What’s a meme?

The first time I saw the word, “meme,” was on Dan Pink’s blog, causing me to realize that it is probably a word I should know.

I like learning words by seeing them in context. Here’s the blog entry where Pink used it:

6 words, 6 sentences, no waiting

The ultra-short story meme continues to thrive. Virginia Backaitis has launched a blog devoted to mini-tales that asks, “What can you say in six sentences?” Also, if you haven’t seen it already, Wired‘s November issue asked a bunch of novelists to try their hands at 6-word science fiction. Margaret Atwood’s is my favorite: Longed for him. Got him. Shit.

Posted on 01/03.

{CORRECTION 08/20 – The “Six Sentences Blog” was actually created by Robert McElivy. Virginia Backaitis is a contributor.}

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Blogging to Career Change (NYT.com)

This week’s Shifting Careers column online at The New York Times, Blogging Your Way Into a Business, is about using blogs to build a business or make a career change. I wrote this piece because I was tired of reading stories about how blogs can harm one’s career — and while I know that blogs can do damage, they are also one of the easiest, most-effective ways to test out an idea, get a business off the ground, or build a following in your niche.

Jeremy Blachman, one of the bloggers I profiled, wrote a great piece (available through Times Select) for the Times about why employees blogging about their is good for the public good. It was a bit off-topic for the column, but it’s relevant to the whole “are blogs good for your career?” conversation.

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New use for a blog

On Sunday, I spoke on a panel about freelance writing at a journalism conference with my friends and fellow freelancers, Chris Kenneally and Hannah Wallace. Chris’s new book, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, is coming out later this week and during the panel, she mentioned that she is using a private blog (a blog she doesn’t publish) as an organizational tool for her next book. Now that I’ve discovered how easy and useful blogs can be for keeping track of writing thoughts, online links and other stuff you don’t want to lose, I loved this idea.
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Creating buzz around your ideas (NYT.com)


Yesterday, my Shifting Careers column at The New York Times online focused on ways to create buzz about your ideas. Based on the flood of reader emails I’ve been getting, I’m not the only one interested in this subject. If you have any tips to share — especially ideas for those who are uncomfortable about self-promotion and/or who can’t afford outside p.r. help, please share them in the comments. (There’s no way to comment on the NYT website yet, so leave your comments on the blog.)

Here’s the article, “Tools and Tips to Create Buzz Around Your Ideas.”

Note: Through some weird URL glitch, the link to the 360 Profiler mentioned in the first paragraph was published incorrectly. If you want to try the tool, click here.

UPDATE:
Just stumbled on this article on Forbes.com “The Single Greatest Marketing Tool” that does a good job of explaining public relations — from both a do-it-yourself and a hire-an-expert perspective.

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Finding Passion in Work (www.nytimes.com)

This week I launched a new feature in my Shifting Careers column; it’s called the Coaches Roundtable, in which I’ll be posing questions to the best career coaches I can find and posting their answers. Here’s the first one, in which I asked a question about how to find your passion at work, something a lot of readers have been asking me about:

Read the column here or at NYT.com in the Small Business section.

If you know coaches I should be calling on for certain kinds of questions, feel free to recommend them.

*** Btw, you can now sign up to receive updates to my blog by email. Just input your email address in the handy little sign-up box on the right side of the blog.

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Summer Classes in Iowa, with a literary Rock Star!


I was considering limiting the number of times a week I use the Heymarci Blog to promote a friend’s new book, new class/workshop/product, or overall fabulousness. But it’s my blog and that’s one of the beauties of being able to make the rules. So as long as my friends continue to do exceptional things, you’re going to hear about them.

In that vein, here’s the latest offering from one of my exceptional friends, Faith Adiele, whose award-winning memoir Meeting Faith, an account on her experience becoming a Buddhist nun in Thailand, should be on everyone’s summer reading list.

Faith is teaching a few workshops in Iowa this summer and it’s a chance to study with a real star.

For more about Faith, visit her site. Faith is also a regular contributor to O Magazine (you can read her most recent O story on her site.)

