Inspirational Books

Inspiration

A good friend of mine asked me for a list of inspirational books that would help her to write a story about her grandmother. After compiling it for her I thought it might be helpful to post it here on my blog too. Feel free to let me know and others what books inspire you to write or get you through tough times. 

Being a lover of all things books it was so much fun even therapeutic to look through my shelves. I have quite alot of them but never enough to suit me. But my family won’t let me get any more bookshelves until I weed through the ones I already have. So, since that isn’t going to happen I am forced to get more on my Kindle app! lol! I’ll show them! (evil prevails..) Continue reading

We are Writers

There is something about words that move me. If you are a writer, you know what I mean. They have a way of moving you when you least expect it. It is like the beat of a song, it carries you and then just as quickly as it began it is over. You are onto the next one hoping to find that right way of saying exactly how you feel.

I look out my window when I drive and just as a painter looks for that perfect scene to paint I look for an ideal way to write what I am looking at — hoping to capture it only as I see it in all its beauty. The words have to be right. But I get so caught up in the way to write that I lose focus on what it is that caught my attention in the first place. Then I close my eyes and remember the way I felt when I looked at it. Then the passion comes back, and once more I start writing from my heart.

So it’s the passion that sets us free. It’s like a brush stroke on a canvas; we must use our words as paint. I am convinced that there is passion in all of us to express ourselves, but it is those who can turn it into words that make the writer.

We are the lucky ones. We can create from anywhere or anything. We can look at the ocean, the mountains, the eagles, a dirt road and find a story. We can turn the ordinary into something extraordinary – we are writers.

Writer’s Digest Writing Competition Winner in Inspirational Writing Category

How to Become a Better Writer

We spend a great deal of time at our jobs on our computer doing all kinds of writing tasks. We use all types of software that help us with spelling, grammar, and editing but no one teaches you how to become a better writer.

This journey you must take for this is your own, but it need not be a scary one. Writers are important and not only crucial to have at work but also in writing pieces that help others achieve their own writing goals.

Why the Work Needs Writers

People especially need good writers in the workplace. We spend hours on FB, Twitter, and Instagram with our short posts, but no real writing occurs here.

We write fast emails, proposals, presentations, reports, and blog posts but these alone do not show our skills to deliver our very best writing skills. For our best writing to occur we must know how to become better and how to apply it. This goes for not only in our jobs but in our own personal writing so that we can be the best writer we can be.

It is not only important to know the English language in your job but also the ability to write paragraphs that draw attention to the topic at hand. It isn’t enough to just spell check or use grammar correction one must remember the way to how to become a better writer and apply it every day.

How to Determine if Your Writing Needs Improvement

To improve your writing, you need to make sure, the following points are in, so you’ll always be working towards how to become a better writer.

Tips to Learn How to Become a Better Writer

Read Other Writers

You need to read other writers to find the best way to write in your own style. By doing so you’ll learn structure and style and a way of writing that best suits you. Learning from the master’s is the best way to find your own way of writing. It’s important that you find your own voice.

Write Everyday

Write daily and/or multiple times a day to sharpen your skills. One thing to remember is that writer’s write. If you’re not writing daily or even multiple times a day, then you won’t get enough practice and learn how to become a better writer. The key is to write no matter what it is daily. Practice makes perfect.

Keep Getting Ideas

Jot down your ideas for they not only help motivate but provide inspiration. By writing your ideas you are gaining inspiration and that can generate something to write about. This is crucial for it will keep your imagination going and give you the motivation to sit down and write for you have something that you want to write about.

Develop a Routine

Create a ritual and stick to it. Set aside any time, even 30 minutes and let nothing interfere. By writing at a set time you’ve created a routine. It can be a morning or night routine but at least for 30 minutes. But if you can go an hour that would be better especially if you are trying to make writing a full-time job. You’ll need to put more time into your writing should this be your career path. Remember the more you write the better a writer you’ll be.

Just Write

Do nothing else during your writing time but write. We’ve all been there, you sit down to a blank screen and instead of writing you check emails, go on social media, etc. Just start writing and don’t worry about what you’re writing about. Let the words just come out. This is the best way to get the writing juices flowing. You will soon find that during this writing session that you will stumble upon something of interest to write about.

