Sunday, January 29, 2012

Using Google +

It has been an interesting week. The Google 1+ button became part of my psyche as soon as I signed up for Google +, but now I am making it a habit to read my Google + timeline on a, shall we say, more consistent basis! As with Twitter or Face Book, large portions of the material can be scrolled past. However, I am finding little gems there, like what the “Hangout” app is, and how to use it. When I first looked at Hangout, I passed. I did not download the app. Then I came across an article on my Google + timeline that talked about ways to optimize the system, and Hangout was one of them! I downloaded the app, but have not had a chance to experiment with it yet.

A really good overview of Google + can be seen here - The first thing addressed is creating circles – I really do like this, as it allows us to send messages only to people that we want to see them. So family would not get the same messages that our professional contacts do, and our professional contacts will not be underwhelmed with family info.

You can also view your Google + stream by individual circles, so that you are only getting posts pertinent to that circle. This is incredibly helpful, and saves a great deal of time. The only problem that I can see here is when we don’t take the time to view the info that we don’t deem to be a “priority”, and it looses its timeliness.

You can also enable the chat function in the same manner – deciding who you want to chat with, and who you don’t. I do not enable this function at all, because when I am online I am quite often writing, or researching an article, and don’t have the time to stop and chat.

Uploading and sharing photos, completing your profile page, and working with Sparks and Hangouts is also discussed. Note: Completing your profile page is very important if you are using your page in a professional capacity.

Another site that I discovered on my Google + stream was Women of Google + - . This is a members only site that provides training for working with the social media, as well as networking opportunities. There are three levels of membership – Free, Professional, and Premier. Check it out!

A spinoff from Women of Google + is Google + For Professional Women - Here the focus is on how to use this platform to enhance ranking and visibility for professionals.

Every day I find myself coming across something new that will help me use social media with better focus. Maybe someday I will get it all together!

© January 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Conversation Overheard: Death/Emperor

I have been trying to think of ways in which I could make the Birth Card pairs come to life. I thought that it might be fun to have a Birth Card pair chatting over coffee or drinks. I was going to work with the gentlest Birth Card pair that I could find, just so the conversation would be, shall we say, a “nice, quiet one” Best laid plans, and all of that. The first two individuals that choose to speak were the ones that were the hardest for me to write about – The Devil and The Lovers. They choose to speak over drinks … fair warning! Today's Birth Card pair are Death and the Emperor. Outspoken individuals - they know their way around life!

Scene: In flight, from Dallas to New York City, on the luxurious new Boeing Jumbo Jet. There are two seats by each window, and a widely spaced row of seats in the middle of the plane, with aisles on either side. While this is not the inaugural flight for this line of planes, they are new enough that the passengers flying them are still very excited, and somewhat in awe. The two men speaking today represent Death and the Emperor. The younger man, resplendent in an Armani suit, complete with Richard James tie and Patek Phillipe watch, represents Death. The older man, in a conservative Knot Standard suit, with a custom tie and Cartier watch, represents the Emperor.

The two men were sitting on the right hand side of the plane, just in front of the wing. They were buckled in, waiting for takeoff. Their bags were stowed in the nearest baggage compartment - there were no overhead baggage compartments on this plane, which was a blessing. Boarding had gone super fast, and they were assured that deplaning would go just as fast. The stewards and stewardesses were courteous – even a bit formal. This was no ordinary plane.

The older man, Edward Caldwell, was seated next to the window. He shut down his laptop, and placed it under his seat. Noting this, his younger companion, Stefan Molinare, did the same. It had been a long day, and it was time to allow life to slow down - at least for the duration of the flight.

The fasten seat belts sign was on, and the head steward began the in-flight spiel about where the exits were, what to do in case of an emergency, how the face masks worked, etc. It was obvious that people were paying close attention, while appearing not to. This was a new plane, and there were new rules. Holding on to the past would get one nowhere on this flight – the plane had been totally redesigned, for both comfort and utility. Nothing was where it was on the old planes.

Finally, they were in the air, and the stewards were going quietly from person to person, offering choices of wine and mixed drinks, along with small appetizers. Both men choose flutes of Crystal, along with miniature crab cakes.
Edward leaned back slightly in his seat, stretching out his legs. “So, Stefan, how do you think we are doing?”

Stefan was quite for a moment, then he spoke. “It looks as if things are going according to plan. I knew this was going to be where my energy would be needed the most, but I had no idea how many people were so far behind where they should be.”

“This is a time of change for the human race, you know. Whenever one era ends, and another begins, our work intensifies. Our mandate is to teach them to detach from the physical world, to let go of their expectations, and then to balance that with accessing their own ability to analyze, make informed decisions, and take informed actions. They are indeed coming into their own power, and those who are meant to take leadership positions must do so now.”

Stefan took a sip of wine before responding. “I would have thought that gifting them with 9/11 would have gotten their attention. That was one of my better moments, or so I thought at the time.”

Edward responded: “Yes, it was one of your better moments. We worked in sync, with me behind the scenes, flooding the area with rescue workers, and quietly getting out the individual stories. The whole thing went rather well – there was a world-wide response that was quite gratifying.”

“But then the Fool had to intervene, with Madoff and the rest of that financial crisis!”

“Stefan, you do know that the Fool was out of time. People were not listening, they were living lives that had zero relation to reality, and it was getting worse fast. Something had to be done. And the Magician eventually stepped in, with the bank mergers and government assistance.”

“Edward, the Magician was and is walking a fine line with the bankers and the government. I don’t blame the Devil for coming up with SOPA and IPA as distractions.”

“I rather think that you advised him on that, Stefan. I can see your fine hand there. The Internet is old enough to have a past, and fresh enough to have a future. Some things already need to be released so that others can take their place. And, there is the added effect of bringing people together, and refocusing their energies.”

