Archive | December, 2010

Happy Holidays!

24 Dec

“The thing about trains,” says the conductor on the Polar Express, ” it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.”

I’ll be stepping off the blogging train here at The Write Alley and jumping on the holiday train until 2011! While I may slip in a post here or there (maybe one or two on New Year’s Resolutions?), I will resume my regularly blogging schedule of posts about improving your writing and using social media tools for yourself and your business in the New Year.

So light a candle, gather some friends, enjoy the stars, and have a wonderful time!

How to get a Facebook biz page in 3 easy steps & what’s next

23 Dec

Is your business on Facebook? Or have you avoided the Facebook revolution even though you know you should be using Facebook for your business?

Here’s how to get a Facebook account for your business and not really be on Facebook yourself, and what to do with your Facebook page once you have it. (more…)

Are You Smarter in a Group?

22 Dec

“There’s been a tendency to focus on the negative, the mob psychology, the idea that people can bring out the worst in each other,”  says Robert Goldstone, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University. “There’s just as much evidence that people can bring out the best in each other.”

While we’ve all sat through tedious meetings that accomplished little if anything, we’ve also seen the opposite where group intelligence was greater than our own.

Recent research says yes, you are smarter when you work in a group: group intelligence outperforms what you would expect to find by averaging the IQs of individuals in the group. Carolyn Y. Johnson reports  in her article “Group IQ” in The Boston Globe that group intelligence “is not strongly tied to either the average intelligence of the members or the team’s smartest member.” The research also found that, surprisingly,

a group’s motivation, satisfaction, and unity were unimportant. Instead, the researchers found that when a group had a high level of collective intelligence, the members tended to score well on a test that measured how good they were at reading other people’s emotions. They also found that groups with overbearing leaders who were reluctant to cede the floor and let the others talk did worse than those in which participation was better distributed and people took turns speaking.

Research also indicated that groups with the best performance change over time and that

the proportion of women in the group was a predictor of collective intelligence — a factor they believe was likely influenced by women’s generally superior social sensitivity.

“Instead of seeing groups as nameless and faceless affiliations that swallow up an individual’s identity, the new work on collective behavior suggests that in company lies opportunity,” writes Carolyn Y. Johnson in her article “Group IQ” in The Boston Globe December 19, 2010.

In company lies opportunity for YOU!

This reminds me of the importance of networking. Not just to make contacts for your business and maybe a sale, but for the benefits of connecting with the group intelligence.

I think this is one of the reasons why I enjoy the Women’s Business Socials held each month in Ojai (the next one is Tuesday January 18 from 6-pm at Azu). My intelligence quotient goes up exponentially when I engage with these other smart, interesting business women.

In 2011, one of my resolutions is to attend at least two networking events a month with people I enjoy and admire. That means I’m going to do my best to attend gatherings of Linchpins, Green Drinks, Thirsty Girls, and, of course, the Women’s Business Socials!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

two reviews for “middle of the night poems”

21 Dec

Here are reviews by Frankie Drayus and Danika Dinsmore of my new poetry collection,  middle of the night poems from daughter to mother :: mother to son (en theos press). A few more signed and numbered limited edition (108) chapbooks are available from me or from the publisher; regular paperback books will be available on my birthday January 11, 2011 and at readings now being scheduled for winter, spring, and summer.

reviews for "middle of the night poems from daughter to mother :: mother to son" In her review of middle of the night poems from daughter to mother :: mother to son (en theos press), Frankie Drayus writes: In these poems there is a deep connection to all five senses and how they figure into daily life; what we eat, see, touch, hear, and smell while going about our daily tasks are overlooked by most and captured as significant pleasures by Gwen, who lives with her body open to the sensual. These are humble poems, in that the w … Read More

via art predator

winter solstice lunar eclipse: rituals for self, world, business!

20 Dec

Here in the northern hemisphere, tonight is the last night of fall 2010 which means tomorrow the day’s will start to get longer and the night’s shorter.

