Thursday, July 22, 2010

Article Spotlight: Why You Shouldn't Work For Free

More and more people want to be writers and there is an excitement that comes with having your name in a publication. Letting a magazine have your work for free makes them think that it is okay to ask others to work for free.

The Article "Why You Shouldn't Work For Free" was written by The Famous Ashley Grant of Read the entire article HERE

Hey Crooked Table viewers!! Do you have an article that was recently published?
Tell us about it!!! Post a comment with a link and we'll do an article spotlight on you!!

If you are one of our Crooked Table writers then post an article spotlight on yourself. The whole point of being part of The Table is to bring your talent to The Table!!!

Besides there are 2 things every Table viewer/member should remember:
1. There is no harm in shameless self promotion as a writer and
2. Every article you post could give another writer an idea for a new story/Table post!!!

Errors Spell Check Won't Catch


Its versus It’s (and all other apostrophes):
According to a copy editing instructor for California-based copy editing service provider Edicetera, confusing “its” and “it’s” is the most common error in the English language. That one minuscule apostrophe (or lack thereof) drastically changes the meaning of the entire sentence. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is,” whereas “its” refers to possession. Also, watch out for “your” versus “you’re.”

Sales versus Sails
Can you imagine writing on your resume that you “increased sails by 20 percent”?! Unless you’re applying to a job for a sail boat manufacturer, this careless mistake will probably get your resume sailing right into the recycling bin.

Affect versus Effect
There is a lot of confusion around this one but here’s the rule: “Affect” is a verb and “effect” is a noun. It’s as simple as that.

Would Have NOT Would of

The subtlety in pronunciation leads to the rampant misuse of this phrase; however “would of” is never correct and may make you appear as if you are not well-read.

Through versus Threw
“He threw the ball through the window.” “Threw” is a verb and “through” is a preposition. And speaking of “through,” be careful to make sure you don’t actually mean “thorough” or vice versa. The slight variation in spelling will not be picked up by a computer, but writing “I am through” when you mean “I am thorough” is quite ironic, don’t you think?

Then versus Than

Six is more than five; after five then comes six. “Than” refers to a comparison, while “then” refers to a subsequent event.

Supposed To NOT Suppose To

“Suppose” is a verb, meaning to think or to ponder. The correct way to express a duty is to write, “I was supposed to…”

Wonder versus Wander
You can wander around while you wonder why “wander” and “wonder” have such different meanings, yet sound oh so similar.

Their versus There versus They’re
OK, once and for all: “Their” is possessive; “there” refers to distance; and “they’re” is a contraction of “they are.”

Farther versus Further
While both words refer to distance, grammarians distinguish “farther” as physical distance and “further” as metaphorical distance. You can dive further into a project, for instance, or you can dive farther into the ocean.

Please check out

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yesterday Was a Great Day!


Very late on Monday/early into Tuesday I said I was going to be more optimistic and that I would praise myself for things accomplished rather than kick myself for things left undone and I gotta say it was a GREAT day!!!

I didn't get as much done as I would have liked, but I did get a lot done and am now motivated to get even more done today. I was able to publish a couple of articles, do a few blog posts, got a lot of errands done and purchased the main piece for a photo project I have been saying I wanted to do FOREVER!!!

Today I am pumped and looking forward to a great Wednesday! Happy Hump Day ya'll!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Creativity is Key in Freelancing


I was reading this fascinating story today about two women that took a regular kitchen tool and turned it into a lifesaving device. If you haven't read the story, read the story HERE The reader's digest version of the tale is that Rice University undergraduates Lila Kerr and Lauren Theis were given an assignment to "diagnose anemia without power, without it being very costly and with a portable device."

What the girls did was transform a simple salad spinner into a centrifuge which "separates blood to allow diagnosis of anemia with no electricity."

The story got me to thinking about how crucial creativity is with freelancing. There are literally thousands of story ideas out there, but coming up with a creative angle is the key to getting your name and your story into the magazines and newspapers.

I used to write business advertorials for a local Tampa magazine and three issues in a row we has to write stories about tile. Yes, boring tile. How did we write three different stories?

The first story was about using tile to be fashionable in the home. You could choose colors and patterns that could transform a room for blah to fabulous.

The second story was about the background of the tile store's owner. We mentioned the fact that he had all kinds of patterns and colors, but focused more on how long the company had been in business and the reputation the company had built in the community.