Distraction Free

Don’t get distracted by your surroundings. It is best to tune out all the noise and write. In our busy lifestyles, we are constantly pulled in all directions, but we must not lose sight of our goals when it comes to writing. Therefore, it is important to find a quiet place and make this the regular space that you can write with no interruptions. If you are using your desk, then clear it of all papers that could distract you from just writing. Your goal is to have a space that is cleared of anything that can pull your attention from writing. This is your set aside time. Respect yourself as a writer and others will as well. By setting this time aside it’ll help you to learn how to become a better writer.

Plan Ahead

Do you have a plan for what you are writing? By planning out or outlining (whichever is easiest for you) what you’re writing it leaves out all the downtime in your writing time. You should be writing during your writing time and not mapping out, outlining or brainstorming your piece. Use your time wisely. Don’t use writing time to research or plan. That can be scheduled outside of your regular time slot.

Your Own Style

Are you developing your own style? It is alright to study and even steal bits from other writers. But you must find your own style of writing in doing so this will reach your readers for they will hear your voice and not someone else. You need to make your own path by finding your own voice. Keep experimenting with other writers and find parts of their style that work for you.

Get to the Point

Are you getting right to the point with your sentences? Make sure you’re being as clear as you can with your writing. A long sentence isn’t really needed if it can be shortened and contain the same meaning. Keep to the point and keep it short and powerful. This will ensure that you don’t lose your readers and they will continue to read until the end of your piece.

Feedback Is Key

Are you getting feedback on your writing? Remember criticism is part of what being a writer is all about. It helps us to improve our skills and toughens us up as well. Critiquing is something that goes hand in hand with learning how to become a writer. It’s important to have someone with the knowledge of writing read it.

Get It Read

Your best bet would be a writer or an editor to look it over. Let others read it as well for it can only help improve your writing. Create a blog, or post on another’s as a guest. But get your writing out for others to see as this is important to living the life as a writer.

Make It Flow

Does your writing sound like you are stiff or robotic? You may need to break a few grammatical rules to make your writing flow but that is the name of game. It’s best to come across like you’re having a conversation with your reader. You want to be relatable so write like you are in the room with them and having a conversation. Your best writing is the kind that comes from you with no effort whatsoever.

Begin and End It Strong

Is your beginning and ending strong? These are the two areas that are the most important. You must hook your reader in the beginning or they won’t continue reading. Remember to keep in mind to always leave them wanting more. Each beginning should entice as well as each ending should encourage them to think long after they have read your piece. Keep your ending just as strong as your beginning so that you keep the readers interest all the way through.

Hacks to Become a Better Writer

When you are left with only a few hours to write your piece here are some shortcuts to help you learn to how to become a better writer.

  • Get to the point quickly.
  • Keep in mind these three key questions:
    • What is the reason for your writing?
    • What do you want your reader to know?
    • What do you want them to do?
  • Keep it simple.  Write as if you’re writing it to a child.
  • Don’t force it. Think of something happy, take a shower or listen to relaxing music.
  • Be decisive. Take a stand. No open-ended questions. Be strong and close your piece strong.
  • Read your writing out loud. This will catch grammar errors as well as make sure it flows well.
  • Change someone’s day by choosing words carefully that are encouraging and positive.

Conclusion

These are amazing tools to help you learn how to become a better writer. We all have the power to make someone’s day with our words whether it be via texts, FB posts, Instagram or Twitter. Take time for your writing and know that you can write without the usage of all the software and correction tools. Learn the basics and then you add to it whatever helps to create the piece that you are writing.

Written for: Steady Content

Top 10 Disneyland Packages

Ever thought of going to Disneyland? Think it’s a lot of money? Well, think again. These Disneyland packages will show you many ways to find an affordable solution to your travel desires. It is just a matter of finding the right one that fits into your schedule and budget.

When you think of Disneyland, it should be full of excitement not fear of costs. This is a time to have fun together and be with the ones you love. It doesn’t need to be a chore to plan. Take time to look over these tips and the recommended Disneyland packages. Rest assured you will find the right one for your family and be off on that vacation in no time.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Disneyland?

January to mid-March would be one of the suggested times to visit. Going later in March you run into Spring break and that means it will get busier until the first part of April. Another good time is right after school begins in September until the first part of October. Lastly, the other time to go would be a week or two before Thanksgiving in November. You can beat the Christmas crowd and enjoy the calm before the storm sort of speak.

Going at these times will ensure that you will have fewer people and that would mean the lines are shorter. But take into account this would mean that some rides might not be operating. Disney utilizes the offseason to repair old rides. Also, take into account that the park may not be open long hours like they usually are during peak time. That would mean you might not have enough time to enjoy all the rides. Just know that there might be drawbacks to going during the offseason.

