Sunday, December 31, 2006


Writing A Story? Enjoy Yourself And Follow These Basic Rules

By Gina Marie

Fantastic news, you’ve finally taken the plunge, I know you wish you’d done it years ago, but a spouse, three kids, two dogs, a full time job etc, etc, ……aarrgghh!! Tell me about it! Better late than never is what I say.

Is it a novel, perhaps a short story? It could be your autobiography or even an article for a magazine/newsletter. Regardless of the content, nature or intensity of your writing make your self one promise …enjoy it! So many would be writers fall at the first hurdle, not through lack of talent, effort, commitment or endeavour. It is almost always a lack of planning that proves to be the major stumbling block.

The first and most important area to work on is structure. This brings together all the individual elements associated with your story in an organised manner, these include;

Your characters and their interaction/dialogue – conflict, humour, misunderstandings etc.

The overall theme of your story – good versus evil is usually a good one.

The major plot – that’s up to you!

Any sub-plots – skeletons in cupboards, vendettas, unrequited love, you get the idea

Location/setting/timescale – where and when? Time span – how long is your story? More important for short stories

A sting in the tail – keep them guessing right to the end!

Remember this is only a guide, the suggestions above outline some of the proven key points but it is your own individuality, creativeness and imagination that really counts.

Think about your favourite books/stories for a while and you will notice that apart from the subject matter, the structure, as outlined above is always the same!

Follow the basic guidelines;

1. Think of a situation or problem that needs to be resolved.

2. Relate the methods/actions taken etc. to resolve the situation.

3. Solve the problem – everyone lives happily ever after!

Very few writers can boast the ability to complete a short story/novel without some sort of structure, an often used example is:

1. A man gets stuck in a tree

2. Throw stones at him

3. Eventually get him down

Alternatively it could look something like this!

1. Your friend slips on some dog pooh, his false teeth fall to the ground, said dog runs off with teeth.

2. After recovering from fits of laughter you set off in pursuit of mad dog.

3. Promising never to tell a soul about the incident you eventually retrieve the teeth. Somehow you forget to tell him it was your dog

Obviously there’s a lot more to it than this, but it really does help to start as you mean to go on. The formation of a structure for your story is essential, it may be nothing more complicated than the above example or possibly a far more elaborate blueprint.

After years of dreaming and worshiping the written word I have finally taken the plunge and dived headlong into my own writing career. More info and lists of Irresistible phrases can be found at Gina Marie

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Saturday, December 30, 2006


Feeling Sorry For Saddam Hussein

Copyright 2006 by Donovan Baldwin

First of all, despite the title of this article, Saddam Hussein did evil things, and, if there are consequences to come from actions, then he probably got what he deserved...leaving aside any discussions about hanging or other forms of capital punishment.

However, once the verdict was announced and my wife and I became aware that Saddam Hussein was, indeed, going to be executed in days, or even hours, we each agreed on one thing. We felt sorry for Saddam.

I know that her sorrow comes from her personal convictions as a Christian and as an essentially kind person. Mine, however follow a slightly different path.

At least once upon a time, Saddam Hussein loved someone and was loved in return. At some time, he played with his children. Even now, after atrocities which have been perpetrated within his own family with consequences for his own children, his daughter spoke of how kind a father he was and how she could approach him for advice and counsel.

Many fathers who are not proclaimed by world tribunals to be monsters can only wish their children felt so well about them.

How different might the world have been for all of us, and for Saddam Hussein and his family, if somehow the love and affection he experienced for and from his daughter had found a means of extending itself to the world at large. Saddam was a passionate man with the daring, skill, and will to change the world he found into something else. If only he had used the skills and talents given him by whatever God there is to make the world better for all within his sphere of influence, what a different story might be playing out in the Middle East, and around the entire world at this time.

Christianity has been used as an excuse for Christians to massacre Jews and Muslims. Islam has been used as an excuse for Muslims to murder Jews and Christians. Judaism has been used as an excuse for Jews to fight and kill both Christians and Muslims.

True, in some cases, there are other apparently valid reasons for the murder and mayhem which ensued, but often there was either an overlay or undertone supplied by the religious beliefs of the combatants. I use the term "religious beliefs" in place of "religion" because often it is the interpretation of the basic tenets of a religion which provide the impetus for atrocity.

Those like Saddam Hussein, in view of the events unfolding around the world, are examples of how religious beliefs can rule more than just the man who claims that belief. The beliefs within the man, especially the man with the power to act upon them, become the policies, and sometimes the wars, of the nations they lead.

