All posts by shewhowrites

The Nitty Gritty of Turning a Lens into a Hub

My writing life on Squidoo was unique. I wrote a lot of lenses to express myself around themes to evoke a mood or combine thoughts, videos, music and photos around a topic. A prime example was a lens called “The Blessings of Rain.”It was revised to post to HubPages when Squidoo sold out to HubPages.

I wish I could show you the unedited version.  I wrote it after a three-day period of mild rainstorms that came after a very parched period of months without rain. I wanted my readers to understand what a blessing the rain had been to the parched county. I included some lighthearted music videos with songs about rain, such as “Just Walking In the Rain,” just after my introduction.  This was followed by an Amazon module with umbrellas for sale, some photos to evoke a mood, a poll on how rain affects the readers, and another music video.

Then I switched the mood to a more spiritual theme by introducing the lyrics to “Joy is Like the Rain” with some photos of rain on a window.  I had put a video of the song there, but YouTube took it off so I had put one of Squidoo’s modules there that would play samples from an album that had the song on it.

From that point on the thoughts, photos, and videos were more devotional in content. The lens  ended with the comment section, as they all do.  I deleted the featured lens module which usually came after it.  HubPages doesn’t offer that as a capsule.

Here’s the best I could do so far from Squidoo to turn this into a hub.  First I had to change almost all the photos. Most had originally come from Photobucket and at a time when they were seemingly not restricted, but they aren’t able to be used commercially anymore. That meant searching my own photos and Pixabay for replacements. The replacements aren’t as effective, since they aren’t animated so you can actually see the rain coming down.  I may have better ones on my home computer when I can access them, but I wanted to put something in as place holders now.

I then had to remove all links to Zazzle products because HubPages doesn’t allow them or have a way to put affiliate link codes into their capsules. One of the hardest things about the overall transition for me is not being able to use Zazzle products as illustrations. Some of my best illustrations come from Zazzle.  I had two modules, one with a couple of posters of people in the rain, and one with rain T-shirts, that served as visual breaks before the poll. I had to eliminate them.

I left the MP3 Amazon module in just in case HubPages might add one as a capsule. It didn’t happen so the song did notsurvive the change. I don’t expect I’ll have a  way to include this important song in a way it can be heard.

I also had to find something to replace Squidoo’s call-out module, formerly known as the black box, which used to be a module by itself but had other former modules offered within it as choices. I had used the black box often in various colors, as a sort of transition quote . I decided to use Quozio to make a replacement for one of these black box quotes.  You can see it above. For Quozio, you don’t need to have a photo of your own. The site provides a choice of many backgrounds and you provide the quote.  It’s actually better than the old black box.

I made the replacement for another black box on Picmonkey, because I wanted to use my own image.  It’s a free online image editor. It produced this for me.

I made this black box replacement with my own photo edited on picmonkey.com
I made this black box replacement with my own photo edited on picmonkey.com

 

Another site where you can add text to your own photo is Share As Image.  They try harder to get you to go pro for a fee, but you can use either a choice of their photos or uploading one of your or choosing a background.  You can see photos I’ve produced from all three sites as featured images on this blog and its sister blog, Bookworm Buffet. You are limited only by your imagination.

The conclusion I have come to after this project of trying to turn “The Blessings of Rain” into a hub is that to really work I’d need to totally rewrite it.  I’m now debating the wisdom of having the lenses transfer over and having two accounts. If I  have only ten suitable lenses or less I may cancel the transfer and rewrite them for the existing account.  There are many, including my best lens, that I will have to put on my own pages.  There is no way I’d be able to turn them into hubs.

Eat. Sleep. Edit. Tshirt
Eat. Sleep. Edit. Tshirt Browse Editor T-Shirts online at Zazzle.com

What problems have you encountered in moving work from content writing sites to other sites or to your own websites?

