Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It is time for National Novel Writing Month to start

Well, it is almost time for National Novel Writing Month to start. It is just a four more hours here in Denver; and then at midnight, the fun begins.

I got my Neo in the mail today, so I don't have to write any of this by hand and type it in later.

I am both excited and nervous. Comfort food has already been indulged in.

Friday, October 26, 2007

To delay payment or not

Today, on MyLot, I responded to a discussion about whether or not, someone should raise their payout from the standard ten dollars to a higher amount (ex. twenty-five).

Now, due to my experience running a business (a restraurant in a chain), I approach it from the viewpoint of a business owner. Being in a second economics class this semester just amplifies that tendency.

Personally, I set all of my payouts (the amount that one must earn before a company mails you a check or paypals you) to the lowest possible amount whenever I have a chance. It is my money, and I want it in my grubby hands as soon as possible.

And not just because I am a straving college student either.

If one has earned enourgh to make payout, and rises the amount of their payout threshold, what happens? The company that owes you the money holds it in their bank account. Standard business practice is for this account to be an interest bearing account. I watched my bosses depositing money into their bank as quick as they could, and then take as long as possible to pay their expenses (labor, rent, suppliers, etc.). This practice earned them a lot of interest income off of money that rightfully belonged to other people.

Paid to post sites, and other online work sites, want you to raise your payout amount. They give you the option because it benefits them. It is not for your convenience; it is for theirs. They hope that you set your payout thresholds to a higher amount, so that they can hold your money longer and earn interest off of it. Essentially by setting your payout threshold to anything above the minimum, you are giving them a free loan.

(The other type of free loan that people are fond of doing is to have more money withhold from their paychecks than necessary--yes, a big income tax return is nice, but why give the government an interest free loan. If you want to loan the government money, invest in government bonds instead.)

The only time when rising your payout threshold makes sense is when it is close to the end of the business year and you are trying to avoid slipping over into a higher tax bracket. And that is a very rare situation for most of us--so do yourself a favor, collect your money as soon as you can and deposit it in your own saving account.

After all, the money is going to be earning interest anyways, so why shouldn't it be you that collects it?

To Join MyLot, click here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Helium's new look

Helium introduced a new homepage look today, along with some new features. In my opinion, it looks better than the old version. And they have introduced bigger ads, hopefully we get more revenue from them.

My Helium Profile

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Origins of words--Beautimous

One of the things that writers are fascinated by, or at least I am, is the process by which new words come into being. And while there are a couple of countries where the government has a say in it, Isreal and France, most often it is speakers and writers who coin new words.

For instance, the word Utopia was coined by Thomas More. I know this because of my college philosophy class. It actually means "no such place" being a nod to the fact that More was writing about a place that did not exist; much like Plato used Atlantis to talk about his idea of the perfect society (detailed in The Republic)--of course, I have to ask if it was so perfect, why did the gods decide to destory it?

But outside, of the language committees (meant to keep the language pure) and the occasional writer who coins a word, most new words come from the spoken language. They come out of the way that people talk. When we see a dictionary that traces the first known instance of a word, you have to remember that they are tracking written instances of the word--if it came from the spoken language, it was properly being used in conversation long before (or at least, a decade).

The written word is conservative. It is slow to change. The proof lies in the spelling of Knight--pronounced nite. We still spell it with a K, despite the fact that none of us have pronounced it that way in centuries.

The makers of dictionaries are especially conservative. They have to be. It would serve no one if they allowed every bit of slang into dictionaires. Because of that, words have to prove that they have staying power; they have to pass the test of time.

In our modern time, this test of time has gotten shorter, but that is a subject for another day.

Seldom do we know who coined a word because of this. For instance, today on one of the MSN groups that I frequent, one of the wonderful ladies there used the word beautimous to describe a graphic that someone made. It is a wonderful word (personal opinion). Yet if it stands up to the test of time, no one will know who or how it came to be.