As a New Year approaches, let us hope that from the death of Saddam Hussein will arise a new view of religion and relationships and a world will be created in which a man or woman can hope to grow to be a leader and protector of all, and not just those who wear the same vestments, speak the same language, or worship the same God.

Maybe then, Saddam Hussein will have had a hand in the rejuvenation of the world, but only if we, the living, can find it in our hearts...Sunni, Shiite, Sufi, Hindu, Jew, Christian, Bhuddist, or learn what happens when faith becomes a tool for torture and belief an excuse for intolerance.

I am sorry that Saddam Hussein's final vision of the world around him was the hangman's noose and not the smiling faces of his children and grandchildren. I am sorry for the happiness he could have received and could have given, but which somehow never came to be. I am sorry for the tyrant who condemned whole villages to annihilation, and I am sorry for an old, weary, gray-haired man who was told that he must hang for having been that tyrant.

Donovan Baldwin is a Dallas area writer, and an internet and network marketing professional. A University Of West Florida alumnus (1973) with a BA in accounting, he is a member of Mensa and has held several managerial positions. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters.

Friday, December 29, 2006


What Does A Writer Do To Find Ideas?

Any writer, or would-be writer knows the feeling. It's called, prepare yourself for the terror, blank.....totally blank! A clean screen or sheet of paper lies before us and we are totally devoid of ideas. Hell, we can't even remember who we are! Okay, maybe not that bad. Here's a few tips for that defining moment of non-greatness.

Writing: Generating Ideas For Articles
By Donovan Baldwin

A couple of points before we get to the meat of this article:

1. I write informational articles, and I focus on that. That having been said, some of the techniques here could kick start the blocked brain of any writer; fiction, non-fiction, essay, poetry, advertising copy, and just about any other field you might think of.

2. Ideas come at strange times and from weird sources, so you need to be prepared. The idea that pops into your head at a party while chatting up a possible future ex-something can go away before you get home, sleep three hours, and take the morning alka-seltzer. Therefore:

Now let's talk about generating ideas.

As mentioned above, ideas can come at weird times and from some off-the-wall sources. My wife and I often preface a remark with the phrase, "rabbit trail". That lets the other know that the next remark will not seem to have anything to do with the previous conversation. The human mind is like that, especially the creative mind. A stop sign can make me think of a big German policeman with a machine gun, which leads me to think about the times I got to fire the LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weapon) in the Army, which makes me think of Clint Eastwood's slip in one of the Dirty Harry movies, which makes me think of get the idea.

Somewhere in all of that is an idea. Be prepared to pounce on it and make it into something.
Whatever technique you are using, get it down on paper. You may look back at notes you made last night or two years ago and have a story or article idea staring you in the face. Even if you start and it peters out, you might come back to it again and make it into something. Be flexible here. Just because you began the story in Antarctica doesn't mean you can't transplant the whole thing to Wisconsin if that makes better sense.

Places I get (or have gotten) ideas:

You probably can, you know. Why don't you go and write something right now?

Donovan Baldwin is a Dallas area writer and network marketing professional. A University Of West Florida alumnus (1973) with a BA in accounting, he is a member of Mensa and has held several managerial positions. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. He posts many of his articles on health at and many business related articles at
. He is the owner of

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Saturday, December 23, 2006


How To Become An Overnight Success

By Donovan Baldwin

Taylor Hicks, Evelyn Adams, William "Bud" Post, Eldrick Woods, Suzanne Mullins, and Joanne “Jo” Rowling all have something in common. For at least one time in each of their lives, they were an overnight success.

Many Americans, at least, will recognize Taylor Hicks as a 2006 winner of the popular TV show, "American Idol". British subjects have cause to be proud of Joanne "Jo" Rowling who is more easily recognized by her pen name, J. K. Rowling. Those who still don't recognize her have almost certainly heard of the boy wizard she created who goes by the simple name of Harry Potter. Harry's a bit of an overnight success himself, and he has taken J. K. Rowling along on a magical ride. Who's Eldrick Woods? Oh, if I had just said Tiger Woods, you would have picked up on it right away, and where's the fun in that?

Who are Evelyn Adams, William Post, and Suzanne Mullins? We'll get to that in a moment.

There are essentially two ways to become an overnight success. Taylor Hicks, J. K. Rowling, and Tiger Woods exemplify the first way.