Sold Out: Checklist for Exiting Squidoo

After spending almost five years as a Giant Squid at Squidoo, like all other Squidoo writers, I’ve found my featured lenses are to be switched to HubPages. Once there, we will have an as yet unstated period of time to bring them into conformity with HubPage’s own Terms of Service.  For Giant Squids that will be a harder task, since we have had more freedom to link outside the site than other Squids.

Since several tasks need to be completed in the next two weeks, I thought I’d make myself a checklist. I’m sharing it with you in case you might also find it useful.

  1. Make new backup copies all all lenses I care about.
  2. Delete any lenses I don’t want to transfer to HubPages from Squidoo.
  3. Complete setting up my HubPages account for BarbRad, since I can’t use my already existing HubPages account as WannaB Writer for the transferred lenses. They have to have their own account.
  4. Edit existing hubs, blogs, and other pieces of work that dealt with information on how to use Squidoo, etc., that will no longer be applicable.
  5.  Change links to the transferred articles as soon as possible.
  6. Start editing the transferring and already transferred lenses into conforming hubs.
  7. Move any lenses I don’t want on HubPages to new homes that suit them better or just kiss them goodbye.
  8. Breathe again.

Have I left off anything I should add to this list?

Meanwhile, if you want a new home for lenses that don’t have affiliate links, you might consider Persona Paper. It is a friendly and welcoming community, but they don’t allow any affiliate links in your articles there.

Photo of vintage alarm clock in public domain courtesy of Pixabay

Persona Paper Still Alive but in Transition

Update: Persona Paper is in transition. It will soon be under new administration. Currently there is doubt as to whether it will become a revenue sharing site again.  Most of this post is now historical. 

 

I am a pioneer of sorts when it comes to exploring start-up sites. I often sign up for new social networks that show promise, but they don’t always live up to the promises.  The  owner of Zurker, who had hoped to create the new Facebook, got discouraged and closed his site. Scrazzle,  which wants to be the new Twitter, still survives.  Someone built each of these social networks, hoping people would come. Not enough did come to make Zurker successful. It appears Scrazzle is struggling, even though it has possibilities There’s a lot to like there but I keep forgetting to go there. I notice a many self-pubished writers are there.

Now I’m pioneering again. I have discovered a fairly new community of content writers and bloggers who like to post short (or long) articles or observations and earn a few pennies as others read them. Content providers aren’t earning much yet, but I have a feeling this site will grow.  This new site is Persona Paper. There’s a lot to love about it.

Like many content writers, I have been discouraged about writing at Squidoo  (now sold out to HubPages) and Bubblews lately.  Bubblews’ new format change has broken at least half my posts by removing all but one photo from my photo essays.  The best writers at Bubblews,  the ones who used the extra content boxes that made photo essays possible, were hit the hardest, since everything in those boxes disappeared overnight in the new update to the site’s format.  (July, 2014) As of January, 2015, Bubblews is paying almost nothing, when it decides to pay at all.

Persona Paper, however is strong where Bubblews has been weak. The post I referenced above talks about those strengths. I see many other frustrated Bubblers discovered Persona Paper before I did. We all love it there. There is a special sense of community when a site is new. Persona Paper members have that pioneering spirit, the owners are responsive to member needs, and the writing editor is wonderful. I can again write photo essays without having to stuff my articles with polls (though I can post one there), videos, maps, etc.  We just write, link and illustrate with photos we have the right to use. We get to post our work without having to post a lot that came from somewhere else.

Many are most curious about the money to be made. Right now, not much. I speak after only two days of being approved to post. (Yes, your first post is sent with your application to join. It is  read by a human to make sure you can write like a literate person in English.  That’s true no matter how fat your writing portfolio is, whether you’ve won writing contests, whether you are published, whether you are a former Giant Squid.)

So far I have published six articles at Persona Paper. I have been there since Sunday night, commenting and getting acquainted. I have so far only sixteen followers and have made twenty cents. I cannot use any affiliate links in posts there. But thoughtful comments I make on the posts of others earn me a little. And I get twice as much as that if someone views my post.