Last but not least, the third story was about how tile could give your home a cleaner look and upgrade it's value.

One story can have multiple angles. Your job is to find a different one from what has already been published. Sometimes the same angle can be rehashed, but wait a while before suggesting it again. The same story every three months will get old. Give it a year if it isn't timely.

A brainstorming technique that we had to do in one of my journalism classes is find one classified ad and come up with 5 story ideas based on it.

Example- I found an ad for a single man seeking a single women that liked dogs.
5 story ideas I generated from the ad:
-do relationships that start from a want ad ever work out?
-having things in common with your partner will help the relationship last longer
-how does one go about putting a want ad in the paper? what words work best? what do all those abbreviations mean?
-who likes dogs more? men or women?
-does owning a dog mean you're responsible?

Happy Brainstorming everyone! Be Creative and get more gigs!!!

You Should Always Write in Public

Found this online finally and had to share. Love always,

Monday, July 19, 2010

Glass Half Full


As per usual I'm reflecting on the day since it is late at night and kicking myself for all the things I set out to do and then didn't do.

Here's what I've realized today. When you wake up in a pissy mood, it's easy to stay in a pissy mood. I let myself believe that the day was already ruined because of my mood and thus ruined my entire day because I didn't kick it in the ass upon realization.

What I could have done was gone for a jog, written an article, something proactive! Hmmm...reminds me of a post I read at The Crooked Table about fifteen minutes ago by the fabulous Robert Yaniz Jr.

I actually did accomplish a few things today though. I went grocery shopping, threw out some crap I don't need and began to see the light at the end of the tunnel of disorganization and lack of motivation.

Early this morning I sent off sets of galleries that were going to be published today. I sent off an invoice that has been needing to be sent for a few weeks. I also finished burning 9 CDs worth of images tonight that should have been done a couple of days ago.

Okay, I have huge dreams, but the thing I have to keep in mind is that it is progress to be taking baby steps. I have held onto my dreams for more than 4 years and they are not just going to come true over night. The fact that I did do a few things even though I didn't accomplish everything I had planned to do today is a step in the right direction.

On the docket for tomorrow?
I will be performing as Bubbles the Clown at AMC Regency 24 in Brandon and after that I have a long list of plans towards my dreams and career. I would love to post tomorrow night that I checked off every single thing on my list, but rather than beat myself up for missions unaccomplished, I have decided I will instead praise my self for things I do get done.

Hopefully in praising myself for the stuff that does get done I will encourage myself to continue on and eventually my dreams will come true and then I'll have a chance to come up with new dreams.

What do you do when you don't accomplish the tasks on your to-do list? If you beat yourself up, take a moment and think about the things you did do!!! Positive reinforcement will go a lot further than feeling like a failure.

This week my personal mission since I was not very nice to Monday is to look at the glass half-full.


Proactive isn't just a skin care product

I've never been one to believe in that everything happens for a reason.

To some, that may make me appear cynical, but as I so often point out, I consider myself a "pragmatic idealist." I see the world as a flawed place capable of great beauty, even in the smallest of things. Whereas a full-on optimist remains wholly positive, my approach is more balanced, hoping for the best but keeping it all in a more realistic perspective that is - in theory, at least - designed to prevent disappointment.

I could go on and on about my laundry list of regrets, many of which involve my lack of progress with my creative writing. Yet, here I sit in one of my local Starbucks (but of course!!), reflecting on the extensive positive changes that I've experienced thus far this year. 2010 has been a tremendous step forward for me, both personally and professionally, and though the year is already more than half over, I can't help but feel that the best is still yet to come.

Though I usually don't divulge this to the world at large, I have often been frustrated with my life, especially the past few years. I've felt stagnant, unmoving... like the world is spinning past me and everyone around me is growing up, moving on up to the East Side in a deluxe apartment in the sky... You get the idea.

And the saddest part of that is that I truly had no one but myself to blame. I used to simply wait for things to happen, hoping and praying that the world would deliver everything I ever wanted right to my doorstep. But the more time that goes by and the older I get, the more I realize that this is nothing but a fantasy.

