Monday, September 7, 2009


Learn how to save 80% on your next vacation. Click Here! (ClickBank Affiliate)

1. India is cheap--astonishingly so. First class hotels for $50 per night. Excellent meals for $5.00. Great bargains on clothing tailored for you.

2. India is exotic. Magnificent monuments. Bazaars. Sacred Cows. Beggars. Goats in Coats. Kama Sutra Temples. (You can read all about my own adventures in India in my blog, The House of Keon.)

3. Indian food is great. One of the most helpful things for foreign tourists is that ingredients are listed on every menu. India has three major religions and numerous minor ones, each with different dietary laws, so menus really need to be clear and accurate. This custom allowed me to try many new dishes I had never heard of before, without having to worry about ordering sheep's eyeballs by mistake.

4. Indian Chai is a treat. This milky sweet spiced tea is ubiquitous, and has a flavor I have not been able to duplicate at home, even though I brought a packet of chai spices home with me.

5. You can afford serious souvenirs. Oh, yes, I bought some trinkets and t-shirts, but I was also able to afford a yak wool rug in Agra, and a silk bedroom set in Varanasi. Even if purchases like those are beyond your budget, it's pretty certain you can afford some silver jewelry, a pashmina, or a salwar kameez, lovely souvenirs you will enjoy for years to come.

6. India is a land of mystery. I was never able to find out why some goats wear coats there, though it's probably to keep warm. Also why men are allowed to use canes or walking sticks, but women are not.

7. India is not Bollywood. If films are all you know of India--even Slumdog Millionaire--you will be amazed at what the country is really like. The only way to have even a slight idea of the real India (after one trip I am hadly an expert) is to go there.

Fly Cheap. Click Here! (ClickBank Affiliate)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Eight Ways to Find Time to Write

You'd like to blog, or write a romance, pen poetry, or write a book about collecting Tiffany lamps. But when can you do it? We all lead such busy lives today that it's hard for someone not already making a living as a writer to find time to write. Friends and family may think it's cute that you are writing, but tend to see it as a hobby at the bottom of your priority list.

Some lucky people need only shake themselves out of watching TV, playing games, surfing the net, or socializing during their free time, and write during some of that time instead. Most people, though, need to figure out how they can free up some time away from distractions and obligations. Mom or Dad trying to write at home is only too likely to be dragged away to something "more important," like helping Julie find her homework before the school bus arrives.

You are not looking for an excuse to escape your obligations, though. Actually, the minimum you need to make progress as a writer is one hour--but that's one hour straight, not three twenty-minute periods. So, how can you get at least one hour per day, at least five days per week, alone with your pen and paper or--preferably--a computer? Here are some ideas:

1. On the job, if you get an hour for lunch don't go with your colleagues to the cafeteria or a fast food place. Bring your lunch, find a quiet spot, and either write by hand or on your computer if your job includes one and there is no objection to your using it for your own projects on your own time. Do not put your own writing on your work computer's hard drive; save to a USP port drive (called a thumb, jump, or flash drive), or to a temporary file that you email to yourself and then delete from the work computer. Do not use your company email address, either--get a free Gmail account.

2. If your company allows, come to work an hour early or stay an hour late to do your writing.

3. Go to the public library before or after work. If they're open before you have to be at work, that is the best time to avoid being chased away from the computer after less than an hour. If you write by hand, though, no problem--just find a table as far as possible from the children's section and write to your heart's content.

4. If you are unemployed, you can do what J. K. Rowling did when she was writing her first Harry Potter book: sit in the back of a coffee shop during non-busy hours, drink coffee or tea, and write.

5. If your job is as a stay-at-home mom or dad, write as soon as the kids leave for school. Take your hour at once--don't start housework until you have done your writing.

6. Kids too young for school or daycare? Find parents in your same situation and trade off child care so that each of you gets one hour of "me time" daily. It doesn't matter what the other parents do with their time--you use yours to write. Nap when your kids nap, so your "me time" won't be a temptation to snooze.

