Archive | November, 2010

Tuesday Tips: 25 Ways to Better Your Blog

30 Nov

I found a great blog post today full of useful tips to build a brilliant business blog and I encourage you to check it out. It also got me thinking about a few of my own tips about writing and blogging, so to get you started, here are four of my tips, and a few of their 21 Tips to total 25 ways to better your blog, whether it be for business or pleasure.

Tip 1: Write regularly.

Writers become better writers by writing. There’s no shortcut. Invest your time, energy and passion, and you’ll become a better writer and you’ll have a better blog.

Tip 2: Think like a writer.

Writers see the world through an interpretive lens. They find something out in the world that interests them and they want to write about it. Writing helps us to understand our world more deeply. Writing requires us to interpret what we see and experience and put it into our own words. Writing engages us in the world around us.

Tip 3: Read other people’s blogs.

You’ll become a better blogger yourself, especially if you read well-written blogs and study the techniques the writers use.

Tip 4: Follow interesting people on twitter.

Find and follow people on twitter who post content that interests you professionally and personally. Follow their links to see what they have to say. You’ll likely find content for your blog and for your brain and your business too!

What follows are a few of the tips from the blog post “21 Tips To Create A Brilliant Business Blog;” follow the link to read all of the tips and to read more about each one.

Tip 5. Have A Clear Business Goal

Tip 6. Write Content That People Will Reference

Tip 7. Give Away Lots Of “Secrets” For Free

Tip 8. Show Your Personality

Tip 9. You Don’t Have To Do What People Expect

Tip 10. Weave Social Media In To Your Blog

Tip 11. Focus On Content And Not Design

Tip 12. Praise The Work Of Others Within Your Industry

Tip 13. Mix With The Offline World

Tip 14. Focus On Subscribers

(While you’re here, won’t you please subscribe to this blog? It’s easy–you can get blog posts in your email box or by RSS feed. And while you’re at it, “like” The Write Alley on facebook!)

Tip 15. Promote Your Blog

Tip 16. Guest Blog

Got a topic you’d like to blog about here? Please! I’d love to have you!

Tip 17. Engage Away From Your Own Blog

And there you have 17 of 25 ways to build a brilliant business blog! Read the whole blog post here:

And of course I’d be happy to help you get going on your own blog by puttting these strategies and more into place!

Tuesday Tips: Want to Speak at TEDWomen in DC? Here’s How!

23 Nov

By now, most people have heard of TED Talks as many of them have gone viral on the internet. TED Talks came from the widely popular and influential TED conferences which have now spawned the first TEDWomen Conference:

Over the past several years, a flood of fascinating data from the worlds of education, microfinance and more has shown an essential link between investing in women and girls and economic growth, public health and political stability. A new lens reveals women as powerful change agents in developing nations; meanwhile, in the West, generations of educated women are forging new directions in the sciences, arts, business and beyond.

To track this emerging story, the first-ever TEDWomen will invite both women and men to explore in depth: Who are the women leading change? What ideas are they championing? How are women reshaping the future?The cross-disciplinary, cross-generational program will focus on how women think and work, communicate and collaborate, learn and lead — what this means and why it matters to all of us. Speakers from around the globe — both men and women, from anthropologists to artists, scientists to soldiers, farmers to futurists — will share their ideas in the classic TED format, creating a program that surprises and inspires.

And now the TEDWomen’s conference in Washington DC Dec. 7 and 8 is offering an all-expense paid chance to attend.

Tell TEDWomen how you want to change the world, and you could win an all-expense paid trip to attend TEDWomen in Washington, DC December 7 & 8, 2010 and a BlackBerry® TorchTM 9800 smartphone.

You have 500 characters to share your Big Idea and you have to submit it today! Here’s mine:

I help women get out of their cars and onto their bicycles to improve their health AND the health of our planet. I want women to see that cycling is fun, safe and family friendly, that bicycles can be comfortable, easy to operate, and carry children as well as groceries.  In my regular mom’s body, without fancy clothes or gear, I show women how it’s done. I’d like to bring my bike and share photographs of the rides I lead to spread the word of women led and organized bike rides.

Here are three currently highlighted on the website

From Heather H.: I founded and run the organization ‘Reach the World’. My two great passions are education & travel; I wanted to find a way to combine these to benefit at-risk youth who have few opportunities to interact in the global community. RTW builds long-term relationships between young students and world travelers. We’ve created a new way of learning geography called GeoGames. My talk would focus on the power of personal connections to help build ‘mental maps’ of the world and become empowered global citizens.

