Friday, May 30, 2008

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing an RFP for Master Data Management

There's a right way (taking care of all departmental data needs) and a wrong way (ignoring data governance) to write an MDM RFP. MDM vendor Siperian has identified 10 common mistakes that CIOs make and advises how to avoid them.

You know you need to figure out a better way to manage your company's massive amount of critical "master" data. Don't worry—you're not alone. In a 2007 Accenture survey of 162 global CIOs, 75 percent said they want to develop an overall information management strategy in the next three years. Doing so would "reinforce[e] the need to fully manage their organizations' data and leverage that data for strategic advantage," said the report.

To succeed, you need a master data management (MDM) strategy that spells out how you're actually going to pull this off. It must address how you're going to get organizationwide buy-in, what the end state of your systems and data management practices will look like, and the technologies you'll use. Selecting an MDM vendor is a critical initial step for your software development team.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Earn up to $1,000 in writing competition

Cash prizes of $250 to $1,000 are available to winners of the Combined Arms Center’s third-annual writing competition.

Anyone conducting research on issues related to leveraging the power of information in an era of persistent conflict is invited to submit papers for the CAC Commanding General’s Writing Competition for 2008.

Papers should be unpublished, and generally should not exceed 5,000 words, although well-developed manuscripts of greater length will be considered. The application deadline is Oct. 31.

Prizes are $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $250 each for third and fourth place. The first place manuscript will be a featured essay in Military Review, journal of the Command and General Staff College.

The competition is sponsored by the CAC Information Operations Proponency Office.

For complete details, access the “Armywide Announcements” link on the Army Knowledge Online portal at

Specific questions should be e-mailed to:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Write a Biography

Biographies are delightful fun essays that most students enjoy writing. According to Webster's Dictionary, a biography is—1: a written history of a person's life; 2: biographical writings as a whole; 3: an account of the life of something (as an animal, a coin, or a building).

In your class work, Biographies will be simple (and usually quite short) essays about someone else's life. An autobiography on the other hand, is a story (or essay) about your own personal life. As this section is about Biographies, you must keep yourself out of the essay altogether.

In order to write a Biography, follow the following simple steps:
  1. Research the person
    • Read books
    • Read magazines
    • Internet research
    • Interviews (if possible)
    • Exploration of that person's inner world (cafes, homes, favorite things)
  2. Select an angle
    • Learn all about a person's life (personal, professional, private)
    • Select one aspect of that person's life (or one time period)
    • Focus all your research on that component
    • Try to select an aspect of that person's life that has not yet been told
  3. Write an outline
    • Organizing your thoughts it vital in writing a biography
    • Select the main events in the person's life on which to focus
    • Write them in a certain order (chronological, professional development, etc.)
    • Even though this is a Biography, you will still need a thesis statement. The thesis will essentially tell the reader what you are trying to express about your subject in one sentence. The person's tagline or motto, if you will.
  4. Write the paper
    • Simple, pick up your pen (or turn on your computer) and write away
    • Write more than less. In Biographies, there is always more to cover than is necessary. It is much easier to cut out than try to add in later on.
  5. Edit the paper
    • As mentioned before, every writer needs an editor.
    • Edit purely for grammar, punctuation
    • Edit purely for content (logical flow)
    • Give the paper to someone else to read
Source :

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Steps To Starting A Home Based Writing Business

Before you move on further with the idea of starting a home based writing business, you should assess your skills. I don’t mean to discourage any of you, but I’ve known many people who got themselves in to the wrong business and lost all their savings, properties and the business itself, along the way. So make sure it won’t happen to you by evaluating whether writing is your greatest strength.

A small amount of time introspection can give a definite shape to your future.Once you are confident about your abilities, do some research online and offline. Find people who would outsource their writing jobs or assign projects to you. Do not jump start with this business. Start if off as a part time job, while you keep your full time job. If you are a home staying mom, start off the business on your own without involving partners or employees.

When you step in to the world of freelance writing, it is always better to have a safety net to fall on to. So don’t keep too much hopes and invest too much on equipments, office space etc initially. All you need to do is buy a reliable computer (maybe a used one) and good word processing software. To begin with, it is advisable to use free word processing software such as Open Office. A telephone connection with internet and a good printer are other essential equipment for the job. Once you start getting good work you could take up from there.

You may be skillful as any great writer out there, but you will need to keep out to date. With internet dominating home based businesses, there is an increasing demand for freelance writing; so search for new writing leads and develop your skills everyday. Try out different styles of writing and different assignments such as newsletter writing, magazine articles, blog posts, SEO articles, ghost writing e-books, proposals, resumes and the list goes on…

Market yourself everyday. There are websites that allows you to post advertisements promoting your services. Keep track of all such sites and the customers that you meet. A good rapport with customers is the key to any successful business. Remember that, most buyers tend to stick with the same writer if they become impressed with the work. So make sure you’d always deliver on time, be professional and keep to your word.

Continue working part-time for at least 6 months before moving on to full time writing. By then, you should have made a lot of contacts in the field and have sufficient number of buyers to compensate for a good income. If your projects are getting out of hand, recruit one or two people as part-time employees. However, before doing so, do a feasibility study to see if you can still make profit, increase business and keep up to the reputation you’ve built by having people working for you. If everything goes well, you might even be able to employ people on full time basis and start off a small company of your own.

About The Author
Get the real insider secrets to make money writing online . David Drake is the author of the ebook 6 Figure Freelancer.It reveals powerful strategies and a step by step blueprint to lay out a 6 Figure action plan with online freelance writing.Visit at

Monday, May 26, 2008

Top Ten Journal Writing Tips

Daily journal writing can be an excellent tool of self-expression and self-discovery for preteens and teens (actually for kids of all ages!). Journal writing helps them to process the myriad of thoughts, feelings, and emotions they experience and becomes an invaluable tool for understanding their many life experiences. It is also an excellent form of creative self-expression.