The real world isn't like that. I've often heard that "life is what you make it," but it wasn't until recently that the truth of that statement has really sunken into the core of my being. Except for the lucky few for whom the stars align serendipitously, the people who get anywhere is this world are the ones who work damn hard to get there. These are the people who advance professionally, who find the loves of their lives, who see their dreams come true. And yes, fellow writers, these too are the people who actually see their writing get published.

For years, I've told people I'm writing a screenplay, a novel, etc., etc. But yet, here I am more than a decade after I first got the creative writing bug with the creation of my first original character, Robert Fox, and I have yet to really see any of these projects 100% through to completion. All I have to show for it thus far is a half-written screenplay and a pile of accompanying notes, several rough drafts of songs, a very rough first draft of a novel and page after page of undeveloped story ideas.

And so it was with this very blog. Astute readers may notice that the archive here reaches all the way back to May 2007, and though three years have passed seemingly in the blink of an eye, The Crooked Table has still not taken off as I have so often hoped it would. And once again, I have no one to blame for this but myself. I haven't really tried. I haven't committed to it or devoted sufficient time to this little pet project of mine.

The old me would have internalized this self-fulfilled prophecy of failure, but something has changed in me. I really hate to mention "Glee" again on this blog since those of you who don't really know me probably think I'm obsessed with it by now... lol (I'm only Gleek on my mother's side... :P) But I have been listening to the show's soundtracks incessantly the last few weeks, since I'm just now discovering the show. There's a song on there called "Defying Gravity" from the musical "Wicked," and one lyric has stood out to me since my very first listen.

"I'm through accepting limits 'cause someone says they're so.
Some things I cannot change but till I try I'll never know."

These past several years, I've been too afraid to put myself out there... afraid of building my hopes up too high only to tumble down. Afraid of change. Afraid to try. But now I'm ready to put that version of myself behind me.

The past few months have seen my social life burgeon even more, my professional life leap forward and my plans to get my very own apartment finally inching towards realization. And The Crooked Table is undoubtedly part of the renaissance my life is going through this year.

I've joked with my family that 2010 is "The Year of Robbie," though part of me still felt that this was just another way I would let myself down. Yet, by keeping a positive attitude and pushing myself to chase after what I want, I have surprised even myself with the progress I have made.

I look forward to continuing to build up this blog, finishing my novel and making creative writing progress and following the new path I've designed for myself. I truly feel like I've turned a corner and can't wait to see what 2010 has in store.

You too, fellow writers, must keep that same optimism and sense of adventure about your life. It will carry you through with your writing and in the rest of your life. Stay strong, keep writing and remember: Proactive isn't just a skin care product. ;)

Happy writing, as always...


Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Moment of Inspiration


As artists, we always are dreaming of the day that we will get our big break! It excites us to think of the moment we will have thousands of fans and finally have all of our hours of work somehow legitimized.

I found these two stories of art being made popular and I found them so inspirational I decided to share them with whoever is reading my page.

The first is an amazing story of an unknown waitress becoming famous overnight thanks to the show So You Think You Can Dance. Christina Perri wrote a breakup song called "Jar of Hearts" that inevitably ended up in the hands of a choreographer from the popular reality dance show. The song is played in the video below, but you can read the story HERE

The second, although not about a traditional artist, is about an artist nonetheless. A man who used to live in a 4,000 sq. ft. home has made his business, but more importantly his life out of now living in a home that is bare 100 square feet. Jay Shafer is showing people how to live with less. Do you think you could handle a life with less?

If you are anything like me you have too much excess in your life and there is a lot of downsizing you could do that would probably make you happier than you are now. See inside this man's tiny home below and watch his Yahoo! news story HERE

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'm Ready and This Time I Mean It!!!!


I went on a much needed vacation to Kentucky for a few days and now I feel recharged and ready to get my career back on track. Sadly, I have said this many times before but have been too damn lazy to actually act on anything I have talked about for the past 3 or 4 years.

The first piece of good news now that I am back in Tampa is that I am so excited to report that I will be taking pictures on Fridays and Saturdays at Club AJA at Wiregrass for the next several weeks and possibly even beyond that!
I've been looking for a little more regular income and this is truly a blessing!!!

I still have lots of plans rolling around in my head and I'm anxious for all of them to start being played out, but definitely needed to get some dollars in the bank before I could move forward.