From Iris D: I would like to empower all women to feel their beauty through health and wellness. I am a 66 years young personal trainer and it continually amazes me how many women have no idea of their worth, after leaving themselves almost without identity after bringing up children, being married and allowing themselves to be swallowed up for years. Through exercise and great social interaction, it never ceases to thrill me to see women emerge even more beautiful than in their youth.

From Nichon G: The modern camera is a wonderful thing, but it’s nice to remember how simple the mechanism can be. You CAN strip away technology until there’s little left but the abstraction on which those sophisticated machines are based. I’d like to talk about the pinhole manifesto I am currently writing. In our world which is increasingly perceived through pixels, the hands-on act of creating pinhole truly preserves, and reflects reality in a way that feeds the constant growth of the creative process.

While I may not win, the discipline of writing the idea and making it fit into the 500 characters was an excellent task!


Can you convey your “big idea” in 500 words? How about in 500 characters? How about in 500 characters including the spaces? How does the process of making your idea “shorter” allow you to say more in fewer words?

An Invitation from Bianchi Winery & The Write Alley

22 Nov

Bianchi Winery & The Write Alley invite you to Paso Robles on a wine tasting adventure! We’ll do some tasting, some writing, and some touring! Learn more about Bianchi winemaker Tom Lane and how to apply below!

Invitation from Bianchi Winery and Wine Predator to Zin a Little (a competition!) One of the last things my mom did for me before she passed away was to sign for some wine from Bianchi Winery to store in the cellar at her house until I had a chance to write about it .   Knowing that I am a huge zin fan (and a fan of well made HUGE zins), they had sent me the following–a bottle of Bianchi Zin (as well as a bottle of Petite Sirah!) and an invitation to meet Bianchi Winery’s winemaker Tom Lane (who, they claim) offers “a sa … Read More

via Wine Predator

Let’s All Go Zin Nov. 19!

19 Nov

Did you know that The Write Alley Head Coach Gwendolyn Alley is also known as the Wine Predator? Yes, indeed!

And did you know that today, Nov. 19 is Global #Zinfandel Day? Yes again!

Learn more about #Zinfandel Day and my adventures in wine at my Wine Predator Blog! Among the 200 posts there, you’ll find a page full of posts about the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2008 featuring Sonoma Wines, 2009 on Napa Wines, and in 2010  on Washington Wines! There’s also a page about the European Wine Bloggers Conference that I attended as a guest of Enoforum and where I discovered the joys of Potuguese cuisine, culture, hospitality, landscape, and wine!

As a coach and as a content provider, I would love to work with more wine related businesses. Let me know how I can help you tell the stories about you and your wines!

Let's All Go Zin: Nov. 19 is Global Zin Day How do you plan to celebrate Global Zinfandel Day, Friday November 19, 2010 from midnight to midnight? All you have to do is open a bottle of zin and enjoy it! I tell you, I am such a zin fan I’m ready to pop a cork at midnight and begin tweeting! (After all, I cut my wine “teeth” working at Ridge!) If you want to get social, use the #Zinfandel hashtag to connect with other zin lovers on  Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla, blogs, etc.  You c … Read More

via Wine Predator

Accidental Novelist Reviews Middle of the Night

18 Nov

Here’s a review of my new poetry collection, Middle of the Night Poems From Daughter to Mother :: Mother to Son (en theos press 2010) by Danika Dinsmore on her blog The Accidental Novelist. As you can imagine, I’m excited–it’s my first published review and it’s certainly positive! Thanks, Danika!

Please let me know if you’d like to publish a review!

Gwendolyn Alley's Middle of the Night Poems I know I’m not the only one who has been urging Gwendolyn Alley to publish a collection of her poems. And now she has done it, created a moving story, over years of participating in the 3:15 Experiment, with this collection of poems from the middle of the night for her mother and young son. I met Gwendolyn at the Taos Poetry Circus in 1997. At that time, The 3:15 Experiment had been running for four years and had been growing each year. The Taos … Read More

via The Accidental Novelist (Writes Again)

Keeping Track of Friends, Unfriends & Twitter Followers

17 Nov

(Note: some people may find this video hilarious. Others may find it offensive. Don’t watch it if you have your doubts!)

