Tag Archives: blogs

Sunday Mashup and Mashup Tips

Recommended Reading

I’ve had these for a few weeks and keep forgetting to post them on Sunday. Oops.

Finding the Dream, Daring to Dream–no wait, that’s a Nora trilogy
But the dream can be yours! You guys know how much I believe a good critique relationship can help your writing. I really enjoyed this post on how to find your dream critique group. A lot of it is about knowing what you want and need and not being afraid to say so. (via @JamiGold on Twitter)

It’s not about the comments
I got really excited when I read this because the article focuses on a point I think is important: What is the purpose of your blog? Is it to get comments, is it anything to do with the blog itself? Or is it to sell your product? If you sell ad space on your site, then yeah, focusing on building a blog for the sake of building a blog, getting hung up on those metrics makes sense. If you don’t, then…are those stats really a measure of anything that relates to your actual business? (via @JamiGold on Twitter)

The Wheel: Been there, done that
Okay, yeah, I’m still on this blogging/social media thing here. I just got this newsletter in my inbox that supports the idea that everyone loves a good mashup. Sometimes people do write an excellent new take on some aspect of writing craft or social media or something, but it seems a lot of posts fall flat and turn out same old same old. Possibly that’s just a lack of time to devote to the blog and really get into your unique perspective. Know what’s cool? A simple post on 5 great articles about _____. Preferably, in which you write 2-3 sentences about why it’s a great post and why I should go read it. Mashups may not get tons of comments, but people learn to appreciate someone who’s able to find them good stuff to read. (newsletter sent to me by Kait Nolan who knows I think this is part of the solution to the repetition)

Mash-Up Tips
Here’s my recipe for a quick and easy mash-up feature:

1. Keep a Notepad .txt file on desktop called Recommended Reading.
2. Every time something interesting comes up, open the file.
3. Write a title and summary of the post you just read and include the link. If someone referred the post to you, it might be nice to credit them as well.
4. Save.
5. On mash-up day, open the file, select all, copy. Go to new post editor on the blog, click the tab for HTML, paste.

Note: I write in HTML with all my bold tags, hyperlink tags, etc. That’s saves me a LOT of time over copying and pasting the individual links into the link builder of the blog’s editor at the end of the week. If you don’t want to write in HTML, a Word .doc file, set to automatically make hyperlinks, might work better for you.

If you read a lot of blogs and really want to embrace the mash-up, you might keep a folder on your desktop with files for blogs on different topics. Then when you have a number of them you’ll have a practically instant post on 5 Great Blogs About _____.

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Sunday Mashup

Recommended Reading

Where the Women At?
This is a great post about Marvel’s upcoming Avengers movie and the lack of women in it. The Missing Women of the Avengers Movie talks about what characters could have been written in and who could have been cast in the roles. (via @slackerheroes on Twitter)

Why Indie Go Trad
This is an insightful post by Bob Mayer about the changes he sees coming, the threats to the indie’s current foothold in publishing, etc. Just–go read it. Important stuff to be aware of when picking baskets for your eggs. (via Kait Nolan)

Ultimate Skee-Ball Fighting Champion
In the style of a super-awesome MG author, super-awesome Claire Legrand gives us a lovely narrative about a childhood memory that reminds us all about some valuable writing stuff. If you feel like you’re not producing fast enough, please go read what she has to say. (via subscription)

Stickin’ it to those whippersnappers
This guide on how to dress–or how not to, just cracked me up. Nice visual aids, too. (via WordPress Freshly Pressed)

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Sunday Mashup

Video! (Via @markcoker on Twitter)

If you read one thing this week…
Seriously, read 6 Mind-Blowing Ways Zombies and Vampires Explain America. Need I say more? (via Kait Nolan)

This’ll put the fear of God into you
Or at least the fear of inadequate proofreading. (via @techsurgeons on Twitter)

Thought Provoking
Not only do I have problems with time management, I’m one of those people who has a lot of trouble with time in general. Though I usually did quite well in school with little effort, I actually didn’t learn to tell time until sometime in middle school. I have trouble calculating time zones, conceptualizing daylight savings, and when my husband–then fiance–got out of boot camp and insisted on communicating in 24-hr time, I was totally boggled. Yet I wasn’t boggled by Beyond The Punch-Clock Life: The Tyranny Of Modern Time II which talks about the measuring of time as we know it in a historical sense and seems like it’s leading somewhere very interesting in future posts. (via @CaraWallace on Twitter)