Top Ten Journal Writing Tips
  1. Silence your inner critic -- It's your journal and your words and if you took the time to write them down then they are valuable, NO MATTER WHAT!

  2. Break the rules -- You can break all the rules (grammar and spelling need not matter) or follow them if you prefer. It's your choice! Either way, there is no such thing as right or wrong in journal writing.

  3. Go with the flow to express yourself -- Take time to tune in to how you feel. Do you feel like writing a lot or simply feel like writing one word. When you go with the flow your journal writing comes easily and feels good.

  4. Pick a special spot to journal -- Choose a place where you feel safe, happy, and secure and where you feel inspired to lose yourself in your journal writing.

  5. Go wild with embellishments -- Use stickers, colored pens, magazine pictures, drawings or photos to jazz up your journal. Being creative with your journal will make your writing experience more colorful, exciting, and fun.

  6. Keep it simple -- If your journal writing begins to feel like a task you must accomplish, scale back or take a break. Journal writing is much more enjoyable when it feels spontaneous.

  7. Discover your writing style -- All the journal writing tips in the world can only guide you, and in the end you must choose your style based on what works best for you. Ask yourself if you like to use only words (no pictures or stickers) or if you prefer to combine writing and drawing. Maybe poetry dominates your journal or maybe your preference is to break all the rules and simply free write.

  8. Create a theme journal -- You can create a dream journal, a wish journal or a journal of family, friends and best moments in life. Be creative in choosing themes and if you run out of ideas you can always research new journal writing ideas on the internet.

  9. Rule your Kingdom -- Nothing else matters on the pages of your journal but you. Celebrate, vent, accentuate, complain... it's up to you. Just always, always, be kind to yourself as cruelty hurts and makes you sad.

  10. Keep it fun and fulfilling -- If it's not fun and fulfilling, chances are you'll quit writing. So keep it fun by giving yourself permission to try new ways of journal writing and keep it fulfilling by focusing on a wide range of topics (not just sad or bad ones, but happy and exhilarating ones as well).

    Daily journal writing is a wonderful tool of expression for preteens and teens but they must feel invested in their writing. The best way to get them -- and to keep them -- invested is to encourage the free expression of their uniqueness and creativity. Let the writer choose the journal writing style that best suits their personality and personal tastes.
Happy journal writing!

About The Author

Jill Schoenberg is the author of the innovative journaling books Journal Buddies. Visit for more details about Jill and her incredible journals.

The importance of fresh content and outsourcing

Content is King when it comes to Internet Marketing. Fresh content is even more important to being successful online. The search engines love fresh content. Internet marketers realize how significant fresh content is to their online success and a blog provides daily, weekly or monthly content updates that the search engines easily pick up and will give good search engine ranking. The search engines will send their ´spider´ to crawl any blog, website, or article directories that is frequently updated. The crawling process indexes the website so that the search engine knows that your blog exists and that you are adding new content.

Many marketers don´t have the time to sit and write. This is where outsourcing comes in. However, it is best to choose a ghostwriter, who loves to write, is an excellent researcher and can write on any topic or niche market imaginable. There are some writers that are uncommitted, unreliable and don´t have much regard for appropriate deadlines.

What is outsourcing? This is when you hire an independent contractor to complete certain specific assignments that you would rather not do or cannot do. Outsourcing frees up your time to take care of more pressing business issues. It will help you to delegate work that can be tedious and time consuming. Every business owner knows that time management in business is vital for more productivity. If you are an Internet Marketer, the ideal would be to have content written for affiliate marketing program, sales copy, articles, press releases, ebooks, blog posts, and ebooks, wouldn´t it?

You could hire ghostwriting services and save yourself time and money from the pressure of keeping your affiliates productive and getting more sales. If you have a membership site, affiliate program or any other product promotion, it is imperative that you provide content to your affiliates or members so that they can market your product.

If you are an Internet Marketer, you should understand the importance of providing tools that can drive traffic to your website and articles, ebooks, blog posts, press releases, and reports are just a few of the marketing materials you must have.

There are many different outsourcing websites online, which include,, and others. While these are great places to start, the downside to using these services is that you have to pick from a field of bidders and sometimes you might end up picking the wrong person who does not follow through with the project. It is suggested that you outsource to someone who has been recommended by your peer or associate. This will save you the frustration of trying to find the right person yourself.

You can also run into issues of hiring someone who does not write or speak English as their first language and this can create grammar issues. You may even end up paying someone else to proofread the project for you. This is very counterproductive and does not help you to accomplish your goal.

If you opt to use or any other similar websites, here are some tips:

When you post your project, be very specific on the budget range. Doing so, will prevent individuals from bidding who are looking to get rich.

Be as detailed as possible. The bidder is looking for specifics to know how much to bid and the less detail you are, the more unreasonable bids you will get

Always ask for samples of previous work and if you want to go a step further, ask the individual to write a 300 word article on your topic. The lower bid is not always the best bid. There are highly qualified writers out there that will get your project done properly.

If someone bids to high, never decline the bid until you email and ask if they would consider lowering it to a term that is amicable for both of you. In most cases, you can work something out.

Allow your bid project to run at least 5 days. This will give you enough time to examine all the bids. You can search the profiles and invite selected individual profile that you like to bid on your project.

Pay your writer on time. You will earn a bad reputation, if you don´t.

If you are looking to a do a sales copy, don´t hire an article writer. Look for someone who is an experienced copywriter.

Put your project under the right category. If you are looking to hire an ebook writer, put your project under "Ebooks," category. Some websites allow you to choose more than one categories.