Is Disneyland Packages Affordable?

Disneyland has affordable packages that meet each individual or family’s needs. Depending on when you go will determine the cost. On non-peak days it is $97.00 whereas on peak days it’s $135.00 per ticket.  Should you want to purchase a hopper ticket then you are looking at a $147.00 This might be the way to go if you want to go to both parks during your stay. But going no matter what at non-peak times will guarantee savings.

The ones that wish to go more during the year will pay about $730 for an annual pass or get a Signature Pass that offers free parking, and this costs $999.

How to Find the Best Disneyland Package Deals

Once you determine how much you want to spend and when you would like to go, then your next step is to find the package that fits best. The Disneyland packages offer you a stay in their own hotels. So, when you are looking at these remember they have three hotels to choose from. They are Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, the Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel.

Doing your research is key so don’t stop at this list for there are other deals to be had out there. These are merely suggestions and you will know what is the right one for you.  It is important to note: when deciding on a package (unless you get the collectible Hopper ticket) you will only be able to go to either California Adventure Park or Disneyland. This ticket allows you to hop between the two.  Here are some Disneyland Packages:

Disneyland Resort Dream Vacation Package

The most popular of all packages might suit you and your family. It can, like all the Disneyland Resort Packages be modified to suit your specific vacation needs. But here is what is included in this one:

  • Three-night stay at one of their hotels: Grand Hotel, Disneyland or Paradise Pier
  • Collectible Park Hopper ticket
  • Early admission into Fantasyland and Tomorrowland
  • Discount card offering 10% off certain restaurants and merchandise
  • Souvenir button, pin, and lanyard
  • Discount on bowling

Disneyland Good Neighbor Vacation Package

You don’t have to stay at Disneyland’s resorts to enjoy the theme park. The neighboring hotels offer Disneyland packages too. They have put together ones that will fit into anyone’s budget. They have a list of lodging places but here are some to get you started. Should you need to find more they have them online.

Some less expensive ones to try are Anaheim Quality Inn and Suites, and the Motel 6 Anaheim Maingate. They also have some moderately priced ones: Best Western Plus Anaheim Resort, Clarion Hotel Anaheim Resort, Courtyard by Marriott, and the Holiday Inn to name a few.

Once you find the hotel, you will also enjoy their Disney packages too. Here are some things you can find in them:

  • Hotel Lodging
  • Souvenir Park Hopper Ticket
  • Walt Disney Travel Company luggage tag, savings card, and lanyard with pin
  • One early entry into Fantasyland and Tomorrowland

Southern California City Pass Booklet

Along with the other standard features this package includes days and night stays at other hotels within Southern California. If you have never been to Southern California, this package would be a great way to site, see. Here is what you can find in this package:

  • Minimum three-night stay at the Disneyland Resort Hotels
  • Additional days/nights in San Diego, Orange County, or Los Angeles
  • Access into one of the two parks (California Adventure or Disneyland)
  • Early morning admission to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland (on Tues., Thurs., or Sat.)
  • Luggage tag, lanyard and collectible pin from the Walt Disney Travel Company
  • Savings card for discounts at various places around the park

Disneyland Flight Package

Through various online booking companies like Orbitz or Trip Advisor, you can find some great bargains. But this is only for airfare, hotel, and rental car. You might need to add the ticket on, but it will be worth it due to the savings on the travel. Some also give discounts if you spend for example $2,000 total when you book.

Disney Rewards Visa Vacation Package

  • Minimum stay of three nights
  • A Disney tote bag
  • Access to the fitness center within the Disneyland hotels only
  • Disneyland Park Hopper ticket
  • Early morning entry to Fantasyland and Tomorrowland
  • Collectible lanyard with a pin, a luggage tag and savings card from Walt Disney Travel Company

Disneyland One to Four Day Passes

For those who do not need a hotel, just getting a pass is the economical way to go. You might live in the area or already have a place to say and just need a pass.  These passes can be purchased as a Hopper Ticket or a regular one. Whatever your choice you will only be allowed to go on the number of days you purchased.

