Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Teach, Don’t Preach…and Tell, Don’t Sell

Gone are the days when a man with a wagging finger and slicked back hair reaches out from the TV screen to admonish you for not purchasing Sudsy to clean your undies. Or an aproned woman tells us we should buy something because “That’s what Mama always used.”

Gone are the lines at customer complaint departments and unanswered emails about the lack of service or problem with a product. Gone are the curtains that corporations can hide behind.

“Hello, WORLD,” should be every company’s attitude about social media — utilize creative campaigns, give instant feedback, share successes and failures, and offer giveaways and contests. Social media can help businesses reach out, teach and tell in a fun and exciting way like never before. As a storyteller myself, I am drawn to a company who entertains, teaches me something of value, and shares their company story with openness and confidence.

People want to know why they should buy a product, or be taught how they should do something, and marketing is responding by treating the audience as invested individuals rather than a pack of sheep. Businesses should want invested followers who care about what they represent, instead of customers who open their wallets.

If my eyes tear up at a commercial, or I feel the need to “spread the word” after reading an ad, I know the marketing team has done their job. By making me care, they have drawn me in. The catch is, the product or service better be good, because the trend in storytelling can go both ways. But if someone complains on Facebook or lashes out on Twitter, it is just an opportunity to add another chapter to your story. You should welcome the chance to learn more about your customers, and improve your product or service. Customer satisfaction is now about inviting the world in and allowing them to feel they are one of your partners — in fact, your most valuable business partner.

Creating a product or service and ads to sell aren’t enough. Remember!

  • Make sure your product and service are the best they can be.
  • Invite the world in and share your business story.
  • Share the experiences of your customers and clients.
  • Use social media to improve your business by asking for input.
  • Don’t be afraid to share the ups and downs of business.
  • Mistakes are human, and businesses can learn from them.
  • Resolve issues immediately and share results, be transparent.
  • When customer experience is improved, we all gain.

I, for one, am glad there is more accountability and openness in the world. Consumers want to be educated and informed, not preached at and sold to. Empowering and educating the client makes their choice easier — they will stick with the company who cares and shares.

I invite comments and feedback. I am open to criticism or debate. I welcome compliments and observations…’cause I love to learn!

Have you had a customer experience that supports Teaching vs. Preaching or Telling vs. Selling? Do you have a sales story to share?

How Much Are You Worth?

When you ask an editor how much they charge, you might get a mumbled response. This isn’t because they have a mouth full of peanut butter (though, they might) or the mention of remuneration causes them to have a mild stroke (though, this is possible); it is difficult to price a job without assessing the work (the size and scope and level) deadline, current workload, and the all-important budget.

Editors want to do a quality job for you at the best price possible. After all, we want referrals — that is how we afford all that peanut butter.
When I am asked directly what I would charge to edit something (document, résumé, website, ad copy, novel, article), I usually suggest they send a sample of the work or meet for a chat. That way I can assess their needs: whether any writing or research is actually required, or a structural edit, or just light proofreading. Quoting on a job as a whole can be the best course, as long as the estimated hours are included in the contract and all parties understand that if the work goes over that time, the quote must be revisited. This way, the expected cost is known up front and the editor can schedule the necessary hours.
If I give an hourly rate, some people balk at it. I remind them that quality editors work quickly, racking up fewer hours than those who charge less per hour.

Some wonderful posts to help us out:

Do you know of any other helpful sites? Please share in the comments below…

Lay Vs. Lie: Let’s Lay This Matter to Rest!

Re-blogged from ESL –>>
By Tanya Trusler

You may want to lie down to read this @lancearmstrong!

All languages have their confusing words…words that sound the same, look the same, or have the same meaning. Especially confusing are words that have similar forms (for example, in different verb tenses) but are not used in exactly the same way (the present and past tense of “read,” with two different pronunciations, comes to mind). In my opinion, the irregular verbs “lay” and “lie” rank at the top of the list in terms of confusing forms and usage.These words are a particular pet peeve of mine…because I can never keep them straight! I have probably looked these two words up more often while teaching and editing than any other words in the English language. I hope that by writing out the rules here that we will sort them out, together, once and for all! Continue reading Lay Vs. Lie: Let’s Lay This Matter to Rest!

It’s ALIVE! Bwahahahaha!

When creating characters for a novel, a writer has a great responsibility to them; they can be almost as real to a writer as the actual living and breathing human beings in the writer’s life. They ghost through rooms and scenery constructed in the imagination, and demand to be heard at the most inopportune moments. Continue reading It’s ALIVE! Bwahahahaha!