7. Are you home schooling your children? You are already in a group of home-schooling parents. There are two ways for you to get your hour to write. The first is the same as #6 above. The second is to work out legitimate writing time for the kids you are teaching. It can be in English one day, Social Studies, a Science lab report, an art project, or Math workbook another. While the kids are doing that work, don't just sit there--write!

8. Are you caring for little kids who don't do writing projects? Then they are young enough to nap--and their nap time is your writing time. Sure, it won't work every day, but if you get them into a routine (necessary for your sanity anyway), most days it will.

If you really want to write, you can find the time. Good luck!

Written by Jean Lorrah, who is a New York Times best-selling author.

Find Jean's free daily writing tips at .

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Four Operas that make Great Introductions

Here are four operas that would be good for beginners. They are all fairly short and have good tunes, plus easily accessible and understood stories and characters. I have chosen tragedies rather than comedies because comedies have more convoluted plots, and these operas have great death scenes, with glorious music.

A famous English barrister, John Mortimer, creator of the Rumpole of the Bailey series, fell in love with opera because the music conveys emotional subtexts that the words themselves do not. Even though these operas are not in English, subtitles and translations are easily available. Thanks to the popularity of musical videos on TV and now YouTube, more and more people today are finding that they like operatic arias, combined with visuals.

Many movies over the years have incorporated operatic arias and/or orchestral sections into their story lines, including the 1987 The Untouchables, directed by Brian de Palma and starring Robert De Niro as Al Capone, Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness, and Sean Connery as the uncorruptable cop. The next step is putting these arias and orchestral sections into their proper operatic context. The Metropolitan Opera now is broadcasting in HD a number of opera productions to be shown in movie theaters.

1. Carmen by Bizet

A gypsy girl, Carmen, seduces a soldier, Don Jose, in Seville and causes him to desert and join the gypsies. However, when she meets the bull fighter, Escamillo, she falls for him and deserts Don Jose, who kills her.

2. La Boheme by Puccini

A poet, Rudolpho, who lives with other bohemians in Paris, falls in love with Mimi, a seamstress, who eventually dies of TB. The famous musical Rent was based on this story.

3. Tosca by Puccini

Mario, a Roman painter, who loves the famous singer, Floria Tosca, falls afoul of the Roman Chief of Police, Scarpia, who lusts after Tosca. When Mario is arrested for helping a fugitive, Tosca promises to sleep with Scarpia if he spares Mario. She kills Scarpia, but Scarpia has previously arranged for Mario to be shot by a real firing squad instead of a fake one. Tosca jumps off the Castel Sant'Angelo to avoid capture.

4. La Traviata by Verdi.

Based on Dumas' The Lady of the Camellias, the opera is about a high-class courtesan, Violetta, with TB, who attracts the young Alfredo, from a good family. They live together in the country until the father of Alfredo calls on her to give up Alfredo so his sister can marry a nobleman. She agrees, but her TB gets worse after Alfredo denounces her. At the end she and Alfredo are reconciled, but she dies.

List by Helen Roulston,

Illo is from the free image site,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

10 Item Starter Kit For Screenwriters

You can make-do with make-shift tools while learning a new craft.

Or you can start off with professional tools you will use throughout your new career.

Nothing on this list is indispensable. Great stories have been written in pencil on toilet paper, possibly on rocks with blood. A writer will write no matter what. But why suffer?

Learn the Origin and Theory of the modern screenplay:

And last but perhaps the most vital tool for the aspiring screenwriter, two books that analyzes with examples, every kind of feature film that wins major awards and shows exactly what ingredients you must include to win those awards yourself.

Now get the tools to craft a screenplay of your own in a form that can be submitted everywhere.

Choose screenwriting software.

Here's a tool that lets you lay out one of those award winning screenplays Blake Snyder has analyzed. It gives you electronic cards (that grow in size as needed) just like the Hollywood producers use on a board to arrange and re-arrange scenes.

Final Draft is the standard screenwriting software for producers on the WEST COAST of the USA

Movie Magic is the standard screenwriting software for those working on the EAST COAST of the USA

Or choose a kit:

Keep up

While writing, keep up with the high-speed industry. Creative Screenwriting provides you access to the most current screenplay contests. Scoring high in a contest is now the way new writers break in and get working producers to read their scripts.

