Perennial Favorites: Should You Connect Your Blog to Your LinkedIn Account?

rebeccaridgway:

As a writer, is there is a line to be drawn separating our writing from our day job? Should you post your blog on your LinkedIn page? Interesting article.

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate our personal and professional lives — in real life and online. In this post from last year, Ben points out some of the potential benefits — and drawbacks — of linking your blog to your LinkedIn profile.

Many WordPress.com bloggers are already enjoying the benefits of connecting their sites to their social networks via Publicize. Sharing your posts on Facebook and Twitter might be a no-brainer — clearly, all your friends and followers want to read your latest piece of staggering wit. But what about professional social network LinkedIn?

Here are some points to consider before you decide to push your blog’s content to your professional profile, too.

Making the link

LinkedIn is the biggest and most vibrant business-oriented social network. It has hundreds of millions of members, who use it…

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Is There A Doctor On Board?

These are the words we all dread hearing boomed airplane530over a plane tannoy.  It happened to me only last week on a charter flight.  Yes, I wanted to be that person striding confidently to the front like a conquering heroine, reassuring everyone that it was all going to be okay and saving a few lives in the process.  Being able to punctuate well and write 400 words on whether you can be a feminist and still wear mascara is all well and good (the answer is yes, by the way) but we are unlikely to ever hear “Is there a writer on board?  If so, please come immediately to the front of the cabin”.  Quick, someone is in danger of death from an extraneous semicolon.  As far as I know, painful as it is, a misplaced apostrophe never killed anyone.

I sometimes wish I’d trained in something more worthy– and better paid — like pioneering heart surgery. Proofreading and delivering a perfect verbatim transcript in my day job, although we often receive praise and heartfelt thanks, will never shape a young life nor will it make a grown man cry with gratitude and name their child after me, as happens to doctors or midwives.  (I do actually have a child named after me in West Africa in recognition for charity work, but that’s nothing to do with my writing).  But writing chose me, not the other way round.  It is my calling and like many writers, I write because I have to.

It doesn’t help that my cousin is a very highly regarded orthopaedic surgeon.  I’ve seen him mentioned in the press by grateful patients: to them, he is a god who helped them walk again.

So why didn’t I go for a career in medicine?  Well, firstly, I’m squeamish and have emetophobia, which also ruled out a fledgling career as an air hostess. Secondly, I wanted to join the Army before I was told, aged 22, that I could only sign up as a secretary, not the Intelligence Officer I was hoping to be. My next choice of career was journalism. I skirted around the medical profession as a St John Ambulance cadet for years, a medical secretary and then a transcriber on The Shipman Inquiry.  I even dated a doctor once.  I never really got my hands dirty though unless you count three seasons as a holiday rep mopping up countless accidents and fights, usually alcohol related, which I think is what triggered the emetophobia …

So until the day when my writing can dramatically save a life, I’ll be plodding on unnoticed and unglorified.  But on the flip side it’s not likely to kill anyone either …

 

Closing the Facebook

rebeccaridgway:

The death of Facebook?

Originally posted on Catherine, Caffeinated:

This summer I’m working on revising and updating my self-publishing ‘how to’: Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing. Edition #3 is scheduled for release September 5th. When I did the second edition back in 2012, only one year had passed since the first but still, so much had changed. This time around, the entire landscape has changed, and there’s so many new and exciting opportunities for self-publishers to take advantage of. I’ve completely changed my mind about some of my advice, and believe more than ever in the rest of it. One thing hasn’t changed at all though: I still think self-publishing is something every author should be involved in, whether it’s their main career or a sideline, and I still think that with great power comes great responsibility, so you should do it professionally. Over the coming weeks I’ll be writing posts about some issues that…

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What’s In A Name?

Quite a lot, actually.  As a writer, when you’re naming your characters, which do you choose?

We all have a name we loathe: if you were the unfortunate target of Keith, the school bully, then the name Keith will forever have negative associations, however much of a perfect specimen of manhood is the fictional Keith. And of course names can, on the whole, give away the age of your character: my grandmother was Madge and her sister-in-law Nora, my mum’s generation is full of Pats, Jeans and Hazels and, as a child of the 1970s, Julie and Sarah were my peer group.  Daisy, Kieran and Poppy are teenagers now.  Biblical names for boys, Matthew, Thomas and John, are always popular and are largely, ageless. And does class matter with names?  Katie Hopkins, queen of controversy, caused uproar on daytime TV when stating that she wouldn’t let her kids play with other children who had certain perceived ‘lower class’ names: they were bound to be a disruptive influence.  So are Dwayne or Chardonnay always bad news?

