Driving Traffic to your Website or Blog

I've been reading up on how to drive more traffic to your website and/or blog. One obvious first step is to submit your site or blog's URL to Google. Makes sense, right? I mean if Google's search engine hasn't indexed you yet, then let's give Google a heads-up that we exist! If that's the way you'd like to go then Google itself tells you how to do it through their post Share your place on the net with us. But as I kept searching, I stumbled upon an article that talked of an even better way of getting your site or blog indexed by Google.

The article in question comes from TheKeywordAcademy.com and is titled, Do NOT Submit Your Website To Google!The title sure got my attention because it is counter-intuitive, isn't it? But after reading it, the article did make sense. With a simple 1,2,3-step approach, the folks at TheKeywordAcademy.com share with us what they call "the proper way to submit a website to Google." I've followed their lead and have already submitted one articles to eZineArticles.com. Within days of doing that my Google Alerts mentioned both links. :-)

There's so much information online on how to drive traffic to your site. What have you tried? Has it worked? How do you know? Do you want to give the article submission a try? Kenji Sakamoto has an article on how to do just that.

How about if you write one such article, maybe following the steps that Sakamoto suggests we follow when writing an effective article in order to market it online? Go ahead and submit it to either eZineArticles.com, GoArticle.com, ArticleAlley.com or another site you know about? Think it's worth a try? If you do so, send me the URL to your posted article so we can all go visit you there and from there link back to the URL you listed for yourself in your byline.


The Week's Best Late-Night Jokes

Late night show hosts deserve every penny they get. They make us laugh at the most horrendous goings ons... and sometimes, laugh is all you can do. On his 6/25/10 blog at About.com, Daniel Kurtzman has compiled a great list of this past week's best late-night jokes. Some of my favorites are:
McChrystal's clearly been hitting that sweet Afghani heroin. Because you would have to be higher than Keith Richards to criticize your commander-in-chief at a time of war in front of a reporter from Rolling Stone. —Stephen Colbert
"Because of the success of 'Toy Story 3,' Pixar is now rushing ahead with its plans to do a sequel to one of its most popular movies, presented by BP. It's BP presents 'Try Finding Nemo Now.'" —Jay Leno 
"The state legislature in California is considering a bill that would allow electronic advertisements on license plates. Is that wise? I really don't need anything else to distract me while I'm texting." —Craig Ferguson 
Political humor or political satire is very much what wikipedia describes it as,
a significant part of satire that specializes in gaining entertainment from politics; it has also been used with subversive intent where political speech and dissent are forbidden by a regime, as a method of advancing political arguments where such arguments are expressly forbidden. --/Wikipedia's definition of political satire.
Growing up in Cuba I remember the way we shared political jokes with each other. We shared them in hushed tones when in public and we laughed and laughed afterward in the privacy of our home.

What's your take on political humor?  I'd love to hear about it.


Resurrection Sunday Dance, Budapest, Hungary

I realize not all is well within the Christian faith. It's composed of humans, after all, and humans are not perfect. In our zeal to be perfect, we oftentimes stray into the absurd. But for the moment, while watching this video, I celebrate what is right within my faith.

I cried with joy as I watched it. The music, lyrics, and people personify for me the hope Christianity offers the world. It also shows what I love most about my Christian faith, its hope-filled foundation. It poignantly reminds me that impossible things can happen when we do not lose hope. Only a few years back it would not have been possible for such a Christ-centered celebration to take place in Budapest's public square.

I see myself in the face of the woman and the two men that you see 1.28 minutes into the video. The words of the song that come up right then are those I would have been thinking had I been in their place, "Joy in this life time, utterly free..."

I believe that for the Hungarians in this video, as much as for me, the lyrics from the song are twice as meaningful. I know what it's like to live under an oppressive and totalitarian regime. As a child, I lived under communism in Cuba. Were I part of the group dancing and singing in this video I would know the meaning of the words I was singing applied to me both now on earth as well as later in heaven.

