Spam in Your Comment Section

By Claudia Anderson  

Everyone who writes online does so because they love to write. Some have pictures they want to share. Some share therapy. Some thoughts. Most everyone writes from experience, sharing what they've learned with others who want to learn. Those who share on social media also enjoy the responses and interactions with those who have read their writing. This is where friends are made, ideas are shared, where we feel good about what we do.

Then there are the spammies.

Spammies attack all sorts of social media -- emails and blogs in particular. Lately it has been open season to those with nothing else to do than create chaos.

Here is a real comment from a real follower:

Very nice! I hear you on the "creaks from my joints and the squeals from my muscles." I definitely want to work on those this year, too. Happy New Year, Claudia! I wish great things for you in 2016!" Maddie

Some how I missed the yellow brick road last time -- I loved your story! Thank you for repeating... Deb

Subscribers and non-subscribers alike usually refer to something specific in your writing. There are times when you do get "I really like this!" or "Great post!", but usually those are from followers you already know. (I know -- sometimes I use less than 5 words too).

But a spammy is always from someone you don't know, usually has no image or legit link, and often talk about things that have nothing to do with your post. It's usually generic praise for you to keep doing what you're doing. For example:

Your writing is certainly extremely persuasive and that is probably the reason why I am making an effort in order to opine. Secondly, even though I can easily notice the jumps in reason you make, I am not really sure of exactly how you seem to unite the ideas which produce the actual final result. For now I will, no doubt subscribe to your position but trust in the foreseeable future you connect your facts better. Tata

Another:

Thanks for the comment and sharing this story. Somehow when this stuff is going on, I tend to attribute also and to myself. Like I'm a faulty adult or something. But having done workplace advocacy for a long time and so to I've come to realize just how often what this is to be only by simply ignoring a co-worker they don't like is so acceptable... Roman

Those are just a few. You can see right away they have nothing to do with what you've written. I've seen tons of others where some nebulous person says, "Your blog is very helpful. I am grateful you are writing these things." They are generic and aimless. They usually pick older blogs where no one goes anymore. I've seen conversations go on between two different people about a totally different subject right in my comment section.

I don't know how they get in there or what they want in there. I don't know if they are just messing around or if they're pulling information from my site or just trying to get me to respond so they can continue to fool around. But I don't trust any message that doesn't come in the front door. I don't appreciate invasion of my personal space by people who are playing in my back yard without my knowledge.

Strangers stop by all the time and comment and go on their merry way. But if you keep an eye on how many people comment on your posts (I think everyone does to one degree or another), be aware that not every comment is a true comment about you. Most of these spammies just sit in your e-mail notifications as someone who commented on your writing. Who knows if they have viruses or attachments?

There's nothing wrong with taking the extra step of approving your comments before they get posted. Anyone can type anything anywhere, and anyone can type your email address into anything. So keep your eyes open. If it's too incredible, it's not. If you've received a ton of comments on your offerings and you usually get a half dozen, sniff around. Something's up.

Filter your enthusiasm with a bit of caution. That way you can take your comments for what they were meant to be - responses to your hard-earned efforts.

You can find more ways to laugh, grow, and expand your horizons at Humoring the Goddess and the uniquely beautiful Sunday Evening Art Gallery

Come explore!


2017 Book Guide



Amazon.com has added a news release to its Investor Relations website.

Title: Amazon's Spring 2017 Pilot Season Premieres on March 17 on Amazon Video

For a complete listing of our news releases, please click here

Five new pilots, The Legend of Master Legend, Budding Prospects, The New V.I.P.'s, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Oasis, will debut for all Amazon customers in the US, UK, Germany, Austria and Japan to stream and review

Shows come from prominent creators including Amy Sherman-Palladino, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster, Terry Zwigoff and Steve Dildarian, and feature notable actors including Rachel Brosnahan, Tony Shalhoub, Richard Madden, Anil Kapoor, John Hawkes, Will Sasso, Ben Schwartz, Haley Joel Osment and Missi Pyle

Amazon announced its lineup for its Spring 2017 pilot season which will debut on Amazon Video on March 17 in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, and Japan. Amazon is continuing its tradition of extreme variety this pilot season, including The Legend of Master Legend, from Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue (Transparent), about a homemade superhero in Las Vegas juggling the demands of his duty and his family; Budding Prospects, from Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa), a 1980s pot comedy based on the T.C. Boyle novel of the same name; The New V.I.P.'s, from Steve Dildarian (The Life & Times of Tim), Amazon's first adult animated comedy where a group of low level employees seize control of a major corporation after accidentally murdering their boss; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, from noted creator Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls), about a 1958 New York City woman who goes from uptown housewife to stand-up comic in Greenwich Village; and Oasis, from Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies), that follows a chaplain who is sent into space to help establish a colony on a distant planet.

