Tag Archives: Publishing

Welcome to the Information Age

Snip20150702_40The internet is the most wonderful thing that has happened for college students in many decades as it allows us to have an infinite amount of information at our fingertips.  Gone are the days of debate about who won the 1998 World Series (New York Yankees) or who won the Best Actress in 2005 (Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby).  Anything we want to know is only a moment away.  Seems great right?

The unfortunate side of the information age is the quality of information our students use in their research.  High school and college students today are so used to using Google and Wikipedia in their personal lives that they transfer that into their studies.  And while technology literacy is a wonderful attribute for them, understanding the pros and cons of the internet when writing and researching is essential to success.

In this blog piece, I’ve decided to take a look at the positive and negative aspects of the internet when it comes to certain aspects of the writing process.  Hopefully, this will make students aware of some of these pitfalls before doing their next paper. Continue reading

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Five Ways to Jump Start A Creative Writing Routine

Sure, you want to write.  You have a great hook or character.  You have your whole first novel mapped out or the next slam-winning poem…the problem is that you have them all in your head.  Be don’t be discouraged.  You’re not alone.

make-time-to-write

 

 Moving from brain to page is no easy task, but with these tips, you help kick start that process.


1. Start a blog: A blog is a great way to get your writing everyday, and you can write as much or as little as you want.  A blog will automatically keep track of the days and times you write, which will help you as you take on more serious writing projects. One word of caution: if you are considering publishing down the road, you should be refrain from posting it on the blog since some publishers will consider it ‘published.’  Check out The Pen’s own post on the subject!

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2. Use a creative writing prompt: Hate staring at a blank page?  Writer’s block giving you the writer’s blues?  There are dozens of website that offer writing prompts to get you inspired.  Some of our favorites are Language-is-a-virus, First Line Generator, Creative Writing Ink, and The One-Minute Writer.

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3. Keep a journal: Sometimes the easiest tool is also the best one.  Journaling can help you keep track not only of your everyday experiences, but can also be a great place to sketch characters, write a plot summary, or record an idea that just won’t let go of you.  Journaling is particularly alluring for you pen and paper types, and it gives you an opportunity to splurge on those fancy fountain pens you’ve been eyeing!

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4. Join a creative writing club: Clubs are an excellent way to get yourself motivated to write and keep you accountable to your writing goals.  You can also get immediate feedback on a particular character, scene, or subplot, which will be invaluable if you decide to take your writing to a publisher.  Clubs meet both in person and online!

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5. Use your tech!: Sometimes, we forget that our most powerful writing tool is the one we have in our hands (laps or palms!).  Use your favorite tech to set writing reminders and to schedule yourself time to write.  You can also use apps to keep you on pace: Mindly, Mind Node, Help Me Write, and Write-or-Die.  There are dozens out there, so find your fix!

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The Professional Writer: James G. Piatt Encourages Emerging Writers to Follow Their Bliss

 

When it girl-writing-starscomes to writing, James G. Piatt sees far more than the bottom line. He sees an opportunity to do something that gives him joy. That, for him is the most important thing. “You must decide on what your goals are. If it is to make money, you must do those things which will make money. You will have to write for the prevailing audience, do heavy personal marketing, travel, make speeches, make business contacts, do loads of book signings, etc. etc.” says Piatt, a retired teacher and artist with numerous publishing credits under his belt. “ If it is to release the creative spirit in your soul, then create and be happy with the outcome.”

“Chase your dreams. Do what makes you feel worthwhile and satisfied. Life is short; Make the most of it; Spend your time doing those things that make you happy.” ~ James G. Piatt, author

By focusing on his passion for writing, James has found an audience that loves his creative work. Along with two poetry collections, thirty four of his short stories have been published.  His method is to write and revise, then send his polished pieces out to publishers. His poems and stories have been published in over 100 magazines, anthologies, and books. He says if you are doing it to make money, emulate the celebrity writer and don’t worry about literary value. But if you want a lasting voice, hone your craft and follow your heart. Be persistent and work hard, and success will come to you.  To read James G. Piatt’s creative work, see the poetry below and check out his poetic collections, here.

Inequality

I sense the heartbreaking weeping of souls
hungering for equality mirrored in their lifeless
reflections in a fading blood colored moon: The
unfortunate find hope is only a thin pallid wash
attempting, without success, to cover their
frozen moments of hopelessness.

I reflect sadly on the fervent prayers of golden-
haired angels playing poignant songs on silver
bells, hovering like burning moths over the flame
of the world’s calloused indifference… and sob:

Trying to forget the inequities, I guzzle peach
Margaritas in a sleazy bar where sad women
swing their bodies like gaudy birds. My mind
lacking reason, like the money drunk elite, feigns
to comprehend the misery of splintered
nightmares in rundown ghettos, where cheap
wine is served and hotdogs are grilled over
coals of need in a rusted garbage can, while the
rich sailing on a yacht, slurp mimosas, eat $400
a tin caviar and gobble down fresh Dolphin meat
from Madagascar.

