Helen and Teacher

Helen and Teacher
The Story of my Life

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Inspiration Prevents Writers Block


            I suppose I’m a little perverse; I have the opposite problem most writers suffer.  I don’t get writers block.  Instead, I don’t have enough time or keyboard speed to write up all the ideas I have.  A good problem to have, I admit, in many ways.


            What prevents writers block for me?  I’m always open to inspiration. The whole world becomes my notebook.  For instance, my morning commute is about 25 minutes.

I use that time to think about writing projects, and to observe as I drive.  Last winter, while I waited to get on the bridge, I was treated to a sight I’d never seen.  On a cold, bitter January day, 4 coyotes crossed in front of my car.  They walked to the riverbank and crossed the frozen river, disappearing into the little island that dot the Mississippi in our stretch of the Midwest.


            I got a pretty good blog post for my blog on Green Living out of that one.


            I also like to listen to the radio.  I love all types of music, but I also like talk radio, NPR, old radio dramas, you name it.  For awhile, I had Sirius and luxuriated in the sounds of Marta Stewart Radio, Book Radio, The Halloween and Christmas Channels, and Neil Diamond Radio.  My girlfriend and I liked cruising down 23d Avenue just so we could listen to Howard Stern.  We went 5 miles out of our way for ice cream, just to listen to old Howie rant.  That gave me a lot of fuel for thought, too.  At one point, I wrote a post that was read on Morning Live.  My latest chapbook, Crazy Assed Humans: The Dolls Reply, was the result of an encounter I had with Tabloid TV and a book of poems I read on Kindle.


            Probably books and reading are my greatest inspirational tools.  I think I read ten books at once, and belong to two writers groups and one book group.  I never get tired of reading, and still like to go through the newspaper and magazines, even catalogs of all sorts.


            History books and historical novels get me to think, too.  I always second guess what I might have done if I were in that era.  Pretty soon, what I  think turns into a poem, or comes out of the mouths of my characters.


            By the same token, artists’ monographs are great places to get ideas.  Style, color, subject, all of them jar something in my writer’s brain.


            So, while I’d love to be The Madwoman in the Attic, tapping away, uninterrupted in my literary solitude, I know it isn’t possible.  My best ideas come from world interaction, and sometimes, I have to quit my books, to write my books.



Free Newsletter

Weekly Newsletter Doll Collecting at About.com;collectdolls.about.com.  It’s Free!!
I'ts a great idea to write a memoir around a favorite toy or doll, see, e.g., Madonna Dries Christiansen.


From Ellen Tsagaris, your Guide to Doll Collecting

 Happy Halloween Week all Doll Collectors and Enthusiasts!  There are lots of chances to find interesting dolls this time of year, I hope your spooky doll dreams come true!  Get out your witch, scarecrow, and Dracula dolls, and let the Pumpkin Heads Reign


Modern dolls sold at a farm auction. See what happened to the estate dolls I worked on earlier this year.

Search Related Topics:  auction  danbury mint  patsy


The Shelter for Misfit Doll is a wonderful site; I hope that The Little Dead Girl will refresh and add new material soon!

Search Related Topics:  shelter for misfit dolls  outsider dolls  folk dolls


Read about a doll club's pilgrimage to the ultimate doll store.


 An Amazing Portrait in Wax of the beloved queen and doll collector was a star in the not to distant past Theriault's auction.


Featured Articles:



Friday, October 17, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym: Our Salute to More Excellent Women in TV Media

Photo: Antique Doll Collector Magazine
Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym: Our Salute to More Excellent Women in TV Media: A quick salute to Aunt Bea, who could run the sheriff's house like a warden if needed, and still bake cakes for the church social, and t...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Billy Idol's Memoirs, and Gone Girls

Scene fron Film Gone Girl; both photos are Public Domain Images
This morning on Sunday morning, Billy Idol discusses his new, "tell all" memoir.  I don't dislike the man and his music, but I could have guessed without the memoir.  Gone Girl's author Gillian Flynn got a lot of publicity for the new film based on her novel of the same name.  She also wrote the screenplay.   We have at home a large skeleton bride doll named Ophelia who sings "Fright Wedding" to the tune of "White Wedding."  It is too bad she does not have photo in Idol's book.   As for GG, I would like very much to see it.  Flynn's novels are really socio-biographical studies of the sociopaths next door.  Handy reading for us during our local election year.
Billy Idol, author of "Dancing with Myself"


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Of MMLA and Cincinatti

Cincinatti Museum of Art, photo by Ellen Tsagaris, 2012
I just returned from Cincinatti, where the 54th annual Midwest Modern Language Association Met. I was privileged to give three papers, one on Sara Crewe's Emotional and Financial Debts in A Little Princess, Rumer Godden's Debts to Children's Literature, and Debt as a Vehicle for Comedy and Entrepeneurship in 2 Broke Girls, Sex and the City and American Pickers. I will post papers and bibliographies here and on my other blogs. This was a clean, old world city, almost sparkling. I was through OH years ago, but did not get to spend much time. This time, we visited the Rookwood Pottery Factory and Museum, and the Museum of Art. We went to Findlay Market and literally entered another world, and found a real family owned Deli, and a privately owned Tea Shop. Small businesses abounded; it was really like being in a childgood neighborhood, only the corner stores sold goods from all over the world.

A few hints

As many of my readers know, I have been very busy with my work as an expert guid for About.com, collectdolls.about.com, and as social media director for ADC.  My plate is full, to say the least, and I love it. Writing and dolls are the two things I love most in life, and I am blessed that I have been able to combine them. Follow your passion, no matter what it is, and good things will come.  I had similar email conversations with my friend, the late Angela Wells, who was a writer for Mills and Boon and other publishers as well.  She was full of ideas, and one of the most talented and versatile writers I had ever met.

