Choose Your Words Carefully

Nov 10


Unnecessary Words

We often read that blog posts should be brief and that readers like to read posts quickly. When writing your post, make sure that you’re not filling it with words that don’t need to be there.

You might want to omit phrases like I think, kind of, sort of, in my opinion, and needless to say.

Some of these words and phrases are fine if your tone is casual rather than businesslike. Think about your audience and the purpose of your blog to decide what style is appropriate. However, even personal blogs written like diary entries can benefit from a clean, uncluttered writing style.

Words to avoid: frankly, actually, honestly, truthfully, really, quite, so, very, somewhat, seems, utterly, practically, basically, probably, appears, very, definitely, extremely and rather.

Redundant Phrases

In addition to using unnecessary words, bloggers often use two words that say the same thing. The following list of substitutions from Editing and Writing Services shows that one word is often better than two.

  • Absolutely essential  (essential)
  • Added bonus  (bonus)
  • Both of them  (both)
  • Crystal clear  (clear)
  • End result  (result)
  • Exact same  (exact or same)
  • Fewer in number  (fewer)
  • Final outcome  (outcome)
  • Free giveaway or free gift  (giveaway or gift)
  • Inasmuch as  (since, because)
  • Past history (history)
  • Point in time  (point, time or then)
  • There is no doubt that  (clearly)
  • Until such time as  (until)
  • 12 midnight  (midnight)
  • 12 noon  (noon)

Words with Emotional Meaning

Now that we’ve gone over the words you can do without, it’s time to think about the emotional associations or connotations of your words. Words can have positive, neutral or negative connotations.

Which word says what you really mean: ambitious or greedy, confident or arrogant, smiled or smirked, thrifty or cheap?

These words all refer to a young person, but have very different emotional associations: youngster, baby, child, tot, kid, little one, small fry, brat, juvenile, minor

Bertrand Russell gave the following examples of different connotative meanings:


I am sparkling.

You are unusually talkative.

He is a drunk.


I am a creative writer.

You have a journalistic flair.

He is a prosperous hack.


I daydream.

You are an escapist.

He ought to see a psychiatrist.


In Conclusion

Bertrand Russell once said, “Anything you’re good at contributes to happiness.” As your writing gets more precise, you’ll feel more confidence that you’re saying what you mean to say. Your readers will also get more pleasure and value from your blog posts when you take the time to choose your words carefully.




University of North Carolina: The Writing Center.

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language by David Crystal

The Copywriter’s Cheat Sheet Is Free Thursday and Friday!

Oct 02

Break through writer’s block! 

The Copywriter’s Cheat Sheet is available FREE on Thursday, October 3rd and Friday, October 4th in the Kindle Store, and you don’t even need a Kindle to read it.

Free ebook Monday, July 29th and Tuesday, July 30th: Vocabulary Rules!

Jul 28


You know those tricky words that you’ve seen but you’ve never been quite sure of their meanings?

My ebook Vocabulary Rules! gives simple definitions for 500 tricky words. It’s free in the Kindle store Monday and Tuesday. You don’t even need a Kindle to read it — it works on any computer, device or smart phone. Just click on the book cover image and grab your free download.

Free today and tomorrow: Grammar Rules!

Jul 09

My  book Grammar Rules! is available for FREE download on Kindle on Tuesday, July 9th and Wednesday, July 10th.

Grammar Rules!: Avoiding the Most Common Grammar Mistakes


You don’t even need a Kindle to read it! Please download, share and if you like, leave a review on Amazon!

How a Camera-Shy Writer Can Make a Cool Video

Jan 07

camera-shy writer

Hello and Happy New Year to everyone!

This morning my kids went back to school, so in a way it feels like the New Year is starting now and I’m ready to get back to business. I wanted to share my new favorite tool with you.

Last week I saw a really impressive animated video from Danny Iny of, who very kindly ran my guest post last October. The post was inspired by a really strange comment my daughter made about a clown when she was little. You can read the post HERE.

Danny told me that the video was made with Sparkol/VideoScribe. I clicked onto their site and I’ve been amazed ever since. You can make videos with the hand-drawn scribble/doodle/whiteboard look, and you can customize them with their clipart, your own art or photos, and a big variety of music. You can even add your own voiceover.


