Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How do you say Huh in Russian?

Every once in awhile I have to say "Huh?" when I look at the keywords and traffic drivers to one of my sites. For instance, looking at the top five referring sites for December for the Bast Temple lodge website, I discovered that number five referrer was a Russian site. I believe based on the homepage that it is actually a video game site, but I am not sure---I do not read Russian.

I have no idea why I would be getting traffic from such a site. Does anyone know how to say "Huh" in Russian?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Confused about what I need to disclose

Despite several hours of research (trying to understand) on the FTC change in the disclosure laws, I am still no closer to actually knowing if I need to disclose the fact that I belong to an esoteric Order when doing my occult book reviews.

If I understand the law change correctly, most of my stuff would fall under CMP. ly 0 classification, and my involvement in an esoteric Order does not have to be disclosed at all.

The only disclosures required are if I was given a copy of the book I was reviewing, or got paid by the author or publisher to do the review, or owned stock in the publishing house. The change in the disclosure laws seem to be concerned only with material gain and interest.

(For those who do not know, recently I was accused by David Griffin, the head of an esoteric Order that resorted to the use of lawyers to try to put other Orders out of business, of creating politically motivated book reviews. Supposely if you do not agree with the opinions of his membership's opinions about a book, you are guilty of political warfare. There was also the fact that I did not think his own book was the best thing since white bread---and the fact that his Order was bragging about his book selling for a thousand dollars on the used market is not an acceptable reason to do a new review of an out-of-print book.)

I asked the administration and writers on Helium if they knew the answer. I really would like to know before the first of the year, considering I am going to be making my full disclosure statement live then (I am still twiddling with it). As for Associated Content, they seem happy with compliance with the CMP. ly system.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Been working on my full disclosure statement

Over the last few days, I have been working on my full disclosure statement, or what is going to pass for a full disclosure statement in my universe.

I have been avoiding cobbling it together for awhile. I understand why the government wants to see bloggers and the new media to have one, but I also think that they vastly underestimate the intelligence of the average interent reader. I think that most readers can spot the paid advertisements.

The reason that I am cobbling mine at this point is that I have been accused of creating book reviews to match the "politics" of the esoteric Orders that I belong to. I think that is just an excuse to disguise the fact that this person does not want any voices talking about Golden Dawn unless they control what is being said. Those who know me realize that if I suspect that you are trying to control the media, then I get a little annoyed with you.

The interesting part, or at least the part that is making the writing of my full disclosure statement hard, is that I know that any disclosure that does not scream "I am so biased that I should be kicked out of the union" is going to be viewed as an outright lie. There is also the fact that the more I work on it, the more stuff that I am having to include, and the more off-the-wall it gets.

Yesterday, my current critic took me to task because I used "they" in a statement, and I did not cite something. Only one of those facts is the truth; the other will be changed as soon as this person realizes that I did actually cite my source. (That is one of the joys of dealing with this person; they go back and rewrite their stuff to make it look like they knew the entire time the shortcomings of their arguments...I pdf a lot of this person's stuff just to remind myself what the original statements said.)

Here is the copying of my own words that he did:

And I would like to point out that Nineveh Shadrach implied that they want us to construct this square. "Count yourself fortunate [to know about the Qaf square], but this fortune is merely a potential. It can only really become a full reality in your life, if you create the magic square and release its power" (xii). Why say this if they did not want us to actually do it?

Now, I will admit that I am guilty of misusing the word "they"...sort-of. I may or may not have been taken to task by a literature or journalism teacher for using "they" instead of "he" here.

Personally, I think it is clear that Shadrach is "they." I am not so sure that it is clear that I wasn't completely sure if Ninevah was a "he" or a "she," so I defaulted to a neutral term.

(We really need better neutral terms in English.)

The other accusation was that I did not cite the page number of the quote I used. Huh? I guess that my critic does not know the MLA rules because the page number is obvious (the 12th page of the introduction; yes, the publisher uses roman numerals here). So I had to put all the various citation styles that I occasionally use in my disclosure statement.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem that they are going to have with my disclosure statement, other than the fact that I am positive that my crimes are completely different than what I am being accused of (it is not politics that drive my writing, it is Google Lust), is going to be the fact that I treated my full disclosure statement like a joke. But it is the only way I was going to tolerate writing it, and my regular readers are going to be able to tolerate reading it.

*sigh* It is times like this that I find myself wondering why I thought my choice of profession was a really good idea.

Quote of the day: Arnold Lobel

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.

- Arnold Lobel

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I am an expert in what?!

It is said that if you plan on making your living as a writer that you need to specialize. Specialization makes your life easier, for you can more rapidly hack out articles.

I will admit that I am occasionally surprised at some of the specialities that I am developing. At the beginning of the fall semester, I wrote an article about Amendment 50 (Casinos) and the projected funding that the community colleges of Colorado could expect from this particular law change. I have also wrote articles on the Colorado Lottery.

And I just voluteered to do a follow-up to the Amendment 50 revenue article. My reasoning for voluteering is that I already have the websites bookmarked, therefore I just as well write the article.