Suggestions supplied by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, July 11, 2009

15 Items that Belong in the Trunk of Your Car

Your car comes with a spare tire and a jack in the trunk, but you need to add a number of items that you just put in and forget about until the day you need them. Some things don't belong in the trunk, but up front, such as one of those battery chargers that plugs into the cigarette lighter (they are now small enough to fit into the glove compartment) and one of those pointed hammers with which to break the window and cut your seatbelt if necessary, should your car go under water. That belongs where either the driver or the front-seat passenger can reach it, in case one of them is not conscious.

So--what goes in the trunk? Most of these items are small--they're not going to take up all your luggage or grocery space. These are essentials, each one definitely worth the space it takes up on the day that you need it.

1. A blanket

Just put an old blanket flat in the back of your trunk and leave it there. If you get trapped somewhere in cold weather, you'll have it. If you decide on a spontaneous summer picnic, you'll have it. It can even be used for traction in snow or sand.

2. A roll of paper towels

Everything from a wipe to clean off your oil dipstick to napkins at that spontaneous picnic--and a thousand other uses.

3. Jumper cables

They're not just for you--you may need to get someone else's car started. Especially if they have stalled right behind your car so you can't get out of your parking space!

4. A plastic rain poncho

For unexpected rain, for an extra layer of protection against the cold, or even for a protective covering if you have to change a tire when you're all dressed up.

5. Emergency triangles

These lie flat on or under the blanket until you need them. They are bright-colored with reflective surfaces, good for day or night.

6. A container for small items

Vinyl or cloth if appearance matters, a cardboard box if it doesn't. You can put the jumper cables in it, but it's primarily to keep smaller items together so you can find them.

7. A can of motor oil

Consult your car's instruction manual for this and #8, buy the ones recommended, put them in the trunk, and they are there if you need them.

8. A container of anti-freeze

Probably too big for your container, so just tuck it into one of those awkward corners too small for luggage or groceries.

9. A gallon of distilled water.

In case you get stranded someplace where you are not sure if the water is safe to drink. Put it in the other awkward corner.

10. A crank flashlight

This small item definitely goes in your container. If you can find one with a radio that actually works for more than ten seconds on three or four minutes of cranking, get it, but my experience is that crank flashlights work, crank radios don't.

11. A first aid kit

Buy one ready-made at the drugstore, and put it in your container.

12. A knife

You know that big knife in a scabbard that's sharp on one side and serrated on the other? The one that looks like it belongs strapped to a Hell's Angel's boot? The one you've always secretly wanted but felt was "wrong" for your personality? Buy it! It can slice a watermelon purchased at a roadside stand, it can clean fish, and if you get a really good one it can even saw through thin branches, or through a rope that is too knotted to untie. It's even okay to get the one with a compass in the handle--indulge your inner boy scout, and put it in your container.

13. A can of WD-40

Get the new version with the straw that doesn't come off the sprayer! Put it in your container.

14. A roll of Duck Tape

With this and WD-40, you now have in your container the two items that keep the entire world working.

15. A can candle and matches

If you are stranded somewhere, you don't want to crank that flashlight for hours on end. Put the matches inside two plastic bags to protect from moisture, and put them in your container.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lists For You Blog Opening

Welcome to Lists for You!

Lists are incredibly popular, so why not have a blog specifically for lists?

A group of experts on a large number of subjects will be creating lists here--you should find a new list every few days.

Are there lists you are interested in?

The most popular musical groups of the 1980s?

The steps to finding a cheap, safe apartment to rent?

The major concerns of new mothers?

Ways of choosing a career?

Best part-time jobs for college students?

The most common mechanical errors that will shoot down your resume--and you won't know why?

Ways of faking your way through a college exam?

Steps in house training a puppy?

Steps to take if you are arrested?

Methods of beating the effects of menopause?

Most popular films of the year?

What lists are YOU interested in? With the experts on this blog, chances are somebody will be able to create the list you want. Put your requests in the comment area, and we will create your list as soon as possible. Meanwhile, our experts will post lists of things that they are interested in.