So how can you suggest character through a name?  I would never, for instance, name a rough diamond barely educated hero Giles, nor a scheming modern femme fatale Doreen. Names have a powerful association in the reader’s mind.  Below are what certain names suggest to me:

 

Clara is bossy, tall and opinionated.

Helen is spoilt and manipulative.

Katie is flighty, pretty and a little dizzy.

Sarah is practical.

Eloise is vain, affected and self-obsessed.

Mary is a touch old-fashioned, sensible and wise.

Rachel and Claire are salt of the earth girl next doors, kind, reliable and good fun.

Catherine is intelligent and a bit of a tomboy.

Zara and Poppy are exotic and glamorous.

Zoe and Abbie are flirty party girls.

Simone is mysterious.

 

And what of the boys?

Lee is always in trouble and laddy.

Jack and John are reliable and slightly boring.

Mark is strong and sensible.

Peter is a perfectionist.

Tom and Robbie are manly and sporty.

Richard is steady.

Jeremy, Julian and Hugo are, of course, extremely well-heeled.

I would like to make the point that we all know exceptions to the above, people with these names that are nothing like I’ve suggested (I know gorgeous, fun-loving Sarahs, two very dependable Lees, glamorous Catherines and a grounded Katie and so on). These are just what characteristics certain names bring to my mind.  But if anyone ever meets a Hugo or a Julian from a sink estate, please let me know!

So what’s in a name?  You decide.

 

Note from Rebecca: this article is intended to be light-hearted, entertaining and fun, not a serious debate on the class system or people’s characters …

Word 101

wordsIs it just me who loathes certain words?  The curvaceous Mad Men star Christina Hendricks revealed in a TV interview her most hated word is ‘chafe’.  Like everything else, language and words follow trends and are influenced by popular culture.  However, being a language puritan, the majority of my ‘Word 101′ list is slang.  As a writer and a proofreader, words are my tools.   Here are some of the words that are, for me, the lexicographical equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard:

- Holibobs.  This slang word sets my teeth on edge.  What’s wrong with the word holiday(s)?  It just sounds stupid when coming out of the mouth of anyone over 10.

- Furbabies.  (Is this two words?)  As in your pets.  I love my dog but I’m an intelligent woman and I know he isn’t my baby. Cringe.

- Hubby. This is a hideous word nobody under 50 should ever use, along with ‘comfy’. It really is downhill all the way from here …

- Amazeballs. Thank you, reality TV, where it is cool to be, or pretend to be, a bit thick.

- Discharge.  This word always makes me shudder.  Unfortunately for me, my day job sometimes  involves dealing with banking court cases where loans are discharged. It crops up a lot.

- So. Sentences beginning with ‘So …’ are usually seen on social media sites and normally herald the start of a long and boring story, as in: “So, I’m in the supermarket earlier and …”  Don’t get me started on the grammar.

I could go on and on but I won’t.  Please comment and let me know yours …

 

 

 

 

First World Problems

I just can’t find the right shade of foundation.  My back hurts.  The dog needs a bath.  Oh, the curse of first world problems. (Not to be confused with middle class problems, of which more later).

Two years ago I was lucky enough to be working in Grand Cayman.  One evening, I was trying to have a Skype chat with a friend whilst on the balcony of my beachside condo. When I moaned to her that I would have to go inside because the sound of the waves crashing against the shore was so noisy that I couldn’t hear a thing (which she found hilarious) I became the sort of person who complained about the inconvenience of living right on the beach on a beautiful Caribbean Island.  As my mother would say “May all your problems be small ones”.

As the saying goes: if you are hungry and know when your next meal is coming from, you are wealthier than you think. Here in the first world we moan, whinge and carp our way through life with a sense of entitlement as our birthright.  When visiting West Africa several years ago I tried to explain anorexia and extreme dieting to some local women.  They were genuinely puzzled: in the third world where it is a daily struggle to eat, clothe and educate your family, it is inconceivable that someone would have plentiful food available and starve themselves.   Serious first world diseases such as eating disorders and depression, while devastating and very real in the Western world, were impossible for these women to grasp and must have seemed ridiculous to someone who couldn’t afford food or whose child had died through lack of basic medicine.