So why does this speciality surprise me?

Well, I do not gamble. I am writing about Blackhawk, and have never stepped foot in a casino up there. Even if I did not have a travel issue (remember moving vehicles cause terrible migraines for me), I am not sure that I would go. After all, do I really want to find out if I am prone to a gambling addiction (something that I suspect my aunt had).

There is also the fact that if I am going to place my money at risk, I would rather place it in an investment instead. The stock market: that is real gambling.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Impossible Reply

Over the years, some of the hardest writing that I had to do has turned out to be personal, rather than monetary and creative oriented work. Heck, there are times personal writing is even harder than academic writing. I was reminded of this fact today when I recieved a holiday card from my sister.

When I saw the return address on the envelope, I sighed. Yesterday, I recieved a Christmas card from one of my brothers. My prompt response was that he had obviously not recieved the memo that I was...well, not worthy of inclusion in the family. So it was a big surprise to recieve a card from my sister, who should have sent out the memo.

The regular readers of my blog will understand why sending a response to her is going to be hard. This sister is the one that I finally figured out why she was a toxic writing friend early this fall. And one of the things that she told me is that she never wants me to talk about college, my writing, and Golden Dawn ever again.

Hmmm...I have no idea what I am supposed to write to her about. I guess she will have to settle for a thank you, and possibly a question about how everyone is. Because I have nothing else that I can say. *sigh*

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solistice!

I took the day off from writing today. I spent it sending people season's greetings and trying to catch up with everybody's facebook page. That is one of the advantages of self-employment: you can take the day off to be human.

To all my blog readers:

Happy Solistice! May the coming year bring you Health, Wealth and Love!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My clout level at AC went up

Today, I checked my stats at Associated Content, and saw that my clout level went up from six to seven since yesterday. I did not realize that I was so close to the edge. Sometimes surprises are pleasant.

And seven is the magical level where my PPM payment starts to earn a bonus. It is not a big bonus, but I will take that shiny nickel anyways.

I have noticed that my daily pageviews on average have gone up. Plus I got a little spike in views the couple of days that David Griffin was complaining about my review of his book, The Ritual Magic Manual.

(For those who are unaware, he thinks that I gave him a bad book review because of political reasons [I belong to an evil occult conspiracy, he says {more or less}]; I just do not believe that his book should be selling for a thousand dollars on the used book market...though I have yet to see evidence that it is actually being sold at that price [we all know that there is a difference between the asking price and the price something actually goes for]. Though it is pretty much a non-issue now, I have recently saw a complete pdf of his book; I doubt that the value of his book will remain so high now.)

*Gee, that is an awkward looking group of sentences, isn't it?*

But I think that the spike in pageviews were minor (it really wasn't that large...hmmm, I guess people really do not care what he thinks). More important I think for getting me up an additional clout level is that I have been putting up more articles on Associated Content, and not just occult articles.

My latest was an article I wrote for Campus Connections back in August about Amendment 50 and what effect it might have on community college funding.

So here to me making progress as a writer. That nickel PPM may not sound like much, but it beats the moths that are currently inhabiting my bank account.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kicking around the astrology column

Well, I just posted the last astrology column of the semester up on Associated Content. Normally, I would wait until the next issue comes out before even considering doing this; but given the fact that it was about New Year's resolutions, and I seriously doubt that a lot of students are still on campus to read the issue, I decided to post it up early.

This is actually the first column from the new improved format that I put online. The big difference that one can see online is that I have quit doing the introduction, and am now just focusing on describing the signs and their behavior. The other two changes were to the way it was printed in the physical version of the newspaper: the name of the column changed from "Crystal Ball" to "Sun Wisdom", and the bad mugshot printed behind the column was replaced by a simple astro-wheel without any words printed over it (both of these problems were a non-issue on the web).

(I still have four more columns to post online, but I want to space out their posting a little for web traffic purposes.)

Now, it is time for me to kick around what my next column is going to be about. And the deadline is rapidly approaching (just over a week away).

When I volunteered to do the astrology column, I did not realize that it was going to take two weeks to come up with an idea for the column, and only a few hours to actually write it. I thought it would be the other way around; ideas coming quickly, and the actual writing being the bog that would slow me down.

Turns out that it is actually harder work to come up with the ideas (due to the audience and issue frequency) than it is to write the column itself. I will admit that I am still a little slow at writing the column itself; my knowledge of astrology was not as deep as I thought it was. But the column is helping improve my knowledge of astrology.

Now if I could only come up with ideas for the column faster. I would be in so much trouble if they decided to publish more often than once every three weeks.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inspiration from Anne Rice

Today is one of those low self-esteem days. I dread them because they tend to be counter-productive. For instance, I messaged someone back today that I could not imagine them publishing any article of mine---this is after they said that they would like me to consider writing something for them. *sigh* And I already treated a couple of compliments as if the speakers were merely humoring me.

So I really needed this bit of inspiration. It is from Anne Rice; she has a fanpage on Facebook.