I can't wait to see where the next few weeks take me, but here is a taste of what is to come:

1. Full redesign and upgrade of three of my websites:
- We Are Full of Bull

- The Photographic Times

- The Famous Ashley Grant

2. Official launch of Tampa Bay Freebies

3. More posting and linking to The Crooked Table

4. I don't know what else at this point...but I'm working on it =)

I'm also doing a body makeover on myself. In an effort to have the energy to do all of the things I want to do to make my dreams come true, I'm going to make a more valiant effort at getting my body in the condition it needs to be in. I got my hair did and I worked out today and plan on trying to get myself right in body and mind and hopefully spirit.

Welcome to the NEW Table! Pull up a chair...

Fellow writers,

You may have noticed that The Crooked Table doesn't look exactly the same. In fact, it looks much better! That's because - at long last - we have begun making design tweaks. And officially have pushing you to the site!

In short, the wheels are finally in motion to improve our fledgling writer's site. My co-conspirator - The Famous Ashley Grant - and I recently met up to discuss the future of the Table, and I look forward to developing this little pet project of mine over the next several months.

Expect a new logo to appear soon, the announcement of our first OFFICIAL meeting, more regular posts from yours truly, and with any luck, some new, fresh contributors (plus, maybe more than a handful of readers!! LOL!) in the near future. To say that the best of The Crooked Table is still ahead of us is more than a possibility. In fact, it's damn near a certainty.

Although I have loads going on in both my personal and professional lives, I remain committed to not only keeping the Table up and running but helping it to flourish. I really believe that writers out there can benefit from this blog, and I fully intend on seeing through on the vast potential that has laid dormant since I first conceived of The Crooked Table three years ago. 2010 has been a year of tremendous positive changes for me thus far, and I hope to be able to cross "Make The Crooked Table a resounding success" off my year-long to-do list very soon.

However, I need YOUR help to do so. If you're at all interested in getting involved in this fabulous little blog of ours, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at (just put "The Crooked Table" in the subject line). Whether you're a writer looking to contribute, wanting to cross-promote your site with us or simply have a suggestion on how we can make the site better, now is the time to speak up!

The Crooked Table is about to enter the fast lane so get on board before the Table is full!! ;)

Happy writing... you'll hear from me again soon!


Regarding the Conception of "Inception"

Anyone who even remotely knows me knows that there are few things I love as much as a really great movie. I'm addicted to storytelling. It's why I became a writer, and when a filmmaker as brilliant as Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) has something to say about the writing process - even something as brief as the below piece - well, I say it's worth checking out. The following article, in which Nolan discusses his new film Inception (which you should all check out, by the way!!!) was originally posted at Enjoy, fellow writers!!!


Leonardo DiCaprio in "Inception"

Photo: Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan Never Created A 'Bible' For 'Inception'

'You don't want to go back in and change the rule set,' he says of restricting himself with a guidebook.

"That's how this felt to me," he explained to MTV News. "It felt like there's a world here that I'm just trying to understand and put together for the audience. ... You feel like it already exists, and you're kind of uncovering it."

Unlike James Cameron in the writing of "Avatar," Nolan declined to create an "Inception" bible to track his various ideas, characters and plot threads. "I kept thinking about doing that," he said. "But what happens is, you come up with a rule set, then you're writing the script, and you need the story to go somewhere else, you don't want to go back in and change the rule set."

Because, as Nolan made clear, he would have had to do a ton of revision to that bible over the course of the writing process. "The backstory, the rules of the world, they evolve as the picture of the whole movie evolves," he said. "You also want to bring actors in and technicians in and really keep the thing fluid until it has to be locked down. So to me, the rules are sort of evolutionary in a film like 'Inception.' You have to be true to them. There's no question about that. You can't cheat with them. But you don't want to sit down and put one to 10, 'OK, these are the rules.'

"Writing is a strange thing, because sometimes it's cart before horse," he added. "Sometimes you know there's a scene that's going to happen, but you don't quite know how you're going to get there. And that's one of the things that I really enjoy about writing."

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Wasn't in the Mood

Boredom is a rare thing for me. I do my best to keep myself occupied by something because the feeling of "stir crazy" never sits well.

Tonight, I was bored.

I felt a headache coming on and decided that even though it was late, I'd make a little bit of coffee to hopefully knock a possible migraine right back to wherever they come from.