Outsourcing is the current wave of the Internet and it is not going anywhere. As long as there are websites and Internet Marketers, the outsourcing method is your source of refuge.

Cheryline Lawson, is a ghostwriter, who is very passionate about her writing abilities. She has written books, ebooks, press releases, reports, articles, and web copy, blog posts, and manuals, guides as part of her portfolio. To hire her services, send an email to and you can visit her blog at http://www.onwritecourse.

Source :

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Writing Tips For Novice Authors

So you need to balance your time in writing that book, honing your writing skills, submitting your work along the way for others to critique, and promoting yourself. Can you do it? Of course you can!

If you are reading this article then you probably have asked yourself at some point in your life, "Do I have what it takes to become an author?"

I believe that successful authors, those who actually write and finish that novel, or book of poetry, or even that book of short stories, and see it all the way to publication,have certain characteristics.

Characteristics of Authors
  1. They like to sit for hours in front of a computer screen (or with pen and paper), typing (writing) away.
  2. They think about their book, even when they're not writing.
  3. They are motivated to finish their book.
  4. They are motivated to proofread, edit and revise their finished book until it is the best it can be.
  5. They are motivated to publish their book.
  6. Once they publish the first book, they are already working on the next one.
If you answered yes to anyone of the above, then you have a good chance of attaining your dreams of becoming an author. Don't listen to those people who say it's a competitive market out there. Don't listen to those people who say they've written five books and haven't had one published yet. And don't listen to those people who send you back your manuscripts! Listen to yourself. Listen to that inner voice, the one that is whispering now. But wait until you get started. Once your book is written and published, that inner voice will be roaring! And the whole world will hear about it.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

How to Write Press Releases

Step #1 - Newsworthy Websites Generate Great Press

A successful publicity campaign using a press release requires a good story. You need to come up with something original about your site that will be interesting to the general public and not just to people involved in your niche subject.

Two ways to get interest in your press release are:
  1. Relate your press release to a topical issue that has recently had a lot of media coverage. Tie it to anything - as long as it has relevance to your membership site.
  2. Tie your press release into a particular event, exhibition or tradeshow that somehow relates to your niche subject.
Step #2 - Follow the Format


Cover the most interesting aspect of your press release in as few words as possible. Make it punchy and attention grabbing, with maximum impact.


This is your chance to add some detail about what your press release is about without spoiling the effect of your forceful heading.

Lead paragraph

This will be a factual paragraph giving all the details of your story. It will answer the questions who, what, where, when and how. If the editor has read further that your title, this paragraph will make up his or her mind about whether to use your press release.

Main body of text

The rest of your text will give information to support the story you told in the lead paragraph. Including quotes from your members is often an effective technique in this section, but remember to respect their privacy.


The final paragraph, known as the boilerplate, will be a few sentences about your membership site, what it is about and what you offer.

End your press release with the word "End", add your contact information after so the editor can contact you easily to clarify information.

Essential tips for writing your next great press release:
  1. Always write in the third person.
  2. Keep your press release as short as possible. Edit ruthlessly and get rid of any unnecessary words and phrases.
  3. Avoid hype phrases to describe your membership site such as "one of a kind" or "out of this world". Your press release is not a sales pitch.
Step 3. - The path to profitable publication.

If you want to get your press release published offline, here are a few pointers:

Research your publication

Choose a publication that is suitable for your niche subject, and which will be read by your target audience. Read that publication regularly, and get an idea of the kind of articles they print as well as the tone used. Find out who the most appropriate journalist or editor would be for you to approach with your press release.

Make the call

When contacting the editor, your approach will be polite and professional. Always call before you send them your press release; busy people tend to delete unsolicited e-mail.

If you get their voicemail, don�t be afraid to leave a concise message with the main angle of your story and your contact details. Call again if you don't get a response for a couple of days.

If you speak to them in person, introduce yourself briefly and then check if you are calling at a good time. Offer to call back at a more convenient time if necessary.

Don't launch into a sales pitch about your membership site. Briefly give the editor the details of your story in a straightforward way.

Follow up - quickly

Have a press pack ready before you contact the editor and send this as soon as possible after you have spoken to them. This will consist of your press release and any appropriate photos etc.

Give the editor a couple of days and call again to follow up.

Jeremy Gislason is a leading expert on membership sites, marketing and online business. Do you want to market and sell all of your products faster? Free how to business and marketing courses at:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Writing the Basic Business Letter

Parts of a Business Letter


The date line is used to indicate the date the letter was written. However, if your letter is completed over a number of days, use the date it was finished in the date line. When writing to companies within the United States, use the American date format. (The United States-based convention for formatting a date places the month before the day. For example: June 11, 2001. ) Write out the month, day and year two inches from the top of the page. Depending which format you are using for your letter, either left justify the date or center it horizontally.

Sender's Address

Including the address of the sender is optional. If you choose to include it, place the address one line below the date. Do not write the sender's name or title, as it is included in the letter's closing. Include only the street address, city and zip code. Another option is to include the sender's address directly after the closing signature.

Inside Address

The inside address is the recipient's address. It is always best to write to a specific individual at the firm to which you are writing. If you do not have the person's name, do some research by calling the company or speaking with employees from the company. Include a personal title such as Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr. Follow a woman's preference in being addressed as Miss, Mrs., or Ms. If you are unsure of a woman's preference in being addressed, use Ms. If there is a possibility that the person to whom you are writing is a Dr. or has some other title, use that title. Usually, people will not mind being addressed by a higher title than they actually possess. To write the address, use the U.S. Post Office Format. For international addresses, type the name of the country in all-capital letters on the last line. The inside address begins one line below the sender's address or one inch below the date. It should be left justified, no matter which format you are using.