In this case, Gina admits that it she was tired and trying to amuse her fussy baby when it came out of her mouth. Her daughter likes it when she makes up songs, and the occasional word. I find it a charming story; but if the word survives, the story will be forgotten. For that is one of the property of the spoken word, the origin of a word must be forgotten before it is allowed into the written language--if it has not been around long enough for people to forget its source, it has not been around long enourgh to allow into the dictionary.

Sad, but true.

Friday, October 19, 2007

No sympathy

Yesterday, one of my classmates was complaining that he had a five page paper to write in one class, and a ten page paper to write in another.

And I felt absolutely no sympathy for him.

I am not sure when I became a heartless B, but I feel no sympathy for those students in college that complain about how much writing there is in college. There is writing to be done out in the real world also--get used to it.

Of course, it might be easier to feel sympathy for them if I won't have hacked out 25,000 words in one month earlier this year. Or chose not to engage in National Novel Writing Month this November. I am the one that should be complaining about the amount of writing that is on my desk. Besides the 50,000 words for NANOWRIMO, I have two term papers and four finals to study for in Novemeber.

Do I complain? No. Or at least, not that much.

So quit complaining about how much writing you need to do--it could be worse; you could be me.

Yuwie page views and its earning potential

Looking at my Yuwie page views, I realize that I am making progress there. There has been 124 views of my profile this month. And I have racked up 1708 page views so far.

But what I am really impressed by is the 155 friends. That is an one hundred and fifty people I can give a shout out to about whatever the next project is that I decide to crow about.

Nevertheless, I will admit that there are people actually doing much better than me. There is one guy (Vic) who earned $2.97 in July, $96.13 in August, and $166.90 in September. Of course, he has 13,646 members in his referral tree, but it just goes to show that if someone is good at getting referrals (or able to get just a couple of people in their tree that are) that Yuwie does have a lot of money making potential.

(Thanks for my friend CatAnne for sharing his blog entry with me; actual screenshots are nice.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Looking ahead

Been thinking alot about what I want to do for my novel next month; I think I have some good ideas and am looking forward to doing National Novel Writing Month. C'mon the first of November!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It is almost National Novel Writing Month

Well, the leaves are being to fall from the trees, and it is time to think about working on your novel. And I do mean work on it--yes, that is right--next month is National Novel Writing Month.

Are you ready for the joys of trying to hack out 50,000 words in the space of a month? Are you ready for your loved ones to look at you like you should be sedated? Of course, you are.

So go and register and start thinking about what type of novel you are going to hack out in Novemeber.

My Lulu Blog

And am registering my Lulu Storefront Blog right now.


So today in one of my fits of boredom, I googled blog directories. Which is how I found Technorati. Nice place where you can see how many blogs have talked about your blog.

I registered this blog and Gleamings from the Dawn with them today; I will have to do my other blogs later.

Promoting and such

I spent some time today promoting the fact that I am doing the Open Full Moon this moon. Also looked at some blog directories. Currently over at Technorati claiming my blogs.

Denver Open Full Moon Ritual October 2007

As some of you know, I am doing the Open Full Moon for Hearthstone this Friday, October 19th. If you didn't know, now you do.

If anyone wants to attend that has never been at a OFM, it is held at the First Unitarian Church at 14th and Lafayette (that is in theCapital Hill area). The doors open at 7:00 pm and the ritual starts at 7:30.

As for what I plan I doing at the ritual, I am still not completely sure. I do know that there will be some GD elements to it because that is who I am.

LVX, Morgan

This week's espisode of the Frankentrailer saga

As my regular readers will remember, the wife and I have a trailer sitting in our driveway. Mac, my father-in-law, brought it with him two years ago (a tad more if you want to be exact) when he came down to remodel the garage into a pottery studio for my wife's business.