I signed up for the free trial and I made this video to put on the author page of my Kindle books. This one is for my ebook The Copywriter’s Cheat Sheet. I’m planning to make more videos–one for each of my books. My head is spinning with ideas for other ways to use this service. I think any blogger, writer, life coach, entrepreneur or marketer could make a nice impact with this type of video.

Marketers are always being told to add video to their websites. If you’re a little camera-shy like I am, this is a really fun, creative way to get your words on the screen without an awkward webcam video from home! (Not that your webcam video would be awkward, but I’m pretty sure mine would be!)

In case you’re wondering, yes, Sparkol/VideoScribe has an affiliate program, and you can join it even if you’re on the free trial period. Today is the last day of a special price if you want to get the Pro version (which seems to be the only option after the free trial). You don’t have to keep their logo on the videos if you get the Pro version.

Please let me know if you have any ideas to share or if you have questions for me. I’ll be experimenting with more of these videos, and I’ll let you know how it goes!


How To Create Your Own Personal Writing Retreat

Dec 30



Would you like to finally spend time on your writing this year?

Have you ever thought about packing a suitcase and a laptop and going away to a writer’s retreat? Probably not. Who has time and money to walk away from your home, kids, job, dog, guinea pigs, etc.?

Big blank wooden arrow directional sign isolated on white.

So how does a busy person get the time to work on that novel, blog, journal or how-to manual?


You have to make the time to work on your writing, and it’s easier than you think.


It’s Downright Revolutionary


It has never been easier to get your own writing published. You don’t need an agent or a book contract or even a single rejection letter to become a published author.


The hard part is making time to get the writing done.


All you need is structure and a plan to get it all done. What better time than the new year to accomplish this goal.


Your Creative Spirit


You have the urge to create something. An idea (or fifteen) have been rolling around in your head for quite a while. We’re going to use your imagination and some structure to get you started, and help you to keep writing until you have finally accomplished your writing goals.


Step One

Imagine your ultimate writing retreat.

Start visualizing your imaginary writing retreat. Make some notes about your ideal hideaway spot. You could make a vision board with magazine pictures of a cozy cabin in the snow, or a beachfront cottage.


Pinterest is a great way to browse pictures of scenery that inspires you.


Speaking of Pinterest, we all love a good inspirational quotation. But do yourself a big favor–don’t kid yourself. Browsing for the perfectly instagramed quotation from a great writer does not get your novel written.


Warning: Do not get obsessed with this part. It’s fun, and the mindframe is important, but you can’t get caught up in perfection. Visualizing the writing spot is not writing. It’s like lacing up your running shoes and stretching. You’re not going to burn any calories or get ready for a marathon by choosing the cutest running shorts  available.


However, if hot chocolate or a glass of cold lemonade helps you set the stage for your personal writing retreat, so be it.


Step Two

Create boundaries.

You might live alone or you might live with a house full of distractors who want you to feed them, walk them or want you to play pirates and princesses with them.


Your writing time might have to be broken into small segments of time, during naptime, after kids are in bed, or while they’re watching a loooong movie that you just put in for them.


Even if you don’t have others tugging at you for attention 24/7, you might be your own worst  enemy. Are you find it too hard to concentrate on one thing long enough to make progress? You’ll want to close out as many distractions as possible, including Facebook, email and maybe even turn off your cell phone for a little while so you can really focus on your writing.

Step Three

Capture your ideas.

During your designated writing time, you can start brainstorming. Just write down your ideas, your rough chapter outline, titles for your next thirty blog posts.  Don’t rely on your memory–be sure to capture your good ideas. Even the lame ideas are worth writing down because they can inspire an even better solution.


Step Four

Start writing.

It’s time to create. No one has to see it, so you don’t have to hold back. Don’t edit while you’re writing. Did you know that writing and editing use different hemispheres of the brain? If you keep going back and forth between writing and revising, you’ll just slow yourself down and inhibit your creativity.


