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Monthly Archives: August 2009

Trying Out Helium – A Writing Site

I’m testing out the Helium website. A number of writers on the eHow site were recommending it, so I decided to give it a whirl. The site prides itself on quality writing, both essays and creative writing. The mechanism for maintaining this quality is peer review.

To earn money on Helium, it isn’t enough just to write well and often. One must also compare side-by-side articles of other writers and select which is better. I found this part rather difficult, as I preferred to be writing. At times, it was easy to choose one writing example over another, but sometimes both articles had problems or both were fairly good. When that happened, I struggled to sort out why one was better. After reviewing enough articles and earning reviewing stars, then your own articles can start to earn money. The reviewing doesn’t stop, as each month participants must review more articles and poems to maintain their reviewing status.

Here are the ten topics I’ve submitted to Helium so far:

  • Meaningful Christmas celebrations for families (ranked 1st, but only 2 articles on the topic)
  • Poetry: Boredom (ranked 15th out of 197 poems on boredom)
  • How to keep your neighborhood safe and welcoming  (ranked 2nd out of 13 articles)
  • Amateur writers: Making the most out of writing workshops (ranked 3rd out of 12 articles)
  • Reading as a hobby: Escape in a good book  (ranked 1st out of 75 essays on the topic)
  • Humor: Golf
  • How to use the Internet to promote your writing
  • Travel experiences: Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Ways to save money while camping in a RV (my first Helium article)
  • Memoirs: Family memories begin in the kitchen
  • Oops, I just rechecked the rankings on my articles and see I’ve slipped on some. This rating method is really fluid apparently. It seems the important thing is to have a combined score in the upper 25 percent so that you qualify for various badges which lets you write for some of the better paying writing assignments on the site.

    This site appeals to writers with a competitive streak, as you can check your results daily to see how your writing is ranked. They start each submission out in the middle of the pack and as it gets reviewed, it moves up or down in the rankings. Fortunately I don’t have any articles or creative writing ranked at the bottom. That would be a little demoralizing, I’d think.

    Other than receiving a $5 bonus for submitting my first article, I’ve yet to earn anything with my articles on the site. They have a variety of incentives, requested articles and contests, which I’ll have a chance at once I’ve completed more reviews and submitted more essays and creative writing. There’s a lot to learn about how the site functions when you first start. (Update: a few days later, I’d earned $2 more.)

    One aspect that I find challenging is selecting a topic to write. On eHow, I could write about anything that came to my mind and usually based those on my recent experiences. On Helium there are article titles in a variety of Channels. You select a title and then write an article to match.  You can also submit a new title that you would like to write. There’s a bonus for being the first to write on a title.

    If anyone would like to write for Helium, let me know and I’ll send you an official INVITE. I get a bonus for signing up new writers.

    My Helium Profile

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    Posted by on August 31, 2009 in Writing

     

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    Memory Triggers for September 3

    Write about meeting your spouse, the courtship, special dates, the proposal, the wedding plans, activites around the wedding, honeymoon.  Note why you chose your spouse, how you felt about your in-laws.  Pick and choose among these memory triggers or write about all of them. What would you like your children to know about those times?

     
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    Posted by on August 27, 2009 in Writing

     

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    Hire a Grandfather for Yourself

    Many of us no longer have a grandfather in our lives. We miss that special wisdom that a grandfather brings. Here’s how to find a replacement to spend some time with you or with you and your family.

    Decide what qualities you crave in a grandfather figure. Would you like someone to come around to tell stories about their life experience, teach you about their hobbies and fix things? Do you have children and want them to have the experience of being around a grandpa?

    Decide how much you can afford to pay for such a service. The person might be willing to work for a token payment of $5 or $10 an hour. At $10 an hour, you could have them come over for five hours a week at a cost of $50. Remember that this is not a handyman job, though he might be handy. This is a companion for you or for your whole family.

    You can put a note on the bulletin board of the nearest senior center or put a notice in the church bulletin. These are places where seniors would see it and respond to you.

    Meet in person anyone that applies for the position. Go with your gut feeling on which one matches your needs. There’s no standard for grandfatherliness, so only you can know what you are looking for. Perhaps you want someone who is witty and energetic and who reminds you of your grandfather. Maybe you never knew your grandparents and just want one who has general grandfather qualities.

    Once you hire the person, be ready for them to be an individual. Like a real grandparent, they may surprise you with hidden facets of their personality. That’s part of the deal. Be clear about your expectations. Make sure the person realizes you want companionship and other grandfatherly activities. You aren’t hiring a handyman or baby sitter. Start out with a short-term arrangement, then it is easier to end the deal if the personalities don’t work out.

    Comments  
    missforty

    missforty said

     Wow, I love this idea! It is a win-win for both people!
    gailm

    gailM said

     Older folks need to feel useful and your idea is a great one to make older men feel worth while once again.
     
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    Posted by on August 26, 2009 in Family

     

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    Another Example of a Smilebox Author Promo

    Click to play this Smilebox postcard: My Flint Hills Childhood
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    Posted by on August 26, 2009 in Promotions

     

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    Use Smilebox to Promote an Author Event

    Just below this post you’ll see an example of a Smilebox (a photo slideshow) that promotes a book signing. These slideshows can be emailed for free and posted on blogs like this or on Facebook and other sites.  There is also a no-ads version that costs money, but I’ve always ignored the ads and used the free option.

    Try it out, then go to Smilbox to join and download the free software.  After that, choose a design whenever you want to promote some event or send invitations.  It’s a lot of fun and very eye-catching.  When you email it, it doesn’t clog the recipient’s mailbox, as they actually receive a link that takes them to the slideshow on Smilebox’s site.  The original is saved there and can be used again later or revamped for another occasion.

     
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    Posted by on August 24, 2009 in Promotions

     

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    Meet the Authors

    Click to play this Smilebox photobook: Meet the Authors
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    Posted by on August 24, 2009 in Books, Family

     

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    Weekly Family Memory Writing Assignment

    Try to visualize your early life from childhood up to early years of marriage.  If you were making a movie of your life, what scenes would you put in it.  Make a list of possible scenes to illustrate your life.  Maybe it would include a scene where you stand off to the side while grown-ups ooh and ahh over the new baby in the family.  Perhaps the next scene would show you beaming with pride as you are announced the winner in the spelling bee.  Some of these might be turning points in your life or illustrate your personality or family interaction.

    Try to note down a couple of words for each scene on a list.  The list should have at least ten scenes on it.

    Now choose one of the scenes and write about that incident.  Visualize it in your mind as though it was a scene in a movie.  That will help you describe it in detail.

     
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    Posted by on August 23, 2009 in Family, Writing

     

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