Not only was his timing wrong (it was my first semester of college) and his bull headedness annoying (for instance, he believes that I am wasting my time in college, not to mention being a writer and that I should walk into restaurants demanding top dollar when I am job hunting--gee, I haven't been employed in how long not demanding anything, just bet that helps; plus he knew more about designing art studios than me and Toni despite never working in one), on top of ALL that he left this trailer to take up half my driveway.

He left it because he thought it would be easier to store the ceiling board in it until we used it. Surprise, two years later, the ceiling board was still there--unused.

He also wanted to give it to Scotty (a ex-boyfriend of Toni's). Scotty didn't want it.

So recently having a friend that can actually use the trailer, Toni wrote him to get the pink slip.

Guess what? He decided to mail it to Scotty instead. I wonder when this happened. I am betting right after Toni asked him for it.

(He would love to see Scotty get back together with Toni. And he has no idea why I didn't punch Scotty in the mouth--proof that I am just freeloading off of Toni, he thought--simple I have seen them together. A poisoning would occur if they tried to get back together again; there is a reason why I don't boss Toni around, other than the fact that I basically an easy-going man--I like to continue living.)

So I may end up turning the trailer (which is the back of an old chevy pickup) into a giant flower pot. At least, that way I will get some use out of it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What does the average writer make?

Today I spent a lot of time on Google trying to locate the numbers for what the average writer makes. I know that there are figures for this (though I am not sure if they are government or guild) because I saw a set a few years ago.

The reason for this egg hunt is that I might need the figures for my microeconomics term paper.

So if any of my readers know where I should be looking, please leave me a comment. Thank you.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Remembering to stay active

On the note of thinking in long terms, I feel that it might be a good time to remind all my readers that most sites that pay have "inactivity clauses" in their user agreements.

An inactivity clause is designed to ensure that the users (participants) of a site remain active. Inactivity does not do the owners of a site any good, so they do their best to make sure that it does not happen. Towards this end, they really only have one tool, the inactivity clause.

Let's look at the inactivity clause from Helium.

As long as members remain active on the Site, their earnings continue to accrue. Members' Accounts become "dormant" in the event that they fail to "participate" in the Site for any continuous period of one hundred eighty (180) days. "Participation" is defined as writing an article, conducting rating or inviting additional members to the Site. If a member fails to do any of these activities for period of one hundred eighty (180) days, their Account will become Dormant and the member will cease to earn additional earnings until such time as their Account is re-activated through participation. If an account is classified as Dormant, prior earnings are not lost (other than as outlined herein), and the Account can be reactivated by the member at any time by participating as outlined herein.

Members can view their current balance by logging into their account. You hereby agree that you have no legal right, and have not earned any amount, unless and until your earnings balance reaches the minimum payout threshold ("Minimum Payout Threshold") (which is currently set at $25, and is subject to change by Helium in its discretion). Once a member reaches the Minimum Payout Threshold, he/she has earned and is entitled to receive the amount set forth in the earnings balance and may withdraw his/her earnings from his/her Account. In that you have achieved the Minimum Payout Threshold but your Account remains Dormant for at least 365 days, you understand and agree that you forfeit any and all right you have to any accrued but unclaimed earnings. In the event that your account has not reached the Minimum Payout Threshold, you agree that you have not earned any amount from Helium.

So, in plain English. If you stop participating at Helium for six (6) months, your account will stop receiving any distribution from the revenue sharing pool. If you return to Helium after six months but before 18 months, your account balance will still be in place, and you will start earning again. If you leave Helium for a full 18 months, you will lose any accrued earnings in your account.

Ignore all the legalese and gooble-gook. What you are concerned with is how to remain active with the least amount of effort. In this case, writing a single article, inviting another writer, or doing a handful of ratings once every 180 days (six months). As one as you do at least one of these, your earnings will continue to accrue.

It is just like the bank clause that says that you can not deposit a penny in a bank account and show up in a hundred years to collect the interest without doing any further business with the bank in the meantime.

Inactivity will cost you. Maybe you are rich enough to be able to afford inactivity. I am not.