Tonight is also unusual because the moon is full AND there’s a lunar eclipse which will be in full swing around midnight.

So that means tonight’s the kind of night to “reset” your clock and to set in motion your intentions for the coming year of growth and change.

While many of the ancient peoples found events like these to be full of fear, they also found ways to meet the challenge.

This blog post from Art Predator shares some rituals I’ve used to mark the winter solstice and a lunar eclipse.

At the very least, light a candle and set down in words goals you have for yourself personally, for your business, and for how you want to be in the world around you.

winter solstice lunar eclipse: rites of passage …[existential] changes of condition do not occur without disturbing the life of society and the individual, and it is the function of rites of passage to reduce their harmful effects. That such are regarded as real and important is demonstrated by the occurrence of rites, in important ceremonies among widely differing peoples, enacting death in one condition and resurrection in another. — Arn … Read More

via art predator

In the news with the ArtRiders

17 Dec

I wear a lot of hats.

In addition to being a writer, a blogger, a poet, a college teacher, and a writing coach, I’m also an environmental activist who leads themed monthly bike rides to various art galleries, studios, and exhibits with the San Buenaventura ArtRiders Bicycle and Social Club.

Yesterday, the local weekly published a story about our ArtRides which quotes me extensively; read what we’re doing and why! You can also check out my latest bicycle news over at

Anyone can ride with us, and while we encourage everyone to express the theme by dressing up, it’s not required. It’s free, fun, family friendly, and a very different way to meet people and network; I hope you’ll join us! We meet every first Friday by the Artists Union Gallery and we ride about 6pm.

San Buenaventura ArtRiders Bicycle & Social Club in the news Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Alex Wilson of the Ventura Country Reporter joined the San Buenaventura ArtRiders “Revenge of the Nerds” ArtRide in November and wrote about the rides and our mission in this week’s paper! Read about the San Buenaventura ArtRiders for yourself here: Save Santa! Ride your bicicyle with us in a holiday themed SantaCon … Read More

via art predator

Women’s Business Social Meets at Ojai Valley Inn: bring books!

16 Dec

On Thursday, December 16 from 5:30-7pm the Women’s Business Social meets at the Ojai Valley Inn.

Join in the spirit of the season by bringing books to give to young people who are incarcerated at the local California Youth Authority facility. Patti Michaels suggested this idea to No More Nylons founder and host of the Socials Jodi Womack and the idea took off from there. Here’s an article from about donating books which quotes yours truly.

“Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF) oversees 360 Youth here in Ventura County who have been incarcerated for major crimes,” posted Patti on the No More Nylons facebook page. “The ages of the Youth are as young as 12 years old and on up to 24 years. If you have books within your library that have touched you and have changed your life in a profound way, please consider donating them to this cause by bringing your books to the next Women’s Business Social Event Thursday night at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.”

I taught writing and literature course for Ventura College to incarcerated young men out at CYA and saw for myself how hungry they were for reading materials that engaged their minds and inspired their souls.

This can be a great way to turn the young people there onto literature–to feed their minds and their imaginations. Many of them are quite bright; they just lack educational opportunities and cultural capital.

For the literature class, I had the guys select from several novel choices to form “book club” discussion groups for class. I asked friends and family to donate the books so the students could write in them and keep them.

They were really fascinated by all the “hidden” meanings in the literature we studied. It got them thinking about symbolism in art and all around us. I also brought in a huge pile of Rolling Stone magazines–that really made them happy!

So please think back to when you were in high school and your early years of college and please bring books to the Social to donate!

More Social Media Tips & Tools

15 Dec

I’m attending Constant Contact’s free social media workshop…so you don’t have to…and will be sharing the highlights here for you! See the previous post for the first part of this two part blog post.

While social media tools are free or low-cost, they can have a huge price: your time.