Far more flippant is the middle class problem, a subset of the first world problem. “My local supermarket has stopped stocking organic oats”; “I can’t find a good dog behaviourist”; “the Tuscan villa has already been booked”.  (Usually wailed in despair as if the world is ending).  From solid working class stock myself, I find this hugely amusing;  nothing makes me more gleeful than moneyed and privileged people moaning about perceived hardships.  I want to holler “GET A LIFE” at the top of my voice.  And then continue complaining about the fact that my car needs two new tyres.

Perhaps we should all stop and count our blessings, myself included, and get some perspective.  I remember bemoaning the fact that my eyelashes were so long that they left mascara on my glasses.  Then when a nasty post eye surgery infection nearly left me blind in one eye, I couldn’t have cared less about eye make-up. I didn’t actually have any eyelashes left any way after the surgical tape had pulled them out…

If you look around there is always someone much worse off — and someone much better off.  But the super rich are, in my experience, rarely happy.  And if you need an excellent dog behaviourist, I know just the person.

 

When Friendship Hurts

IMG_20131202_102917Breaking up is hard to do, but even harder when it’s a close girlfriend …

 

He’s left you. Your girlfriends rally round. They tolerate the midnight weeping phone calls and your sudden mania for cheesy break-up music. Over endless glasses of wine they assure you he didn’t deserve you anyway; they never really liked him. They persuade you out on the town and when you’re finally ready to date again, launch you back into the world. What would we do without our closest gal pals?

Yet our society doesn’t celebrate friendship. We recognise romantic love, not the deep, enduring and unshakeable bonds women form: complex and emotional and, unlike romantic relationships, for keeps. Life is tough but throughout it all we have the cushion of our friends, holding that invisible safety net under us.

Sex and the City was such a hit because at its heart was the enduring friendship between the four characters. Men were bit players who drifted in and out but Carrie and her crew remained strong. Likewise, Thelma and Louise. How much did we want to take off with our BFFs on a girly road trip? And let’s not forget the nineties headiness of Girl Power. Along with our posse, we rocked!

And the best thing is our friends will be there forever. Or will they? Female friendship break-ups are painful and confusing. Break up with a man and the coping mechanisms, the advice and help are there. Get ditched by a close girlfriend and, oh my, it hurts. Like hell. A huge gaping hole is left in your life. Ironically, the very person to whom you turn when a man has broken your heart has gone. There are few songs, articles or books written on such an emotive and surprisingly commonplace subject. In the playground it happens all the time. Friendship to kids is natural: you break up and make up with childlike ease.

It’s hard to get women to talk about friendship break-ups, and almost taboo to admit our best friend no longer wants us. But scratch the surface and feelings of bewilderment and hurt bubble up. There doesn’t have to be a row or an awkward ‘it’s over’ conversation: one day you’re friends, the next, you’re history.

Take my story. Miss P* and I met at university and spent three glorious years drinking, laughing and talking all night. After graduation, the drinking, laughing and talking continued, restricted only by the need to get up at 7am and go to work. We holidayed together and dated ridiculously unsuitable men. (I even married one where she did me proud as bridesmaid). Our carefree 20s segued into the more grown-up 30s and we drank wine instead of shots and agonised over careers and babies – but could also spend hours discussing the merits of blusher.

Just as she’d stood beside me at my wedding, she was a rock when my marriage fell apart. I helped her pack up the lovely little flat where we’d spent so many hours putting the world to rights as she moved out of London. Our friendship was an unshakeable force in a transient world – or so I thought.

Then suddenly she stopped taking my calls. Texts and emails went unanswered, save for a curt ‘I need space’. I recognised the signs from my dating experience: I’d been dumped. Hurt and confused, I floundered. What had I done or said? I racked my brains but kept drawing a blank.  The empty void Miss P left in my life was gradually filled by other friends, yet I missed her so much more than a boyfriend. She just ‘got’ me in a way no man ever had, or ever will.

I remarried three years ago. It was a wonderful day, but somehow felt wrong without her. I invited her, one last try, but had a stilted, formal note of regret back wishing me well. I gathered myself and moved on. As with any break-up, slowly the hurt began to heal. So if you’re reading this, Miss P, I miss you, but in the best tradition of naff break-up music: I Will Survive.

*name has been changed.