Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Culture Addicted to FREE—How FREE is Poisoning the Internet & Killing the Creatives

Exposure used to be the treatment/cure, but the world has evolved to be exposure-resistent. Exposure is like tossing regular penicillin at flesh-eating MRSA and expecting it to work.

Source: A Culture Addicted to FREE—How FREE is Poisoning the Internet & Killing the Creatives


Getting Started After a Break

I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Vietnam. I met my daughter in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon to those people my age or older). Parks, motorbikes, museums and great food all made for an exciting few days.

View from Hotel in Saigon

View from the Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City

In all, I visited the Mekong Delta, Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue and Danang. It was the trip I always dreamt of taking and it was even better than expected. I’ll write about it in more detail in upcoming posts. But right now I have a problem.

I can’t get started writing again. I did some writing the first couple of days back even though I had a severe case of Jet lag, but now I have to push myself just to put this into print. To be honest, I’ve  had a lot to deal with in the last week. My daughter, MaiLynn, found another side of her family in Vietnam, and I’ve had to revisit and partially mentally revise my relationship with her father. Difficult to do since he died eight years ago.

I’ve also had to readjust to my living situation. Living with my husband and his two brothers in a relatively small house has its challenges. Privacy and solitude are nearly impossible, and it’s difficult to move around the house when people are sleeping. I think I’ve found the solution by coming to the nearby community college with its student union and library and free wi-fi. I’m here now and I think I need to make this place my new writing office. I’ve worked here before and need to get into the habit of packing up my writing supplies the night before and silently sneaking out in the morning so I don’t wake up the brothers.

So….wish me luck with getting back in the groove. Do you ever lose your momentum? What do you do to get your writing groove back?

Writing to Be Heard: Some Lessons Learned

I went to a Meetup Workshop last night in Palo Alto to learn more about getting my blog going and read. I’ve been busy this last month or so trying to figure out how to make my writer’s dream come true.  Bill Belew, a blogging mega success, has a different dream than I do but I still learned a lot when he let us in on a few of his secrets.

Bill focuses on blog traffic and his numbers are amazing. Thousands of people visit his blogs every hour and he is able to use this traffic to sell enough advertising to pay his mortgage in the expensive Silicon Valley in California.

I’m not sure yet about how I want to finance my writer’s dream; to me the biggest perceived conflict is between focusing on art or commerce. But I really need to better integrate the two in order to live with the freedom I want.

Building blog traffic is one way of exploring and opening up the possibilities of this merger.

Here are Bill’s main points on how to build traffic and your search engine ranking so people find you and your blog:

  • Quantity – If you want to get to the top of the page when people search for your topic, you have to write more posts than similar bloggers do.
  • Quality – You have to write to please the reader but work on search engine optimization. This has to be balanced.
  • Consistency – You need to post regularly.
  • Longevity – You won’t be an overnight success  You need to keep writing even when growth is slow. Most people quit before they see this growth.

In the next couple of posts I’ll be exploring these ideas and looking at how I can use them in growing my writing life.

What is your dream? How do you balance commerce and life? Have you found a comfortable fit between the two?

Lunar New Year

It’s New Year’s Eve in much of the world today and I’m getting ready to celebrate here in California. I haven’t celebrated this holiday much since Hoat died. He always used to whirl through the house on this day; cleaning, preparing the meal, putting flowers in vases, getting the incense ready, cooking the chicken and the sticky rice. He had everything ready by midnight, when he put the food and flowers on the cold porch to lure out all the bad spirits and feelings that had settled in with us during the year. The smell of the food and incense would attract the good spirits in the neighborhood and they were invited when we brought the food back in. Then we would feast. I know he missed his native Vietnam and the family he gave up to be with us. I love ritual and this particular holiday is one of my favorites.

It’s been nearly eight years since he died and in recent years I’ve let the holiday go by without much notice. This year I’m getting ready to meet our daughter MaiLynn in Vietnam and all things Vietnamese are interesting me again. Mai is already there, celebrating with the friends she’s met on her journey to discover what being half Vietnamese means to her. This holiday, I hope, is bringing her closer to an answer. I’m traveling some of this journey with her.

New Years Decorations in Hanoi

New Years Decorations in Hanoi

So, in a house I share with a Jew, an atheist and a non-practicing Catholic, I’ll be doing the ritual tonight. I’ll be cleaning my room, making a meal for the spirits and staying up late to honor memory and the journey forward.

Happy New Year!

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Salinas Writer’s Circle and Poetry

I just did the homework for my Writer’s Circle meeting tonight. I was dreading it because I haven’t written any poetry in years, and not much then either.

The prompt was: Write a poem based on your favorite song or movie.

Eat, Pray, Love  really wasn’t one of my favorite movies, but it was one of my favorite books and the movie was ok. I thought it showed promise for writing a poem. It was great fun to write.

Invocation for Gaia

We pray from within this glorious world.

We stand in praise

and bow down in our fields

bringing forth the magnificent feast.


Our prayers feed our bodies and our hearts.

The crunch of the apple and

the taste of the freely-given fruit

reminds us of the way we savor the sweet taste of our lover’s mouth.


We sing praises to this passion.

Our devotion to life and our hunger for love

conjures up the banquet and we sit down to eat.

Using That Good Advice

I went to my first critique group yesterday and met several new people who all became my allies in the struggle to become a better writer. I was so impressed with their work and I’m sure that I’ll learn a lot from their comments. This morning I used their suggestions to edit and do a little rewrite of the first chapter of the memoir and it looks much better.

After a few more changes, I’ll be sending it off to my daughter, MaiLynn, so she can read it and comment. We’re working together on this memoir. It brings us closer even though I’m in California and she’s in New Zealand.  We’re still working on the on-line communication and sharing aspects but I think we can handle it with Skype and Google Docs.

It’ll be great to work together a bit when I meet her in Vietnam for three weeks. Mostly we’ll be exploring the country, but we plan to put some of this book together too. I’m getting ready for the trip by taking Vietnamese lessons from my brother-in-law. Some of those sounds are tough to pronounce. I hope I get better soon or I’ll be embarrassing myself and confusing others. It might make for some funny stories.

Back to work. I have to figure out how to write a flashback for one of the events in that first chapter.

First Critique Group Coming Up Today

I finally got around to editing the first chapter of the first draft of my memoir. Why? Because I’m going to my first critique group today and I wanted to bring something to read and get comments on. I usually would hang back for the first few meetings but I feel a sense of urgency now. I realized that the Vietnam trip is only something like forty-five days away. Mai and I will need be ready to start doing some merging of our work if we are going to accomplish much on this trip.

Editing and rewrites are hard for me. I write my first drafts quick and dirty style and the editing is tough because I don’t have a lot of good writing to work with. I think I’ll be doing more rewriting than editing in the memoir. For now, I’m using the book The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, by Noah Lukeman. I found it at the library bookstore the other day and it has some pretty good ideas for rewrites. This time I took out or replaced adjectives and adverbs and made the verbs stronger. It helped but we’ll see what the critique group thinks. I hope to get some good feedback.

It will be great to meet with these writers. Human contact with like-minded people is what I need to keep going. I signed up for the memoir group on Scribophile, but so far haven’t participated. It seems so remote, but maybe I’ll work on that after I get my energy revved up and my spaciness under control.

Susan will be here soon to pick me up. I’m happy and nervous.