According to a facebook friend (and subscriber to this blog, thank you, you know who!), Jimmy Kimmel has announced it’s National “Delete FB Friends Day” today.

To quote my source’s facebook status: “My sword is sharp, and my patience is limited. Love to all. May THE FORCE be with you.”

How do you decide who to keep and who to cut on facebook and twitter? Since this is a business and writing oriented blog, I’m not going to stray too far into advice, especially since I’m torn by a “ya’ll come” approach to my own friends and a “do I really need more than 600 friends?” I wonder how many is too many, how many is enough, how many is just right. (What are your parameters?)

I can’t imagine having too many friends on my business page of course! If you haven’t done so yet, please click the find me on facebook link and join us over there!

So far I’m accepting just about everyone who is a legitimate person as a facebook friend, not some bot. I have hidden people who have politics that make me angry or who do nothing but post the same status update promoting their business over and over. So far, I may not have actually unfriended anyone. That may change later on tonight! There’s a few people that I find annoying and I’m wondering why I continue to be friends with them when they never comment on my posts and I don’t see anything that they offer worth commenting on and sharing.

I have, however, been unfriended. Yes, even though I have a Klout score of 39 (bigger is better and it has been as high as 41!) and my influence is in the 70th percentile and my friends tell me they like the content I share, I have indeed been unfriended. (There was a steady stream there after the Women’s Conference! Okay, maybe 5.)

So how do I know I’ve been unfriended, you wonder? By using an app, of course–the unfriend app! If you want to learn more about unfriend finding, here’s the link to their facebook page:

While I haven’t done any unfriending yet today, I did do a little Twitter house cleaning by using Twitter Karma to see who follows me back. I found about 200 people who don’t and I unfollowed most of them. Now what I need to do is follow the people who have faithfully followed me and who deserve to be followed back.

Please follow me on twitter! The link is in the sidebar. @ me a message with who you are and I’ll be sure to follow you back!

Tuesday Tips: Make It Personal

16 Nov

Yesterday, my college students and I were debating how technology could be used to isolate or to connect people. One of my students is doing his research paper on this topic and it sparked a discussion on the benefits of old fashioned snail mail.

Most of the students agreed that it is nice it is to receive a bonafide letter or card in the mail–that it makes the recipient feel special compared to a flurry of facebook messages or emails or ecards. One student and I shared how much we appreciated receiving cards of sympathy when we each recently lost a loved one.

As regular readers of this blog may have surmised, I am a big fan of Jodi Womack, organizer of No More Nylons Women’s Business Socials. She has a great big friendly smile and she generates a positive energy around her.

We had lunch not that long ago and I learned more about this amazing woman who is committed to connecting women AND with her degree in environmental studies, an understanding of the importance of businesses moving in a “green” direction. Then last week, we sat beside each other for Seth Godin’s talk in LA and during breaks, excitedly shared ideas, thoughts, and comments.

I know that Jodi is a big fan of personal connections and following up on meetings by sending cards. So I shouldn’t have been surprised the other day, when I received an a scenic card from her by snail mail. In it, she said she was impressed with me and how I showed up to hear Seth even when I wasn’t sure how I was going to attend his talk.

Wow! I’m still smiling and glowing! In fact, I’ll be glowing all the way to Ojai for the Nov. 17′s Women’s Business Social from 8-10am at the Oaks!

Need a little more notice to make tomorrow’s event? Put next month’s gathering on your calendar now: Dec. 16 at the Ojai Valley Inn. It will be all decked out for the holidays and I am sure it will be a festive evening.

Mayor’s Arts Awards Winners Announced

15 Nov

You may recall that I nominated my mother, Suzanne Lawrence, for a Mayor’s Arts Awards. (Read the nomination here).

While she didn’t receive an award, the letter from the Mayor explained that the City Council  already planned to honor my mother in a special way for all that she did for our community. Both Mayor Fulton and Eric Wallner, City of Ventura Creative Economy Specialist, told me in person that she was clearly someone worthy of winning, however, they want to give the awards to people who are around to receive them–and to motivate them to continue to give back to our community. Makes sense, yes? So who did win?