Taylor Hicks became an overnight success in the middle of 2006 when he won top spot on the "American Idol" TV show. That much many "American Idol" fans and music buffs around the world now know. What many don't know, or even think about, is that Taylor Hicks spent a decade as an independent artist before his overnight success. Had you been at the Playboy Mansion, the Talledega Motor Speedway, or in Auburn, Alabama on the right night, you might have gotten to hear him perform. Over the years, he did get to perform with such legendary names as James Brown, Tom Petty, and Jackson Browne. However, up until the night he won the "American Idol" competition, HIS name was not exactly a household item.

Joanne Rowling was turned down by Oxford College in her younger days and worked variously as a researcher and secretary and also in Portugal as a teacher of English. In the early 90's, she got the initial idea for the young wizard who eventually became Harry Potter, and began writing. She completed her first novel while she was unemployed. She was living at the time on what we in America would call "welfare". When she first tried to market "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", a close friend, who was on her side, advised her to "get a day job" because he didn't feel she had a chance to make much money in children's books. The first printing run was one-thousand books and half of those were sent to libraries. Today, those first one-thousand books are each one a collector's item in itself. While this ex-secretary and English teacher must surely be pleased by the fantastic income she has made from the Harry Potter books and movies, she is possibly even more pleased by the fact that in 2006, in a poll by "The Book Magazine", J. K. Rowling was selected as "the greatest living British writer."

Okay, so how did Tiger Woods get in a list of overnight successes?

Well, you may have seen a small trend in the mini-biographies of Taylor Hicks and J. K. Rowling. Although they fit into the category, even a cursory scanning of their lives shows they paid their dues for some time before success found them. In fact, the overnight success they experienced came about after years of disappointment, standing on the bottom rung of the ladder, and in some cases, not even being near the ladder.

Tiger Woods has been called by some a "golfing prodigy", and that is not an unrealistic assessment. However, even a Tiger Woods does not get to where he is today by strapping on a set of cleats and wandering out onto a golf course with a nine iron and a dream. He learns, practices, fails, assesses, moves forward, falls down, gets up, and starts all over again.

In other words, an overnight success very seldom happens overnight. The success comes after a lot of effort on the part of the successful person.

After a memorable performance, a great pianist was approached by one of the audience. The fan spoke glowingly about the performance and finished with the remark that she wished that she could play as well. Perhaps with more truth than tact, the pianist replied to the effect that she was wrong. She could NOT genuinely wish to play as well as he. Otherwise, she would practice for hours a day year after year as he did, rather than simply "wishing" she could play as well.

Overnight success is so named from its apparently sudden appearance on one's doorstep. However, success is not too good at finding people unless they have built a pathway for it to follow, and perhaps lit a beacon as well.

I mentioned that there are essentially two ways to become an overnight success, and I have concentrated on the first group for a reason. If you wish to join that group, YOU are the one in control of the situation. If you seriously want to be in the first group, you now have an idea of what you might need to do.

So, who are Evelyn Adams, William "Bud" Post, and Suzanne Mullins? They too were overnight successes. They each won a lottery.

Evelyn Adams actually was an overnight success twice. She won the New Jersey lottery in 1985 and 1986. She won a total of 5.4 million dollars. She lost it all, donating part of it to some needy Atlantic City slot machines. "Bud" Post won 16.2 million dollars in Pennsylvania but eventually wound up living on his social security. Suzanne Mullins won 4.2 million dollars in 1993. She lost all of it and went even deeper in debt through poor decisions on its use.

There's another term sometimes used for an overnight success. That term is "flash in the pan". Many people who are seeking what they see as success will often wind up as just a flash in the pan at best unless they are willing to get out the necessary tools and prepare the pathway so that success can find them.

Tiger Woods, J. K. Rowling, and Taylor Hicks were willing to build the pathway and keep it cleared. Their names will be familiar for years to come, and they can always claim the victor's laurel wreath for becoming an overnight success.

Donovan Baldwin is a Dallas area writer and a University Of West Florida alumnus (1973) with a BA in accounting and a keen interest in health, self improvement, happiness, and success. He is also a member of Mensa and has held several managerial positions over the years. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. He has a website on health, fitness, diet, and weight loss at

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KEYWORDS: success, overnight success, success story, success strategy, definition of success, success factor

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Magazines - A Writing Tip

Writing for Magazines: Tips for freelancers
By Jeff Lakie

As the magazine industry proliferates, so does the need for writers. And as is the case in many industries, employers often prefer to use freelance or independent contractor help, instead of having fulltime employees for whom they have to provide benefits, workspace, and other support. And with computer and Internet technology what it is today, freelance writers can create their articles from anywhere, email them to their editors, and never even have to meet the magazine production staff in person. But as the task of freelancing and its logistics become easier, so does the competition between freelancers.

