wendylbolm

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Happy Hannukwanzmas, Everyone

In Uncategorized on December 28, 2011 at 3:34 am

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I went to dinner at my friend Don’s house Christmas afternoon. Like the good Jew I am, I made fried rice, and I enjoyed Turkey Surprise, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, chocolate cake, cookies, and lemon tarts with friends. Xan and Willow, a local illusionist and witch professor, respectively, showed up and offered a night of interesting conversation. (I would link to their site, but it appears to be down.)

New Orleans really is wonderful.

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How do individuals prepare for a government shutdown?

In Uncategorized on April 6, 2011 at 4:51 am

I was just reading in the New York Times about a possible government shutdown. I think it would cause a lot of harm to the country, but I know it might have an effect on my life if it goes through.

For example, I still do not have a passport. In the last government shutdown, passport applications were pushed to the side. It would suck if, for the first time in my life, I had enough money to travel but couldn’t because of a shutdown backing up my (theoretical) application.

The IRS might stop issuing refund checks. That doesn’t actually impact my life (although it might, because I’m waiting for an ex to send me a check for his half of our divorce; he’s waiting on his refund) though it will throw a cog in the works for the millions (I’m guessing) of Americans who haven’t filed their taxes or are waiting for their money.

This is also the time of the year when millions of college students are filling out their FAFSAs. In the past, shutdowns haven’t lasted very long. But, what kind of backup would this cause in the Department of Education?

A shutdown wouldn’t be apocalyptic, but since the U.S. is still recovering from the economic battering it’s been taking in the past few years, I don’t think it’s a good move. I’m hoping the polarization of our politics starts petering out soon.

My Wii is evil…

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2011 at 3:26 am

I’ve lived in my apartment for a year and a month and an half. When I first moved in, I tried connecting my Wii to the internet. Every time it tried to connect, there was an error. I gave up.

Friday night, I decided to try again. After six or seven tries, my Wii connected and updated. Now I have Netflix, N64 games, and Wii internet at my disposal. I started playing Paper Mario tonight, and an hour and an half later, I looked at the clock and was surprised at how much time had gone by. So far, I have been getting about the same amount of work done. I have exercised more and cleaned more, because now I have a different kind of background noise than music.

Time will tell whether or not this is going to negatively impact my writing and grad school careers.

The Perfect Cafe au Lait

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I went to the Dresden Dolls benefit concert last night, but I don’t have time to post about it before work. Instead, here is a recipe to get you by until I come home; I definitely have coffee on my mind:

1 half cup coffee
1/4 cup half and half
1 smidgeon vanilla
1 dash cinnamon
enough sugar to rot your teeth

Stir.

Quick heads up

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2010 at 6:45 am

My friend Jenni has a blog up about a summer trip she took to Israel this year. She studied at a Conservative yeshiva. Her blog deals with Judaism, gender, feminism, and loads of other interesting subjects.

She’s an all-around awesome person.

You should check it out.

So you want to be a freelance writer

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2008 at 11:27 pm

There is something romantic about writing. Something that speaks to people on a variety of levels.

You may want to be a freelancer to supplement your income, or you may be a fresh journalism grad afraid of the current business climate. Maybe you just love reading and want to get your ideas out there. Whatever your reasons, there is one truth you’re going to have to learn. Writing isn’t romantic, at least if you want to get paid for it.

Freelance writing can be down, dirty, and downright hard.

If you’re just starting out, you’re going to have to prove to editors that you have what it takes to write great copy. You’re going to have to maintain a high level of professionalism in every professional and online interaction. And, you’re going to have to live against the grain of society.

If you’ve been at this for a while, you’re going to have to start shifting the way you think, begin building your brand, and learn a new bag of tricks for the digital age.

On top of all this, you’re going to have to deal with perpetual rejection while maintaining an ego on steroids, because in becoming a freelancer, you’re going to be a lot like a used salesman. Except, you’re going to be glossing over your own dings, scratches, and faulty transmission to convince others that you’re a great investment.

No matter where you are in your dive into freelance writing, I have three tips you can implement into your life today to give you an edge in the modern freelancing market.

Ditch the text/ IM speak.
Do this immediately. If you text message or IM your friends, start spelling out words and using punctuation. If you sneak an LOL or emoticon into an email to an editor, you’re not going to make a good impression. Go through and edit your Myspace and Facebook pages while you’re at it, because a good editor is going to Google you if they’re thinking about hiring you.

Start a blog today.
This is especially important if you don’t have a portfolio. And, keep in mind your professional blog isn’t going to be your bitch log. Write good copy and write it often. Post pictures if you want to get into photography. Present a wide range of what you can write, from book reviews to news articles all relating to a specific topic you choose. But, understand that if you want to get into writing for Catholic publications writing about sexual fetishes probably won’t fly, and if you want to write about the horror industry or movies in general you should have some way to contact professionals in the field. I will write more about blogging in later posts.

If you don’t have a professional blog, do some digging into free blog hosting. Blogger and WordPress are good choices, Google them for more information.

Read as much as you can.
Read the paper. Read magazines. Read fiction and nonfiction. Read short stories. Read advertisements and advertorials and the backs of cereal boxes if you have to. Read greeting cards and bumper stickers. Read to try to figure out why what you’re reading does or doesn’t work, and then read for fun. Read websites, blogs, and physical print items. Read for hours a day or for as much time as you can fit into your schedule. Because, believe me, if you’re not reading, you’re not going to be a compelling writer. As a writer, you’re going to have to be an expert on everything from religion to superheroes, and all of that knowledge should somehow make its way into print. That’s the way to surprise and delight readers, because it brings them into the cosmic joke that everything’s related. Just to give you some insight into a writer’s mind, while I was writing this paragraph, I was thinking of the “Choose Life” speech from Trainspotting. If you’ve never heard of it, go out and buy the book and the movie because you’re missing out.

That’s all I’ve got for today, but come back soon. The next post I write will be about keeping emails professional.

New project in the works

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2008 at 1:51 am

As some of you who read this may or may not know, in life I am a giant nerd. I play a live action role playing game in a national organization, and up to this point I haven’t been able to find any real blogs or guides to the game. So, I’ve decided to start my own.

This is a way for me to delve deeper into the game community and to delve into monetizing blogs at the same time. Up to this point, I have been unable to successfully monetize my blogs. I have affiliated with Amazon and Drive Thru RPG (a site that sells downloads of game manuals) and am trying to use Adsense more efficiently.

If anyone has any advice on what I could do better, please let me know. In some ways I’m flying blind, and in others I’m not sure I entirely trust the advice I’ve been given on making money through blogging.

Here’s a link to the new blog about Vampire: The Masquerade.

Welcome to my guide on freelance writing

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2008 at 1:21 am

For the past few weeks, I’ve been throwing around the idea of revamping this blog. Trust me, it was a lot of hard work and hard thinking.

Originally, I was going to change my focus to freelance journalism, moving away from the traditional student journalism I started this blog on.

Instead of choosing a topic so narrow, I finally decided to focus on freelance writing. Most of the information is going to be about freelance journalism, but I will also focus on getting jobs in the business, taking care of your finances, finding markets for fiction, and networking.

I hope the people that read this find in it a valuable resource.

Basic web sleuthing 101- web searches

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Whether you’re a seasoned journalist learning more about what the web has to offer or a freelancer trying to figure out how to navigate the changing sea of technology, proficiency in web searches are pivotal to your success. Through trial and error and a few essential tips, it isn’t that hard to find a wealth of information on just about anyone who owns a computer and regularly surfs the internet.

I’ve realized that one of my biggest gifts for journalism is being ahead of the curve when it comes to online research. In Jschool, I used to get blank stares from other students when I would come up with information about article subjects, just from stumbling around the internet for a few days. So, this will be the first in a potential zillion part series entitled “Basic web sleuthing.”

The first step for any journalistic sleuthing is the basic web search. My preferred engine is Google; it’s where I start before I branch out to other search engines and sites.

