Powerful post at Copyblogger

I’ve mentioned Copyblogger.com before; it’s full of worthwhile stuff. Here’s a little gem.

The Power of Analogy

by Brian Clark

Analogy

An elderly man stormed into his doctor’s office steaming mad.

“Doc, my new 22-year-old wife is expecting a baby. You performed my vasectomy 30 years ago, and I’m very upset right now.”

“Let me tell you a story,” the doctor calmly replied.

“A hunter once accidentally left the house with an umbrella instead of his rifle. Out of nowhere, a bear surprised him in the woods… so the hunter grabbed the umbrella, fired, and killed the bear.”

“Impossible, ” the old man said. “Someone else must have shot that bear.”

“You got it,” the doctor replied.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and co-founder of DIY Themes, creator of the innovative Thesis Theme for WordPress. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

WEbook.com–good for writers?

WEbook is a bit hard to describe. It’s a community of writing-oriented folks; an environment that makes it easy to collaborate on writing projects; and an evolving publishing environment.

You post stuff you write, and invite others to comment on it. You might invite people to collaborate more closely with you.

When your work–non-fiction, fiction, poetry–seems complete to you, you can submit it to the periodic judging process. If the community likes it, WEbook may offer you a publishing contract with reasonably good terms (50% of profit, but defining what constitutes “profit” is always challenging; read their Terms of Use).

When the site first came out, the Terms of Use suffered from excessive complexity, and were widely criticized. The good intentions of the founders did not manifest clearlly in them. WEbook took it all very seriously and modified them.

You don’t give up any rights to your stuff by posting it in WEbook. If you get offered a publishing contract, you don’t have to accept it; your writing belongs to you, and you can take it elsewhere.

All in all, it sounds to me like a good deal for different kinds of writers–novices; people wanting general feedback; people wanting specific help with particular issues; writers wanting to engage with a community.

The writing I found in a quick review of the site was not sophisticated in tone or content. But that’s not a criticism, just an observation.

I like the tools the site offers; I think any writer can put them to good use. Check out the site.

Day 5 of Joel’s “Write a book in 30 days!” project: Writing begins!

Here’s what I wrote in the Facebook group:

I was a bit short of time today, so I began the “content” portion of my writing with two brief ZipWriting sessions — 14 minutes and 12 minutes.

I chose to start with the introduction. But I could have started anywhere; that’s the beauty of the BookProgram process. Since the structure is already determined, I’m free to “fill in the blanks.”

Then I posted the writing. Head over to Facebook to see it.

Day 2 posting complete for Joel’s Book in 30 Days

Go visit the group to see the results of the 94 minutes I put into the project today — another cluster, this one of the book chapters. We’re cookin’! :-)

Who’s your audience?

If you have ever taken a writing class or an English class, you have heard this question: who is your audience? Who are you writing for? It is crucial that you know this before you put your thoughts together — let alone start to write a book.

It is amazing how many books, articles, and presentations are written by people who clearly did not have the answer to this question. They wrote because they had something to say — without thinking much about who they were saying it to.

What needs does your audience have? What challenges is your reader facing? What language does your audience understand? How much patience will your reader muster  to wade through your prose? What result will they have obtained upon completing your book?

Every reader is an individual. You may think of your books market has a crowd, but each reader is just one person. And if they are to buy your book, it must speak to them. They must see themselves in its title, its subtitle, its contents, its promises.

Create a persona that represents your reader. Design a fictitious character that embodies qualities of your audience. Then draw a picture of them, and write their characteristics on the picture. Keep that picture in view while you write. That way you will remember who your audience is.

Video from “Program for the Future”

I was co-chair of the Program for the Future, held 12/8-9 at The Tech Museum in San Jose, at the MediaX Center at Stanford, and in Second Life. Here’s a video of a wonderful conversation between Alan Kay (inventor of Smalltalk; Dynabook; Object-Oriented Programming) and Andy van Dam (teacher of more computer industry leaders than I can count.

It was an honor to work with the team who did all the work!