Use the same name as the inside address, including the personal title. If you know the person and typically address them by their first name, it is acceptable to use only the first name in the salutation (for example: Dear Lucy:). In all other cases, however, use the personal title and full name followed by a colon. Leave one line blank after the salutation.

If you don't know a reader's gender, use a nonsexist salutation, such as "To Whom it May Concern." It is also acceptable to use the full name in a salutation if you cannot determine gender. For example, you might write Dear Chris Harmon: if you were unsure of Chris's gender.


For block and modified block formats, single space and left justify each paragraph within the body of the letter. Leave a blank line between each paragraph. When writing a business letter, be careful to remember that conciseness is very important. In the first paragraph, consider a friendly opening and then a statement of the main point. The next paragraph should begin justifying the importance of the main point. In the next few paragraphs, continue justification with background information and supporting details. The closing paragraph should restate the purpose of the letter and, in some cases, request some type of action.


The closing begins at the same horizontal point as your date and one line after the last body paragraph. Capitalize the first word only (for example: Thank you) and leave four lines between the closing and the sender's name for a signature. If a colon follows the salutation, a comma should follow the closing; otherwise, there is no punctuation after the closing.


If you have enclosed any documents along with the letter, such as a resume, you indicate this simply by typing Enclosures one line below the closing. As an option, you may list the name of each document you are including in the envelope. For instance, if you have included many documents and need to ensure that the recipient is aware of each document, it may be a good idea to list the names.

Typist initials

Typist initials are used to indicate the person who typed the letter. If you typed the letter yourself, omit the typist initials.

A Note About Format and Font

When writing business letters, you must pay special attention to the format and font used. The most common layout of a business letter is known as block format. Using this format, the entire letter is left justified and single spaced except for a double space between paragraphs. Another widely utilized format is known as modified block format. In this type, the body of the letter is left justified and single-spaced. However, the date and closing are in alignment in the center of the page. The final, and least used, style is semi-block. It is much like the modified block style except that each paragraph is indented instead of left justified.

Keep in mind that different organizations have different format requirements for their professional communication. While the examples provided by the OWL contain common elements for the basic business letter (genre expectations), the format of your business letter may need to be flexible to reflect variables like letterheads and templates. Our examples are merely guides.

If your computer is equipped with Microsoft Office 2000, the Letter Wizard can be used to take much of the guesswork out of formatting business letters. To access the Letter Wizard, click on the Tools menu and then choose Letter Wizard. The Wizard will present the three styles mentioned here and input the date, sender address and recipient address into the selected format. Letter Wizard should only be used if you have a basic understand of how to write a business letter. Its templates are not applicable in every setting. Therefore, you should consult a business writing handbook if you have any questions or doubt the accuracy of the Letter Wizard.

Another important factor in the readability of a letter is the chosen font. The generally accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as Arial may be used. When choosing a font, always consider your audience. If you are writing to a conservative company, you may want to use Times New Roman. However, if you are writing to a more liberal company, you have a little more freedom when choosing fonts.

As far as punctuation after the salutation and closing is concerned, the standard is to use a colon after the salutation (never a comma) and a comma after the closing. There is also a less accepted format, known as open punctuation, in which punctuation is excluded after the salutation and the closing.

Source :

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Biography Format Suggestions

When it comes to something as important as _______________________ you should know the background of the professional _________________________________ you choose to represent your best interests. We'll (I’ll) put our (my) years of experience to work for you!


Education and Training:

Length of time in: (city) and/or (state)

Former Areas I’ve lived and worked: (city) and/or (state)

Work Achievements:

Personal Achievements:

Professional Affiliations:

Community Service:

Interests and Hobbies:

Previous Work Experience:

You can say “referrals available upon request” (or add a few here)

Source :

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Writing emails, the polite way

A few weeks ago I did a piece on courteous email practices. I received a boatload of emails from alert and disgruntled readers praising and damning the issues I raised.

I warned you ages ago I was opinionated and I stand by what I wrote.

I don't like wallpaper backgrounds, big red ugly fonts and animated smileys blinking out at me from the page. Get over it.

But hey, if you want to use them, who am I to stop you?

Just think of the people on the other end of your email -- what do you think they think? How great it looks?

Anyway, I want to thank the many people who wrote and passed on their own tips.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Writing a Personal Biography

Writing a personal biography is simply telling about your life in a story form. There are several ways to go about writing a personal biography. First you need to sit down and gather up the facts about your life. List them in chronological order from beginning up to present. Be sure to include details of the bigger turning points in your life. Don’t allow the story to get mired in mundane details such as going to the mall, cooking dinner or things of that nature. If you’re going to talk about how you like going to the mall for shopping, then make sure it include details on why this had such an impact on your life and led you to where you are today.

When writing a personal biography, remember that your writing and the story needs to be interesting and informative. Readers want to learn something new by seeing how other people handle what life has dished out to them. Inspire them with writing a personal biography by showing how you were able to handle issues and elicit positive results.

Be positive when you are writing a personal biography. Negativity turns many people off. Too much negativity sounds like whining about how life did you wrong. Readers most likely will put your book down after reading the first few negative comments. Everyone has problems in their lives, why would they want to read about yours? What needs to be included in writing a personal biography is how you overcame a bad situation and turned it around to be a positive influence on your life. Take the negative and show the positive impact it’s had on either your life or someone else. Be inspiring when writing a personal biography, otherwise it’s just going to be a boring account of your life.

Once you’ve taken stock of your life and have decided how you want to go about writing a personal biography. The next decision will be, if you are going to write in first person or third person. When writing a personal biography, this determination will decide whether the story is going to take on a formal tone or a personal approach to the reader.