I texted a friend who was busy reading. I realized I hadn't read in a few days. I didn't think I had anything good on the shelf even though it's full of ones I've never even read the back covers of. I remembered a book the friend lent me about a month ago. I knew it was about writing. I knew it was supposed to be some type of self-help, motivational thing and I wasn't in the mood for that.

Somehow I found my way to the bookshelf anway and saw the book sitting there.

"A kick in the ass," one critic wrote.

Two hours later, my life is changed.

Resistance Doesn't Have to Live On

The Book (totally deserves to be capitalized from here on out) is Steven Pressfield's The War of Art.

You may have heard of him if you've read The Legend of Bagger Vance.

I haven't. Now I want to. This guy is that good.

The Book is divided into three sections and they all share one common theme: Resistance.

This blog is full of articles about all of our little resistances.

Not to offend anyone (and I know I'm guilty of it) but how many times have we posted on here about how we "need to be writing"?

We need to "just do it!"?

How many tips can we give each other about "how to overcome writer's block"?

We're not overcoming anything by just talking about it.

The Book opens with Mr. Pressfield telling us how "he rolls".

He wakes up and WRITES.

He works.

It's a job.

There is no calling out on your 9-5 most of the time is there?

If we're writers, we're writers.

It's what we do.

There's a part of the Book that talks about what we do if we were the last person on Earth.

If you answer writing...guess what? Yeah, you're a writer.

Now you can proceed.

The Enemy

The War of Art declares resistance the enemy.

Steven Pressfield even goes as far as to say that resistance is the Devil himself.

That it's self destructive and that self destructiveness spreads to the entire planet.

Resistance is fear.

"The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it."

He doesn't sugarcoat.

This guy tells you like it is.

And he tells you how he feels about it.

Whether you like it or not.

You find yourself wanting to throw the book down.

Then you realiize that's resistance.

And you don't want that garbage anymore.

The Battle

The second part of the Book discusses ways to "combat resistance."

This is where he tells us how "the pros" do it.

He makes it seem so simple, really.

"It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write."

It's a short section but it explains a bit of his background and how he got to where he is.

It's a strategy guide.

It's also telling us that we can do it.

Many have.

And many will.

Don't Get Freaked Out

The last section of the Book may be a bit controversial for some.

Keep an open mind about it.

Pressfield has no problem with sharing his religious and spiritual beliefs and I truly feel he considers writing to be his purpose in life and he treats it as if it's a spiritual journey.

A few chapters might fly over the heads of some because there are some metaphysical and "new age" principles in it.

To me, this is Pressfield's Philosophy 101. It's going to work for some and not for others.

But it helps you to move beyond that five-headed dragon now that youv'e defeated it.

And if you respond to the Book as quickly as I have, you may find yourself immediately setting a gameplan to make some changes or to suddenly write after not being able to really put anything down for like *cough cough* a year.

So Do Yourself a Favor....

Read it.

I feel it can be applied to all aspects of life and not just our creative endeavors.

For me, it helped to remind me of what I missed most about really working at writing.

It made me realize all the resistances I was giving in to.

I have an older writer friend who's pretty darn amazing.

I told him once that I had an idea for a novel.

"Don't spend one minute on it if you can't throw it in a fire and watch it burn into the Heavens," he said.

I didn't quite understand what he said. I only thought I did.

Now, after reading The War of Art, I do.

And my hope is that you will too.

Tomorrow's going to be a new day for me.

It couldn't have come at a better time, either.

As always, good luck comrades and I hope you get a chance to check out this amazing book!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When Work Gets Cancelled


A little bummed because a project I was supposed to work on this afternoon that would have paid me 1/3 of a standard week's pay got pushed back. On top of that I am waiting on 3 checks from 3 different clients and watching the dollars in my account keep going down. My husband Jeremy continues to try to comfort me by saying that when I begin to get regular work I won't feel the pinch of waiting on the money as much...but getting to the regular work part is becoming more difficult than the feeling of waiting on a check.
When work slows down for you, what do you do for extra money?

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's a sign!!!

On my way to a coffee shop today I saw this sign and had to take a picture of it. To me it is a sign that the writers of Tampa need to unite and make this blog all it was meant to be. We should post job openings, freelance gigs, contests, ideas, story assistance and so much more on this blog. As I see things that is exactly what I plan on doing from here on out. Hope you and some of your writer friends will jump on the bandwagon and do it too!