“Point taken.”

© January 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Creative Writing

I was blessed this weekend in that I was part of a rocking Creative Writing webinar! I was presenting the webinar, but, as most presenters will attest to, we soak up as much wisdom as we bring to the table! I want to thank Mary Nale for hosting these webinars - for providing the space and the technical expertise to make this all happen.

I am not the only person presenting with Mary - check out her blog site, and see what she is offering! (Attune Magazine). I do have two upcoming classes in February - "How To Get Your Book Published" on February 11th,and "Writing Reviews" on February 25th. Mary is open to hosting many different topics - contact her to discuss what you would like to present, and she will make it happen for you!

During my Creative Writing webinar I talked about what creative writing was, where to find creative writing prompts, how to get started writing, where to get story ideas, and a bit about how to use the Tarot with writing. We did a couple of writing exercises that truly blew my socks off! These ladies could write!

One thing I did find out in researching my presentation was something that I had never really thought about - that creative writing can be applied to both fiction and non-fiction, and that it can be applied to all genres - blogs, stories, articles, poetry, auto-biographies, biographies, literature ... you name it, you can write it creatively! I am not talking about making things up, I am talking about presenting a subject in a fresh manner. That is what creativity is all about.

There is a wonderful side effect to writing creatively - it frees your mind, and it frees your soul! It allows your ideas to flow, and when your ideas flow consistently, wonderful opportunities begin to come your way, like magic!

Happy writing!

(c) January 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Keyword Research

It is not enough to find interesting content for our blogs. It is not enough to write our blogs in a cohesive manner. For most of us, our blogs are one part of an overall strategy to get our name and work out into the public eye. What can we do to make our blogs stand out, so that they reach a larger audience, and encourage that audience to come back for more? Make best use of keywords!

Keywords? Okay, most of us recognize that keywords are a part (okay - a large part) of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). So what are they, exactly, and how do we know when we are using the right one, and using them correctly? It's called research! We do what is called keyword research. What we are looking for is the word(S) that an individual types into a search engine (such as Google) to find specific information. Making best use of these keywords in our blogs, and in the titles for our blogs, will place us higher in the search engine ratings, and drive more visitors to our blogs.

There are two groups of thought here: one group holds the position that if you write quality content with a specific audience in mind, you should not need to use keywords - that people will seek you out. The second group holds the position that you need to find the best keywords, and base your article around them. I think that most of us combine these methods - starting with defining our audience, deciding on the content, then writing the content,keeping the keywords in mind. I have written site content where I was required to use certain words a given number of times - not a heck of a lot of fun!

Sigh. Where do we start. Review what you blog is all about, and who your audience is. Make a list of words that are appropriate to your content and your audience. Keywords will change as content and intended audience changes. This will give you a good foundation for your writing.

Now life gets fun (not!). It is time to take your most prominent keywords, your strongest keywords, and run them through a keyword research tool, such as Google Keyword Tool, Keyword Tool, or Keyword Tool, all of which are free. Make a list of your results, so that you don't need to do this very often!

Have fun with this - but take it seriously, too. Make best use of your time - perhaps do this in phases, so that you don't burn yourself out. The results will be that your blog, and your work, will gain a wider audience, and you will be creating opportunities for the growth of your blog and your work!

(c) January 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting Things Together

I am far enough along in my second Tarot book now that I am reviewing the author's publishing guide, as the next step will be to code my manuscript for submission. The process this time is going much smoother - largely due to the fact that I have been through it once. The first time around, I didn't even know the right questions to ask! Also in my favor is that for both books, the material is flowing. I love the Tarot, and even though I do want to leave the field as a professional reader,I do want to continue writing on the subject.

Right now I am looking at general coding, and how to make bullet points look graceful. I am not including images in this book, so the interest has to be in the manner in which the text is presented. I am finding that my acquisition a few years back of the "Chicago Manual Of Style" is proving to be a good investment (even though that is not showing in my blogs yet!).

My next projects will be writing the blurbs for the book, and starting to think about what I want the cover to look like. Life is good!

(c) January 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year - New Voice?

Going into the new year, many things are changing ... as they should. Some projects have been brought to completion, some have been released,new ones have come into being, and thoughts are coming together on others. As my life undergoes various changes, I find my author's voice changing with it. Perhaps I should look at this as a fine tuning, rather than a massive change. I have more confidence in my writing now, and allow my muse to say whatever she wants to. Certainly makes her happy!

So, what is this thing we call our author's voice? It is, of course, simply our style of writing. This will change from genre to genre, and project to project. We work within certain inner guidelines that define who we are,and this is the over-riding quality that we see in everything that we do. We need to be authentic to who we are, and who we are is an evolving person. Therefore, our author's voice will evolve along with us.

Over the years this little Cappie person is very pleased to see that she does have a modicum of a sense of humor. Not all the time, just sometimes. But it is there. I am comfortable with letting it come out to play - as long as it doesn't get too sarcastic! I know that a writer's style is a combination of their basic personality, and a consideration for the specific audience they are writing for. (Yes, one of the things that this self-taught writer learned was to target her audience before defining a project, and before beginning to write.)

I would add one more thought to the mix - the tone of the times that the author is writing about. The tone and style that one writes in is just as much a part of the backdrop for a story as the characters personal style,and the physical world around them. Going into 2012, we are looking at huge social and economic changes, and a spiritual quickening in life on the physical plane. i never want to be afraid to express the changes around me as I see them in my work, whether it is fiction or mainstream writing.

Is your writer's voice changing? If it isn't, does it need to?

(c) January 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

How To Get Characters To Interact

You have your plot worked out, and you have defined your  characters . The next step is getting your characters to play nice and interact...