Writing a personal biography in third person will require you to step back and write as if you were outside of yourself. You would refer to yourself by name. The whole biography can take on a tone of a very formal approach. You can list details of where you came from, the kind of degrees you have in education and where you’ve worked. Include background of your life to personalize it, for writing a personal biography needs to show the reader how the subject reached this point in life. Just remember to always be outside of yourself. Write as if you, as the subject, are someone else that, you as the writer, is observing.

If you’ve decided to take the first person approach, this tends to personalize your autobiography much more for the reader. Writing a personal biography this way tends to make a reader feel as if you were speaking directly to them. Make sure that your writing style reflects this for the reader. Be personal, be conversational and above all, interesting.

Use words that are descriptive and convey emotion in writing a personal biography. Remember that writing a personal biography isn’t just about giving a reader your life story it’s also how you tell it. The phrases and words that you use in writing a personal biography will determine whether the reader is interested enough to keep on reading.

One of the hardest things about writing a personal biography may be remembering to include all the facts. Sometimes little details such as where you were born or even whether you are female or male can be omitted and leave the reader confused over some facts. If you have a name like Chris, which could be male or female, the reader could have a difficult time determining your gender unless you make the specification. Just remember to step outside of yourself when making an outline of all the details to be included.

Keep in mind that background is important to the reader when writing a personal biography. Perhaps you grew up in New York but you were actually born in Hawaii. The fact that you were born in Hawaii just may be an interesting fact for the reader even if it’s been such a long time since you’ve been there.

Basically writing a personal biography is stepping back and taking the form of an outsider looking in on your life. Be objective and think about what aspects of your life would be interesting to a reader.

Source :

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Effective writing: Sometimes even funny stories can backfire

Last week, while teaching a series of legal writing seminars for a state bar association, I conducted an experiment that reinforced my approach to teaching.

I was presenting three seven-hour seminars on three consecutive days in three different cities. In the room with me on each day were 50 to 100 attorneys and legal writers. Please, hold the jokes. I think lawyer jokes -- such as, how was copper wire invented? By two lawyers arguing over a penny -- are adolescent.

My experiment had to do with how to create a safe learning environment. To that end, I generally open my seminars on a light note by citing a few rules such as, "Don't use no double negatives," "Just between you and I, case is important, too" and "Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague." William Safire and others have compiled similar lists of mock rules.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

You want grammar, or writing?

It's not always a good idea to follow the rules.

When I was a cub reporter at the late and much-lamented Holyoke Transcript-Telegram, I got sent to cover a homicide in one of the less salubrious sections of the town, which is far west of Boston.
There was a subdued crowd outside a tenement. A cop told me there had been a party, and a gentleman by the name of Antonio Sierra had taken liberties with the host's wife. The host had responded by plunging a very large knife into Sierra's chest.

I raced back to the newsroom in my rust-brown 1973 Buick LeSabre and typed these words: "Chivalry is not dead, but Antonio Sierra is."

It never made the paper.

"We can't run this," an editor said.

Edna Buchanan won a Pulitzer writing stuff like that. But, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, I knew Edna Buchanan, and I'm no Edna Buchanan. A more sober and straightforward account of Sierra's unfortunate demise was published instead.

I got to thinking about Sierra and the hit-or-miss exercise that is writing last week after I wrote about my old Catholic school. The school is 100 years old and I thought it would be fun to go back for a visit with my classmate Dommy D'Angelo.

The column had been put to bed when I got a call from Ellen Clegg, a very fine editor at the Boston Globe.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

How to write a personal biography

  1. What is a Personal Biography?
    A biography is a written account of the series of events that make up a person’s life and career to date.

  2. What does this include?
    • Career Education
    • Achievements
    • Personality
    • Beliefs
    • Aims and Goals

  3. How do I prepare to write this?

    • Take an inventory of your background, accomplishments, goals and objectives as a graduate.
    • Remember that you are writing this for industry professionals so make sure you make your bio informative, upbeat, and filled with useful comments, descriptions and positive language.

  4. Writing your biography in 200 words.

    Paragraph 1:
    Start with an introductory sentence that clearly defines where you have studied, what you have studied and your goals for the future.

    Paragraph 2:
    This section should address the immediate purpose of the Bio. What are you doing at this time? Mention a current activity you are involved with, for example, the completion of your course and any current work experience. You could take this opportunity to mention your final year project or specific industry related work experience/projects.

    Paragraph 3&4:
    At this point, background information on work and education previous to London College of Fashion can be addressed. If you have developed a plan for your career path elaborate on this and demonstrate how your current project is part of a larger career development plan.

    Last Paragraph:
    A Bio should not waste words and 200 words is sufficient to get the job done. It is important that you end the Bio in an efficient way, which could be information about your unique selling point and how this will benefit


Ursula Hudson, Director Fashion Business Resource Studio

Joining LCF in 1998 as a course leader Ursula now heads up the Fashion Business Resource Studio team at LCF who are responsible for building and brokering relationships between college and the fashion and lifestyle industries. Ursula developed and established the studio concept, building it to become a recognised model of best practice for industry and education.

The ethos of the FBRS is simple - bring the outside world in, engage in dialogue to acknowledge the needs of all stakeholders and, work as an integrated part of the college framework.

Through her role at LCF she has consulted with the British Council’s Creative Industries unit, and led the curriculum development for the first Fashion Retail Academy London.

Prior to LCF Ursula worked as an acknowledged industry expert consulting internationally on market intelligence and fashion product development issues for many of the leading fashion retail, sport and lifestyle global brands.

Ursula began her career in fashion with the diminutive but iconic independent retailer Joseph having graduated with a first class degree from University College Wales Aberystwyth in Classics and Librarianship.