All Amazon customers in the US, UK, Germany, Austria and Japan are invited to stream and review the pilots to help determine the next Amazon Original Series that are then available to Prime members. The pilots will be available via the Amazon Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV, and mobile devices, or online at Amazon.com/amazonvideo. Amazon customer feedback on pilots have assisted in making some of the most critically-acclaimed and popular series to date, including multi Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning series Transparent, multi Golden Globe-winning series Mozart in the Jungle, and the most-streamed scripted Amazon Original Series ever by Prime members globally, The Man in the High Castle.

The new pilots feature prominent actors including Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards) and Tony Shalhoub (Monk) in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Richard Madden (Game of Thrones), Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, Alpha House) and Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire, 24) in Oasis; John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), Dawnn Lewis (Major Crimes) and Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) in The Legend of Master Legend; Joel David Moore (Bones), Will Sasso (MADtv) and Brett Gelman (Fleabag) in Budding Prospects; Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), Matt Braunger (Agent Carter), Missi Pyle (Gone Girl) and Jonathan Adams (Last Man Standing) in The New V.I.P.'s.

"Pilots continue to be the best way to take risks, find voices and evolve the art form of television," said Joe Lewis, Head of Comedy, Drama & VR, Amazon Studios. "We're excited about these new worlds, characters and filmmakers. We're looking forward to another Amazon Pilot Season and more great customer feedback."

Amazon's half-hour pilots include:

The Legend of Master Legend

The Legend of Master Legend is a dark comedy about the life of Frank Lafount, aka Master Legend -- a homemade superhero whose mission is to protect the people of Las Vegas from evil doers. Master Legend juggles the demands of justice with the even more complicated demands of his real family, who don't see him as a hero at all. The Legend of Master Legend is executive produced by Youree Henley (20th Century Women), Joshuah Bearman (Argo) and David Klawans (Argo), along with executive producers and writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue (Transparent) and Noah Harpster (Transparent). The pilot is directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and stars John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), Dawnn Lewis (Major Crimes), Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) and newcomer Anjelika Washington.

Budding Prospects

In 1983, three hapless city boys move from their comfort zone of the San Francisco counter-culture to Mendacino to grow marijuana. Their expectations of the experience being a back-to-the-land, nurturing adventure in a beautiful rustic setting run up against the harsh truth prior to their arrival at "The Summer Camp" - a miserably run-down shanty out in the middle of nowhere, where they are bedeviled by rats, snakes, mosquitoes, and harsh, unfriendly growing conditions, noisy neighbors, dangerous locals, and menacing law enforcement. Budding Prospects is directed and executive produced by Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa), executive produced by Vincent Landay (Her) and co-written by Melissa Axelrod. The pilot stars Adam Rose (Veronica Mars), Joel David Moore (Bones), Will Sasso (MADtv) and Brett Gelman (Fleabag).

The New V.I.P.'s

Amazon's first adult animated comedy show, The New V.I.P.'s follows a group of low level employees who seize control of a major corporation after accidently murdering their boss. The show was created by Steve Dildarian (The Life & Times of Tim), Titmouse served as the production company (Ben Kalina and Dave Newberg), along with producer Peter Principato (Central Intelligence) from Principato Young. The pilot stars Matt Braunger (Agent Carter), Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), Missi Pyle (Gone Girl) and Jonathan Adams (Last Man Standing).