And her petticoat!
“…and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain.” Well, yes, Louisa, but that might have something to do with the fact that It’s Raining Men, Jane Austen Style over at Kait Nolan’s blog. (via subscription)

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Blog eMags and You

Okay, so this is my newest plan to keep up with my life. I’m picking some blogs that I definitely must keep up with–the ones that I consistently learn from and recommend on Sundays. And I’m picking a few book blogs to tell me what I should be reading so I can try to keep my head in the reading world, as well as the writer world and up my own–

Anyway, the new plan for not spending all day at this, surfing from one thing to another, was to try reading the blogs on my NOOK Color. I don’t like typing on the device a lot (maybe keeping me from some of my tome-like replies), and the browser is slow which may stop me from surfing too much. Still, must-try book samples are only a few clicks away through the NOOK shop. And I can take my daily news with me if I’m going out. Seems like a plan.

My way of doing that is to use Calibre to make a daily magazine of the blogs I’ve selected. I’ve been an ereading device owner for years now, and I’ve always used the Calibre software for ebook management. I can’t say enough about how awesome this completely free package is. I’m going to take you through how to do this. After I’m done, I’m going to talk a bit about something that may be in your blog settings that makes it harder for your readers to read you this way.

the Fetch News button in CalibreIn Calibre, there is a Fetch News feature. It’s a handy button on the top toolbar. When you click the little arrow beside it, you get a dropdown from which you can select “Add a custom news source.” This brings up the window to create your little digest, magazine, whatever you want to call it. It looks like this:

Window for adding a custom news recipe in CalibreIt calls your new source Unknown News Source. Change that to anything you like. I called mine “Blogs.” Ooh, I know. You could also create different magazines for writer blogs, reader blogs, etc. or Blogs1, Blogs2, so that you could go through your must-reads and move on to the next set of if-I-have-time-reads.

At the bottom of the window there’s a bar for the feed URL. Open up your browser, go to your blogs and start finding those URLs. Most people have the little orange RSS icon at least. When you click it, it will usually take you to the feed page where you see a list of recent articles and the option to use a service to subscribe. Just copy the URL that’s in the address bar and paste it into Calibre. Give the feed a title and click the button to add.

When you’re finished adding feeds, click the Add/Update Recipe button. (A recipe for a magazine is what you just built.) Then close. Calibre may keep asking you if you’re sure, even if you’ve saved everything. Just move on.

Click the arrow next to Fetch News again and select “Schedule news download.” You’ll see a long list of languages with numbers beside them. These are prebuilt news recipes. You’re looking for “Custom.” When you click that, it should drop down and display your new recipe. Select that and you’ll see options to choose how often and when your feeds are downloaded and your magazine is built. You can click “Download now” to see what you’re going to get.

Window to schedule download of news recipe in CalibreTo have this happen automatically, you’ll need to leave Calibre running. In order to really exit Calibre, you have to go to your system tray (that “show hidden icons” thingy with the teeny icons), right click it, and exit it. Otherwise it just keeps running even if you close the window in your taskbar. So that’s not hard. When you use Calibre to move things on and off your device, it’s called side-loading. Before devices had wi-fi or Whispernet, this is how it was done. (You know, back in the day, before the NOOK customer service people were born.)

Device buttons in Calibre toolbarUse the appropriate cable with a USB plug on one end (or however you connect) to hook up to your computer and wait for Calibre to recognize the device and sync. You’ll notice new Device and Send to Device buttons appear on the toolbar. You can see that my SD card also shows up because Calibre will let you move things from the computer to either the main memory or SD card. You can also use Calibre to delete items from your device that you’ve finished reading. If you click the device button, you’ll be able to see the items currently residing on the device. Go back to the library by clicking the Library button.

When your magazine has downloaded, it will be in your library with the title you gave the recipe and the date it was downloaded. I just right-click the entry and select “Send to device–>Main memory.” The transfer takes seconds. Be sure to go to your system tray, right-click the USB icon and choose eject so you can safely disconnect without corrupting the transfer. I dunno, I never had problems with that on the Sony Reader, but yanking out the USB on the NOOK Color seems to be a bad idea.