Sara Gatoff, Buying Vision Ltd

Sara has a degree in business studies and management sciences with a retail specialisation. Following a buying and merchandising training contract with The Burton Group Plc, Sara moved across the group gaining product experience in Menswear, Ladieswear, Homewear and Childrenswear.

After a spell at Storehouse Plc where she set up an in house trainee Buyer programme, Sara moved to Tesco Plc to head a Men’s Wear division where she was a key player in the team sourcing grey goods off shore and launching Calvin Klein and Levi’s at low prices. Sara then moved to oversee children’s licensing at Tesco Plc and buys both baby and children’s product ranges.

Sara has travelled extensively to visit and assess factories and raw materials suppliers across the world.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Writing a Proposal

Structure, attention to specifications, concise persuasive writing, and a reasonable budget are the critical elements of the writing stage. There are many ways to organize proposals. Read the guidelines for specifications about required information and how it should be arranged. Standard proposal components are: the narrative, budget, appendix of support material, and authorized signature. Sometimes proposal applications require abstracts or summaries, an explanation of budget items, and certifications.
  1. Narratives

    Statement of need

    Purpose, goals, measurable objectives, and a compelling, logical reason why the proposal should be supported. Background provides perspective and is often a welcome component.


    Method and process of accomplishing goals and objectives, description of intended scope of work with expected outcomes, outline of activities, description of personnel functions with names of key staff and consultants, if possible.

    Method of evaluation

    Some require very technical measurements of results. Inquire about expectations.

    Project timeline

    Paints a picture of project flow that includes start and end dates, schedule of activities, and projected outcomes. Should be detailed enough to include staff selection and start dates.


    Information about the applicant that certifies ability to successfully undertake the proposed effort. Typically includes institutional or individual track record and resumes.

    Tips on Writing the Narrative:

    Narratives typically must satisfy the following questions:

    What do we want?
    What concern will be addressed and why it is important?
    Who will benefit and how?
    What specific objectives can be accomplished and how?
    How will results be measured?
    How does this funding request relate to the funders purpose, objectives, and priorities?
    Who are we (organization, independent producer) and how do we qualify to meet this need?

    The HOOK:

    There are many ways to represent the same idea. However, the HOOK tailors the description of the idea to the interest of a particular funder.The HOOK aligns the project with the purpose, and goals of the funding source. This is a critical aspect of any proposal narrative because it determines how compelling reviewers will perceive your proposal to be.

  2. Budget

    Budgets are cost projections. They are also a window into how projects will be implemented and managed. Well-planned budgets reflect carefully thought out projects. Be sure to only include those things the funder is willing to support.

    Funders use these factors to assess budgets:

    Can the job be accomplished with this budget?
    Are costs reasonable for the market - or too high or low?
    Is the budget consistent with proposed activities?
    Is there sufficient budget detail and explanation?
    Many funders provide mandatory budget forms that must be submitted with the proposal.
    Don't forget to list in-kind and matching revenue, where appropriate. Be flexible about your budget in case the funder chooses to negotiate costs.

  3. Supporting materials

    Supporting materials are often arranged in an appendix. These materials may endorse the project and the applicant, provide certifications, add information about project personnel and consultants, exhibit tables and charts, etc. For projects that include collaborations or partnerships, include endorsements from the partnering agencies.

    Policies about the inclusion of supporting materials differ widely among funders. Whether to allow them usually depends upon how materials contribute to a proposal's evaluation. Restrictions are often based on excess volume, the element of bias, and relevance.

    Find out if supporting materials are desired or even allowed. Be prepared to invest the time to collect resources, produce a tape, document capability, update a resume, collect letters, include reference reports or whatever is needed.

  4. Authorized Signatures

    Authorized signatures are required. Proposals may be rejected for lack of an authorized signature. Be sure to allow the time to acquire a needed signature.

  5. Specifications

    Tailor proposal writing to specifications found in the guidelines. Include only the number of pages allowed. Observe the format. Is there a form to complete? Must the proposal be typed, double spaced, on 8-1/2 x 11 inch pages? Are cover pages allowed or desired? Caution! — the beautifully bound proposal is not always appreciated or allowed. Be concise. Elaborations should add depth and scope, not page fillers. Be prepared to write one or more drafts.

  6. Submission checklist

    The complete proposal must be submitted on time in the requested format with the requested number of copies and original authorized signatures.

Address the proposal as directed in the guidelines.

Be sure to include required documentation.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

5 Blog Writing Tips To Get More Comments

There are very few absolutes when it comes to blogging. Plenty of discussion continues on all the nuances of writing a great blog post. But over time, “best practices” do emerge. They’re not absolutes. They’re not perfect. And rules are made to be broken.

But, used as guidelines, there’s a plethora of good help out there on writing great blog posts.

What about tips on how to create more discussion? To get people to comment? Short of yelling or begging, let’s take a look at 5 blog writing tips to get more comments:

  1. Controversial / In-Your-Face Headlines. Write a headline that’s opposite of what people would expect. Write a headline that takes an obviously controversial or bizarre stance. Write a headline that’s “in your face” and to the point. The most popular post I’ve ever written was titled, “5 Things You Shouldn’t Spend Money On When Starting a Business”.

    Or, write a headline that asks a very direct question, or a question that’s bound to ruffle feathers. The 2nd most popular post I’ve ever written was titled, “What Do Real Estate Agents Do Exactly? Where’s The Value And Innovation?”

  2. Keep Posts Short. There’s a time and place for long posts, but if you want to generate comments, keep your posts as short as possible. I’m not recommending that you exclude information from your arguments, but the longer a post goes, the more people skim, and the less likely they are to get the information they really want; the information that’s going to get them to comment.