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Short term vs long term goals

Occasionally, I notice that I am out of step with the rest of the world. Whether it is a result of my viewing the world differently or just not giving two hoots, I am not sure.

For instance, one of my friends has given up completely on Helium. He also refuses to join any write-to-paid site that pays as low as Helium does. Or that remind him of Helium.

I understand his distaste of Helium and if I didn't take the long view, I would probably share it.

But I don't. I think it is because I have the option of taking the long view of the potential of Helium and its effect on my bottom line.

Yes, Helium is low paying for the most part. After all, it is royalty based (ad revenue share). But that is only the short view.

Let's say that I write an article that earns ten cents a month on Helium. Ten cents a month will not make a dent in my bills. Yet over the course of a year, that will be an additional dollar and twenty cents of income in my pocket. Mulitply that amount by a dozen articles and it becomes fourteen dollars.

It does not sound like a lot. But that is exactly how the best writers on Helium are approaching Helium--by writing a lot of articles in the right categories (some subjects pay better than others there).

At the moment, I have fifty articles on Helium. That is earning me twenty-five dollars a year. It is not a lot of money, but then again it is only fifty articles. Several of them I should not have bothered writing--they had a really short shelf life.

That is one thing that you do not want to write on Helium is an article with a short shelf life. One wants to aim for subject matter that a lot of people are interested in which has a long shelf life. Ideally, one should aim for articles that will still be useful (making revenue) twenty years from now.

That same ten cents a month article if it has a shelf life of twenty years will net you twenty-four dollars. And do not worry about inflation--ad revenue shares are based on advertising rates; as they go up, so will your share.

Now, I do know why my friend has a hard time taking the long view of that site and all others that are built around the same premise. He has been unemployed for awhile and is desperately looking for a way to make up for lost income.

I understand his needs. It is just that I chose to take the long view when faced with the same problem. After almost a year of unemployment, I rolled up my sleeves and decided to go to college. Basically, I am living off of student loans and what little I make as a writer.

And for me, anything that brings in a tickle of money is a good thing. Especially things that I can do around my school schedule.

After all, I am playing the long game. If I build up enough stock, the tickle will become a river.

It is the same game when one is working on a novel or any other project. You do a lot of work upfront in hopes of cashing in later. It is not quick or easy. Yet it is the way that all people who make their living from royalties started out.

To see my Helium profile, click here.

My Yuwie Referral Link

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Read the subject that you write in

Yesterday during a break, I started to talk to someone that is working on a science fiction story. Listening to them, I realized that they had not considered the implications of their idea. Nor were they familiar with the science fiction field, especially in print.

My dilemna of whether or not to tell them so was mercifully cut short by the fact that I had to get to my philosophy class.

Honestly, one can not judge the print market (whether science fiction, romance, or adventure) by what is filmed in Hollywood. Do not judge your field by what movies have came out in that field.

It is like comparing apples and oranges. Books and stories take a certain amount of time and mental effort to finish reading while movies and TV are might to be short and effortless. They are two different approaches.

And if you submit something without being familiar with what has been done in the past in your field, you stand a very good chance that you will recieve a rejection slip.

Basing your view of a field by what has made it to film (and you really should compare the film to the original printed work) is only acceptable if you are pitching a film.

The reason I know he was not familiar with the field--I read stories from the fifties on the exact same idea. And no editor is accepting stories based on the concept anymore. Onward and upward--for heavens sake, be familiar with the works in your field.

Yuwie has lowered payout to $25

Yuwie has lowered the payout amount from fifty to twenty-five dollars.

I am not sure of the reason, but I can take a wild guess--the fifty dollar payout was driving people away. It basically looked impossible to earn that much if you were an average user like myself.

And let's be honest--it is a really good move for them to take. It is good for them; it is good for us; it is good for our referrals.

It is especially good for those of us who are using the site for advertising our other work (in my case, writing). The lower payout means that more ordinary users will be on the site, and that is where our bread and butter comes from. People are more likely to join with the lower payout amount; it looks more achievable.