What We Talk About When We Talk About Food: Food Writing Weekend Workshop, July 14–15

Politics & Poetics: Writing Yourself Into/Onto The World One-Week Workshop, July 15–20

Travel Tales: Making The Foreign Familiar & The Familiar Foreign

One-Week Workshop, July 22–27

TO REGISTER, AND GET MORE INFORMATION,
VISIT THE IOWA SUMMER WRITING FESTIVAL SITE.

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Attention all Moms!

When I first started writing, I had an inordinate number of mentors. One of them, Tamara Loomis, was about a year ahead of me on the law-to-journalist train and I thought I would never catch up. Tamara treated me as a peer from the start, made time for all my silly questions, and inspired me by the way she quickly became a professional, and then by the ways she continued to reinvent herself — first as a legal reporter for The New York Law Journal, then as a freelancer/new mom. But now I think she’s found her calling, as a snarky, smarty pants daily columnist/blogger for Cookie Magazine, the hippest of the parenting pubs. Even if you’re not a mom, you’ll agree that First Feeding is good stuff.

So, in honor of Mother’s Day, I give you Tamara!

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The Delights of Auto-Googling

By now, we all admit to Googling ourselves from time to time. But if you really want to keep track of how you’re looking online, you should be using Google news alerts. (For authors or entrepreneurs, I’d suggest doing one under your business or book’s name as well.) That way you can keep track of online mentions of yourself and your book as they happen. Each time a new page that mentions your search term is added to the Internet (or updated, or something like that…techies please explain if you know how it works as I can’t figure it out), you’ll get an email with a link to the reference. Obviously, Google news alerts are handy for anything else you want to track. I tend to use them when I’m going to interview someone who’s in the news a lot to make sure that I don’t miss articles mentioning the person before my interview.

If you aren’t familiar with Google news alerts, this FAQ explains how to use them.

Without Google news alerts, I would have never found this blog entry about my new NYT.com column. And I might not have known about this author, Michelle Goodman, who has a new book, “The Anti 9-5 Guide” I will definitely be reading. I’m hoping it’s as smart and funny as her web site/blog.

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Debuting the Heymarci Blog!

For a while, I’ve been a one-sided participant in the blogosphere. I read a lot of blogs. And I often write to bloggers, either by email or through comments on their blogs. Now that I’m out talking a lot about the ideas in my book, lots of folks have started emailing me, initiating conversations that I’m starting to feel should be public (or at least open to the possibility of that.) That’s one of the reasons I’m plunging into the blog pool.

Here are a few others:
1. Good and unexpected things tend to come out of experimenting with new modes of expression.
2. As someone who teaches and coaches other journalists, it was feeling pretty weird to be encouraging others to test out the blog waters without doing it myself.
3. Blogging seems really well-suited to testing out new ideas, and
4. For better or worse, I’m always happy when I’m writing every day, or when the expectation to do that exists.

I expect this blog to be a forum for conversation, sharing ideas, and highlighting good stuff I discover. I have a feeling it will also be handy as I work on new book ideas.

I’ve already gotten buckets of good advice from bloggers I admire, but I’m still at the stage where I barely know what it is I don’t know. So if you’re visiting and feel the urge to impart some blogging nuggets of wisdom, don’t be shy!

P.S. You’ll see there are some posts in the archives. I’ve been playing around a bit to prepare for this day!

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The Give-It-Away Theory of Promotion

Have been thinking a lot about promotion lately, in light of the fact that I’ve been a bit of a self-promotion machine, the state I’m told you need to enter for your book to have any chance of survival in this book-crowded world.

That’s why I’m noticing whenever anyone (author or not) does it smart.

Yesterday I met Carolyn Turgeon, whose first novel came out in November. We were in the (literally) green room where we were waiting to be guests on the launch program for Karen Salmansohn’s new show on the Lime channel(thus, the everything green motif) of Sirius satellite radio. She told me her book was about a woman in the circus, engaged in some pleasant book banter, and talked about our mutual interest in visiting book clubs. She had one of those business cards with her book’s cover on the front (I just ordered some of the same for mine), and because I went home with that, I immediately went to check out her site. When I got to her blog, it was like quick-sand; I just couldn’t leave. There she is, giving it away every day. Now, I want to see what she can do when she’s edited. So off I go to buy Rain Village (November 2006 Book Sense Pick, btw.)

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