All aspiring writers out there: know that we need you, we need your voice, your vision, your stories. Be brave. Go where the pain is; go where the pleasure is. Seek to create in words the world in which you long to live.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beginning the spring campaign

It is that time of year again, that moment when we are all deciding what we are going to accomplish in the upcoming year. For me, it is the start of my spring writing campaign.

I started doing an annual writing campaign almost two decades ago. The restaurant I was working at, not being close to a mall, would suffer a drop in sales around the holidays. There was also the advent of the secular new year to remind oneself that one was wasting one's time flipping burgers.

So I started to jot down ideas, volunteer to take off early, and doing more writing in a month than I did the entire year...it became an annual event for me. Especially after I started to make a little money writing. Every year was "This is the year, I am going to make the big break and get the hades out of here."

After I realized that it was unlikely to happen, switched jobs, and decided that I still liked writing better than my day job (ended up being a restaurant manager), I still indulged in the new year writing campaign.

There have been some changes in the way I conduct it over the years. As I have made more money over the years, it has surfaced in my mind earlier.

For awhile, it started as soon as I hit my net plus thirty cutoff point: that point in the business year where you know that nothing that you are working on now will earn you a dime until after the New Year. One of the hazards of being self-employed is that the earliest you might recieve money for the work you do today is thirty days after the end of the current calendar month.

In recent years, my campaign has rotated around my college and university schedules. I cannot start the campaign until I have died on the sofa for a couple of days after I take my last final exam and turned in the last paper for the semester. If I am unable to type a single sentence without making a spelling mistake, it is probably too soon to start the campaign.

My work at Campus Connection (the student newspaper for the Community College of Denver) have also affected my campaign. Some of the work that I am going to be doing this month is meant for them...all writers change their agendas based on who they can get to pay them. I also will spend time this month uploading articles that I have done in the past semester to one of the pageview sites.

(I will admit that I thought that I had all my astrology articles up from last year, leaving just three articles from last year left---articles that I am not sure I want anyone to see ever again; but I was wrong. I found a lonely sun sign astrology article about evil twins and our negative astrological traits lurking on the hard drive of my computer, and I had to upload it to AC today. Tomorrow, I will probably start uploading this past semester's articles; it will be interesting to see the stats for the new format compared to the old format of the previous year's.)

But I think that the most important changes to my new year campaign is that I have several mini-campaigns, and I am no longer focused on the big breakout.

The mini-campaigns are the results of doing both online content and the college newspaper work, as well as suffering the university schedule. I find it easier to look ahead and plan articles that will be interesting in the months, and sometimes years ahead.

Another reason for the mini-campaigns is that I am no longer trying to create a big break for myself. My most reliable income sources are small monthly jobs. A little income from this source and a little from that source adds up. I am a far ways from making a comfortable income, but I know I can get there, given enough time and content.

Earlier this year, my sister (who is one of my toxic writing friends) told me that I will never be a "great writer"; it did not bug me all that much to be told that---I have ceased to aim for that several years ago, and I am working hard to be a regularly employed hack instead. (What disturbed me was that she considered my entire life a waste, not just my writing.)

So I am not planning on writing a great short story over the next month; instead I am focusing on articles that will generate income---short, sweet articles. Here is to my spring campaign (it is when I will start recieving payment for this month's work), and here is to yours. Tally-Ho!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It is the ideas that count, not my English!

It amuses me the number of individuals I get to interact with that believe that they should be judged solely on their ideas and creativity, and that it does not matter how badly they string a sentence together. And I really want to locate this fantasy world that they inhabit where editors and readers are willing to struggle with a piece of writing to get at the meat of the ideas. It sounds like a marvelous place to visit, though I doubt that my Virgo sun would be happy there for long.

I first became painfully aware of this belief when dealing with one of my toxic writing friends (you know the type---they are your friend, but you do not dare talk about writing around them if you want to get anything written in the next month, aka wet blankets).

My friend had done a draft of a novel, and he wanted my opinion of it. After ten minutes of reading, I had finally moved onto the second page of the manuscript. Yes, I said ten minutes to hack my way though the first page.

Now if this manuscript had been on the slush pile, it would have gotten the form rejection slip on the first page, first paragraph, perhaps even first sentence. Before I could even address the ideas in the script, I had to give him feedback about how to write a proper sentence.

And what he told me was that it was unfair that he would be judged on solely on the basis of his ability to write a clear sentence; all he needed was an editor who was willing to work with him; his ideas were worth the effort.

Nice fantasy world, I told him. He ignored me; he does not believe that my writing and editing experience qualifies me to have an opinion. I seriously doubt that he would listen Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, or anyone else for that matter, if they told him the same thing.

The reason I have been thinking about this is that recently I gave someone feedback about their blog, and got told that they were more concerned with ideas than learning how to present their information in a reader-friendly format. Blog T (not its actual name, sorry to whoever is actually writing Blog T) has many attributes that are going to make me talk about it often; it will serve us well as an example of what not to do.

The writer may think that it should be only their ideas that should matter; but given the habits of readers, they are dead wrong. I wish them luck in actually finding the fantasy world they think exists, where readers and editors are willing to work at reading something and do not run off to better sites at the drop of a comma splice.