It also makes it more likely that they are there to use the site as a social network. That means our blog entries will get read more, and that is where most of us slip in our plugs for our latest writing.

So good for Yuwie for lowering the amount a person needs to earn before getting their check. And good for us who are actually using the site as a networking platform.

Helium is a year old

Today, Helium turns a year old.

I haven't been there for the entire year; I didn't learn of its existence until February.

Nor have I written as much on the site as other people have; for some reason doing my college homework takes priority--that might not be a bad thing.

I do know some people who are not satisified with the royality rate there. I will admit that some of my articles have not made as much as I would like them to make. On the other hand, a couple of them have made much more than I expected.

And some of the writers there are far from being professional.

Nevertheless, I am pleased with my experience with Helium. And I do intend to write more articles for them.

So on that note: Happy Birthday Helium!

To view my Helium profile, click here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bombed a test

Well, I bombed my Microeconomics test yesterday. No real big surprise--it involved a lot of equations that I kept confusing with one another. Elasticity equations (income, price, supply, etc.) mainly.

It is a good thing that Marty (Martin Sabo) allows us to fix the test to recover half the points that we lost.

Exactly why I bombed I am not completely sure. Was it the fact that I didn't study hard enough or too much (I did more studying for this test than all the ones I took last semester in Macroeconomics). Or was it that I bashed out the homework for three chapters this weekend because i am trying to clear the deck for National Novel Writing Month. Or was it that I wake up yesterday slightly depressed. Or a combination of all of these.

Oh well, I should still be able to get an A in this class if I don't bomb any of the other tests. Onward and upward.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Forgotten Words of the Day: Lodge and Order

The word lodge is one of those words that has multiple meanings. The two meaning that we are looking at today are related, and are in danger of becoming obscure and obsolete. We will also have to peek at another word, Order, that is tied heavily to the first one. For me, today's words are not forgotten, but I can see that they are definitely endangered.

Lodge--1: The meeting place of a branch of certain fraternal organizations (such as Freemasonry and Golden Dawn). 2: the members composing said branch.

It is seriously doubtful that the Freemasons control the world considering the local lodge can not even decide what type of potato salad to bring to the picnic.

A hundred years ago, these uses of the word were nott as rare as they are today. In fact, a century ago, forty percent of the adult population belonged to at least one Order.

What is an Order?

An Order is a group of two or more lodges that share the same upper-level administration and resources.

And I am not just talking about old white men. I mean the entire adoult population. White, black; young, old; men, women--if they wanted to belong to a lodge, there was an Order that would have them as members.

Depending upon your wants and needs, there was an Order to address those needs. My grandmother was a member of the Modern Woodmen, and Order that provided insurance.

(The lodges were a way to pool resources and unite in pursuit of a common goal.)

The Orders were so much a facet of our Western culture that their presence was recorded in our modern media (aka television). Jackie Gleason on the Honeymooners made fun of the lodges. Fred Flintstone belonged to a lodge. On Frasier, Kelsey Grammer's character (Doctor Crane) and his brother were members of a wine club that for all extents and purposes was a lodge (they called it a Club).

So why are the terms Lodge and Order becoming forgotten? Simply because lodge membership is becoing a rarity.

The membership of the Orders has declined because of a combination of factors. The rise of insurance companies and the welfare system has removed much of the need behind belonging to a lodge. The political movement of the sixties caused an entire generation to become non-joiners. (The effect fo the internet could go either way--time will tell.) Today, many Orders have closed the last of their lodges and have became extinct.

Others like the Freemasons are divided into two camps, the young and the very old (I would be considered young), who disagree in what the purpose of Freemasonry is. This division of purpose is driving that esteemed Order ever closer to extinction (it may be as soon as a decade if you believe certain estimates).

Some Orders, such as the Golden Dawn based Orders, have been forced to create correspodence courses and online support groups to cope with the fact that interested individuals live so far apart that assembling a lodge is near impossible.

