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5 Must-know Tips for Today’s Writers

The power of the written word is still strong, and with the reading habit being rekindled by the Kindle, it’s important that writers focus on their work like never before. The audience is ready for more, but unless you know what makes them tick, you’re not going to be able to connect to them. Today’s readers are a little different in that they have shorter attention spans and much more choices available. So as a writer who wants to not just hold your head above the water but stand head and shoulders over the rest of the competition, here’s what you need to do to grab your readers’ attention and hold it:

  • Make your title catchy: If your readers are intrigued by the title, they’re going to want to read what you’ve actually written below it. So use your imagination and come up with something that is creative, interesting and topical. Also, it’s important that you stay true to your title when writing the article; you can trick your readers once and make them click your link based on the title alone, but they’re going to be more wary of your by-line if you continue to provide misleading titles.
  • Be concise: Get to the point soon – if your title says that you’re going to talk about the negative side of technology, don’t wait until your second or third paragraph to start your main point. More often than not, you’ve already lost your reader by then. So avoid being long-winded and say what you have to say at the outset after a brief introduction.
  • Don’t repeat what you’ve already said: Some writers repeat what they’ve already said earlier just to meet their required word count or to fill the large blank spaces staring at them on their computer screens. But when you say the same thing again and again, albeit using different phrases and words, you’re insulting your readers’ intelligence.
  • Don’t be ambiguous: When you use long and complicated words and phrases that are not really necessary, you end up confusing your reader and leaving them with a sense of bewilderment. Jargon is fine as long as it is relevant to what you have to say, so focus more on your subject than the words and phrases you want to fit in to the subject.
  • Beware of keywords: If you’re writing for an online blog or website, you’re probably going to be asked to use certain keywords as part of the search engine optimization (SEO) drive. But if your keywords are scattered throughout your article without regard for their relevance in those positions, you’re not going to impress your readers and get them to come back to read your content on a continuous basis. Put some thought into weaving the keywords seamlessly into your text so that your readers don’t even realize that they’ve been inserted to help your site climb to the top of search engine rankings.

Top 39 Movie Blogs to Check Out Before the Oscars

It seems that just before awards season, most of us scramble to the theater to get a look at the hottest films of the season. Whether they’re movies you’ve been meaning to watch or just a film that sparks your interest thanks to coverage on TV or the web, the following movie blogs will give you everything you need to know about nominated films before Oscar night.

Mainstream Movie Blogs

If big budget productions are what you crave, these mainstream movie blogs will keep you posted on the films being released with A-list stars.

  1. CinemaBlend Get reviews and movie news at this slick blog that updates numerous times throughout the day.
  2. Movie First Blog First This blog is full of awards show coverage and also gives you the scoop on the latest big budget movies to hit theaters with lengthy reviews.
  3. Film Jabber Depend on this movie blog to get updates on what’s going on in Hollywood in terms of what scripts are being passed around and first images of much-anticipated films like the new Spider-Man.
  4. Box Office Prophets This blog gives you a rundown of the numbers when movies open each week. It’s a fun blog for those who want to know a little more about the business aspect of making movies.
  5. Criticker This movie-loving community is the place to go when you want real reviews over the latest films to hit theaters. Don’t expect sugar-coated reviews from this movie blog.
  6. Movie John This blog is penned by a guy who knows his stuff and isn’t afraid to rip apart films for lousy storylines and plots that go nowhere.
  7. Movie Blog This site is constantly updated and serves as a feed for movie and celebrity news.
  8. Only Good Movies Brush up on your movie trivia for films new and old at this movie blog.
  9. The Movie Blog This is one of our favorite movie blogs on the web for learning about films that are in pre-production, getting a first look at movie posters and costumes and getting ace reviews for mainstream movies.
  10. MTV Movie Blog Yes, it’s MTV, but this movie blog is actually quite good with movie reviews and awesome awards night coverage.
  11. Jay’s Movie Blog This movie blog has a healthy mix of mainstream and independent film reviews, especially the more widely released indie movies.
  12. MoviesCrunch We love this movie blog because it covers the history of film and makes references in current film reviews that will make you seek out great movies of the past.
  13. Get the Big Picture It’s all big time movies at this movie blog which reviews the latest films in theaters and gives you predictions for awards season.
  14. Movie Dearest Get the latest news on the films you need to see before Oscar night. It’s a brilliant blog for learning about soon-to-be-released movies too.
  15. Sun Times – Robert Ebert’s Journal The man who made many of us fall in love with movies blogs his thoughts on the latest film releases and who’s likely to win what on the big night.