Below are some tips from ProBlogger, to which any can subscribe free on the web.  I like to use these posts in my writing classes, too.  I hope you get some ideas:\

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 08:50 AM PDT
There’s not much Darren hasn’t tried in the way of social media, and using it as a complement to his blog.
In this webinar (available in full to ProBlogger.com members), he outlines his method for success, as well as answering your questions about how to make the best use of this media.
Darren covers:
  • Where social media fits in your blogging journey
  • What hierarchy of importance social media should go in (because you can’t be across everything!)
  • How to find readers
  • How to build a presence
  • How often you should update your social media channels
  • Hints for scheduling your content
  • How much time you should invest in it
  • What your status updates should say
  • Case studies of status updates that really worked
And questions sourced from the ProBlogger.com forums as well as your inquiries on Facebook and Twitter. One not to be missed!
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Q&A: Your Social Media Strategy
Posted: 17 Sep 2014 09:26 AM PDT
Regular readers of ProBlogger would know that over the last 18 months, I’ve put a lot of effort into Facebook – particularly by building up the Digital Photography School Facebook page.
I’ve worked hard in that time to grow both the reach and influence of the page and while there have been ups and downs along the way, it has paid off in a fairly major way – with Facebook becoming the second-biggest referrer of traffic to Digital Photography School on any given day.
Dps facebook page
In the last year and a half I’ve developed a publishing rhythm on the dPS Facebook page that works really well. I publish five posts every day – two posts link to new tutorials on the dPS blog, while the other three link to posts from the archives (all from at least a year ago). Occasionally I throw in a discussion-related post but almost every post links back to quality tutorials on dPS.
Facebook seems to like what we do, as they seem to reward links to useful content. But more importantly to me, our readers seem to like what we’ve built with the page (which in turn helps Facebook like it too) and I’m hesitant to change up the rhythm too much.
I have experimented with more posts in a day from time to time, but five seems to be about right. When I’ve gone with more I get reader complaints that we’re posting too much.

Two Other Strategies Bloggers Are Using to Good Effect

At the recent ProBlogger Conference here in Australia, I had conversations with a number of Aussie bloggers who were also doing very well with Facebook and was interested to hear that my approach is not the only way to grow an effective Facebook strategy.
In fact I heard 4-5 bloggers say that they’d noticed that their page did best when they did a couple of things different to what we do:
  1. they post more frequently – while we post five times a day, some of the other bloggers I’ve been talking to publish up to 10 times a day (spread evenly through a 24-hour period) with little pushback from readers.
  2. they link out to other sites regularly – while at dPS we only really publish links to our own site, these other bloggers see increased reach and engagement with mixing up where they link to other people’s sites.
While I’m wanting to mess with the approach I currently have on the dPS Facebook page, I’ve been wondering since our conference how I could experiment with these approaches.

Why Not Start a Second Facebook Page?

Just over a week ago I was pondering the issue and wishing I had another site to experiment with Facebook on when it struck me – why don’t I just start a second Facebook page that relates to my site?
Most bloggers have a Facebook page dedicated to their blog – but what is to stop us from having more than one? Facebook don’t seem to have a problem with a user owning more than one page – so I began to wonder if there might be a benefit from having a second one to experiment with and potentially support my blog in a different way.
On the spur of the moment I decided to start one and quickly did so. I didn’t put a heap of thought into what to call it and impulsively decided to call it Do You Like Photography?
Do you like photography facebook
The idea was to brand it as different to ‘Digital Photography School’ but to be up front about the connection to the site.
I quickly set it up and began to post to it. This is what I’ve focused upon doing:
  • posing 6 posts per day – while only up by one on my regular page and not really much higher a frequency, I decided not to go with too many yet as we’ve been recovering from our conference and on a family holiday. I do plan to increase it gradually but will probably cap it at nine a day and watch how the frequency impacts the page’s effectiveness.
  • to this point all posts are ‘link’ posts that link five times per day to other people’s photography tips/tutorials. The 6th post a day links to an old dPS post. I want this page to be tied to dPS but to be more of a place to curate content from other sites. This has the benefit of being useful to followers but also build relationships with other sites.
Note: in many ways this second page is similar to what we’ve been doing on our dPS Pinterest page for a year now (it’s largely just us highlighting great content that we find on the web with a few pins to our own stuff too).
I linked twice to the new page from our main dPS page just to let our regular readers know it existed. I shared it with them saying that the page is for those who want more photography tips and tutorials in their feed that come from beyond just dPS. The response from these two shares was fantastic – I had many readers thank me for creating the page.
The new page has grown faster than I anticipated. It took just six days to hit 50,000 followers! Things have slowed down a little since then but we’re well on the way to 60,000. Obviously many of the initial likes came from our main dPS page but since those initial shares I’ve started to see other pages sharing our finds and there’s been some nice organic growth too.
I don’t have any real firm goals for the page at this point but really see it as a great place to:
  • experiment with a different strategies on Facebook
  • growing relationships with other bloggers in our niche by sending them traffic
  • expanding our own social reach/influence which will in turn send us some more traffic too
  • sharing different types of posts to see what I can learn that might inform our own content strategy down the track
The only cost of the experiment is the time it takes to update the page. At this point it’s taking about 15 minutes each night to schedule the next day’s posts. I’ve also seen some nice engagement and sentiment coming from followers and it has already sent some nice little spikes in traffic to my blog so for now – it’s an experiment worth continuing with.

Do You Have a Second Facebook Page?

I’d love to hear whether others have experimented with different Facebook pages? I’d expect that it won’t suit everyone but do wonder if there might be some benefits for some to do it – particularly for those with bigger followings who might have lost traction with Facebook in the last year? Maybe having a second page with a very different strategy might unlock some learnings for you!
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger