inaugural competition and it will run quarterly. In addition to submitting your crazy travel experiences in written form- we are accepting Xtreme photos and videos for equal consideration. We’d eventually like to receive enough photos and videos to have a separate competition, but for now written and visual work will go head to head! Our viewers will vote for their favorites and XTS will award the winner on March 1, 2010- no strings attached, no questions asked. If your worried about creative license, the authors of the work on our site retain all rights to their art and, if they so wish, can ask for it to be removed at any time. Give it a shot, you’ve got nothing to lose! www.xtremetravelstories.com DEADLINE: March 1, 2010 PRIZE: $100, (quarterly competition) LIMITATIONS: None CONTACT US: firstname.lastname@example.org For more info about the contest: http://www.xtremetravelstories.com/index.php/en/competition
#YAlitchat is a weekly twitter chat for anyone involved in the writing, editing , marketing or publishing of Young Adult literature. #YAlitchat takes place at 9PM EST and goes until 10:15PM. There is a guided discussion three weeks out of the month and one week each month, there is open discussion. For daily tweets relating to Young Adult literature that may be of interest to our writers, I have started a #YAlitchat Twibe. Our Twibe is a twitter group for #YAlitchat members. Visit http://twibes.com/YALITCHAT to join. There is also a larger community where you can connect and share twenty four/seven on ning at http://YALITCHAT.ning.com without worrying about the limitations of twitter.If you're a YA author, I strongly recommend checking out this community. Georgia regularly posts up-to-date info about markets and industry news relevant to YA writers. And feel free to add me as a friend! You can find me at http://yalitchat.ning.com/profile/inkyelbows.