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Sunday, April 28, 2013

How to write a press release

Press Releases - The Basics


The press release is a valuable tool for getting the word out about what you're doing. It's not a new tool but it's often overlooked. It's a simple printed or digital file that tells your story in a positive manner.
One recent development is the digital release. It's often used differently too.
Whether on paper or on the screen, the release must look professional. Be critical about every detail starting with the spelling and grammar. Read it several times before sending it out. If possible, have several other people check it too
The Basics:
Write in the third person. Don't use the term "I." Also, the second person (taking the "you" approach) is also usually avoided in news releases.
Don't be flowery or cute. There are exceptions. But humor is difficult to bring off in written form.
Write the release in the style of the media receiving it. A serious release goes to a serious publication. An irreverent blog probably requires a different approach.
Use the "inverted pyramid" style. The release starts with the biggest news first and ends with the least interesting story points. This allows the editor to cut the off the release at a number of points depending on space and other factors.
Releases are usually best kept to one page. Many do go to two pages, some even longer. But use caution in doing so.
Use quotes. They bring a release to life. Quote yourself, other employees of your company or customers.
News releases, when printed, are usually doubled or triple spaced. That leaves room for making notes. Online press releases are usually single spaced. But they're easily reformatted and printed out.
Formatting the Release Stick with the basics. Use your creativity in the copy itself, not reinventing the format.

Use Company letterhead at the top of the page or a special format developed for news releases. The words "news release" or "press release" are printed below that. A variation puts "Press Release" above the letterhead.
A headline usually follows. A summary can be directly below the headline giving a little more detail but using different words. For online releases, format the headline where the beginning of each word is capitalized, in "title case." (In printed press releases, the headline is usually in all caps).
Begin the first line of copy with the dateline (where the release is originating from) followed by the date.
Here's one possible format:
Smithfield Man Finds A New Use For Old Pantyhose
An environmentally friendly way to recycle old pantyhose
Chicago, 7/10/11 A new pantyhose recycling plant is opening in Chicagoland.
The headline captures the story. Good headlines can be hard to write. It's especially so when the writer is trying to be cute. Being humorous in headlines is hard to accomplish. Unless the writer is especially skilled at doing so, it's usually best to play it straight. However, some cute, funny stories beg for a funny, quirky headline.
What's Your Lead?
The lead, the beginning of the story, sums it up: the who, what, where, when and why as well as how of the story. It can be one sentence or more. It grabs the heart of the story. After reading the lead, the reader should know the focus of the story.
Let's say you or your client have written a book about the national debt. But starting with the news about the book's release usually isn't the best way to begin. Start with the news angle that best gives your a chance of coverage.
Here's a start:
"The rate the government is spending now will put our kids and grandkids into debt they'll never get out. A Smithfield man new book "We'll Pay For It Later" says in 30 years, the average person will face three million dollars in government debt."
Following the lead, additional material fills out the release including quotes of those involved. If you're involved, that could be you.
Wrapping It Up
To signify the end of your release, you can use "##" (some use more # than this but it's a matter of style) or "END." Center them.
If the release is longer than one page, put "MORE" at the bottom. This is usually centered, sometimes put in parenthesis. After the ending sign (##), many people mention the subject of the release being available for an interview. An example:
"Professor John Smith is now available for an interview. Contact Shelby Jones at (804) 555-1212."
Many elements go into a press release. This report intends to offer just a broad overview of the basics.
Paul Bottoms, a lifelong journalist now a marketing strategist, helps small businesses stretch their marketing dollars with press releases. This articles can be used on your website as long as this bio is retained without modification. http://www.paulbottoms.com

Friday, April 26, 2013

Need a book cover designer

If you are looking for a designer for your book covers, check this guy out. He is reasonably priced and does a great job. Here is his site http://www.nessgraphica.com/

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to use affect or effect correctly in your writing

Affect, Effect - What's the Difference?

Expert Author Jan Bear
A lot of people have trouble with the words "affect" and "effect." The words have similar but different meanings and spellings, and they usually sound exactly the same when spoken.

But when they're used wrong in writing, they brand the writer as not very knowledgeable about the language and perhaps -- though this may be unfair -- about his subject.

There's a simple rule that covers about 90 percent (a rough estimate that I wouldn't know how to verify) of their use, and I'll give you a memory device or two to help you with the rest.

For the vast majority of the time, "affect" is a verb and "effect" is a noun. If you "affect" something, it produces an "effect," just as "a" comes before "e" in the alphabet. "The recession affected the company's profits. The effect was a 14 percent decrease in sales."