Disneyland Hopper Ticket

The Hopper Ticket is fun because it allows you to go between Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park. It would also include an early morning admission into Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Regular Pass

This Pass has you choose between going to Disneyland Park or California Adventure. You will be able to have an early morning admission to Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Disneyland Signature, Plus, Deluxe and Premier Passports

These are for those that want to go to Disneyland regularly. They each have over 300 days of admission except the Premier offers unlimited admission days to the Disneyland Resort Park. They all include unlimited rides and attractions. In all of these, parking is included at Mickey and Friends parking structure. Some other perks are discounts on merchandise, dining, as well as photo passes.  There is no limit to how much fun you can have with these passports.

Southern California Special Passport

If you live in southern California, you can get a special annual passport. This pass allows you in the park on 175 select days. There are blackout days that you will not be able to use your pass on so be aware of those. Just show proof of residence with this pass and you will be able to have access to both Disneyland and California Adventure Park.

Costco Travel Package

Costco Travel has put together a multi-day vacation package as well. This package includes airfare, hotel stay at Disneyland Park Hotels, dining and car rental. This might be the way to go if you are a member to get the best savings for your family vacation.

California Adventure Package

If you are just wanting to see the California Adventure and not Disneyland on your trip, then this is the way to go. You do not need to purchase a Hopper ticket just the regular one and go right in. Included in all the passes the early admission. So, you can have one day to beat the crowds and enjoy no lines.

Conclusion

We all need to take time and have some fun. Going to Disneyland is every child and adults ultimate vacation spot. It is a place where we can be kids all over again and let the workaday world go for a while. You should be able to find the perfect package for you and your loved ones in the Disneyland packages suggestions. There are more available, but these will give you the most value for your money. We all deserve to shuck off our responsibilities for a little while and take pictures with Mickey and Minnie.

Newsjacking – Different Ways to Inject Your Sales and Promotion

You see headline news come across your phone, and when you search for more information you suddenly find many articles that reference the headline, but actually promote some other idea or product which wants to grab your interest! This is called Newsjacking.

 

Perhaps you are already on social media utilizing some latest news to promote something within your company? Or are you writing blog posts about something that just occurred in the world and referencing it to gain exposure to your posts? How about tagging on a celebrity that uses a product that your company is selling to generate sales in your own business? Well, if this sounds anything like you then you are already a newsjacker. You may not even realize that you are but here is the breakdown of what it is and how you can use newsjacking to benefit you and your company.

 

What Is Newsjacking?

Doesn’t this sound illegal? Well, believe it or not, it is quite legal in the marketing world and is being done every day. David Meerman Scott’s book “Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage” coined the term newsjacking. Basically, it is tagging onto a popular news story with your own content to gain public attention to your business and help your business gain exposure.  It is really that simple.

Each time a story breaks in the news there is a point when marketers have a chance to ride on the wave of its popularity. In doing so, they benefit their company. This could be through sales, increased hits on websites, more leads, etc. But the fact is that you have attached yourself to this event and you will continue to be on the ride until it dies down.

This doesn’t just pertain to business news but also celebrity stories, sports stories, and entertainment award shows.  These all can get your company noticed if you write the best content to coincide that event.

 

How to Use It?

To make newsjacking work for you and your company, you must have a good understanding of how to use it. This is not a complicated process, but you must act fast and know how to think quickly on your feet. Think of it as running a race with social media. You must always be on the ball and linked to stories that could prove to be successful for your business.

 

Here are Steps to Make Newsjacking Work

 

Create Alerts

What this means is to look for stories that you could newsjack and attach an alert to them through Google alerts.  This ensures that if something newsworthy occurs, you will get the first scoop on it. You are a busy person and searching all day on the internet for stories to newsjack would be a waste of your time. By setting up alerts you can sit back and let the internet work for you. Less time consuming and helpful in providing you with any news that is worthy of newsjacking.

Find the Keyword to Use

Once you locate your story, then you need to get as many people to see your posts as possible. This is the whole reason why you are newsjacking, so make it count. To locate a popular keyword, you can use Google to assist. Start with searching for the keyword search tool.  Look for popular keywords and target those in your content.

Find the Primary Source

You want to create content that is unique and hasn’t been written. You must find the primary source so that you are writing from the original story. This is key to not only maintaining your originality but also your own credibility. You must read all that is out there in the story that you wish to newsjack. So, when you write your own content, it is fresh and not piggybacking off another story.  You want your story to be the first out there and gaining the most exposure from your excellent skills newsjacking.