Once it’s set up, this daily ritual should take you about a minute, and then you can run out the door, catch the train and read some blogs. On a device like Sony Reader, I’m pretty sure it just shows up alphabetically in the title list. On the NOOK Color you’ll find it in “My Files,” “Magazines.” The rest of you are on your own.

Why I Can’t Read Your Blog

If your feed is set to set to show only summaries, summaries are what I get in my magazine. Each entry, whether summary or full text, does have a link to the entry on the web (so you can go read more, comment, etc.), but remember that a) I don’t like my browser, b) I don’t always have wi-fi access when I’m reading blogs, and c) there are still tons of readers out there that aren’t even wi-fi enabled.

To check your feed settings in WordPress, go to your dashboard and scroll all the way down the left side menu to “Settings.” Click “Reading.” Right above the Enhanced Feeds heading there are radio buttons for “Full text” or “Summary.” Make sure full text is selected, save the changes, and I’ll be good to go for reading your blog on the go.

Wordpress page for adjusting Reading in Settings

For Kindle Owners

Kindle owners can subscribe to blogs and have them delivered right to the Kindle. Amazon charges a fee for this convenience, and that fee is shared with the blog owner, similar to the way Amazon pays royalties on books. Not that I expect people have been dying to pay for the privilege of reading this blog, but I have added it to the service.  Find it here or click that link and search for some other favorite blog.

It looks like most subscriptions cost 99¢ or $1.99, but I saw nowhere to set a price so I’m guessing Amazon decides. If you’d like to learn more about making your own blog available for Kindle subscription, check out this article from the Savvy Book Marketer and download the PDF tutorial at the end of the post. (Thanks to Kait Nolan for sending me there.)

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#ROW80 Update and Sunday Mashup

My goals this week were to get the book launched, survive getting the book launched, and to not babysit my stats. We’ll call that a 2 out of 3. While I haven’t been as bad about it as I was last time–I haven’t been refreshing Amazon hourly–I need to stop. It’s already at the point where I’m dropping about 200 points every time I look and I don’t need to watch that. The launch peeked almost as soon as it started, got within about 50 points of the top 1000, but I didn’t have the customer base to get a foothold and stay there. While I made it to page two of my category bestseller list, I probably didn’t have enough ratings and reviews yet to entice browsing customers to take a closer look.

So what happens now should be a drop in rank concurrent with a trickle of sales, and then I’ll need to hope that the book bloggers who have responded to my offer of an ARC, and the fans who were excited enough to snap up the book in these first few days, will be able and willing to enthusiastically recommend it and give me a push back up to visibility again. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to come up with something else.

Mostly I just need to write the next book, and then the next book, and wait for my time and some more luck, though surely I’ve already had my share of that.

I don’t mean to sound bummed out here. Mostly I’m just tired. Getting back in touch with some of the fans of the series has been great. I had girls write to me who snapped up the book as soon as the links went out, read it that night, and had to drag themselves to school the next day. Hopefully learning absolutely nothing between being sleep-deprived and thoughts of Joss and Dylan. (I mean, they’ll be okay, look how I turned out.) After two weeks of crazy work toward this launch, I’ve just hit that point where it feels like it’s over already and it’s time to reflect and see what I’ve learned.

I’ve lost another 3.5lbs. Let’s all party because I just weighed in like it’s 1999.

Recommended Reading

Konrath gets lucky
So I’m on Twitter and @jakonrath tweets: “Konrath on How to Succeed: LINK.” And I’m like, Oh yeah? What’s that post going to be like? “Do the work, bitches. The End.” And it pretty much is, only much funnier. And it’s really worth reading because it ends with a sincere and important message. (via Twitter, @jakonrath, but I also subscribe)

Your writing is interfering with me reading this story
I can’t tell you how often this is a problem for me, to the point where I start to think: maybe it’s just me and I’m picky and being a bitch. But then I find this post over at KidLit.com. That’s what I’m talking about. Sometimes I just want to say, “Relax, find your own voice, stop trying to sound like your favorite book–I think it was from the 80s anyway and that’s not working anymore. I think there’s a great story here, I just need to hack away the metaphors, complex sentence constructions, and fifty-cent words to find it.” Anyway, I find this post dead-on and nicely instructive. (via @JamiGold on Twitter)