When one of them appears as an adjective or adverb, it will almost always be "effect" -- "This toothpaste is effective in whitening teeth and preventing cavities." Or "The coach's defensive strategy effectively kept the other team from scoring." Both of these uses refer to an effect -- in the one case the effect on the teeth; in the other the effect on the opposing team's scoring.

So, for the 90 percent, "affect" is the verb and "effect" is the noun (with its team of adjective and adverb). For the other 10 percent (or whatever), they swap.

"Effect" as a verb means to bring a change of some kind to completion. You could say, "This toothpaste effects a whiter, brighter smile," meaning that it brings the whiter, brighter smile into existence. If the sentence said, "This toothpaste affects a whiter, brighter smile," it would mean that the whiter, brighter smile already existed, and the toothpaste just changed it somehow.

Here's another example of how the word choice can change the meaning. "The new administration effected a change in school policy." That's much deeper and more sweeping than, "The new administration affected a change in school policy."

In the first sentence, the administration made the change happen completely. In the second sentence, the change was already in place, and the administration just made it different somehow.
To show how the difference applies, let's say that the policy had to do with school uniforms. "Effect" could be a new requirement for school uniforms that goes into effect over whatever opposition might have come up. "Affect" would be that the new administration got to say whether the uniforms were blue or green or whether this school or that had to participate.

It might help to think of the verb "effect" as the end ("effect" starts with "e" like "end") of the verb "affect."

The noun "affect" -- short "a" and accent on the first syllable, so AF/fect -- is used mostly in psychology to describe a person's manner or appearance. A psychiatrist's evaluation of a new patient might say, "His affect was flat," which means the patient didn't show any emotion, or "His affect was excitable."

Branching out from there, this use of "affect" might appear outside of psychology to describe a person in a way that has a psychological feel to it, mostly literary fiction.

"Affect" and "effect" are hard for a lot of people, even some who consider themselves wordsmiths. The bottom line is that if you use "affect" as a verb and "effect" as a noun, the vast majority of the time you'll be right. The other uses are much more unusual, and you get extra credit for using them well.
Jan Bear gives tips on communicating in the English language at [http://www.writeatlight.com] Sign up for a free weekly newsletter, English for Communicators, that gives hints and tips like these for good writing.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jan_Bear

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Do you know the warning signs of colon cancer?

Rectal Cancer

Expert Author Paul M Choi
The colon is a part of the digestive tract that connects the stomach and small intestine to the anus. The terminal portion of this colon is called the rectum, spanning approximately 12cm in length. About 20% of all cancers that occur in the colon arise in this rectum.

Bleeding is the most common symptom associated with rectal cancer, occurring in up to 60% of patients. Other frequent symptoms include change in bowel habit, and abdominal pain.

The diagnosis of rectal cancer usually involves colonoscopy, an examination of the colon using an instrument called colonoscope that enables an evaluation of the entire inner lining of the colon including the rectum. Once the diagnosis of cancer is made, the extent of the disease is often determined using a radiologic examination called CT scan. It allows an initial assessment of the extent of spread of cancer. In addition, an endoscopic ultrasound may be helpful in assessing the local spread of cancer. At the same time, routine blood tests including complete blood count (CBC), liver function tests, and a tumor marker called CEA are usually obtained during the initial evaluation.

There are 4 stages of rectal cancer. Rectal cancer is defined as Stage 1, if the cancer tissue is confined to the lining of the rectum. In Stage 2 cancer, the cancer tissue has invaded the layers of rectal wall, and may have invaded nearby organs such as bladder or uterus. In Stage 3 rectal cancer, the cancer tissue has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tiny bean shaped glands of lymphatic system. In Stage 4 cancer, the cancer has spread to other organs such as liver or lung.

The staging of rectal cancer is important since the prognosis of affected individual is highly dependent on the staging of cancer. For example, patients diagnosed with Stage 1 rectal cancer have overall 5-year survival rate of 74%. On the other hand, those diagnosed with stage 4 cancer can only expect 6% survival rate at 5 year.

The treatment of rectal cancer often involves combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Because of the complex anatomy of anal sphincter, there are various surgical techniques that may be utilized to preserve the anal sphincteric function. In addition, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are often administered to shrink the tumor, prior to performing the surgery.

For cancer that is localized and has not spread, the excision surgery is the treatment of choice. More advanced cancer usually requires chemo-radiation therapy, followed by surgery. The type of surgery performed will be dependent on the exact location, size, and extent of cancer with the intent of preserving anal sphincteric, if at all possible. Recently, some have also benefited from additional treatment with a new class of cancer therapy such as Vectibix, Avastin, and Erbitux.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Paul_M_Choi

Friday, April 19, 2013

What makes a person want to kill?