In the increasingly digital world we live in, people put their entire lives online to be viewed, and it’s usually easy to figure out who they are, even if they try to be sneaky.

Let’s take the hypothetical subject “Jane Doe.” For a search on Jane Doe, mother of two and an internet business owner who lives in Dade City, FL, I would type “Jane Doe” Dade City FL into my Google search box. I would hope for a personal site, some other articles written about her, a social networking page (Myspace, LinkedIn, etc.), a blog, and other sites with general information about her.

Let’s say I find a page for her business with her email address on it, but not much else. Her business is flying under the radar a bit, so it hasn’t garnered media attention, and she’s done a pretty good job of keeping her extracurricular online activities under my radar.

Except, her email address is from yahoo, and instead of being professional, it’s something like cookieroflmacopter22224545. Now, I can type her email address into yahoo and see what I come up with.

I find a deleted Livejournal, a private Myspace, some message board posts for an online game that may or may not be from her, and a personal ad.

One nice thing about Google is it offers cached results. So, from her deleted Livejournal’s cached pages, I find out she goes to Central Florida furry meets all the time under the name Janey Cat.

All of the sudden, it’s possible I might have an entirely different story on my hands. And, information like this begins to snowball after pulling a person’s layers of history on the web apart.

This is why some of my friends should fear me. I really would like some feedback on this post and the future series, so if you loved it, hated it, or didn’t care, please let me know.

It’s official: I’m a curmudgeon!

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2008 at 12:33 am

It was only a matter of time. I’m probably the only member of Generation Next (Generation Y, cusp of Generation X, whatever) who loves sitting at a kitchen table with a cup of coffee or a pastry and the daily paper, who reads novels and creative nonfiction for fun, and who keeps online chatting to the minimum amount where she can pretend that she’s actually networking and not wasting the precious hours of her life away.

What convinced me of a bleak future, shaking a cane at people and mumbling about how “That’s not how we do things around here, I don’t like these new-fangled changes” under my breath?

It was an article in the St. Pete Times by my friend, Arleen Spenceley.

What makes it worse is I have a blog post similar in style (conversational, extolling the virtues of my intended subject, etc.) in Sticks of Fire about a local chocolate shop. (If you love chocolate and live in Tampa, you should definitely check it out, even though it may pack a death blow to your wallet.)

What originally put me off about Arleen’s article was that it was too friendly towards the reader. Arleen’s general writing tone since college has been “Hey there, good friend! Sit down, enjoy a cup of tea, and let me tell you about this awesome singer/ organic food/ boot camp exercise class!” Arleen doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, which stands out in her writing. (With my multitude of mean bones, I’m not sure how we get along so well.)

My thoughts while reading her boot camp article were that it would be better off as a blog. From the first couple of paragraphs, I’d written the article off because I’d seen it in print instead of online.

I glared at my alarm clock through tired eyes.

4:45 a.m.

Worst set of numbers a half-asleep Arleen had ever seen. But I asked for it weeks earlier, when I signed up for boot camp. I slapped the alarm, slipped into some athletic garb and dragged a bag of dumbbells across the floor.

I hate boot camp.

Then, I realized how many minutes I read the paper every day versus how many minutes I read blogs with conversational tones like Arleen’s. Or, like my favorite sections of my own blog posts.

I’m not too proud to mention my chocolate addiction. Out of all the addictions to have, chocolate’s one of the most tame. I’ve been known to hide Mounds bars in my office at work and buy a Hershey’s bar on the way home. But, these are mass produced chocolates diluted with wax and milk. The chocolate offered at Choxotica is pure chocolate art.

Oh yeah, there have also been all of the times I’ve screamed at other writers to stop making every story a “Who cares, this is boring, I can’t get past the first paragraph of this generic drivel” story.

So, while I continue to plunk away at my unjournalism design/ marketing job and scrabble for every freelancing gig that comes my way, I should probably relax and enjoy the writing of the next wave of journalists who actually get it; I’m beginning to think I’m already falling behind.