Apostrophe (’) Atrocities Appall Aware Authors

If you’re sick and tired of blog posts about apostrophes, well too bad…here’s another one! Until we learn our lesson and stop making the same mistakes over and over again, we’re doomed to endure constant lecturing. Even I make mistakes sometimes (I know…shocking!), so please tell me if you spot an error, ’cause — damn it, I have to learn!

I don’t know about you, but I am constantly amazed at the amount of apostrophe errors out there. Why is it we, as an English-speaking and writing culture, can’t get it right? I see mistakes painted on the sides of vehicles, plastered on signs, emblazoned on book covers and sprinkled through articles. Some examples:

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Do NOT get a tattoo here unless the owner’s name is Tattoo. Even then, bad idea!


This person sadly ignored the blatant signs that Tattoo, though a business owner, did not possess the necessary English skills to craft an eloquent indelible message. I say tattoo artists should stick to images.

Dont Look Back Bob Dylan

This may have been a design choice…but it was a bad one!

Ribs Ontario

Oooh, wait a minute…I think they’re telling us the Best Rib is actually in town. Well, I’d like to meat him (see what I did there?)

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This is completely understandable — the sign printer obviously ran out of apostrophes.

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Their price for perfection is having to fire the proofreader.

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At least they reword the invitation underneath as they know something is wrong in the first sentence but aren’t sure what it is, so they kindly clarify things for the reader. And what’s with the time? Another pet peeve — there should be a colon between 9 and 30 and a space before am!!!! I also hate overuse of exclamation marks, but sometimes…I tell ya!

So, I have some questions for you. Should we point out these egregious errors to the perpetrator? Or, is it not our place to be the punctuation police? And who is to blame: the business owner, the copy writer, the proofreader, the printer, the sign installer, the first person to see the printed copy? I imagine the text passes through multiple stages and past several people before being presented to the public. Just carelessness then, I suppose.

The only way we will learn as a society is to keep reminding people the correct way to punctuate, and point out the errors so they aren’t made again. Appalling apostrophe application should not be tolerated. So let’s go over the rules again…

Only use apostrophes for:

  1. Contractions. When squishing two words together, the apostrophe is like a bookmark for the missing letters. For example:  “I’d (I would) love to attend the party, but I don’t (do not ) like boring conversation or frozen sausage rolls passed off as hors d’oevres.” ( I had to look up hors d’oevres French: outside of the main course).
  2. Possessives. To show who owns what. For example: “My parents do not make a habit of throwing boring parties. Mother’s quiche is often spoken of the next day and her guests’ palates are discerning, I assure you. I insist you attend Thursday’s party.”
  3. Abbreviations. For example: “Well, excuse me! I would hate to upset you ’cause your parents are terrible hosts! They haven’t thrown a good party since the ’70s!” (note there is NO apostrophe required after ’70 as it is a plural word — 1970s, nineteen seventies).

Now there are odd rules, and exceptions, and even preferential treatment for apostrophes. It is interesting to note that the creator of Mother’s Day wanted the apostrophe inserted before the ‘r’ although there are three usage camps (Mother’s Day, Mothers’ Day and Mothers Day). So, my final piece of advice is to look it up if in doubt, or ask a superlative editor like me…or is it myself?

Leave your comments or questions below, and PLEASE point out any errors, because we all need reminding sometimes!

Solution For Sore Shoulders: Microwavable Rice Sock

I love my corn-filled, microwavable cushion of comfort, so the cheapskate in me likes this hot sock idea. I wonder if it will smell like rice pudding–the corn one whiffs of popcorn when I heat it.

Crazy Green Thumbs

I’ve mentioned before that we are military. Every once in a while the local base or fort will have a fair for military spouses. The last one I went to offered job advice, help with nutrition and health, free haircuts (by cosmetology students…that was interesting!), scalp massages and this: the microwavable rice sock. Oh, have I enjoyed making (and using) these!

This is really a simple project and after being out in the yard raking, digging, weeding etc: I got mine out and soothed my sore shoulders.

Today I am making one to send to my granny. My granny is 87 years young this year and while her gardening years are behind her: the sore muscles are not.

Image My granny. A radiant beauty in her youth!

Image Still beautiful at 87!

She and I share the genetic gift of fibromyalgia. If you have ever wondered about this “cluster of…

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Social Network Breakdown! No, not total social collapse…just an analysis!

Social Network Breakdown! Not not social collapse...just an analysis!