Have I ever mentioned practice = good?
I dunno how much I harp on it on the blog, but I totally believe in it. Dean Wesley Smith has an awesome article on how many writers tend to think about practice. As usual I think he totally nails it. Now he talks a lot in here about not reworking the same piece, but mailing it off or self-publishing it and then moving on to the next one. While I agree with the moving on to the next one, I’m not sure how I feel about inflicting something on the world that may be best shoved in a drawer. But hey, it’s a free world (void where prohibited). (via @dlmartin6 on Twitter)

Ticket to ride.
I’m going to try to get back on the Flylady wagon. Last year I was totally out of control with everything and it hurt my ability to get stuff done. If there’s anyone who reads my recs who feels like they can’t write (or [insert life thing]) and keep up with their home at the same time, check out the program. You don’t have to agree with everything she says, you don’t have to manage your stuff exactly the way she lays it out. But there’s a lot here worth learning. I’ve already opened up a #flylady column on TweetDeck; it would be nice to see some of my friends there. (I am a former Flybaby and know this helps.)

I’m still trying to get my head around this one.
Lastly, a post from Kristen Lamb that I found very complex in the fact that it is just chock full of an overwhelmingly large amount of helpfulness. Kristen says, again, that we need to stop being so…homogenous. Just go out and make friends with normal, non-writer people. Yeah, that’s so easy. But then she explains how to find them on Twitter. Oh, yeah, Twitter. I know Twitter. Okay…so maybe this is doable after all? Let’s go get sticky. (via subscription)

What I’m Reading

I read a lot of stuff I never talk about on the blog for one reason or another. So I thought maybe I’d start mentioning what’s at the top of my TBR pile at the moment.

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#ROW80 update, upcoming release, and some recommended reading

Heroes 'Til Curfew postcard with release information

Click to share

So whew, it’s good to have this all settled and to say, “Thanks for asking, it’s coming out around September 2nd!”

Really good.

I’m still wrapped up in this book and not so much active in the next one. I continue to lack true multitask finesse. Once this week is behind me and the book is out, my new ROW80 goal will be to try really hard to leave it be. To not babysit my stats, to not read reviews, etc. To move on to the next thing and let this thing do what it’s going to because once it’s out, it’s no longer in my control anyway.

Been extremely busy this week, so my reading has been limited to my subscriptions. There was some good stuff, though.

Recommended Reading

Big News (Look! My agent!)
Yeah, ’cause it’s all about me, right? LOL. If you’re an indie and you missed this, what have you been doing this week, writing a book? When I read Konrath’s piece on John Locke’s deal with Simon & Schuster in which they’re going to print his books but he’s keeping his erights, I thought Wow, that’s something. And then, Jane, what a BAMF you are. Good job! I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say the end is necessarily nigh. It’s hard not to agree with Jane’s assertion that publishing is full of brilliant people who will find a way to turn things around for themselves. And I figure if she can do HER job every day and still think that, there must be something to it. (via subscription)

Konrath goes #MyWANA?
That’s what I thought when I read this post in which Konrath and Crouch have a back and forth about the future and who has the power in publishing. Where it gets particularly interesting is where they start talking about author to reader direct sales. I sell PDF sewing patterns and have some knowledge of how to set up to sell digital goods directly. I could do it tomorrow, in theory. Notice how I don’t. Because, as a small fish (without a 10K member mailing list), developing web traffic is a marketing issue I don’t want to deal with. And the idea of carrying other authors’ books, having to keep track of THEIR royalties and pay them out…accounting nightmare for me. Not to mention the fact that building a high quality brand means having to tell some people “no” and that’s just awkward. I need to write more books, not manage a store. Never say never, though. And I did like the idea that this post sort of represents a convergence of Konrath and Kristen, two smart people I always want to listen to. (via subscription)

