DOG for DOG Helps Homeless Pets

DOG for DOGRocky Kanaka’s DOG for DOG business model might sound foolish to others in retail; he gives away at least as much product as he sells. But profit isn’t Kanaka’s driving force; his mission is to provide quality food to as many homeless dogs as possible.

Kanaka, owner of The Dog Bakery in Mar Vista California, created DOG for DOG® in late 2011 after feeling frustrated by not being better able to help dogs in need. The number of dogs in shelters grows daily and they suffer from a lack of proper nutrition and care. Continue reading “DOG for DOG Helps Homeless Pets”

Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a boom in mobile device usage. The smart phone in particular is rapidly becoming the device of choice for internet browsers. This fact is of vital importance if you run a website or a blog: which is a specialized type of web site. Here’s why your site needs to be mobile friendly.

Mobile devices display a web page differently than a desk top or laptop browser does. In most cases it just isn’t practical to scale a web side down so it fits on a smart phone screen: everything would be so small the user could barely see it much less be able to tap on links accurately, especially in a list of links. Scrolling side-to-site and up-and-down to view the page content as through a keyhole is maddeningly frustrating. So mobile devices simplify your pages and present a lay-out optimized for the devices screen size.

The bad news is traditional web site coding does not have the capability to allow mobile devices to rearrange your page to suit the viewing device. The good news is, you may not have to build a new web site. Before we get into how, let’s talk about why you should. Continue reading “Make Your Website Mobile Friendly”

Grim Reaper Comes for Pop-ups

“Marketers will kill everything good.” – @GaryVee

grim reaper pop-upPop-up ads (in case you live in a cave somewhere) are those panels that “pop up” over the content you are trying to read on many web sites. Sometimes they tout products or services for sale, but more often they ask you to join a mailing list. They are the most annoying form of advertising I have encountered. And … they are very effective. Continue reading “Grim Reaper Comes for Pop-ups”

Using an Unreliable Narrator

two-faced illusion
Image via www.moillusions_com

It is said that there are three sides to every divorce: his side, her side, and the truth. This colloquialism alludes to the fact that people will slant their narration of events to suit their own perspective. Really, it goes beyond that because there are times when a participant in an event is not just biased, but incapable of seeing the whole picture because he or she does not have all the facts or is so set in their own view they will not see it any other way.

A writer uses narration to give the reader information that is not being directly observed: backstory, private thoughts, or events that have happened “off screen”. Continue reading “Using an Unreliable Narrator”

On Seeking Readers

A painter paints pictures hoping that others will see them. A musician plays for the ears of others. An actor or dancer performs for the benefit of an audience. Writers write to inform, inspire, or entertain readers. In each case, these artists are incomplete without their audience.

island_desertedEven print-book authors benefit from running a blog where their readers can learn more about the author and even interact. But a blog without readers is like a musician on a deserted island. If we write on a blog – especially if we are just starting out – how do we find an audience? Continue reading “On Seeking Readers”

Confessions of a Clinical Depression Survivor

Another article on Clinical Depression from long ago, posted for the benefit of those who need it now.

We see many stories from survivors of cancer, heart failure, addiction and more. Here is my survivor story. But first some factual background.

What Is Clinical Depression?

Crisis Ahead, clinical depressionClinical Depression is a progressively deepening melancholy accompanied by an increasing tendency to withdraw from social activity and eventually even personal relationships. In advanced stages the victim is so disinterested in everything that they neglect personal hygiene and meals and begin to shut out everyone and everything as they focus entirely on their own self-loathing. Suicidal tendencies are common in this stage.

Contrary to popular opinion, clinical depression is not a purely psychological disorder. Like schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, clinical depression has an organic basis. Depression has been tied to low levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. This agent bridges the gaps between ganglia in the brain and allows the proper “firing” of nerve impulses that make thought possible. Serotonin is a short -lived compound because the body breaks it down; if this breakdown process exceeds the body’s production of serotonin, a shortage results.

