Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What is “Instapaper-Worthy”?

There are as many writing blogs on the Internet as there are attorneys. Okay, maybe not that many, but there are a LOT. Some good, some great, some so-so. The only bad ones are those abandoned by the author. After all, everyone has something to say.

You need to organize and cull info, thin the herd. You can’t read everything everyone writes, right? Right. Write!

This is what I do, which is what I recommend you do also…

But first, remember the Seinfeld episode titled “The Sponge”? Seventh season, 1995, 119th episode… (Thanks, Wikipedia.) Elaine’s favorite contraceptive sponge is being taken off the market so she snaps up all the boxes she can find.

Her supply is finite—once they’re gone they’re gone—so she examines potential partners for “sponge-worthiness.” Is her boyfriend “sponge-worthy”? (I forget if he passes the test.)

You need to be (not quite as) selective about what gets your full attention.

Google Reader can be your first line of defense against info-overload. Wait, even before Reader, here’s what you do:

1. Check out a writer’s blog, scan a post or two to get a feel for his writing. Like it? Subscribe to it by clicking on “Follow” at the top of the screen if it’s a blogspot blog, or copy the url and paste it into the “Subscribe To” pop-up box in Reader.

2. Check Reader daily, or whenever you can schedule it. Scan through the blog posts—there might be a hundred if you follow a lot of blogs—and click on anything that looks interesting. If the blog’s text appears in Reader you don’t have to go to the blog itself, great. Blog sites can be so slow to load.

3. Ask yourself: Is this post worthy of my full attention? If yes, copy the post into INSTAPAPER. It’s easy to do from a web browser or Smartphone.

Is this information “Instapaper-Worthy”?

Instapaper is great because it eliminates blog-page distractions like ads (sorry), little faces on Google Follow widgets, archives, books the author is reading, etc. You get plain text and in-line pictures only. You can change the font and font size, organize info into folders, and are a click away from the blog site.

I have an iPhone. Instapaper has an iPhone app, but maybe you’re cheap like me and don’t want to fork over $4.99 unless you have. You don’t have to.

Bookmark Instapaper in your browser and you’ll get (almost) all the functionality of the app, for free. When you tap on the “Text” link for an article, Instapaper switches to mobile-mode; great for the eyes. You can tag pages as Instapaper-worthy from your phone. Instapaper is built into the Hootsuite browser.

Do you know an easier way to thin the data herd? If so, please share.

No, Instapaper didn’t pay me for this promo. Would’ve be nice: the day job’s kinda slow right now and I could use the extra scratch.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My name is Everett Powers and I’m a writer.

That terrifying scream you hear? Me being dragged kicking and screaming into the digital era.

I’m the guy who resisted getting a cell phone for years because, well, I don’t like talking on the phone. Now I have an iPhone 4. I still don’t like talking on the phone, but that damn thing has all but replaced my laptop. I’d rather use Hootsuite on it than on my desktop; no distracting columns cluttering up the screen.

Now I’m on Facebook and I’m Tweeting. “God help us!” screams my dinosaur DNA.

I started my first novel, The Healer, fifteen years ago. Wrote about two hundred pages. I saw it last month, in a box in the storage room. I thought, I should check this out. Maybe I can do a quick edit and, you know, publish it. I read three pages and put it back in the storage room. May it never see the light of day again.

Then I wrote Canals seven years ago. It weighed in at 200,000 words; who did I think I was, Stephen King? It published at 135,000 words. I filled a green garbage toter with unnecessary sentences, paragraphs, and pages. (Canals is a horror novel.)

I finished The Mighty T—a thriller—two years ago: Coming soon to Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Smashwords, etc. Paperback later.


A pile of rejection letters and emails from agents and print publishers on my desk, I summoned my friend Google.

I said, “Google, can I publish my own novels?” 

Google paused for a nanosecond, then spit out a couple million links. One of the first was Smashwords. Alarms clanged and birds chirped and a squad of cheerleaders... cheered. Really. (It was that sadist Mark Coker who told me I had to use Twitter and start a blog! [Get his excellent free marketing guide.])

Then I found Joe Konrath’s blog, then a ton of great people on Twitter, some very good blogs written by some very good writers...

And here I am. Writing. Something I love doing. On a blog, on Twitter, on a forum... Writing is writing.

My biggest fear? Boring people. 

Someone hack into Google and delete my account if I ever get boring. Please.

I’m running solo with the blog and Twitter (My wife is doing the Facebook thing for me; come on, learn Twitter AND Facebook at the same time? Liquefied brains would ooze from my ears.) so any suggestions for widgets and... stuff, are greatly appreciated. 

I figured out how to add a page to my blog—amazing—and have uploaded (correct term?) the cover for The Mighty T with a brief but exciting excerpt. Check it out.

And follow my blog, if you please. Twitter, too. You follow me, I follow you—we shall promise not to bore each other. 

See you on the cloud!