The presenter argues that all a small business needs to do is 15 minutes a day three days a week to maintain a social media presence that’s consistent and active.

I would disagree: if you have plenty of time, if your business is young, or if you’re underemployed, invest time in social media, especially if you are blogging–which she isn’t addressing in this workshop.

Recycle and reuse content. Post the link to your email or blog post to social media sites. You can even break down information from a larger article into smaller Facebook or Twitter sized updates.

Make sure you cross promote your various social media platforms.

Social networks offer YOU a chance to share your message but also a chance for OTHERS to talk about you, so you’d better monitor the web for what people are saying.

If someone says something, respond! If it’s positive, thank them! Engage them! If what they said is NOT positive, you need to respond immediately and take it offline quickly.

Bad feedback? Contact the person immediately and take it offline. Don’t be defensive: fix the problem.

In addition to monitoring, it’s important to measure your impact. Start with a baseline. Figure out what you want to measure and get that information, possibly into a spreadsheet like Excel. Then experiment with the different platforms and see what the results are.

Some tools: is a monitoring tool.

Google Alerts sends you an email notice about whatever topic you want to know about: your name, your business, your blog, your community.

HootSuite and TweetDeck help you to monitor what’s happening on various social media platforms. shortens links and provides tracking information. offers more free tools and free trial for 60 days.

Constant Contact Workshop Part 1: Focus on Facebook

15 Dec

So I’m devoting the day at two workshops on social media presented by Kelly Flint of Constant Contact…so you don’t have to! Or if you’re considering attending one in the future, you’ll know whether it’s worth it or not.

What follows is based on my notes from what Kelly had to say in today’s morning workshop, an introduction to social media.

The people who are your customers already are your best customers: your best customers are your current customers.

But how do you keep those customers? How do you let them know what’s new and exciting in your business? How do you engage them?

The presenter started with a brief overview of the major social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube (she didn’t mention blogging). The main idea is to be where your customers are. Are your customers hanging out on facebook? Then you should be too!

First you need to figure out where your customers engage you online. She offered a case study of a nail salon who offered a 20% discount to people who mentioned a keyword which changed depending on the source. The salon owner listened to which key phrase the customers shared to get their discount and learned that 50% used the discount they got from the email.

Average open rate is 12% but in one case she shared, the open rate was 22%, and even more amazing, the share rate was 60%. Why? The email was about an international bacon day and offered significant information, content, that inspired sharing. And since the user turned on the “share” button, people did.

Content is always king. If you share content with your readers that engages them, they will want to share it.

In another example, people who are on an email newsletter list are members of a “club” who get discounts. What happens if people are excited about the content of your email it can and will be shared with their friends via social media outlets if you use them.

Facebook Content tips: (more…)

Tuesday Tips: Keep Learning (free workshops Weds on social media & email marketing!)

14 Dec

I love learning. That’s one of the reasons I love writing–you really learn a subject when you try to write about it and explain it to someone else.

I love attending conferences and blogging about what I’m hearing; that gets me to pay attention better because I’m taking notes not just for me but to share with others.

And I love workshops too. Even if it’s a topic I know something about, there’s always more to learn. As a teacher myself, it’s valuable to me to see how others teach a topic. I’m keen on picking up metaphors that others use that click for me!

Finally, I love FREE–especially if I think I’m going to learn something of value!

So that’s why I’m going to spend tomorrow at the Ventura County Office of Education participating in two sessions on social media and email marketing sponsored by Constant Contact, a company that you probably recognize from emails in your inbox. They’re a very popular company (if my inbox is to judge) when it comes to email marketing. I completely expect them to “sell” me on their product; afterall, they are sponsoring the workshop to teach me how to use it.

The sessions  are free–only cost of admission is a business card for each session: 

-10:00am Social Media Marketing Made Simple
-Noon Lunch Break (Lunch on your own)
-1:30pm The Power of Email Marketing

For more events go to:


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