I’m a sexist pig
Okay, not actually a pig, maybe, although I did participate in an objectification of Tom Welling on Twitter the other night. Again. My double standard about men should be men but women can be anything, is something I know about myself and am working on. Andrew highlighted that in his Girly Man post this week. He picks up a discussion about how the issue of fewer young male readers maybe shouldn’t be about the lack of “boy” books, and moves it into his take on life as an open-minded guy who doesn’t need gender bias to make his choices for him. Which is, undoubtedly, part of his charm. (via subscription)

#UnicornLoverz Unite
Beverage warning applies to this brilliant bit of hand-drawn comic goodness from Claire. Claire reveals what it’s like for an author and her unicorn when the author gets in “the zone” and the world is blotted out by her own awesomeness. A must read. (via subscription)

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#ROW80 and Recommended Reading

Things are going well for me. In my measurable goals, I’ve managed to participate a little on Twitter and to post to my FB page every day this week, and I’ve kept up with my blog schedule, including scheduling posts at least a day in advance to be sure I don’t forget.

In writing, I’m continuing to work on my blueprint for HEROES UNDER SIEGE. I’m at the stage now where I’m gathering up the list of things that need to happen, things that need to be planted and shown along the way, and trying to come up with a list of specific scenes to write. Kind of the real getting down to outlining business part of the process. But next is actually writing.

I took a day off from that yesterday to map out something completely different. I don’t usually think of anything else except the Talents, but sometimes your brain needs to do something else just to remember that it can. I came up with a world, problem, and character list for a new YA trilogy. I also came up with general ideas for all three books and a plot skeleton for the first one. I have a lot of Talent work to do and I don’t know when I’d ever get to such a thing, but I wrote it all up and sent it to Jane to see what she thinks of the idea. Now so I got that out of my system for a bit and it’s back to work on the Talents.

Speaking of Jane, I think I might be interrupting Friday’s regularly scheduled post to bring you some news about HEROES ‘TIL CURFEW. Maybe. Ack.

While you’re waiting you can check out this week’s

Recommended Reading

Superman, like Shrek, has layers
I know, as soon as I said that we all started thinking of parfait. Or maybe that’s just those of us with a sweet tooth who didn’t have breakfast. Well anyway, I found What Does Superman Stand For? to be a very thought-provoking article on Superman’s motto Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Recommended for Superman fans and general malcontents. (via Twitter @slackerheroes)

Writing: a force for good in the world
No matter what your level in the writing thing, you need to read every word of Holly Lisle’s Money From Nothing: The Economic Value of Writing Original Fiction. It will explain to you how, even if you kinda suck right now, you’re adding awesome to the world. And as you improve, your contribution of awesome seems to increase exponentially. A joyful read for all of us who scribble. (via subscription to Holly’s newsletter which should be mandatory)

Don’t make me send you back to the kids’ table
This is a bit old and has probably made the rounds because it’s pretty awesome. But if you haven’t read Self-publishers Need To Start Minding Their Manners, I suggest you check it out. Catherine Ryan Howard reminds us of just how good we have it–so don’t screw it up. (via Twitter @Belinda_Pollard #MyWANA)

This is neat
That was just my reaction to seeing this blog by the awesome Vicki Lieske. If you’re wondering “Why is my book not selling?” you can submit it to this blog and she’ll go through your listing, give her reactions to the cover, blurb, writing, etc., and make some suggestions. She’s not tearing these listings apart. I found the posts to be very polite and professional, and very much in the spirit of being helpful. No surprise there. (via Twitter @VictorineLieske)

She’s 94 years old!
Piper Bayard runs a regular feature on her blog called “The End Is Near–and we deserve it!” It’s a spotlight on…the foibles of humanity? Okay, really, on people who must be smoking crack. This week’s clip is a crack up. It’s just over a minute so get over there and click it. She’s also got a list of recommendations for you. The apocalypse is freaking nigh, people. Nigh! Get a move on. (via subscription)

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#ROW80, Recs, and Talent Chronicles plans

So the ROW80 stuff… Proving that I can only concentrate on one thing at time, I missed my Friday blog post because I was working on planning out the future of the Talent Chronicles. This was something I had wanted to work on during this round. Agent Jane called me on Thursday and asked me to write something up for her about where I see the series headed. So of course I was like “Oh sure, no problem.” [hangs up] “Oh crap, where is this thing headed??”