The concept of lodges and Orders are a distinctly Western idea, one that deserves saving, so get out there and spread knowledge of the term.

Refer to your local writer's group as a lodge; annoy your knitting circle by calling them such.

Remember it is only by keeping the idea of the concept alive that we can ensure that future generations will have knowledge of it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Chores To Avoid Writing

One of the skills that I have acquired as a writer is the ability to make it look like I am busy and accomplishing a lot when all I really am doing is avoiding writing.

Actually, I learned it as a wage slave (an interesting term that first showed up in the 1900's England; Karl Marx used it in his writings, but I digress). I was working for Renzios, a Greek chain of restaurants (the type that shows up in food courts). We were told to look busy at all times; I think that I was told that at Burger King also, though I really didn't pay much attention to the statement there. After all, it was easy to be constantly busy at the Burger King I worked at; not so at the Renzios location that I was working at--there were periodic dead times in the afternoon where we were required to be open by the building management despite the lack of business at that time of day.

(Interesting enourgh the location is still listed on some internet directories--gee, it has been closed for three years now; isn't it time to remove it?)

The reason that I started to play attention to the statement "One should always appear to be working" was Chris and Tom Renzios (actually Rentzios, but that is too hard for us Americans). Even though I butted heads with them periodically, I do have a great deal of respect for them. I won't be as sucessful of a business person as I am if they won't have taken a chance on me when they did. After all, it was my first taste of running a business--something that I have to do everyday as a writer.

Their reason was that customers do not like to see employees standing around; I suspect that it was really the fact that an idle employee was not helping them make money (aka milking the clock). Becoming a manager, I started to give the statement real weight--an idle employee was one that I did not need chewing up my labor.

Not that I was the model employee. Part of the problem was that heavy duty cleaning, and dishes could not be done while keeping an eye on the counter (manning the register). So I ended up doing a lot of writing during the last hour and a half of the business hours. It was something that could be done without having customers shout to see if I was present, or be horrified about how much grease a restaurant could generate.

It was here that I first started to notice that there were days when I was much happier cleaning or attempting to forcibly drag business in. Today, I recognize it as a form of writer's block.

One definition of a writer is that a writer is the only person happy to clean the toliet. It is true; a blocked writer will do anything they can to aviod the blank page.

For me, housekeeping is a sure sign that something is gumming up the process. And with my attention span, or lack thereof, my mind wandering to the housework that needs to be done is alarming. To get up and actually do it--shudder.

Now, I have various levels of avoiding writing. Homework is not really avoiding writing. Nor is going to class--I am a college sophomore; it is expected. Doing housework is worrisome, but again neccessary. Hanging out on MyLot or Yuwie is a tad worse, yet not panic inducing, same goes for doing research (both market and regular)--refilling the pond is necessary. And yardwork is a just a nice change of pace.

Now if I start the vacuum, that is when I should start to panic. And heaven forbid if I start to become social--like actually talk to the neighbors or wandering strangers.

A writer is only in trouble if things like this start to happen on a regular basis. It is a sure sign that something is wrong (assuming that the person is actually a writer; a writer has to write to live--it is the core of their existence).

I am not sure if I am in trouble yet. I only did some laundry, some dishes, and a bunch of hanging out at MyLot today. The last part can be racked up to me trying to ensure that I was going to hit payout this month. And the UPS man I had to talk to. I don't have an excuse for talking to the wandering produce salesman I talked to.

Of course, I can't say that I am really surprised that I goofed off today. I had a migraine yesterday, and then walked into a surprise test in Political Science (write three emotion filled paragraphs). I try to avoid writing with a migraine; it wrecks the progress for days (or at least the good part of the next one).

Hopefully tommorrow goes better. Because writer's block is the last thing I need to catch. But I am not worried too much considering the amount of interruptions I had during my writing of this entry (but that is a whole another rant).