Independent Film Blogs

For movies that are produced with teeny budgets and that sit close to the heart of the director, take a look at these film blogs that cover all things indie.

  1. Film Maker Magazine This movie site keeps its eye on indie films that are going to be released and those who’ve received wide acclaim.
  2. IndieWire This site focuses on all independent films and gives plenty of info over the ones that get major Oscar buzz during awards season.
  3. IndieWire – Leonard Maltin This famous movie critic is one of the few that reviews indie films you’ve probably never heard of until they get nominated for an Oscar.
  4. Movie City News This site has lots of coverage for those who love big budget movies, but it’s mixed with plenty of indie film news and reviews.
  5. IFC The folks over at IFC love bringing you indie films, so it’s only natural they blog about their latest and greatest releases with plenty of backstory on the subjects.
  6. Film Independent At this blog you’ll get all of the indie movie news you can handle, plus picks for what will be sleeper hits for the following year.
  7. IndieTalk True indie movie lovers will adore this site where film addicts discuss everything from the best movie scores to their favorite indie films of the year.
  8. Indie Pix Films This movie blog writes about true indie films and has reviews galore when you’re looking to see groundbreaking film making in action.
  9. Independent Film Blog Ever wonder how these 20 year old film makers come up with the funds to make their movie happen? Learn about that, marketing an independent film and getting distribution at this film site.
  10. Left Field Cinema Learn indie movie news and get reviews on new independent films and cult classics that you may have overlooked over the years.
  11. MovieMaker This site talks about the behind-the-scenes work that makes a movie come to life and has interviews with folks from monster hits and on-the-radar indie films.
  12. Screenjabber It’s nothing by independent movie reviews at this movie blog. You’ll love that the reviews are honest and don’t get too artsy by using movie lingo that only those who took a film studies class would know.
  13. Truly Free Film This site talks about the business of independent movies and how the art of the “real” indie film is slowly dying. It also gets into advertising a film, seeking a distributor and more.
  14. Flickering Myth This is one of the major independent film blogs out there and reviews the indie movies that are making waves when awards season rolls around.

Foreign Film Blogs

If American films don’t cut it for you (and we don’t blame you), check out these foreign film blogs for a taste at the realistic movies folks are making all over the world. Instead of ultra perfect actors you’ll get characters who are visibly old, overweight and ugly. Art imitating life at its best.

  1. Foreign Films for You Take a look at the shift in foreign films over the past couple of decades and the high caliber of work coming from places outside of the U.S.
  2. ScreenDaily At this site you’ll get all of your movie news for films produced in the U.S., Asia, Europe and more.
  3. Twitch Film This site has it all. From a vast selection of foreign film reviews to big budget and wide release indie movies.
  4. Film Movement This is one of the best resources on the web for getting all of your foreign and independent film reviews and having them delivered right to your door. Movies are also sorted by film festival, so you can pull up exactly what you’re looking for if you’ve read about it elsewhere.
  5. Beyond Hollywood While this site has plenty of movie reviews, it covers foreign films in depth, especially from countries like Korea and Spain, both of which are churning out the hits.
  6. Korean Film Get the scoop on the provocative films coming out of Korea.
  7. Love HK Film This foreign film blog gives you news on Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese films, plus industry analysis onw how the films are being distributed.
  8. Han Cinema This is the blog to visit for everything you need to know about Korean film making and new releases that may end up being sleeper hits in the States.
  9. VistaWide – Spanish Films Learn about the Spanish films that have paved the way for other foreign films by scooping up Oscars and other major movie awards.
  10. CinemasInfo While this blog has lots of mainstream movie information, it also has a healthy dose of foreign film reviews coming from Asia and Bollywood.

