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Change.org Petition: Don’t Boycott Amazon

by | Posted July 15th, 2014

Did you know that a large percentage of e-books sold on Amazon are from independent authors? You may have heard about the dispute between Amazon and Hachette, encouraging buyers to boycott amazon in relation to purchasing books or e-books. Self-published author Hugh Howey strikes back. He has just launched a letter of his own: “Change.org petition from self-publishing writers,” thanking readers for their support, explaining self-published authors’ side of the Amazon/Hachette feud, and asking them not to boycott Amazon.

The letter explains that it may not be a major issue for wealthy authors, who do not have an issues finding a publishing company; however, this is changing for self-publishing authors, because Amazon and other online retailers are paying authors a fair wage. Now that you have heard both sides of the story—Which side are you on?

You can find this petition here.

The Secret To Creating Excellent Content Everyday

by | Posted July 14th, 2014

Writing good content, like anything else, requires proper research, planning, and execution. A prepared writer can implement a system to prevent writer’s block. Katie’s article, “The Prepared Writer’s Process for Creating Excellent Content Every Day” published on Coppyblogger shares a few tips to help prevent writer’s block and produce new content everyday.

One useful tip I took from this article was the importance of scheduling writing time. Scheduling time to write has helped me to avoid the excuse, “I have no time to write.” Even if you don’t know what you want to write about, still schedule the extra time, because this will help you stay consistent as a writer and have extra material ready.

It is also important to have a framework, know what you want to write about everyday. But, before you start to write, take some time and outline your ideas and then begin to write. If you’re stuck and can’t write, go back and refine and edit what you have previously wrote.

Here is a bonus exercises: creativity triggers if you get stuck

writing

Source: christabanister.com

If you’re having trouble getting into the writing zone, take two minutes to do one of these creativity triggers by Katie:

  •  Read an unrelated article that is inspiring or funny
  • Stand on your head (really, it gets the blood flowing!)
  • Review your cornerstone content to ensure your post aligns with your goals

The Financial Outlook in Higher Education

by | Posted July 7th, 2014

On the heels of Michigan’s two largest universities announcing tuition hikes I felt it pertinent to remind us “7 in 10 Undergraduates Get Financial Aid” (Chronicle of Higher Education). Put into another statistic, that’s 71% (according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics). At Michigan State we have roughly 38,000 undergraduates (MSU Facts), meaning that nearly 26,500 of those students are using some sort of financial aid.

The picture is a bit different for graduate students, quoting from Beckie Supiano’s CoHE piece,

“The share of graduate students receiving any aid dropped from 73 percent in 2007-8 to 70 percent in 2011-12. And the makeup of the aid those students received also changed. The share of graduate students receiving grants dropped from 41 percent in 2007-8 to 36 precent in 2011-12, while the share receiving loans grew from 42 percent in 2007-8 to 45 percent in 2011-12. The average amount that graduate students borrowed from all sources also increased, from $18,400 in 2007-8 to $21,400 in 2011-12.”

In short, funding is down, while borrowing is up. Thus more and more working-age adults are entering the job market only to start working off mountains of student loan debt, not to mention the credit card debt that often comes for undergrads and grad students alike. Of more concern, perhaps, is how these numbers cut across hugely important factors like race, socioeconomic and immigration statuses, age, abilities, sex and gender, and place (like specific states, or urban, suburban, and rural locales). These considerations are key to figuring out where we go from here.

Apple’s Failure at Diversity

by | Posted July 3rd, 2014

Selena Larsen, writing for ReadWrite, takes Apple to task for the lack of diversity in choosing speakers for their annual Worldwide Developers Conference, often the site of many hardware and software launches. Larsen identifies this failure as a larger issue, “It’s indicative of a much broader diversity problem within the technology industry—especially in roles that are highly technical, where—to put it plainly—women and minorities are vastly outnumbered by white males.”

It’s not a surprise that so many young girls express interest and talent in math and the sciences, but so few are pushed into these fields. Larsen takes issue with Apple specifically because “Apple clearly has both the resources and the cachet to attract them (women, and racial and ethnic minorities) as employees and speakers.” Read more here.

A Look at Google’s Activity Streams

by | Posted July 2nd, 2014

File this under Did You Know – Google Drive is arguably one of the most often used collaborative writing and filesharing tools across fields, disciplines, and industries. In January, Google introduced activity streams, making it easier to for you to track changes among multiple users. And for you track changes lovers, a la Microsoft Word, this feature has also been added. Check out this helpful video from The Chromebook Guys to get more acquainted with activity streams.

Fiction Writing on Twitter

by | Posted July 1st, 2014

Have you heard of the storyella? What about twiterature? Been following #TwitterFiction? Or how about WRAC’s very own #endthisstory? Claire Armitstead, writing for The Guardian, asks “Has Twitter given birth to a new literary genre?” She notes that the key to successful Twitter fiction is connectivity; writers reaching to the past, to other users, then spreading their story out over a day, a week. My take on Armitstead’s question is not about a new genre, rather how does Twitter alter – remix, if you will – storytelling in general?

Thinking about Grad School

by | Posted June 30th, 2014

The Professional Writing student will have to endure a litany of questions throughout his or her college career: “What’s Professional Writing?”, “Is that, like, journalism?”, “So, are you trying to be an author?”. By the time you’re a senior, you will most likely have answered these questions ad nauseam, particularly the claim that your degree pertains to writing creative fiction novels; however, as the twilight of your college years inevitably approaches, an heretofore unasked question will certainly be queried: “Are you going to grad school?”

Continuing one’s education past the Bachelor threshold is a tumultuous and costly undertaking, but for some students, earning that Master’s degree allows one better opportunities which, conceivably, yield a higher salary. Yet, most people associate graduate school with technical, medical, and selective liberal arts disciplines. This leaves many publishing, technical writing, programming, and visual design students wondering whether or not furthering their education is advantageous to their career.

Rest easy, writers: plenty of graduate school options are available for the undertaking. Here is a list of schools that provide a graduate program for students interested in publishing, visual design, marketing, and other Professional Writing-esque skills. If you’re wondering whether or not continuing your education past the Bachelor degree, consult this list and research carefully.