Here are four tips to help freelancers who want to write for magazines:

1) Be professional.

Many writers are willing to work for less money, in exchange for the status of being published. And some do it just as a hobby, because they have other sources of primary income. While this creates competition, it also means that many writers – or those aspiring to be writers – lack professionalism or talent.
The more you can stick to deadlines, present yourself in an organized way, and write copy that is free of mistakes, the more successful you will be as a freelancer.

2) Be unique.

If you have a background in a particular profession, hobby, or other interest, you may be able to parlay that into a writing job for a specialty magazine. Some magazines look for woodworkers, some need writers who know about cars or photography, and others need writers who understand wine or home decorating. If you happen to have some knowledge and experience, you can market yourself to magazines that follow the things you know and enjoy.

3) Communicate with your editor.

Good writers always stay in touch with their editors, without overwhelming them with unnecessary questions. If you have a problem with a deadline, tell your editor right away. If you have a question about editorial guidelines, ask an editor. The better you communicate, the more you will get hired.

4) Focus on what you do best.

If you are really good at interviews but no so good at doing research, then try to write for magazines that favor interviews over investigative reporting. And if you are a fiction writer who stumbles when it comes to non-fiction, then seek jobs in the fiction category. Doing what you do best not only makes your job easier, but it allows you to concentrate your energy on jobs that will probably pay you more in the long run.

Freelancing for magazines is not for everyone, but if you have a knack for writing and for managing your own time, then it can afford you great job satisfaction and a chance to work your own hours, from home. And along the way you’ll learn more about the writing craft, so that you can continue to build on your talents and marketable skills.

Jeff Lakie has helped many internet surfers since launching his website aeroplane monthly which details many aspects of the Plastic Surgery industry. Jeff also prides himself on over-delivering, why not stop by today and see why.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006


A Poem About A Poet

I was driving in evening traffic in Austin, Texas. It was bumper to bumper, so I was listening to National Public Radio on KUT. They interviewed a poet and spoke about how the death of his wife had affected him. Most of the poem came to me as I sat at a light, and I wrote it down as soon as I got home.

The Poet's Dead Wife

The poet's being interviewed on the radio,
And I listen as I drive the evening traffic.

The poet's wife is dead,
And I don't remember her name,
Or his.

As a man, I understand his grief.
As a poet, I understand his desire
To make a poem of it.

Whether words are used,
Or not,
Is immaterial.

The poetry is within
And witnessed without.

He feeds her birds,
Tends her flowers,
Observes her moods
In her absence,
Because that's who we poets are,
And how, sometimes, we say,
"I love you, and I miss you."

As I sit at the next light,
I feel a need to feed birds,
And mourn in Autumn
For unknown poets
And their losses.


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Friday, December 08, 2006


Keys To Success - The Series

Key To Success: The Dream
By Donovan Baldwin

"If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up."
-- Anonymous

We all have dreams, and I don't mean the kind we have at night. They can be anything from swimming the Atlantic Ocean to winning the lottery to receiving the Nobel Prize to learning a new language. There are as many different dreams as there are people...times ten.

While dreams might be ephemeral in themselves, there is one real fact about them, and it is embodied in the quote at the top of this article. While a dream MIGHT come true by accident or some happy combination of circumstances, to MAKE a dream come true, we first have to wake up and DO SOMETHING. Simply sitting around waiting for a dream to come true is no more effective than hoping to win the lottery because someone gives us a ticket. While that scenario could play out in real life, most lottery winners had to first actually buy a ticket.

However, just as buying a ticket, or a lot of tickets, in a lottery does not guarantee our success; life does not provide us any guarantee that we will achieve our dreams just because we start doing the things that will probably be required to get us there. On the other hand, just as our chances of winning the lottery improve with the number of tickets we are able to buy, our chances of achieving our dreams grows as we take more steps towards our goal.

Some steps that can be taken include setting goals towards the accomplishment of our dream, learning and refining skills that might help us, enlisting the aid of those who might be in a position to help us, and, perhaps of the most importance, persevering in our quest.