 

Weep No More Robin Williams

Weep not Robin…
For peace comes on summer’s wings,
As bards write poems to overcome
Your sadness, they will wipe away
Tragic tears from your lonesome being,
Awaken in your heart a sudden gladness:

Weep not Robin…
Eirene’s warm embrace
Will take you to higher and
Higher splendors of peace,
Expunging the dim world of your Darkened
rhyme under the bountiful Bouquet of a rose
covered arbor:

Weep not Robin…
Eleos will break the spell of your Darkened
night, and enclose in your Heart a gleaming halo
at dawn, she will Bring into your being a blissful
delight, And into your soul, she will create a
Rebirth, and a sweet song.

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Four Tips for Developing Successful Blog Content

by Paul Miller

As someone who has had a successful blog for the better part of three years, I often have students show great interest in blogging.  There is one question that continuously arises:  What should I write about?  Students have an easy time understanding why blogging is so important:  It gives them a place to showcase their writing ability, their knowledge of their chosen field, and their dedication to do something not (usually) required in a college curriculum.  The issue remains:  How do you develop content?

Answering this question is something that took me quite some time to develop an understanding for.  At first, I had the same quandary.  I started my blog after an influential moment in my life, the first time I attended Harrisburg University’s Social Media Summit.  I took great notes on each panel and decided that I would write my commentary about what I learned to share with my network.  The problem arose after I wrote about each session, accomplishing my initial goal:  Now what do I write about?  The tips that I discuss are ways that I’ve managed to keep my blog going strong over the past few years and I believe these tips can help any blogger for both the short and long terms.blogging

Tip #1 – Develop a frequency of posts and stick to it

When I first began blogging, I felt that a weekly blog piece was the direction that I wanted to pursue.  After about two months, I felt that this was a goal that was very difficult to achieve.  I wasn’t because I didn’t like to write or that I had trouble finding inspiration; it was that I was working multiple jobs.  Making sure I was doing my job to the utmost of my ability superseded the need for a weekly blog.  Since then, I have vowed to have at least one blog per month.  While I’ll admit that some months I didn’t have the opportunity to write, I’ve averaged about 10 blogs per year.

For those starting a new blog, my advice would be to start with what you are comfortable with.  Don’t be unrealistic and think that you’ll be able to blog daily, or even weekly.  If you love to write and have plenty of ideas at your disposal, make an idea bank with potential topics.  That way, if something doesn’t strike you between entries, you always have ideas to fall back on.  Secondly, don’t write just to write.  Be inspired about your topic.  Show that it is relevant to your career path or at least of interest to you.  The worst blogs are those that show no passion, as if the writer is just going through the motions.

Tip #2 – Follow Influencers on Social Media/Reach out for comments/interviews

Social Media has been a communications revolution unlike any the world has witnessed in the modern era.  The world has totally changed the way we as humans communicate with one another.  This also allows us amazing access to those that influence our field of choice.  One strategy that I’ve employed is to look at the field that I’m involved in and find those that are on the cutting edge.

I continuously read and interact with these individuals so I can be in the know of current and important topics.  This has been one of my largest inspirations when it comes to writing my blog.  Also, reach out to your network and ask them questions.  I’ve never had one person turn me down for a three question email interview when I told them I was writing a blog piece.  People want to help you and you shouldn’t feel intimidated to contact them.

Tip #3 – Read articles related to your field

Beyond following people that are influential in your field, it’s important to constantly read anything you can find about these topics.  To be successful in the modern age, one must love what they do.  You have to be able be immersed in the topic on a daily basis.  Read at least two articles a day about your field of study and understand the current problems or issues that go along with it.  This will help you become educated and more importantly, well-rounded in discussion.  You can then use this knowledge in interviews with potential employers.

Tip #4 – Develop an informed opinion

This tip is the most important of all with regards to developing content; you must form your own opinion.  No one wants to read a blog that conforms to the status quo; people want to read viewpoints that differ from the norm.  This is where your knowledge of your field can truly come in handy.  Show your audience that you know what you are talking about and (more importantly) have something of value to say!In the modern day, audiences have more content at their fingertips than they could read in a 24-hour period.  If you don’t provide some sort of value to them, you risk losing them forever.

I encourage you to give blogging a try.  I cannot explain enough the value of a blog to your potential long-term career goals.  I give this example every time I speak on this subject:  Most college students are acquaintances or even friends with others in their major.  What these people really represent is competition for every job that we seek.  Stellar grade point averages are expected now from college students in the open market, so every available job is like a chess match.  With things equal, who gets the job:  Someone that has demonstrated great knowledge of their field via a blog or someone who doesn’t have one?

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About the author.