Amazon's one-hour pilots include:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) and executive produced by Daniel Palladino (Family Guy) and Sherman-Palladino. It's 1958 Manhattan and Miriam "Midge" Maisel (Rachel BrosnahanHouse of Cards) has everything she's ever wanted--the perfect husband, two kids, and an elegant Upper West Side apartment perfect for hosting Yom Kippur dinner. But her perfect life suddenly takes an unexpected turn and Midge discovers a previously unknown talent--one that changes her life forever. She charts a course that takes her from her comfortable life on Riverside Drive, through the basket houses and nightclubs of Greenwich Village as she storms the world of stand-up comedy...a course that will ultimately lead her to a spot on Johnny Carson's couch. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel also stars Michael Zegen (Boardwalk Empire) as Midge's husband Joel Maisel, Alex Borstein (Family Guy) as Susie Myerson, Golden Globe winner and three-time Emmy Winner Tony Shalhoub (Monk) as Midge's father Abe Weinberg, and Marin Hinkle (Two and a Half Men) as Midge's mother Rose Weinberg.

Oasis

Based on the cult-hit novel The Book of Strange New Things from Michel Faber, Oasis follows a chaplain (Richard Madden, Game of Thrones) who is sent into space to help establish a colony on a distant planet. What he ends up discovering not only puts his faith to the test, but life as we know it. The pilot also stars world-renowned Indian actor and producer Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire, 24) as Vikram Danesh, the head of the base on Oasis, Michael Shaw (Limitless) as B.G., Antje Traue (Man of Steel) as Grainger, Mark Addy (Game of Thrones) as Halloran, Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, Alpha House) as Sy, Maureen Sebastian (American Gothic) as Alicia Ruiz, Michael Shaffer (Coach Sinclair) as Phelps, and Zawe Ashton (Nocturnal Animals) as Severin. Oasis is written by Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies), executive produced by Charman, Andy Harries (The Crown) and Lila Rawlings (Left Bank Productions), produced by Rob Bullock (The Night Manager), with Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) directing. The one-hour drama pilot is a co-production of Amazon Studios and Left Bank Productions.

About Amazon Video

Amazon Video is a premium on-demand entertainment service that offers customers the greatest choice in what to watch and how to watch it. Amazon Video is the only service that provides all of the following:

  • Prime Video: Thousands of movies and TV shows, including popular licensed content plus critically-acclaimed and award-winning Amazon Original Series and Movies from Amazon Studios like Transparent, The Man in the High Castle, Love & Friendship, and kids series Tumble Leaf, available for unlimited streaming as part of an Amazon Prime membership. Prime Video is also now available to customers in more than 200 countries and territories around the globe at www.primevideo.com.
  • Amazon Channels: Over 100 video subscriptions to networks like HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, PBS KIDS, Acorn TV, and more, available to Amazon Prime members in the US as add-ons to their membership. To view the full list of available channels, visit www.amazon.com/channels.
  • Rent or Own: Hundreds of thousands of titles, including new release movies and current TV shows available for on-demand rental or purchase for all Amazon customers.
  • Instant Access: Customers can instantly watch anytime, anywhere through the Amazon Video app on compatible TVs, mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and Fire tablets, or online. For a list of all compatible devices, visit www.amazon.com/howtostream.
  • Premium Features: Top features like 4K Ultra HD, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and mobile downloads for offline viewing of select content.

In addition to Prime Video, the Prime membership includes unlimited fast free shipping options across all categories available on Amazon, more than two million songs and thousands of playlists and stations with Prime Music, secure photo storage with Prime Photos, unlimited reading with Prime Reading, unlimited access to a digital audiobook catalog with Audible Channels for Prime, a rotating selection of free digital games and in-game loot with Twitch Prime, early access to select Lightning Deals, exclusive access and discounts to select items, and more. To sign-up for Prime or to find out more,
visit: www.amazon.com/prime.


Can Writing Be A Therapy Or Just A Theory?

By Alan Jarrett  

Talking about some experiences is far more difficult than writing it on a piece of paper or a blank screen. Neither the paper nor the screen are going to be judgmental, or talk back.

Encountering difficult questions while writing are far less threatening. Reviewed by an anonymous therapist or even just someone willing to read without comment, can allow the beginning of healing.

This became somewhat popular as a therapy in the '80s, by Dr. James Pennebaker. Expressive writing is just without rules. The only thing that matters is getting down what you're feeling about incidents. Not what you did or didn't do, rather what's going on inside.

Imagine the freedom of putting it on paper or on your computer, never having to reveal your innermost secrets to a living soul. Things you would never feel comfortable sharing with the most intimate friend, can be lifted off your shoulders in a heartbeat by writing about it.