Fortunately, all this stuff in my head that feels very scattered and choppy actually came together better than I thought it would. Me being me this meant I wrote over 8,000 words on Friday and by the time I was finished Saturday night I had nearly 11,000 words and 18 pages of notes for over a dozen more books. I think maybe this was overkill, but I sent it to her this morning so we’ll see.

The important thing was that I had an absolutely fabulous time doing this, and am so excited about what I’m doing.

And on to…

Recommended Reading

Save the comma!
Short and sweet, this post from Stephanie DeVita both amused me and made a good point. What are bits of bad writing advice you’ve read? (via subscription)

That’s my girl!
I’ve been out of it and totally out of the loop, so it should come as no surprise that I did not know that the reason Harry Potter hasn’t been available in e-book is that JK Rowling retained those rights herself, not because the publishers were holding them back. Oh! Jane Dystel talks about that and what it means for indie publishing in this post. After reading this, really, how excited am I all over again that this is the person representing my work? Very. (via subscription)

Novel Killer!
Kait and I used to exchange scenes every day and polish each scene as it got written. While we learned a lot by doing this and it helped develop our working relationship, overall it wasn’t good for the work and we decided that were going to stop editing on the first draft and avoid reading each other’s work until the draft was finished. Much better. In Meet the Novel Killer, the brilliant Kristen Lamb explains why editing the beginning before you’ve reached the ending is such a bad idea. While I kind of disagree about taking it to the extreme of not even being able to correct spelling errors when you see them, I do know that since I started to avoid reading and working my own early pages before the end of the first draft, I’ve been much more likely to actually reach The End. And when I do go back and read, I find a bunch of cool things I did at the beginning that relate to the end that I don’t even remember putting there. Awesome! (via subscription)

Speaking of Killers…
Nothing kills a read for me like overwriting. And in the ebook world where you’ve got 3 screens of text to snare me in the sample before I move on, if those three screens are full of wordy descriptions and the like, I might not even get that far before I have to go away. In In Which We Have Sprinkles, Writer_Monkey makes a nice analogy for this common problem. (via ROW80 Check-in)

And she was never heard from again…
Earlier this week I talked about the kinds of video games I liked. Topping the list are the Sims franchise from EA Games and Pop Cap games like Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies. So then I came across an article announcing that EA has acquired Pop Cap. Surely this means my doom. DOOM! Okay, not recommended reading for most of you, but perhaps interesting to a few. (found because I got video game recs in my comments this week and was checking them out when I was supposed to be sleeping.)

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Some Overdue Recs

While I really cut back on reading blogs over the break, there were a few things I had to read and keep to pass along to you when I got back.

Hey, don’t rag on Twitter
While I don’t spend a ton of time on Twitter–I have no discipline and can get sucked into the conversation for hours on end–these days I’m of the opinion that if you don’t like it, if you think it’s just a bunch of people mindlessly chattering, it’s because you just don’t get it yet. Piper Bayard backs up that theory in Across the Twitterverse. Plus, she says something very nice about me. (I subscribe to Piper’s blog because she’s full of win.)

what? 80’s post? Damn this internet break!
Yeah, so during my break I missed reading and timely commenting on The 80’s: Love Series Part 4. Luckily, since I’m Fandrew #1, Andrew Mocete’s posts are high on my catch-up list. Partly since he told me there would be an 80’s post, knowing what a totally 80’s girl I am, and also hey, the man gives good post. More than just a nostalgia post, Andrew speculates on how advances in special effects technology have changed screenwriting, and highlights some of the writing stuff that made the 80’s special. (via subscription)

Think More Betterer
You know that I often find great similarity between what indie authors do and what indie crafters do. On the Duct Tape Marketing blog, John Jantsch writes beautifully about what it takes and what it means to run a small business in Work as Craft. (via link in Etsy newsletter)

Always Something in the Box
Honestly, there was just so much good in this post it was hard to narrow it down to one tagline. Justine Musk’s How To Get Out Of Your Own Way… spoke to me–and talked hard–about a lot of things I needed to hear. (via link from Kait Nolan)

Nothing Is Original
Okay, that’s just one of the brilliant points you’ll find in How To Steal Like an Artist. This is a long scroll with a lot of images. All kinds of smart packed in here, so do read the whole thing. (via link sent to me by Kait Nolan.)

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