In light of the recent Boston Marathon tragedy, we (humans) want to know why? What made these two young men want to do something that would ultimately lead them to death or prison? Being disowned from your family, god, and heaven above, what leads these young people to wanting and thinking it is perfectly a good idea to make bombs and kill, maim, or just scare the crap out of people.

Will you be seen that much of a hero? What leads you to want to kill others? Killing has been going on for centuries. We can read in the bible about wars and killings. Murder has always been a part of our so called “heritage.” Do these people who kill have underlying mental disorders?

Not that long ago we were reading about the Sandy Hook incident. We were reading about the fact of the young man being Autistic (on the Asperger end) and then you read research articles on the subject, and you see that there is a connection on some sense. But do we then blame the autism? I have worked with people with developmental disabilities since 1991 and I never thought any one of them would go out and kill any one person.

So the next culprit to blame is “guns.” Now is it the guns that people have access to that are killing? Yet, many people have guns and they don’t kill anyone with them. For the majority of humans we don’t want to hurt someone that bad and if we did usually we know enough about what will happen to us if we did.

Is there a minor few than that think about killing and want to kill others. Does it lead to some kind of freedom that you feel you are missing in your life now? How is it that people who are terribly abused seem to be more resilient than others and don’t try to kill anyone, including the one who abused them?

Is it innate and in us as Darwin’s theory suggests? Is it all about survival of the fittest? Well that would say that it is all about control and that we are control freaks wanting to be in power of everything. Studies have been conducted showing that at least for evolutionary psychologists, which say that each of us have this instinct in us and that it is genetics. We all have the ability to kill but what makes us do it?

You don’t have to be some rugged looking messed up individual to kill. Most killers look like the perfect person (the person next door). A study conducted by Dr. David Buss found that 13,670 FBI cases that included men killing their wives. What he found in this study that the more fertile and younger a woman (wife) was that he would kill her when he found out that she was messing around.

During Buss’s research he found that separation was a huge influence on the murdering of the leaving spouse. He found staggering evidence that these women were killed by their husbands within two months to one year of the separation. He also found that woman who killed for separation usually stalked their victims first. He warns women not to ignore the warning signs, and if you are being stalked do something about by telling the police because it will end in death.

In Buss’s research he found that 91% of men and 84% of women have vivid fantasies about killing someone. So, it is not insane to think that we all at one time or another in our lives thought of killing someone. The difference is those that do it and those that don’t. Many of them are too afraid of the consequences for their actions and this keeps them from committing such a criminal act. (Want to read more go here http://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/murder/index.html).

I think we are always searching for the truth but come up short with no answer. It breaks our hearts when we read about children killing their parents. What about bullying behavior? This has become quite an issue over the years, and I can contest to watching both of my own children be bullied.

A friend of mine’s son was bullied and the gang threatened his life and he is only 11 years old. So it makes sense if there are guns available it seems almost warranted that a child think that they could just grab it for extra backup. However, than accidents do happen, and another senseless death has happened.

What about suicide? I know from being a mental health clinician that if there is a viable plan and the access to something that could do the job to take it serious enough to warrant calling in for help. So do these people tell us first or is the act of the crime our first inkling of what is happening to them?

Many times we act out first because we don’t know how to communicate our needs and wants to others. We attempt to get other people’s attention through acts and some of these are acts of crime. If no one notices you before and everyone knows about you after seems like an easy way to get known. Not that this is the way to get it but unfortunately it works for most. I know from working with kids with autism who can’t talk verbally, they act out to get their message across. It takes teaching them a way to communicate that is more effective and easier to do. Once this happens their communication in the proper ways goes way up.

If we ignore we do not teach anything to another person. We only teach how to shove our feelings aside and that we are not important. We sort of set them up for failure in the beginning. We have to be willing to listen in all ways and to teach a better way to get your message out.

It can be easy for someone to take the life of others if they choose to take their own life too. There is no punishment other than being dead. So lock up your guns to keep them safe or what? I know many people who don’t lock up their guns and they believe it is ok. They believe it won’t happen to them. Should we continue thinking this way?

I am not one to say we shouldn’t have guns (they keep us safe) but when is it enough? Watching what happened during this Boston Marathon made me think about these questions and what questions have been raised for others. I am curious about your thoughts too so feel free to comment.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My life story with Cancer

I was five years old when my father was diagnosed with leukemia. I never really understood what this "cancer" was all about until I was older. I can only say that my dad spent most of a year of his time in the hospital receiving treatments. I felt he would die. My mom never told me anything about his health. I mean how do you tell your five and three year old children that their dad might die because he has cancer?