Maybe all the trauma won't be solved so fast, because the healing process is unique to everyone, like fingerprints.What is certain would be the beginning of that process. The only question might be whether to use pen and paper, or keyboard and computer?

The jury is out as to the therapeutic value of pen on paper or tapping away on a keyboard, simply because some may not be so adept at typing. However, my handwriting gets way to excited and difficult to read, where typing is far more legible and for me, faster than writing.

Deciding which is best for you should be easy. Typing or writing? Camps are somewhat divided as to one over the other in terms of therapeutic value. Try both if there is any doubt one way of the other. Finding what works for you or anyone and getting involved is what really counts.

Writing offers no confrontation with another's opinion. Allowing you to take as much time to deal with your issue as you can handle. Taken in small increments expressive writing only deals with individual feelings directly related to the trauma or events. Grammar, spelling or style has nothing to do with it.

Freedom to open up emotions that have been blocked out are far more likely when there is no other intimidating factor to activate the thinking mechanism or subconscious mind. Writing continuously for 15 to 20 minutes is the goal for four days.

The mind is capable of using thoughts and words which don't always find a place in someones vocabulary when trying to explain feelings. Expressive writing offers this as an additional way to reach deep where attempting to put words in play fall short.

Realization that this applies to more than those who have experienced devastating events, traumas, life changing moments, comes as somewhat of a surprise for some. While memories of unpleasant experiences have been shoved into deep recesses where there may be hope of eternal forgetfulness, they will always surface at the most unexpected moments until finally dealt with.

Expressive writing can start the real process of erasing those, freeing up the seemingly weightless burden that now can actually be felt as it lifts from your mind. Feelings buried alive never die, but once resurrected they can finally be laid to rest.

Alan is a charter "Boomer", a Vietnam veteran, married 47 years, grandfather of 13, resides in Florida and Ecuador, committed to roasting his own coffee and writes about whatever pops into his mind. He loves to build and ride recumbent bikes, play racquetball, writes almost daily, travels Ecuador, and talks to anything that does not move fast enough! The twinkle in his eye is a combination of the sun, and an active sense of humor.

The desire to encourage others is being answered through writing on the Internet.


Thomas Frank: "Wealthy Liberals Don't Seem to Care About Inequality"

Thomas Frank asks in his new book: What ever happened to the party of the people? Photo Credit: Tim Bouwer/Flickr Creative Commons

This piece has been adapted from Thomas Frank's new book, Listen, Liberal, or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? (Metropolitan Books).When you press Democrats on...

" ... To think about it slightly more critically, Boston is the headquarters for two industries that are steadily bankrupting middle America: big learning and big medicine, both of them imposing costs that everyone else is basically required to pay and which increase at a far more rapid pace than wages or inflation. A thousand dollars a pill, 30 grand a semester: the debts that are gradually choking the life out of people where you live are what has made this city so very rich.


Perhaps it makes sense, then, that another category in which Massachusetts ranks highly is inequality.


Once the visitor leaves the brainy bustle of Boston, he discovers that this state is filled with wreckage—with former manufacturing towns in which workers watch their way of life draining away, and with cities that are little more than warehouses for people on Medicare. According to one survey, Massachusetts has the eighth-worst rate of income inequality among the states; by another metric it ranks fourth.


However you choose to measure the diverging fortunes of the country’s top 10 percent and the rest, Massachusetts always seems to finish among the nation’s most unequal places.


Seething City on a Cliff ..."

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How to Boost the Search Engine Visibility of Your Books

By Amy Harrop 

Whether you plan to put your self-published books up for sale on your own website or on a popular book-selling platform like Kindle or Kobo, one of the most important things you can do is boost the visibility, also known as the discoverability, of your books online.

While there's no way to optimize your actual book for search engines, you can optimize the pages that your books are posted on and the links that point to those pages in order to funnel more prospective buyers and increase their exposure.

Before we get into specifics, think about this simple truth...

The Way We Discover Books Has Changed Forever

Imagine walking into a book store and browsing for a book on a specific topic.

You'll most likely walk to the section of the store that has the type of book you are looking for. For example a cook book, a science book or a literature book.

From there you would peruse the book shelf until you come across a topic that most closely matches the information you're looking for. It may be a cook book about baking cakes, a science book about geology or a literature book based on space age science fiction.

For all of your time and effort, you would most likely end up with a book that closely meets your needs.