  3. Take a Stand. If you wiffle-waffle in a post, or present too many sides to an argument, no one will bother commenting. Take a stand, stick with it, argue as persuasively as you can, and then let the “yays” and “nays” battle it out in the comments.

  4. End Blog Posts With Questions. Make the question as specific as possible. “What do you think?” might not be inspiring enough to get someone to comment. Re-iterate the point or argument of the blog post in the question, to make it as direct and pointed as possible.

  5. Put a Kicker Inside. It’s understood that the start and end of a blog post need to pack a punch. People read the intro, skim…skim some more, and read the end right? Well, some people do read the middle. And you may be able to nab someone into commenting by putting some kind of kicker in the middle. Give ‘em something meaty to chew on, and they might even skim the rest of the post so they can comment right away. If the middle is drab, people will be less inspired by the end anyway, so shock ‘em on the inside.
How-to posts are not going to generate the most comments, unless someone disagrees with your approach. And while comments like, “I agree totally!” are very flattering and a nice boost to ye old ego, they don’t necessarily encourage discussion.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Key Letter Writing Tips

In my career I have written literally thousands of letters for just about every letter writing situation imaginable. Based on that, below are what I consider to be the key points to keep in mind when you write that next letter.

  1. Keep it short and to the point.
    Letters involving business (personal or corporate) should be concise, factual, and focused. Try to never exceed one page or you will be in risk of losing your reader. A typical letter page will hold 350 to 450 words. If you can’t get your point across with that many words you probably haven’t done enough preparatory work. If necessary, call the recipient on the phone to clarify any fuzzy points and then use the letter just to summarize the overall situation.

  2. Focus on the recipient’s needs.
    While writing the letter, focus on the information requirements of your audience, the intended addressee. If you can, in your “mind’s eye” imagine the intended recipient seated across a desk or boardroom table from you while you are explaining the subject of the letter. What essential information does that person need to know through this communication? What will be their expectations when they open the letter? Have you addressed all of these?

  3. Use simple and appropriate language.

    Your letter should use simple straightforward language, for clarity and precision. Use short sentences and don’t let paragraphs exceed three or four sentences. As much as possible, use language and terminology familiar to the intended recipient. Do not use technical terms and acronyms without explaining them, unless you are certain that the addressee is familiar with them.

  4. Re-read and revise it.

    Do a first draft of the letter, and then carefully review and revise it. Put yourself in the place of the addressee. Imagine yourself receiving the letter. How would you react to it? Would it answer all of your questions? Does it deal with all of the key issues? Are the language and tone appropriate? Sometimes reading it out loud to one’s self, can be helpful. When you actually “hear” the words it is easy to tell if it “sounds” right, or not.

  5. Check spelling and grammar.
    A letter is a direct reflection of the person sending it, and by extension, the organization that person works for. When the final content of the letter is settled, make sure that you run it through a spelling and grammar checker. Sending a letter with obvious spelling and grammar mistakes looks sloppy and unprofessional. In such cases, the recipient can’t really be blamed for seeing this as an indication as to how you (and your organization) probably do most other things.
Above all else, your goal in all letter writing, regardless of the subject, should be to keep it short, factual, and to the point. Don't write it more than one page in length, unless there is some compelling reason to make it longer.

Studies have shown that busy business people do not like to read beyond the first page. If your letter is longer, there is a good chance it will be dumped in a "read later" pile, which often ends up never getting read.

The above basic letter writing tips are mostly common sense. Nevertheless, you would be amazed how often these very basic “rules of thumb” are not employed when people are writing letters.

Letter Writing Resources
If you have come directly to this page you may have missed my main letter writing resources page. To go there click on this link:

What are footnotes and endnotes?

Sometimes, an asterisk or a superscript number appears against a phrase or sentence in a piece of text, referring to a corresponding note. When these notes appear in their own section at the end of a chapter (or sometimes the end of a whole book), they are called endnotes. Notes at the bottom (foot) of the page are called footnotes.

If you’re still unsure:
  • Here’s an example of what footnotes look like (notice they’re on the same page as the text to which they refer).
  • And here’s an example of what endnotes look like (notice they’re on a separate page from the text to which they refer).
Are there any rules about using footnotes and endnotes?

I agree that it is frustrating to have to flip to the end of a chapter or even the end of a whole book in order to read the notes. There aren’t any general rules about whether footnotes or endnotes should be used, though, and this is up to individual editors and publishers.

I suspect the use of endnotes is becoming more and more common in order to keep typesetting costs down. If a footnote is added or deleted, many pages may have to be redone (since the spacing of the main body of text will change), whereas if an endnote is changed, only a page or two will need resetting.

It’s also not uncommon for footnotes to be accidentally omitted in printing. My hardback copy of Jasper Fforde’s latest Thursday Next novel, First Among Sequels which was supposed to use footnotes for humorous effect, had none. It included a slip of paper with the relevant footnotes on and the apology:

We at Fforde towers would like to apologise for this oversight, and even though I’d like to claim it’s something to do with an attempt to reduce the Stupidity Surplus, it isn’t. It’s a balls-up of the highest magnitude for which I apologise profusely.

I’d have preferred endnotes to the absent footnotes, in that situation – though at least I could use the slip as a bookmark …

If you’re writing an academic essay, consult your institution’s style guidelines to find out whether you should use footnotes or endnotes. There may be no preference, or you may find that footnotes are requested (they’re easier for the person reading - and probably marking - your essay, and it’s best not to alienate them!)

Otherwise, I would suggest using footnotes if you have a small number of references. If you have many long notes, you may find that they are best included at the end of the document – otherwise the pages can look very cluttered.

