"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

How to Match Your Learning Style With the Right Writer's Training...

Most savvy writers realize that to put food on the table, they need to continually feed their minds.
In this Internet age, educational and developmental resources are abundant.
Books, blogs, podcasts, E-courses and webinars can help to increase today's writer's knowledge base and bottom line like never before.

For optimal results, however, it's important to understand your learning style and how to align the right products and formats to meet your individual needs and specific goals.
We each differ.

For example, I am a Visual Learner. It is estimated that 60% of students are visual learners.

For your edification, here are the four basic groups of learning styles and related traits. 



THE TRAITS: Learns best through demonstrations; often uses lists to maintain and organize thoughts; remembers faces but often forgets names; tends to be unaware of noise
BEST LEARNING FORMATS OR RESOURCES: Infographics, You-Tube videos, How-to books, Webinars, Vlogs

THE TRAITS: Learns best by listening; enjoys verbal instructions; inclined to remember names but forgets faces; easily distracted by noise

THE TRAITS: Likes to draw or doodle to remember things; does well with hands on activities like labs
BEST LEARNING FORMATS OR RESOURCES: Tech gadgets, games, interactive activities and demonstrations 

THE TRAITS: High energy levels; prefers to do rather than watch or listen; learns best while moving
BEST LEARNING FORMATS OR RESOURCES: Interactive workshops at libraries and arts centers, in store book signings with authors' Q& A forums

If you're uncertain as to what your learning style is, here's an online testing site that helps you to identify your style and category:


The more you know, the more you grow.
The best writers are life-long learners!




What's your learning style?
Did you "learn" anything interesting or beneficial here?

Thanks for reading.

Image credit: https://Pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

5 Secrets to Greater Writing Success in 2017!

Writers are busy people. Between juggling personal requests, honoring obligations, pursuing professional aspirations, and spending quality family time, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. True?

Still, the need to create and express ourselves is undeniable and unrelenting.
It’s how “real writers” are wired.

But, as many scribes will discover, a mere “passion” for the written word is not enough to cut it. And certainly not in today’s competitive writing climate.

My point here?

In order to truly go the distance and make your writing a profitable business venture, you must adopt a strategic approach and a prosperity mindset. Particularly when it comes to how you spend your time.

I learned the hard way.
Don’t get me wrong; for the most part, I’m an excellent time manager.
But, in former days, my output greatly exceeded my income!
And yours will too, unless you learn to work smarter, not harder this year.

If you’re on board, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time and effort, and earn more pay for your say in 2017

1. Stop subscribing to the philosophy that “some money is better than no money at all.”

Not always. With more experience under my belt, I’m now being more selective in the projects that I take on. Some time ago, in fact, I turned down a blog gig that I felt would not compensate me fairly for my skill level.

I also “pink-slipped” a publication that I had written for, for over a decade, because there were simply no growth opportunities.
Time is money. And how you spend it will ultimately determine your “quality of life”.

Allow me to elaborate…
In “unenlightened times,” I would take on practically any assignment that came my way, which would allow me to meet my short-term financial goals.
Say, for instance, if I wanted to make 100 bucks, I might take on 10 blogging jobs that paid 10 bucks a piece, or pen pieces for content mills accordingly.

Boy was I frazzled and fragmented. I was overwhelmed and undervalued! This is not to say that I regret it. Perish the thought.
Experience is a valuable teacher.

Those jobs helped me to become a better blogger, a better time manager, and ultimately helped to hone my voice.

2. Recognize that the type of writing you devote your time to makes an important difference.

Take it from me. All writing jobs are not created equally. I offer as proof, my experiences in the fields of “ghostwriting” and copywriting, versus blog posts and articles.

Some years ago, through a referral, I was hired to ghost write a book for an organization.
At first, I was a bit hesitant with a few issues on ghost-ing. But, then I was quickly converted and convinced.

Why? The down payment for this project was the equivalent of about three months of my mortgage payment. (Yay! To God be the glory.) I haven’t looked back since.
I highly recommend it. No more waiting for checks in the mail 30-60 days after publication. Or having to be divided between 10 different projects to make ends meet. Or begging and pleading to be paid.
Need I say more?

3. Make sure to devote more time to paying projects than freebies.

Though there is a popular school of thought that contends that writers should never write for free, I’m not necessarily a follower. Even at my level, I pen pieces “pro bono”. Whether it’s guest posts for friends, or an article for a start-up publication that has requested it. Word to the wise: don’t allow the percentage of these projects exceed those where pay is involved.

4. Use templates to increase efficiency.

How many times a day or week do you do routine things online?
This could be query letters, or pitches to do guest posts, or collection letters for payments due…get my drift? Save yourself time and keystrokes by creating common templates and saving them to your computer for future use. Never re-invent the wheel; it‘s counterproductive.
Here are a few to get you started:

5. Provide strategic guest posts for greater exposure with less work.

Let’s face it: our blogs are our “virtual homes”. Which stands to reason that we would spend more time at our base, and provide more upkeep and care.
But, you’ll do yourself a great disservice, if you don’t visit other "quality" sites and connect with writers, potential fans and like-minded people, through guest posts.

This article shares great pointers on writing for free and related reasons:

Here’s a bonus: if the site has a bigger following, or is considered more “influential” in the blogosphere, not only will you have your “15 minutes of fame,” you’ll get the opportunity to promote your projects, products, and increase your “cool factor.”
Which is certainly not a bad return on your investment.

To sum things up here, a strategic approach will help you increase your efficiency and your bottom line this year. Follow these five tips to accomplish more with less effort. 

Here's to your success!

Thoughts? Questions?

Image credits: https://pixabay.com


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tips to Becoming a Better Writer-From a Terrible One

BY: Bea Maiz

Just like any other art or skill, writing requires a lot of time and practice. It may sound simple in theory: the act of putting words together, but in actuality, it’s not.

You have to carefully use words to create and deliver your message, and communicate your thoughts in a coherent manner, so readers can easily understand what you are trying to explain or share.

If you’re starting your own blog but have zero writing skills, there are two important things you can do:

Read a lot

According to the brilliant Stephen King, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Allow yourself to be bad at it first

If you want to improve or be better at something, you have to be aware of what needs improvement. In this case, your writing skills.
                    Or in the sage words of Dr. Phil: "You can't fix what you don't
acknowledge first." 

The more you can determine what your mistakes are, the more you can avoid them, or skillfully address and correct them. As always, practice makes perfect.

Whether your goal is to start a blog, finish a novel, or take your writing to the next level, today's infographic outlines steps to becoming a better writer, as provided by Tom Ayling, a self-confessed terrible writer. 

the infographic was made with Visme.
Any of these tips resonate with you?

Monday, February 13, 2017

How to Inform and Enhance Your Writing With Movies

It's something that most of us do on the regular: kick back and watch a flick.
Whether it's part of a date night ritual or a way to unwind in private after a hard week at work.
This popular past-time is a billion-dollar industry.

For me, it's one of my favorite (and most frugal) ways to relax, escape and renew.
And it's fat free and guilt free. Hello?

It's even been compared to therapy. In the book Cinematherapy, the Girl's Guide to Movies for Every Mood, the authors write: "Movies are more than entertainment: they're self medication. A good flick is like a soothing tonic that, if administered properly, in combination with total inertia and something obscenely high in fat grams, can cure everything from an identity crisis, to a bad hair day, to the I-hate-my-job blues."

But, there's another benefit afforded here. Besides being a fun outlet (and therapeutic), movie watching provides great pointers on the creative process and how to deliver true entertainment value to an audience.
In fact, it works along the same lines as reading.

With this in mind, here are a few lessons that movie watching has imparted, (based upon my movie marathon over the last two weeks) that you can "observe" to enhance and inform your writing, regardless of your respective genre.

Are you ready?


The Movie: 50 Shades of Grey
The Lesson:
Okay, I admit that I am "tardy to the party" here. Many of you have probably seen this one a long time ago. I had heard a lot of the buzz, so when I saw it among the many titles available at my local library, I quickly snatched it up. My take in one word? YOWSA!
Initially, I liked it a lot.
It had a lot of important ingredients for a great movie experience: interesting story line, drama, romance, humor, good pacing. But, here's where it "derailed" for me.
The ending was a disappointment.  I felt let down.
The way that the main characters broke up, left "ME" without proper closure.

It's an important concept to consider in your writing. Make sure that your readers are reasonably "satisfied" when your article, blog post or novel concludes. That a major problem was resolved, or a technique was properly explained or explored. If not, they will feel that their experience was anti-climactic and not "worth the price of admission."

The Movie: The Family Stone
The Lesson:
Good writing is thorough, considerate, involved, intelligent and has universal appeal.
Though I admit that none of the characters in this movie had backgrounds I could totally identify with, they all had traits or family dynamics I could relate to. Who doesn't know what it's like to want to be accepted by his/her mate's family? To having a family that has certain dysfunctions? To saying things we later regret to people we love? This film cleverly tackles stereotypes about racism, disabilities, class and the complexity of relationships, with unexpected humor and taste.  The moral of the story here? When possible, injecting humor and compassion in your writing can add warmth, depth and layering.

The Movie: From the Rough
The Lesson:
I typically dig movies that are based off true life stories. And this one, reflecting the career of Catana Starks, (the first African American woman to coach an all men's team at the collegiate level), held real promise: it featured the talented Taraji P. Henson, from the hit series "Empire."
I wish that I could tell you I loved it; that it was well-developed and recommended.

But, unfortunately for me it was a real snooze fest. I watched it for about 25 minutes, then decided to view another movie. The problem? The pacing.
Take note here. No matter how well-written a piece or treatment is, it has to sustain your audience's interest to be fully experienced and appreciated. Don't take too long to get to the point or it will prove pointless.

The Movie: Claudine
The Lesson:
This blast from the past still holds appeal for me many decades later. And that's what good, effective writing does: it transcends time. This movie, ( starring James Earl Jones and Diahann Carol) is about a single mom who tries to balance a career, a relationship, and unruly kids of varying ages. It is sexy, fun and colorful-- with important social messages woven in.
Word to the wise: don't be afraid to tackle controversial topics; to tell your own truths; to speak authentically about your personal challenges; to include cultural references and "real" dialogue when warranted.

These are just a few take-aways you can apply when you are crafting your next novel, blog post, article or essay, to add entertainment value to your work.
If you do, you're sure to enjoy rave reviews in the future.

Movie reviews can not only enhance your writing, but also your bottom line. Be sure to check out this article that provides tips on how to share your reviews and earn money for your efforts.   


Thoughts? Agree or disagree?
What recent movie would you recommend?

Image Credits: https://Pixabay.com/

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Look at Black History Month...

Black History Month is a month long celebration to honor the historical contributions and traditions of people of color.

BHM evolved from “Negro History Week,” initiated by noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Every U.S. president, (since 1976) has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

Being Black is not a pre-requisite for celebrating Black History.

Black History is deeply entrenched in American History, and thus has significance that surpasses color or geographical boundaries.

For centuries, Blacks have contributed to our progress, development, artistic enjoyment and quality of life as a country.


1. Study the works of prominent African American authors and poets, to learn more about the Black experience.  
A few that I would highly recommend are: Maya Angelou, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, Terry Mc Millan and Barack Obama.
2. Attend a BHM celebration in your local area.
For ideas and venues, you’ll definitely want to explore

EVENTBRITE.COM or your local library‘s schedule of events.
3. If you’re a teacher, expand your lesson plan.
Include a unit on Black inventors, Black writers, or perhaps a trivia contest or field trip might be in order.
4. If you’re a blogger, write a post that pays tribute to BHM.
Or interview a Black blogger you’d like to know more about.
Add your own flava’.
5. Watch a Black movie (meaning one where the main characters or central theme involves Blacks).
If you have not seen “Fences” with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, you really should.
6. Listen and escape to some jazz greats.
Like the sounds of Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday.
7. Visit a "Soul Food" restaurant and sample the cuisine.
Or purchase a soul food cookbook and try out some new recipes.
Your taste buds will thank you.
It's not too late to celebrate and embrace all that BHM has to offer.

Your turn.
This inquiring mind wants to know...
Which of the above suggestions might you try?
Who is your favorite African American writer or entertainer? Do tell.
Image credit: Https://Pixabay.com/

Friday, February 3, 2017

The 3Rs Series-More Leads & Resources For Writers!












Sign up today, for a better writing future.







As the title reflects, “How to Write a Powerful, Professional Bio” is an ebook devoted to helping individuals properly document and share who they are for professional and creative purposes.

Though many of us have created resumes, not everyone is familiar with constructing an effective Bio (despite their similarities). 
In this guide, the author provides timely tips to help readers to present themselves in the “best light” possible, to increase their visibility, stand out from the competition, and promote themselves with greater confidence and “swagger.”

What I liked about “How to Write a Powerful Professional Bio” is that it’s a quick but substantive read.
Additionally, it has good take-away value, in terms of actionable tips.
Ms. Hill has addressed some of these principles and tips, in her contributing article for Forbes Magazine.

If you’re looking for a way to promote yourself and your business in 2017, I would definitely recommend it. Learn more or order a copy at www.marciewrites.com


Image Credit: https://Pixabay.com

Friday, January 27, 2017

Feedback Friday-What Would You Like to See Here?

If there's one take-away that we can garner from the recent election, it's that when we fail to let our voices be heard, (through the political process and voting), we're left with someone else to decide what's important for us.  This leaves us at a great disadvantage.
In fact, with most things in life it's better to be proactive rather than reactive.

Your voice matters. One person can make a difference.
In this spirit, I'm opening up the floor to you, my readers.

2017 marks my 8th year of blogging. In this time, I've shared (according to Google Analytics) approximately 700 posts on an array of topics. Everything from marketing tips, to motivational quotes, to recommended resources, to book reviews, to interviews with experts.

My goal here is to be a resource for writers of all levels and genres, and to support you in your writing journey.


Moving forward, I'd like to learn more about you and your creative needs. To get your specific, thoughtful feedback on topics and issues that matter the most to you.

This inquiring mind wants to know... 

1. What topics do you enjoy the most here?
2. What haven't I covered, that you think I should?
3. Do you prefer long or short posts?
4. What's the most valuable thing you've learned here?
5. What day do you typically read this site?
6. How does Pen & Prosper differ from other writing blogs you enjoy?
7. Are there any barriers to commenting on posts?
8. What do you like the most about this blog?
9. What do you like the least?
10. How do you feel about the periodic music videos shared?

11. What's your biggest freelancing frustration?
Caring is sharing. I'd love to get your feedback and suggestions. Choose any questions you'd like to answer.

Let's take 2017 to new levels through building better communication and a stronger blog community.

Together we can grow...

Jen's Spa Garden

A penny for your thoughts?


Image credits: https://Pixabay.com