GOALS: We humans are goal-oriented creatures. Just as we are more likely to arrive at a physical destination if we know where we are going, having goals allows us to have a path to follow to the accomplishment of our dream. Once we have set goals to guide us, we will begin to notice events, information, and people that can aid us.

SKILLS: We cannot become a champion runner until we learn to walk first. Once we learn to walk, running may come naturally, but running in a championship manner is something that has to be learned and practiced. Additionally, a champion in almost any field has to learn other skills or talents which complement the attainment of the dream. Turning to sports once more, our championship runner will have to pay attention to nutrition, get the right amount of sleep and rest, and may need to learn exercises not specifically linked to the sport but which will improve performance.

OTHERS: Many times, we will be able to find coaches or mentors who can help guide us on our path, just as a runner may need a coach who knows about the training required to compete at a professional level. Others may simply provide a shoulder to cry on when we are down and certain that there is no way we can ever succeed. Some coaches or mentors can be found in books, by the way. If you are not sure how to get to where you want to go, read the biographies of a couple of people who did make it.

PERSERVERANCE: There are many, including myself, who say that one of the most important factors in success is simply the good old ability to stick to it, no matter how rough the road or far away the target is. Almost every field of human endeavor is replete with stories of those of ordinary skill and intelligence who reached the apex of their field just by not giving up.

Since I began this article with a quote, I will leave you with three:

"Eighty percent of success is showing up."
-- Woody Allen:

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
-- Thomas Edison:

"Ah, nothing is too late,
Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles
Wrote his grand Oedipus, and Simonides
Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers,
When each had numbered more than fourscore years."
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from Morituri Salutamus

Donovan Baldwin is a Dallas area writer and network marketing professional. A University Of West Florida alumnus (1973) with a BA in accounting, he is a member of Mensa and has held several managerial positions. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. Get more insights on self improvement at .

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Thursday, December 07, 2006


Keys To Success

Key To Success: The Mentor
By Donovan Baldwin

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
-- Charles W. Eliot

Few things could help bring more success or success more rapidly, than the personal guidance of those who are experts in the field in which we are interested. Few things can help motivate and enlighten us more than the tales they tell and that are told about them.

However, it is difficult to find a mentor, or group of mentors, who can and will make themselves available at our whim or need. On the other hand, a large group of the finest minds and practitioners of your field can be found whenever you need them. They hang out at a couple of local joints waiting for you to drop by and pick them up. You can usually find the folks you need to talk to, or listen to, at your local library or book store. Heck, in this day of the Internet, you can find information on almost any subject, including quotes and entire passages from the foremost experts in any field just by entering a few queries into Google, Yahoo, or your favorite search engine.

In his Classic on the topic of success and self improvement, "Think and Grow Rich", Napoleon Hill, in his chapter on the "Master Mind", speaks of three sources of knowledge. One of these sources, he calls "accumulated knowledge". This sort of knowledge is available to all of us if we are willing to seek it out. It resides in books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and today, in videos, on DVD's and other media. With access to even a moderately decent public library, most of the information we might seek in any quest for success is available for free.

Mentors and muses may also be found for reduced prices at discount book sellers, yard sales, and in the jumbled bin of books at the local Wal-Mart.

Few of these sources of knowledge and motivation will provide a blueprint for success, but continual perusal of them will provide some of the building blocks and mortar we can use to build our own temples.

A more structured means of gaining the guidance of great men and women is through structured education programs. The cost of colleges is skyrocketing, but with this increase in the cost of the traditional education, there has appeared a vast array of non-traditional educational experiences, usually under the guise of distance learning. For a few hundred dollars paid off monthly and some regular study, almost anyone can earn a certificate indicating familiarity with some specific field, and, from some sources, an actual college diploma.

Don't turn your back on success because there does not seem to be someone to guide you. Your mentors are there, waiting to help you achieve success if you will seek them out.

Recommended reading:

"Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill

"The Richest Man in Babylon" by George S. Clason

"How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" by Dale Carnegie

I pick these older books because of their general nature. Also, though they are old, and often simple, they are full of wisdom and were the ones which started me on my road to self improvement almost half a century ago and have served me well through many a crisis. They are all still in print, which speaks to the timeless appeal they have held for many years and the effects they have had on millions of lives.

Donovan Baldwin is a Dallas area writer and network marketing professional. A graduate of the University Of West Florida (1973) with a BA in accounting, he is a member of Mensa and has held several managerial positions. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in internet marketing and developed various online .businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. Get more insights on self improvement at

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