Going to the movies is one of the last ways our society gains culture in an entertaining fashion. Since going to the movies can set you back $50 or so, if you’re a couple and grab a few snacks, remember that many Oscar-nominated films are released on DVD well before the awards ceremony or can be streamed to your television via your Xbox or Playstation 3. This makes getting in-the-loop about this year’s Oscar picks far more accessible and comfortable, since you can cuddle up and make a critique in your own home.

Will Books Fade into Obscurity?

The world is going digital – zeros and ones have replaced letters and word and bits and bytes have taken the place of traditional books. Kindles and iPads are replacing libraries, and good old paperbacks and hard-bounds are being relegated to the pages of history. Or are they? Those in favor of innovation and progress, those who love technology and are enamored by their gadgets and gizmos, and those who love to flaunt the new and throw out the old are of the opinion that books as we know them are fading into obscurity. No longer will people go to bookstores or libraries to satisfy their reading habits; all they have to do is go online and download all the books they want to their gadgets.

However, there are various reasons why the books we know and love will be around for eternity (or at least a long time to come):

  • For one, while new books can be digitized and downloaded immediately, it’s going to take a while to convert all the books that have already been written into their digital equivalents.
  • Even if this mammoth task is possible, securing the digital rights for these books is another thing that has to be done.
  • E-book readers are expensive, and not many people can afford to buy them. As for traditional books, if you’re short of money, you have the option of borrowing them from libraries instead of buying them outright.
  • While environmentalists are happy that digital books reduce the usage of paper, e-waste by itself is an issue that they are not prepared to deal with. The large number of electronic gadgets and appliances that is being discarded and thrown away gives rise to landfills that pollute the earth with lead, cadmium and other poisonous chemicals. It’s easy to recycle paper and reuse it, but the safe disposal of e-waste is yet to be adopted in many locations around the world. So for now, paper books seem like the more eco-friendly alternative when compared to e-book readers that cannot be disposed of safely when they have outlived their usefulness.
  • And last, but not the least, no matter how much technology advances, no matter that the entire world is going digital, there will be people who prefer the feel of paper and the sight of print to staring at an electronic screen and pressing buttons instead of turning pages.

Change is inevitable; so while you must accept that e-book readers and digital books are becoming increasingly popular, there’s no reason to give up the kind of books that you love – the paper and print kind.

How to Find a Publisher for Your First Book

It’s every author’s dream to be published, to have their book sell thousands of copies, and to go in for reprint after reprint. They’re not really after the money or the royalties or even the fame that comes with their book becoming part of popular culture; most writers are happy that they’ve actually managed to break into the world of published authors. It’s an uphill task to find a publisher for your first book, especially if you’re a relative unknown who will not sell based on your name alone. So if you’re looking to get published, these ideas could be of some help:

  • Establish yourself on the web: When you want a publisher to take you seriously, you need to have established yourself as a good writer, someone with credibility and who knows their stuff. With the advent of the Internet, this has become a very easy thing to do. So before you begin to fire away on your manuscript, take the time to set up shop on the free advertising media that is the Internet. I personally know two people who signed book deals based solely on their blogs. Interested publishers saw potential for successful books based on their niche writing and on their popularity as blog owners and writers. And even if the publishers don’t come to you, your blog allows you to showcase your potential.
  • Don’t write hoping to get published: This may seem like a strange thing to do, but when you write a book with the intention of getting it published, you tend to lose your creativity and try to conform to clichés and trends that are currently popular. You lose your originality in the process and your book comes across as a not-so-good clone of a few of the recently popular bestsellers. Publishers are looking for originality because they know that people are always seeking change, so if they see a spark in your work, they may be willing to take a gamble on you.
  • Publish by yourself: And finally, instead of waiting for publishing houses to get back to you, self-publish your books using some of the options that are available online. This may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s a start to where you want to go. It allows you to test the waters and see the reception your book gets; also, you could begin small by writing e-books and publishing them online to see what people like and would buy at a bookstore.

If you’re looking to get published, the answer is to be patient, keep trying, and stay busy with writing new things while waiting for someone to snap up your book.