Ultimately, though, there are no general rules, and the choice between footnotes and endnotes comes down to your individual preference or your organisation’s style guide.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lesson Plans: The importance of non-fiction writing

I believe that it is an exciting time to be a young person, and perhaps even more exciting to be the teacher and mentor of these young people.

Non-fiction writing stretches across all curriculum areas, and helps students engage in creative problem solving. We in Marblehead take seriously our responsibility to prepare our young people for success as global citizens, innovators and thinkers.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Youth writing camp set for May 29 to June 11

Missouri State University’s Ozarks Writing Project will offer a youth writing camp May 29 through June 11 in Carthage.

Tiger Writer’s Camp is an annual summer camp for young aspiring writers who will read, write and illustrate their own pieces of writing during the first weeks of summer school at Carthage R-9 School District. The camp is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each day.

Teachers wishing to observe the camp sessions for professional development hours may attend the morning sessions, stay for lunch and participate in an in-service session in the afternoon to discuss the writing techniques utilized with the students and learn how to apply those techniques to their own classrooms, regardless of grade level or content.

For more information, call 836-3732.

Source :

Youth writing camp set for May 29 to June 11

Missouri State University’s Ozarks Writing Project will offer a youth writing camp May 29 through June 11 in Carthage.

Tiger Writer’s Camp is an annual summer camp for young aspiring writers who will read, write and illustrate their own pieces of writing during the first weeks of summer school at Carthage R-9 School District. The camp is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each day.

Teachers wishing to observe the camp sessions for professional development hours may attend the morning sessions, stay for lunch and participate in an in-service session in the afternoon to discuss the writing techniques utilized with the students and learn how to apply those techniques to their own classrooms, regardless of grade level or content.

For more information, call 836-3732.

Source :

Monday, May 5, 2008

Wiregrass novelist talks about writing

There’s nothing quite as Southern as sweet tea, but that sugary concoction is often served with a few drops of lemon to liven it up.

And so it was with a discussion between novelist Cassandra King and some local dual enrollment students about living and writing held at Wallace Community College Monday afternoon.

After the Wiregrass native was introduced by a local cousin who played up her up as a charming example of the Southern belle, King playfully punctured that image by telling a few story about how as a child she once did cartwheels down the aisle at her church in Pinckard sans underpants.
“I wasn’t cut out to be what my mother wanted more than anything else on earth for me to be, a sweet Southern girl,” she said.

King also demonstrated that she knew the area by taking a gentle shot at some of her audience.

“I can tell that’s Dale County because they’re sitting in the back row,” she said.
Before the question and answer session, King told a few stories about growing up on a peanut farm, how her early experiences and her first marriage as a preacher’s wife shaped her writing career, and the various battles a Southern author must wage with her editors (an editor once chided her for using the name Bubba, saying “You cannot use that, in the South nobody is really named Bubba.”)

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Essay Writing Tips

An essay is a piece of writing (either formal or informal) which presents information, defends a position, or accomplishes some other specific task. Talent to write good essays comes from within and is considered to be unique. But it doesn’t mean that only few people can meet all essay requirements, it only means that not everyone applies to the strategies of essay writing which exist to simplify the writing process. Here we suggest you some sound essay tips. You may benefit from them while preparing your essay.

Essay Writing Tip # 1. Settle the plan of your work:
  • choose your essay topic;
  • brainstorm your ideas;
  • outline your ideas;
  • write your thesis statement;
  • write the body of your essay – think over the main points, the subpoints, arrange them in a logical order;
  • write the introduction;
  • write the conclusion;
  • proofread and edit your essay.
Essay Writing Tip # 2. Make sure your essay:
  • is well-structured (contains of an introduction, a main body and a conclusion);
  • is focused on one problem;
  • is logically arranged;
  • is clear and precise;
  • provides deep arguments and illustrative evidence;
  • grasps the reader’s attention from the very beginning;
  • references the sources
Essay Writing Tip # 3. Before writing your essay consider the following:
  • your audience, its interests and preferences
  • the purpose of giving you the task to write this very essay
  • the essay limits proposed to you
  • authoritative people to address to to get their overall impression from your custom essay and to make necessary changes.
Essay Writing Tip # 4. You’ve heard about it hundreds of times but never payed too much attention to it:
  • start early and measure your time;
  • understand clearly the assignment;
  • look for example essays;
  • don’t plagiarize;
  • write quick drafts, multiply them;
  • think differently.
These essay writing tips are not hard to learn and they don’t need too many efforts of yours. Don’t hesitate to use these essay tips and they are sure to bring excellent results.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Experts talk about writing

The Press-Enterprise

A day of free writing-related seminars and workshops will be held Saturday in Redlands.

The event begins at 10 a.m. with a workshop "Landscape Your Manuscript" with Marilyn Cram-Donahue, author of 30 books. She will discuss the importance of setting in stories for children and young adults.

11 a.m. -- Novelist and short story writer Bruce McAllister will discuss "Why Short Story Writers Are Such Happy People."

Noon -- "Bridging Genres -- Fiction, Nonfiction and News" with John Weeks.

1 p.m. -- Readings by the Monday Night Writer's Group.

2 p.m. -- A cartooning workshop with 'Big Jim' Gilbert, who will also discuss writing for children.

3 p.m. -- Seminar features Robert Reginald talking about finding a writer's voice.

4 p.m. -- "Writing a Memoir" with James Brown.

5 p.m. -- "The Deep Connection Between Poetry and Prose" with Carter Burke.

6 p.m. -- "Screenwriting Basics" with Jill Sweitzer.

All day Phil Yeh will create a mural with help from the community and will talk about his work as an artist and writer.

Seating is limited. Citrus Plaza Barnes & Noble, 27460 Lugonia Ave. Redlands. 909-793-4322.

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