The very worthy 2010 Mayor’s Award Recipients are:

Helen Yunker, Arts Patron
Jack Halbert, Artist in the Community
Sylvia White, Sylvia White Gallery, Creative Entrepreneur
Margaret Travers, Arts Leader
Bob Moskowitz, Arts Educator
Chris Jay, Emerging Artist

The Mayor’s Arts Awards recognizes the artistic achievements and contributions to the cultural community by City residents, artists, educators, organizations and business leaders. Nominations for the awards were solicited from the community and the honorees were selected by a panel of leaders from the fields of art, education and business.  This program is co-presented by the Community Development and Parks, Recreation and Community Partnerships Departments.

The City of Ventura celebrates its vibrant arts community at the sixth annual Mayor’s Arts Awards at a reception honoring the 2010 recipients on Thursday, November 18, 2010 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm at the Museum of Ventura County, 56 E. Main Street, Downtown Ventura Cultural District. Everyone welcome.

See you there Thursday!

A Poem For Veteran’s Day & How The Poem Came To Be

11 Nov
these brothers they broadside published in ARTLIFE 1999

These Brothers They
by Gwendolyn Alley

Let me tell you
what I know about the Vietnam War.
I know nothing
I didn’t understand the headlines
I couldn’t look at the pictures
My parents sold the TV.

Let me tell you what
I know about the Vietnam War.
I know nothing
it seemed dramatic, romantic, exciting
dancing girls, long hair, flowing skirts
angry faced raggedy protesters
yelling and waving signs
I flashed peace signs at strangers
my father called me passé
I didn’t understand why they burned that bank
or why my father’s face grew dark.

Let me tell you what I
know about the Vietnam war.
I know nothing
the boys that came back
wiry, tattooed, eyes flashing wild
addicts all clinging to Jesus
these boys they
took my seven year old hand they
held it held it held it
I didn’t understand what
I saw in eyes that burned into mine
I didn’t know what to say about their nightmares
but when they gave me their dreams
I wanted him to sail around the world
and him to travel to Africa
send me postcards
come back for me
build me a house
grow a garden
I would stay sweet and honest
I would keep listening
these boys these brothers they
worshipped my mother, my father
these boys these brothers they
stayed with us they
hugged and played with
my younger sister, my brother, they
gathered near, too near
as if by touching us they
could touch Peace.

Let me tell you what I know
about the Vietnam war.
I know nothing
these young men their eyes
winning one battle only to lose
this other these boys I knew
who came back they these brothers they
didn’t really come back
these boys these brother they
died here disappeared here they
took a part of me with them.

Let me tell you what I know about
the Vietnam war.
I know nothing
I was born in 1962
I have lived twice as long as
these boys, these brothers
I lived for 10 more years but
they didn’t come back
I lived for twenty more years and
they haven’t come back and
I have lived for 30 more years and
when I see one on the street
Levi’s hung low over boy hips
white t-shirt pulling tight over
worked muscles: could it be he?
If he had survived
the demons, the addictions he
would be 50 he
would have sons he
would have grandsons and
his children his
grandchildren he
would take a hand in his
and hold it hold it hold it.

–c. Gwendolyn Alley

In the US, we celebrate Veteran’s Day today. Few of us do more than take advantage of a day or two off, but we have a day off to remember those who have given their lives to service for this country.

For me, remembering those who have gone to war and remembering their sacrifices reminds me of the importance of the work for peace.

A little background to this poem: in the late 1960s and early 1970s my mom worked with Viet Nam war vets and other addicts (more…)

From Goin’ with Godin to A Wild Mustang Marketing Ride

10 Nov

Still processing yesterday’s inspirational adventure with Seth Godin (more on that soon!), I set out first thing this morning for a marketing workshop organized by ArtsLive for non-profit arts organizations and featuring ideas from Mustang Marketing as well as Tyler Suchman on using online media and Colleen Cason on print media.

And why was I there? I’m a writing coach, right? Not an arts non-profit.

I was there because I have worked with two non-profit arts organizations, Art City and Bell Arts, I am interested in working with more artists, and I am a co-creator of a arts and activism non-profit, the San Buenaventura ArtRiders Bicycle and Social Club (that’s the link to where I blog about our exploits on bikergo gal.)

I learned a few tricks and shared a few too. I’ll be post some of what I learned here next week.

Plus keep an eye out for more about what I learned yesterday from Seth Godin. I’ll probably get that posted next week because I’m taking a few days off from blogging and being online to celebrate my son’s birthday. We’re going camping at the beach.

I might get something up tomorrow about Veteran’s Day. We’ll see.

And you’ll see what ever I post from the convenience of your in box if you subscribe! It’s easy–just click the box on the right side! Thanks!


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