Paul Miller, paulmiller@centralpenn.edu, teaches courses in communications, business, and writing at Central Penn College.  He has blogged for The Pen before about How To Blog Effectively in Today’s Landscape and teaching courses on writing for social media and business.  You can find Professor Miller at his LinkedIn page.

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(I) Read Banned Books!

The Central Pen joins the American Library Association (ALA) in celebrating Banned Books Week (September 21-27, 2014) where we pull out all of those so-called ‘naughty’ books that have been challenged, banned, defaced, and sometimes even stolen from our nation’s libraries because of what some view as contested themes, depictions, or characters.

Banned Books

Banned Books Week is an opportunity to celebrate free speech, literacy, and creativity.  It also is an opportunity to focus our attention on an issue that is rarely discussed when we talk about education: censorship.  Literature and censorship have a long, fraught history precisely because the written word is so incredibly powerful.  It can shape ideas and narratives.  It can push political and social issues and opinions.  It can persuade and inform.  It can be used to uplift people and ideas just as easily as it can be use to destroy them.


Here are some of The Pen‘s favorite banned books from the 21st Century:

  1. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    • Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    • Reasons: offensive language; racism
  3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    • Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  4. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
    • Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    • Reason: sexually explicit
  6. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    • Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    • Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    • Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
  9. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    • Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  10. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    • Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

Don’t just read banned books–share them!  Leave your favorites in the comments.

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10 Ideas to Help Inspire Your Award-Winning Poem

Poetry Contest

Want to submit to Central Pen’s Poetry Contest but don’t know where to start?  Check out these 10 ideas to help inspire your award-winning poem:

  1. What would your favorite word look like? Smell like? Taste like? Feel like? Who would it invite to lunch?  Would it be talkative or quiet?  Where would it go?
  2. Where is the last place you felt safe?  Who was there?  Who wasn’t there?  What did it look like?  Was it a physical space? Mental?  Emotional? Spiritual?
  3. When did you first fall in love with writing?  How young were you?  How old were you?  What inspired you then?  What inspires you now?  Did someone or something help you discover your inner author?
  4. What does spring taste like?  Is it earthy or fresh?  Is it smooth or gritty?  What does it feel like on your teeth, gums, and tongue?  What would happen if you swallowed it?
  5. How would you describe yourself using sounds?  Are you loud like BOOM?  Are you smooth like swoosh?  Do you clomp or swish when you move?  Are your dreams like plink or pow?
  6. What place symbolizes your childhood?  What does it look like? Smell like? Taste like? Feel like? Would you go back?  Would you live there?  Are you still living there?
  7. What is your favorite memory from the past year?  Who was there to share it?  Who wasn’t?  What did it feel like?  What did it look like?  How did it change you?
  8. What is sitting next to you?  Why is it there?  Is it important?  Useless?  Is it something you would like to share with someone?  Is it something you want to keep private?
  9. Who do you wish you were talking to right now?  What do they look like?  Why are they important?  Could you talk to them if you wanted?  Would they want to talk to you?
  10. How would you describe home using only tastes?  Is it a hot meal?  Is it dessert?  Is it something you want to eat as a snack or as a dinner?  Is it something you want to eat all the time or not very often?  How would it feel if you swallowed it?

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by | April 5, 2014 · 9:35 pm

Shaashawn Dial Gives Us Another Reason to Celebrate LGBTQIA History Month

Shaashawn's Wedding Passport to Love: Perfect Pairing Ceremony 8.24.2013

Shaashawn’s Wedding Passport to Love: Perfect Pairing Ceremony 8.24.2013

From radio broadcasting to mentoring students, Mrs. Shaashawn Dial-Snowden has achieved many memorable life-changing moments. Her nickname “The Voyce” is a symbol of independency and expression that portrays how closed mouths won’t get fed. Mrs. Dial-Snowden is the goddess sent from above to teach others how to express themselves with confidence and knowledge. Her ambition and success is like no one else. Her achievements display her motto: “the sky is the limit.”  Many know Mrs. Dial-Snowden as the Lead College Advisor & First Year Experience Coordinator at Central Penn College, but that’s not all that she wrote! Continue reading

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by | October 31, 2013 · 5:01 pm

How to Blog Effectively in Today’s Landscape

BlogThe following piece will help you understand how to write an effective blog piece as well as how to build a following, maintain an audience, and grasp writing in the digital age.

In today’s present job landscape, blogging is one of the greatest things you can do to leverage your position as a potential job candidate. 

There are several reasons why this is the case.  When you apply for a job, often times you are in a battle with tens to possibly thousands of other people vying for that same position.  Blogging is one way that you can take the upper-hand over many of your “opponents.”  It is a way for you to be seen as an expert in your field, but also allows possible employers to see that you are willing to go above and beyond.  Most people are not forced to blog; they do it because they like to write about certain topics.

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June 22nd: National Flash Fiction Day

June 22nd is National Flash Fiction Day–just not here in the States.  The event hails from the UK, but flash fiction writers and enthusiasts around the world are invited to join in and celebrate.

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