As I post more and acquire more followers, I expect to increase my earnings to at least what HubPages is paying me, and I won’t have to wait until I accumulate $50 to get my earnings. Persona Paper will pay after I reach $20.  If you want to connect to some great people and are willing to support a new site and let your earnings grow with it, please join with my referral link and start looking around while you wait for posting privileges. You will only need to have the first post approved unless you do something you shouldn’t.  Update: I have corrected this with information  about recent changes at I Received My First Persona Paper Payment Today.

 

I am not very active on HubPages these days because I’m so busy on other sites making corrections. and editing.  That’s why I’m thankful for anything they currently give me, which so far this week has averaged 41 cents a day.   I have only 90 hubs, and nine of them are snoozing, waiting for more activity to become visible to Google again. But at least a direct link will result in a visitor not being turned away.   I still l love HubPages as a writing platform when I want to write serious content and need their bells and whistles and want to use a referral link.

If you enjoy writing and have time to socialize with others who like to write content, or even books,  Persona Paper is for you. I urge you to join and help build a site which may someday pay you back for your efforts. You will be in good company, make new writing friends, and gradually earn some dollars you won’t get by doing your socializing on Facebook.  It only takes 500 characters to make a post (not counting spaces and punctuation.) Spammers don’t survive there, and those who only come to try to scam the system will never be seen. It’s a refreshing change from Bubblews in that respect. Best of all, the owners have shown that they respect the writers by keeping communication open, taking suggestions seriously, and creating a great platform.

Annie Dillard As Writing Model

Immersing Myself in The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

 

Annie Dillard lived on my bookshelf for years before I got around to reading  what she had to say. Although I don’t remember what motivated me to open her book, I finally did. I must have seen a quote from Annie Dillard while reading the blogs of others and I promised myself I would read her. My journey into her books started with The Writing Life about three weeks ago. I wanted to learn more about how to write. The quote in the photo above comes from The Writing Life, which I finished last night.

In The Writing Life Dillard states that “The writer studies literature, not the world.” The point she was making was that only as we let literature shape us, can we maybe begin to shape literature.

Dillard had obviously observed the world, at least the world of nature, carefully, as even the first chapter of has shown me. She warns us that we should carefully choose what we will read, since that is what we will write. If we would write literature, we must read it. If we would write poetry, we must read it. If we want to even blog, we must read other blogs.

Exploring Tinker Creek With Annie Dillard as Guide

After finishing The Writing Life,  I began to read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, which won a Pulitzer Prize. Unlike many of the books I’ve been reading and reviewing, this one requires slow reading. I keep a notebook and pencil within arm’s reach. It’s not normal for me to study a book this way, but there is too much for me to grasp unless I take notes and write quotes.

It’s important to study Dillard’s use of words and the way she constructs the sentences she spends so much time writing. I use the notebook to record my observations as I read, as well as  some examples of her effective use of words. As I continue to study the book I will try rewriting her ideas in my own words. Benjamin Franklin learned to write by copying the ideas of others and trying to rewrite them, without looking, in his own words.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is not a book most people would enjoy. It is a book of exploration, heavy with ideas. As Annie explores Tinker Creek, she compares herself not to a scientist, but to an infant exploring his environment, bewildered by all he sees, trying to figure out his world and where he fits into it. She describes it this way on page 12: I walk out; I see something, some event that would otherwise  have been utterly missed and lost; or something sees me, some enormous power brushes me with its clean wing, and I resound like a beaten bell. 

 Annie Dillard As Writing Model

This echoes what I feel when I sit down to write. I want to reveal to others something they might utterly miss were I not to write it down. But first I must catch sight of it myself as my spirit interacts with what I see in the natural world and I perceive a new truth or relationship to a previous observation.

Walks with My Camera Help Me Observe

Annie walks, and so do I. She observes much more than I do, and she is much better at putting what she sees into words. Walking exposes one to nature as nothing else does. When we walk we slow down to a speed that allows us to see. 