Create Your Newsjacking Content

Now it is time to write your content and get it out quickly. Remember you are up against a story that will soon go stale so your timing is crucial. No one reads yesterday’s news. But don’t let the speed impede your basic writing skills. Your content is going out to promote your company and increase sales, therefore, it is a representation of your business. Use your writing tools and check all spelling, grammar and punctuation. Have another person read it before you send it out. But don’t get too detailed in your editing. Just do the basic changes and get this sent out. Time is of the essence in newsjacking.

Find Your Niche

This phrase not only applies when your write but also when newsjacking. For your story to gain the attention that you want you must find the best way to tell it. You must consider your own audience you are sending it to. Write to your audience in the simplest way possible. But if you find that someone has written something already on this don’t despair. When you are newsjacking, you must keep in mind that you can always write something better than what is already out there. Just find your own way of telling the story and give your audience a reason to read it above all the other stories.

Publish Your Content

Publish has many meanings but in this case, it refers to getting your content out there in the web world. This means on your own social network sites. Also use your connections with newscasters, journalists, and celebrities if you know of any and have them help you.  It is in their interest as well for they also want to keep their own web content flowing. So it is a win-win for you both.

 

Benefits for Sales and Promotion

Newsjacking certainly has its benefits, for example, improving your brand’s reputation and driving highly targeted traffic to you that can turn into leads or sales. It brings awareness to your company and brings more traffic through SEO. Also brings new customers, and that helps to expand your business.  You want to bring your company into the limelight but be aware that there are some subjects that you do not want to associate your company with. Discuss with your team and come up with a list of topics that they would like to cover and areas to stay away from. To gain the most benefits from newsjacking it is best to put in some order within your department. This will ensure that you are making the most of the upcoming event and catapulting on it with a purpose in mind.

Whether generating more leads or gaining more sales for your company newsjacking can be a very positive tool if used correctly. There are some risks but once you have an agreement with your team and a plan in place, then it will run smoothly.

Newsjacking Key Elements

  • Plan – Have a plan in place so that research and creating the story will go smoother.
  • Purpose – Be clear on the reasons why you are newsjacking whether it be to generate leads, promotion or sales.
  • Prepare – Put on calendar events relative to your company. Ex. NBA, Tony Awards, etc.
  • Publish – Once completed and proofed, get your content out to your audience.

 

Controversial Topics for Newsjacking

It is recommended that you promote to the pop culture or zeitgeist. These groups are found by monitoring Google Trends and trending hashtags on social media. There are some controversial topics that you must stay away from to protect your company or brand for if you use them you might come across as too opportunistic.

Death, destruction, and disasters

It’s best not to newsjack off these types of stories. These will not promote your company or brand in a positive light by newsjacking off an upsetting event. If you are expressing sympathy or donating to a cause without trying to promote sales, then this isn’t newsjacking and will not be a risk to your marketing or promotional activities.

Politics

Measure the risks and rewards when choosing to comment on political issues. Keep clear of this area unless you are comfortable delving into politics with your audience that you are promoting to.

 

Conclusion

Newsjacking can be useful to a company from gaining new customers, increasing sales and promoting new products. We can benefit from events in the media to generate these results if we use newsjacking correctly. It is easy to move too quickly and cost your company or brand loss of their good reputation. This could happen if you use newsjacking on a disastrous event, death, or destruction. If you decide to take a political stance do so carefully and with the approval of your marketing team. We must approach newsjacking as we do with anything in our businesses with proper planning. Research your topics thoroughly while focusing on the results you are trying to achieve with newsjacking. But with any news story, one must act quickly so stay up to the minute with news alerts. Write your newsjacking story in a new perspective that will get to the heart of the matter and impinge on your audience. We all have a bit of pirate in us and newsjacking is a modern adaptation.

 

 

 

Written for: Steady Content

Writing Never Dies

1As I sit here listening to the song by Christina Perri, A Thousand Years, I am reminded what life is about. All the thoughts that I have had these past weeks have now caught up and I am silent no more. This song has inspired me to write from my heart.

I have had trouble finding my inspiration this week. Looking back at all that occurred I didn’t know how I could even sit and contemplate what to write let alone actually do the writing. But as it turns out a writer is still a writer through the pain. In fact, they are more of a writer than they ever thought they could be.

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The Three Things I Look For…

After reading many, many wonderful (and less than wonderful) screenplays, these are the three most common things I find that need addressing:

  1. A Story and B Story definition
  2. Character development
  3. Too wordy (show don’t tell)

Let me talk about each and you can put these to work in your own script. I reference Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, as the best screenwriting book to follow when defining these terms. 

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