When I was seventeen my grandfather (whom I adored) was diagnosed with lung cancer. My world fell apart. I knew from previous experience that he would die, and leave me here on this earth alone. I spent every summer with my grandparents and had come to be very close to them (I loved them).

Within a few years of my grandfather's death my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought that battle but the cancer morphed into colon cancer and she died. I was devastated. I couldn't figure out how to be there for my mother. I don't remember her crying outside of her funeral.

My mom was a tough cookie and she didn't believe in showing your feelings on your sleeve but instead to hide them away. This was what she believed made her strong. For years she suffered from the loss of her mother. She never really grieved her process. I don't think she could handle the pain. It was easier to shove it to the side, rather than deal with the pain of losing someone you love.

My brother was only 33 years old when he was diagnosed with skin cancer. He didn't think anything of the spot on his back. It looked like a pimple like the rest of them. No one looked to closely at it. He went to the doctor after it started hurting and was diagnosed at stage 4.

He had to do immediate surgery to remove the grapefruit sized tumor. There were "feelers," that went out to his organs and lungs. This the doctors cannot do much about. All they could do was surgery for tumors and treatment. He went through heavy chemotherapy and radiation treatments but in the end he lost. It took a little three years to take him down. He left a family of five behind with only their grieving mother.

They will never know what a wonderful person he really was. He will never get to teach them how to fish as we did as children. He will never take his boy out hunting and camping. He will never kiss them goodnight and tell them how much he loves them. The youngest a newborn. She will never say, "da da" in front of her father only to see his blue eyes sparkle and tears form.

But he does get to look down on them and watch them grow and he is not hurting anymore and is healthy in another world.

It felt like my mother still had her life in front of her, with so many experiences to do. She thought she had done all the right things. She went to the doctor and got all the tests to show that she was cancer free. She had her first colonoscopy and only one polyp that they took out. She was clear and free to move onto the next stage in her life.

It was only a year later and she planned to move closer to me, and I was helping her. She had been traveling out to California to visit me and my family every summer. She came one Christmas and how would I know that it would be the most special day of my life. It would be the last time, I would get to spend Christmas with her.

While visiting me that Christmas she became ill and I took her in to be seen. She was diagnosed with rectal cancer. It was inoperable (they said) and said the only thing to do now is chemo and radiation. My mom said, "ok," and they began treatment the next day. Within two weeks her kidneys failed. The hospital staff told me to let her die (it would be better for her they said).

I couldn't do it and I sent her to another hospital and found out it was just dehydration. She survived that one. But in the long run, cancer came back and got her anyways.

As I watched my mother decline, I began to shut down emotionally. I felt lost, angry, hurt, and full of sadness. After she died my anger turned to hate. I hated cancer. It took everyone that I loved.

Have you ever watched someone you love die? Have you tried to shove your feelings aside to protect you from the intensity of loss? Was it difficult for you to grieve the loss of that person?

I found it difficult to move through the stages of grief and to move from hate into another stage. I did however, find the tools I needed. If this story sounds similar to one of your own. Read my book, I wrote it to help others (like me). I wanted for those people to have an outlet and to learn tools that can help them through the grieving stage.

My book "Forgiving Cancer: A Mother and Daughter's Journey to Peace," can be found at Amazon.com and B&N.com and you can click on the book here in this blog area and go straight to the site. I hope you find peace in you loss. I know that I did.

Love them as they are still here on this earth with you and fill your heart full of their love for one day they will be gone, and it could be sooner than you think.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


As an author have you ever thought about taking a copy editing course? As authors we tend to rely on our editors to take the words we write, and to prepare them into a readable script. We rely on them to get the job done, but even editors are human and can and do make mistakes. How can we help the flow of our own writing and catching the overused “was” and “I” or the misuse of commas? By educating ourselves. We, as authors must take it upon ourselves to fully educate ourselves on editing. Either we need to buy access to all the manuals of writing or we need to get into a class teaching copy editing.

It does not matter what education level you are at. You could have your PhD and still make erroneous mistakes when writing a book. Do not think you don’t need it, you do! There are many classes offered online or you can take certified courses through the local University in Copy Editing, some of these are online.
As new authors trying to write books monies have not yet been made to help them gain access to the editors they need. Not everyone had someone they know as a Copy Editor. When I began writing, I chose a friend of mine who works in business to edit my manuscripts and then had a few other people read and edit. What I learned is that they are not Copy Editors and haven’t been trained to look for certain things.