It is not clearly understood whether depression causes low serotonin levels or whether low serotonin levels cause depression, but the two are definitely linked. Continue reading “Confessions of a Clinical Depression Survivor”

Fighting Clinical Depression

I wrote this article on depression long ago and it was published in HealthMad e-Zine.  They have since rotated it out (can’t keep everything forever, can we?) so I am free to repost it here.  This is not an issue I am currently dealing with, but I have been in discussion with some who are.  This is for them.

depressionMy journey through depression began long ago, way back when I was ensnared in servitude through employment. I suppose I had always been prone to bouts of melancholy; they were troublesome but, with one or two exceptions, never amounted to much. But there came a point where my life had for some time been wracked by a slow series of personal and spiritual failures culminating in the collapse of my “house of cards”.

A co-worker, my supervisor actually, who had made this journey herself recognized the signs in me early on and encouraged me – repeatedly – to seek help while I could. She was my light on the path and I will be eternally grateful to Anna for her vigilance and gentle persistence.

My climb back to the high ground was a long one. But once a spiritual reawakening flamed up and drove back the mists, I have been diligent to keep that fire fueled.

On occasion, when I become distracted and the flame burns low, the tendrils of depression and desperation close back in surreptitiously. But I see them now – I did not recognize the danger initially – and I am reminded to gather dry wood and stoke the fire to dispel the demonic fog. Continue reading “Fighting Clinical Depression”

The Writing Process

writing processThere is a process that occurs in all forms of writing.  Like many things in life, taking each step in it’s turn speeds the work and improves the outcome.  Understanding that process can help you do better work, faster, and enjoy the process more.

Conceptualizing

This is “getting an idea”. It may come from something else you read, a video clip or movie, or just out of the blue. Most of this step is done in your head. For some it may just go “poof” here I am, ready to go. If this is you, just know that I despise you. For most of us good ideas are elusive.

Because they are elusive you need to be prepared. The muse tends to rise at the most inopportune times. When a great idea comes along do not say to yourself, “That’s a great idea – I’m sure I’ll remember it.” Trust me, you won’t.

Keep pad and paper by your bed for those nocturnal envisions that wrench you from sleep. Keep a pocket-size pad and compact pen or pencil with you always. Or – use a small digital voice recorder to take verbal notes – especially handy if you are driving!

Don’t worry about details yet, just get down the bones. Continue reading “The Writing Process”

Passive Voice and Active Voice in Your Writing

writer, writing, hard work, passive voiceA variety of writing styles are available to you as a writer/author. At one end of the scale is the literary style that tends to ramble along, painting pictures with words chosen more for their emotional impact than their grammatical efficiency. At the other end is the hard-hitting journalistic style designed to convey information quickly and precisely. In between are a sliding-scale mix of these two. Plain Language writing is a style gaining popularity with the modern world.

In Plain Language writing you seek to keep to the active voice, keep your sentences short, and keep your words simple and direct. Basically you are to write like a Dick and Jane reading primmer. Continue reading “Passive Voice and Active Voice in Your Writing”

Crafting Conflict In Your Stories

Crisis Ahead, conflictAny writer knows that conflict is necessary in a story to keep a reader engaged. But what is conflict and how is it created, met, and overcome? The answers to these questions have a lot to do with how well received your stories will be.

What Conflict Is Not

Violence. Crafting blood-spattered scenes of opposing forces (could be armies or individuals) battling one another is not conflict. Violence is the progeny of the conflict. Why are they battling? That is the conflict. And there has to be some specificity to it, not just “This army seeks to take over that army’s kingdom”. Why do they want to take over and how is this pertinent to your POV characters?

The same goes for arguments, personal rivalries, and social “shoving around”. A scene may be set around an argument between two characters or a school kid being bullied by classmates, but the fact that your characters are upset is not conflict. Why are they upset? What is the root of the trouble, not its outcome. That is your conflict. Continue reading “Crafting Conflict In Your Stories”