 Annie Dillard As Writing Model
Taken at Alice Keck Park in Santa Barbara, © B. Radisavljevic

I take photo walks with my camera in my hand. Somehow that camera helps me see more, since I continually see photos in my head – single shots that force me to concentrate on my subject in detail. The photos also help me recall the details when I want to write. Walking is one way I cure writer’s block when it dulls my senses and sucks my motivation to write from me. I cannot take a walk without observing something in a way I’ve not regarded it before.

My Reading Goals

I plan to spend much more time reading Annie Dillard. I probably will never write as well, but I can learn something by Annie’s example that will help me improve.There is much to use as a model in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. 

I will be buying the book so I can mark it up as I read. Studying a pro will help me discover the shape and style of my own contribution and bring it into being. Meanwhile, I will practice. And I will continue to read The Writing Life.  If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you get a copy.

How did you discover your writing style or voice?

IMMERSING MYSELF IN THE WRITING OF ANNIE DILLARD

***

A Writer in Search of a Book Idea

I’ve been following the pages of other book reviewers who blog, and I came across a review of Derek’s Revenge by Mac Black written by Rosie Amber.  I haven’t read the book, but her review begins like this: “Derek Toozlethwaite is a journalist in Newingsworth who is trying to write a book. So far he has failed to find a suitable subject for his book….”

Many of us would dearly love to write a book. More and more people are actually doing it now that they can self publish. Some of these people have a book inside them screaming to be written, and those writers live inside their books long before they enter them onto their keyboards. Their books nag them until they are written

Others, like Derek, know they want to write a book, but they have no idea what sort of book they will write. Perhaps I’m waiting for a book to rise up within me and demand to be written, but as yet it hasn’t. I can’t imagine writing any other way, because I need passion to write. I simply know my book, if it ever happens, will be nonfiction. I suspect it will have to do with nature, possibly of a devotional nature.  I feel the faintest stirring, but for now blogging and writing on content sites satisfies my writing urge. I have a long way to go to develop my craft so it will be ready if or when I become pregnant with a book.

Which type of writer are you? One who wants to write and goes looking for book ideas? Or one who is impelled to write a book which is already lurking in your mind and trying to take over? Or is there another way to approach book writing I haven’t considered?

 

 

What is a Writing Life?

 

Each writer’s life is different,  but Annie Dillard describes accurately the process we all go through in her book The Writing Life
.  Writers are constantly building with words, and then demolishing what they have built to create a more desirable piece of work. We ride waves of inspiration and translate them on our keyboards or notebooks. And then we get cold water dumped on us when we realize we need to delete and rewrite.

Living the writing life means that all else I do in life  contributes material for writing. I always learn and  observe as I live out my roles as wife, bookseller, photographer, cook, gardener, and the rest.  I write nonfiction exclusively, with an occasional bit of poetry. What I do, where I go, and those I meet often turn up in my articles, since I’m always asking myself which of my interactions or activities someone else would find entertaining, informative,  or thought-provoking.

The writing life is a curious life. I often ask questions such as

  • What if?
  • What else?
  • Why?
  • Why now?
  • Why not?
  • What is she thinking?
  • What is it?
  • How did it get there?

My writing life is one with plenty of solitude. It takes time alone to think, to reflect, to read, and, of course, to write. Perhaps others can write with people nearby. I can’t. I need uninterrupted time to organize my ideas and get them written. I also need quiet.

Quote: One can write in solitude, but not in a vaccumMy writing life is  a reading life.  One can write in solitude,  but not in a vacuum. Conversations and books provide ideas for me to interact with and build on.

My photographs are also an important component of my writing life. The camera lens often shows me what my eyes don’t .  My photos often suggest topics I hadn’t considered writing on, and motivate me to learn more about what I have captured with my camera.

Of course, that one thing all writers need is time to transfer their ideas into writing.  I am learning to be flexible and see interruptions and unscheduled activities that take me away from my computer as opportunities to learn something new I might be able to write about.

How do you handle interruptions in your writing life?