There is more to editing than you think. We as authors have difficulties editing because it is our work and we will read over areas that need help without even realizing it. I hop in and out of chat forums and listen to people complain about today’s self-published writers and how books are printed without any editing.
Is it because of the money involved? It can be very expensive to hire an editor and then to find one that follows the policies an editor should follow. For instance, how many of you have reached out to an editor who wants to change how you have written your work? They want to put their spin on it.  A true copy editor will never do this they are responsible for preparing your text for the typesetter or the person next in line to look at the manuscript. They will advise you on flow and what might sound better but they will never try to rewrite it the way they like it.

The single most important thing that an editor will do is always remember that the works belongs to the author and so they must avoid trying to have the manuscript written in their own tone but to just do the job as a Copy Editor.

Did you know there are many different types of editors? Most authors will deal with a Copy Editor. However, for anyone dealing with publishing companies they have a staff of different types of editors available to look over your manuscript. Do you know what an Acquisitions Editor is? A very important person if you are wanting your agent to get your works published with a publishing company. They are like “scouts” taking an author and hooking them up with the right publisher for their work. Your agent works closely with them and the Acquisitions Editor works closely with the team at the publishing company. There are more editors than mentioned but this is one that I felt needed to be shared.

For those of you that have worked with an editor have you thought of why we are making so many rounds? There are three types of copy editing to be done to a manuscript. As you can imagine it is heavy, medium, and light copy editing. The first round a copy editor is now doing a “heavy copy edit.” The editor is looking for

·         Spelling, grammar, and punctuation
·         Capitalization
·         Numbers
·         Hyphen use
·         List of items
·         Table of Contents
·         Table and figure numbers
·         Gender neutrality
·         Format
·         Content and Style
·         Audience
·         Logic and clarity
·         Word usage
·         Redundancies
·         Wordiness, tightness
·         Vague generalizations
·         Weak sentence style
·         Lack of focus

Did you know that editing is considered to be subjective? What?? What about all the rules one must follow as an editor? Don’t worry this just means that the English language is constantly changing and evolving.

A rule you may have become to know may no longer exist with a new rule taking precedence over the old one. For example, the rule that you should end a sentence with two spaces no longer is the status quo. Now you are to look for just the one space. 

As an editor you must always look to the manual of style as your reference guide. You should also reference dictionaries, thesauruses, atlases, and the manual of choice. There are several of these and you choose the one to use by what your client needs. So for instance most fiction writers should follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

Many authors use different techniques for remembering important aspects of the story they write. Ever wrote a 300 page novel only to discover during the second reading that you changed names of some of your characters? Have you ever noticed how you spelled the same words differently within your manuscript? How do you take care of these types of issues?

An editor uses what is called, “A Style Sheet.” This is a great tool for authors to use as well. It will come in handy when you are writing your novel. What is “A Style Sheet?” It is a tool to ensure consistency throughout your writing.

Here is an example of how one may look


Mickey Mouse
Oceanside, ca
rruff-rruff for dog sound





General Styles/Punctuation

Italicize magazine, TV, Movie titles

Enclose song titles in quotation marks


Spell out numbers less than 10

Really, it is a cheat sheet that you may pull out and use as you go through your novel or whatever you are writing. You won’t have to keep flipping back and forth searching for how you spelt someone’s name earlier in the manuscript. You will have it on here.

These are the kinds of things that you might record on one of these. Names of characters, odd spellings, words that might have variation, place names, abbreviations, numbers, and dates, trademark names like Coke Cola, and any other specific instructions. It will help you remember if you are spelling out numbers under ten or over 10. 

All you will need to do is reference the “Style Sheet,” and you are good to go.
Every wondered what the dashes were that you have seen in text. You look at them and know they are not a hyphen but have no clue what they are or how to make one yourself?

These are called, “En dashes,” or “Em dashes.” Let’s take a few minutes to talk about these and then I will tell you how to make them yourself with word.

En Dashes are the size of an “n” across. They are used to indicate a range, such as in page numbers, dates, and references.

Example 162­–175, 1986–1995

Em dashes are the size across of a capital M and have many uses.
1.       They can be used to set off a series of items within a sentence that already contain commas
Ex. My three cats—John, Cuddles, and Paws— have played with the ball of yarn.
2.       They are used to indicate a break in thought.]
a.       I can—I must—finish knitting this blanket.
3.       They are used to introduce a summarizing thought
a.       To bake the perfect cake—that was my goal
4.       They are used to give emphasis to elements within a sentence.
a.       Some of the workers—including painters, welders, and electricians—were on strike.

Now how do you make them? Well luckily they are a symbol. 

You just need to pull down the insert menu and go to symbol and get your m or n dash.

Well that is today’s lesson in editing. Hope you enjoyed it and got something out of this post.