Step Five


Imagine how much you could get done if you allowed yourself time to write at least a few times a week. Where would you be in a couple of months? What would it feel like to have your book completely finished? How would it feel to know that you could become a published author this year?


Once your book is written, the publishing part is easy. (If you don’t know how, I can help you.) All you need is proper formatting of the document, and then you can publish your ebook for free on Kindle.


The number of ebook readers is growing, but people don’t need a Kindle to read your published work.


There are options for print on demand, which means that self-published authors can produce a real printed book instead of (or along with) an ebook. The book gets printed only when someone orders it. It’s not like the old days when self-published authors had to order hundreds of their own books, and were tripping over boxes of their masterpieces in their own garages for decades.


Why now?

Because we’re experiencing a writing revolution. It’s the best time in history to be a writer. Your work could entertain and enlighten the world. There are no guarantees of success, but at least the playing field is level. There are no barriers to getting your work out into the public eye.


So if you’ve got an idea, an outline, or a draft of something you’d like to make progress on, create your own writing retreat. You can put up signs in your house when it’s writing time, or you can keep your plan as your little secret. The point is to get yourself quickly into the mental place that will allow you to stop procrastinating and start creating.

A Writer’s Manifesto

Dec 11







1. You have the right to write.

2. You have a right to write badly.

3. You have a right to share your progress.

4. You have a right to keep your project to yourself.

5. You have a right to use any person, place or thing for inspiration.

6. You have a right to write down the idea you’ve had since the summer before high school.

7. You have a right to publish your own work.

8. You have a right to have your work ignored because it’s not good enough yet.

9. You have a right to put your work and yourself out there for the world’s approval, because you know you’ll regret it if you don’t.

10. You have a right to tell your point of view.

11. You have a right to be paid for your writing.

12. You have a right to finally find an outlet for all of your creative ideas.

13. You have a right to close the door and focus on this project.

14. You have a right to work through your feelings with a journal.

15. You have a right to use your expertise to help other people.

16. You have a right to entertain.

17. You have a right to make people laugh, cry and think.

18. You have a right to reach deep down inside you and find the courage to not put up with an unfulfilled wish to be a published author.

19. You have a right to write things that no one wants to read.

20. You have a right to choose your weapon: journal, instruction manual, blog, novel, how-to advice, short story, memoir, travel book.

21. You have a right to do more than watch TV in your spare time.

22. You have a right to ignore the people who don’t think you’ll succeed.

23. You have a right to find people who support your desire to write.

24. You have a right to stop writing.

25. You have a right to keep writing.

Infographic: Start Writing Your Novel

Nov 19

If You Don’t Have Sophophobia, Read This Post

Oct 31


Sophophobia is not the fear of your 15-year-old daughter’s Halloween costume, although that could be frightening for a lot of reasons.


Sophophobia is the fear of learning.


Personally, I might have a fear of  learning what the ladies in the photo are doing near that large (freshly dug?) pit, and why the dog is so freaked out that he is hiding behind the mom. As long as you’re not afraid to possibly learn something new, read on for 20 more definitions.


  1.  opulent: rich and superior in quality
  2. rancorous: bitter, long-lasting resentment, deep-seated ill will
  3. spurious: plausible but false
  4.  venerable: respected because of age, wisdom or character
  5. plethora: an excess of
  6. sacrosanct: regarded as too important or valuable to be interfered with
  7. bellicose: demonstrating aggression and willingness to fight
  8. erudite: having or showing great knowledge or learning
  9. extol: to praise highly
  10. maxim: a common saying expressing a principle of conduct
  11. modicum: a small amount of something
  12. bon vivant: a person who lives luxuriously and enjoys good food and drink
  13. de rigueur: strictly required, as by etiquette, usage, or fashion
  14. schadenfreude: pleasure at someone else’s misfortunes
  15. zeitgeist: the thought or sensibility characteristic of a particular period of time
  16. adroit: having skill, cleverness or resourcefulness; adept
  17. wheedle: to use coaxing or flattery to gain some desired end
  18. emulate: to imitate with the intent of equaling or surpassing the model
  19. carping: tending to find fault, especially in a petty, nasty, or hairsplitting way
  20. harping: talking or writing persistently and tediously on a particular topic



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