Listening to Bronia

She’s the 87-year-old mom of a friend of ours, a Shoah survivor who remembers everything she ever saw, and is very articulate in describing it (yes, including pages of text, and this morning’s paper).

She left her town in Poland with her mother and sister. Her father and grandparents stayed. “I remember the Germans that came around the Great War. They’re not bad people,” said her grandfather.

After an odyssey that took them to Armenia and Kiev, they returned home — and dug her grandfather’s body out of the fresh mass grave.

Bronia shared, lucidly and intensely, many other details. I recorded her story on my iPhone. If she allows me to post it here, I will.

Book, CD, DVD swapping

Linda Griffin mentioned this on her blogThis is a site for swapping used CDs, books, DVDs — get stuff you haven’t seen just for the cost of postage. Very cool!

Books by email: DailyLit.com

The Costco magazine just arrived, with some interesting stuff. I just signed up for DailyLit.com, which delivers books to you via email in small daily chunks. Lots of classics are free; current titles are generally $4.95.

What do you think about this?

National Day of Listening

StoryCorps and NPR (National Public Radio) have declared Friday after Thanksgiving “National Day of Listening”:

STORYCORPS LAUNCHES “NATIONAL DAY OF LISTENING”
NOVEMBER 28, 2008
Acclaimed oral history project encourages Americans to interview a loved one the day after Thanksgiving

NEW YORK – StoryCorps, the most ambitious oral history project ever undertaken, will launch the first annual National Day of Listening on November 28, 2008.
On Thanksgiving, Americans and their loved ones gather to share a meal, express their gratitude and reminisce. On the day after Thanksgiving, this November 28, StoryCorps is asking Americans to linger a little longer in the Thanksgiving spirit and honor a loved one by conducting an interview about his or her life.
It takes only an hour to participate, using recording equipment readily available in most homes - from video cameras to tape recorders to computers or even pen and paper.

“Looking a loved one in the eyes and asking about his or her life is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another,” says StoryCorps founder and MacArthur “genius” Dave Isay. “The simple act of listening tells them how much they matter, and documenting that conversation for posterity tells them that they won’t be forgotten.”

StoryCorps encourages Americans to set aside time on November 28th to record a conversation with a grandparent, an aunt, a neighbor, a soldier or a client at a local soup kitchen. The not-for-profit has created a simple tool kit of easy-to-use instructions, pointers, and sample questions at
http://www.storycorps.net.

Sample questions from the website’s online Question Generator include: What is your happiest memory? What are you proudest of in your life? What is the most important lesson you’ve learned? How do you want to be remembered?

StoryCorps supplies tips for recording these interviews and simple instructions on how to archive and preserve them. For the National Day of Listening, StoryCorps will also recommend ways to upload and share stories online.

Over the past five years, StoryCorps has recorded more than 20,000 interviews with more than 40,000 individuals in fifty states across the nation. Each week, millions of Americans listen to StoryCorps’ award-winning broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Fifty of StoryCorps’ most emblematic stories have been collected in the New York Times bestseller Listening Is an Act of Love, which has just been released as a Penguin paperback.

The Library of Congress and NPR are the partners of this year’s National Day of Listening.

About StoryCorps
StoryCorps is the largest oral history project ever undertaken. Founded in 2003 by Dave Isay, StoryCorps gives pairs of participants the opportunity to leave a legacy in sound for future generations. Across the country, everyday people have visited our soundproof booths to record a 40-minute interview with a loved one. One copy of the interview goes home with the participants on a CD, a second copy goes to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. To date, StoryCorps has recorded more than 20,000 audio interviews with 40,000 participants. Excerpts of select stories are broadcast weekly on NPR’s Morning Edition. For its ground-breaking public service, StoryCorps was awarded a special Institutional Peabody Award in 2007, an honor bestowed only once or twice a decade.
Special initiatives launched by StoryCorps include the Griot Project, the largest African American oral history project since the WPA Slave Narratives of the 1930s (in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture); The September 11th Project, an effort to record at least one interview to commemorate each life lost on 9/11 (in collaboration with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum); and the Memory Loss Initiative, which brings StoryCorps to individuals, families and caregivers struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.

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