Now come back to reality for a moment and think about the way you would use the internet to conduct the same kind of book search.

Without an actual title already in mind, it is often very difficult to hone in on the perfect book that falls in line with the information you want.

On the other hand, if you learn and use the language of the internet and combine it with the way that the average internet user searches for information, you can position every book that you release prominently in front of an audience that is most likely to be interested in its content.

This language is known as Search Engine Optimization.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the practice of altering a website or single web page so that it is naturally more visible in a search engine's results. These non-paid-for positions in the search engine are also known as 'organic' search results.

The goal of every Search Engine Optimization endeavor should be to get the pages that list your books and their buy links to appear as high up in the search engines as possible for certain keywords and phrases.

Accomplish this, and the result is a gradual increase in exposure, interest and eventually sales of your books.

How to Use Keywords to Optimize Book Search

If your goal is to optimize your book listings in order to get attention in the search engine result pages, it's best that you start to think of keywords as the currency of the internet.

A keyword or a keyword phrase is any term that a searcher, or in your case a potential reader types into the search box in order to find the information they are looking for.

Let's suppose you are a self-published author who focuses on creating specialty cook books and your latest title is all about creating flourless chocolate cakes and other gluten free desserts.

Someone searching for your book may not have any clue who you are or that you even have that cook book available for purchase online. What they do know is what kind information they're looking for.

If this individual uses Google's search bar, they may type in any one of the following terms:

•             Flourless chocolate cake recipe
•             Gluten free desserts
•             No flour dessert recipes
•             Flour free cake
•             Books about gluten free baking
•             Flourless cake cookbooks

Google then uses these keywords to find related websites, books and videos before returning web pages that deliver information that most closely matches what the searcher is looking for.

If you aren't sure what kinds of keywords to include in your pages, try using a keyword tool like the free one provided by Google or one of the many other options available.

This gives you insight into the types of words searchers may input in order to find information related to the areas of interest you cover in your books.

The Power of Backlinks

Along with doing on-page optimization with specific keywords and keyword phrases, getting backlinks from relevant and related websites is another key to boosting your book's visibility in the search engine results.

This is because Google and other search engines view them as a kind of thumbs up of approval from other websites.

With that said, it's important to remember is quality is much more important than quantity.

Having one link from a highly reputable and relevant website is worth a thousand links from a spammy website.

Legitimate ways to get backlinks include:

•             Going on blog tours
•             Writing articles for websites
•             Social media sharing
•             Blogging to attract new readers

Simply creating relevant and valuable content attracts links because it gets shared by your fans and picked up by various media outlets.

The key is not to force things and create a bunch of artificial backlinks, but to make your content so interesting that links come naturally. Over time you see a boost in your book page's search engine rankings and a subsequent uptick in sales.

While doing things the organic way does take time and effort, the long-lasting results are more than worth it.

Blogging and Search Engine Optimization

As far as SEO goes, blogging can be one of the most productive activities you can do to increase the amount of natural search engine traffic that lands on your author website or on pages that feature your book titles.

Earlier, we mentioned the way that the average internet user searches for the information they want to find online.

They type a search term or phrase into the search bar and scroll through the results to see if they find a page that seems to reflect the type of content they want to read.

Posting to your blog on a regular basis is a simple and easy way to keep your website fresh and up-to-date with relevant information that your fans and readers want to know, as well as provide the search engines with pages of keywords that they can use to index your pages and direct web searchers to your website and book titles when they indicate an interest in certain topics.

Along with naturally occurring keywords and keyword phrases, blogs tend to attract attention from interested visitors, which leads to social sharing and SEO-boosting backlinks when the pages are shared with others.

Blogging is also a great way to bridge the gap for a complete stranger who lands on your sales page but isn't sure whether or not they want to take the leap of faith and actually buy your book.

By giving them a taste of what you have to offer with review snippets, manuscript excerpts and by sprinkling a generous dash of your true personality throughout your blog, your prospect gets to know you and your work better which makes moving your book in their mind from a maybe to a must-have, that much easier.

The Bottom Line

Once you've written your manuscripts, you should never allow them to get lost in the vast ocean of the World Wide Web. By harnessing the power of Search Engine Optimization, you can position your book titles and brand prominently in internet users minds, by making them highly visibly and easy to discover!


SPECIAL -WOMEN WRITERS FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH 2017