...The flag of a nation ready to fly, taking them higher
...The heart of a land that rises to fight, full of desire
...when nothing is as you want it to be, Look up to heaven
...Freedom was paid for on Calvary, the chain is broken
...Making a way right to destiny, borders are open
...Joy in this life time, utterly free

As I watch young and old celebrating together their physical and spiritual freedom, I rejoice with them. Their exhilaration comes across and touches my soul. I resonate with them and sing alongside. And long after the video ends, my heart keeps on singing, to the glory of God and the power of the human spirit which refuses to bow under oppression and, sooner or later, triumphs over it.

UPDATE: I received the following email from Tompage, Founder of uptofaith.com:
Dear Friends, Following the overwhelming success of our Resurrection Sunday Dance here in Budapest, we are happy to announce that our new Christian website, uptofaith.com, is now up and running. In addition to great music you will also find information about the launching of Up to Faith Dance 2011, our newest project with global ambitions. So, if you enjoyed the Resurrection Sunday Dance or had thoughts that you would have liked to have been involved as well, now's your chance! Check out http://www.uptofaith.com  and get ready for the adventure. And if you like it, please forward this email to your friends!

See you on UptoFaith.com!
Tompage, Founder of uptofaith.com

The uptofaith.com website is really cool! Under their "Media" link they've got both a gallery of photos AND videos! I loved watching the videos and, especially, the "Training Video," which just about made me feel I could do this. I liked how they filmed it showing various locations, which imply this glorious dance can be setup and carried out anytime, anywhere.

I just finished registering. Hopefully something will be setup for my city, or close enough that I can drive to it. Write back and let me know what you think of the uptofaith.com website and their mission. If you register, and end up participating, I'd love to hear back from you! :-)


Claudia Putnam's blog post: In honor of Jake

I just finished reading and re-reading my friend Claudia Putnam's blog post, In Honor of Jake. She writes about the loss of a child, her little boy, who died just three days after being born. Claudia's writing is touching and beautiful and meaningful and insightful all rolled up into one. It's sad but not morbid. Putnam walked a fine line in touching my heart and left it actually hope-filled and determined to love and live more fully today than I did yesterday. Her line on how you wish you could be like other parents who take their kids for granted really affected me. I know I often fall in that category, assuming both David and Christine will always be with me. I'm always thankful for words that encourage me to embrace the gift that each day brings and Claudia's writing did that for me today.


Easter, Spring, and all things new

So here's a question for you: What family traditions do you have related to Easter? To the advent of Spring? Whether or not you celebrate religious traditions during this time of year, tell us what is special about the coming of Easter/Spring-time for you.

For me? Well, my memories have to do with white shoes, flowery dresses AND hats! That's what we did in Cuba growing up. Mama would make sure all 6 girls had their Easter dresses and she'd have one made for herself as well that would be in the same fabric as ours though designed for a grown up. White patent leather shoes for all 7 of us, Mama and us 6 girls. Yes, the shoes had to be patent leather, shiny ones... Little purses for each of us that matched the shoes... Soft flowery dresses and white hats. Then in New Jersey it was traumatic because often for Easter there would be snow and yet we would go to Easter Sunday church service wearing, yep, you guessed it! We'd go wearing our Easter dresses, white shoes, and purses and hats. LOL.

One thing that was and still is very different about how I celebrate Easter here in the USA vs Cuba is that in Cuba Good Friday was almost the highlight of Holy Week. There was a procession down the streets that we'd go watch and then we'd go to church from noon until 3pm, while the events of that day in Jesus' life were recounted. I never thought of it as morbid, this emphasis on remembering His death, but actually healing, in that I actually "felt" his pain and ended up feeling very grateful for what He'd done for me.

Then on Sunday it was all about the Hallelujah chorus and everyone in church who wanted to could go up and belt it out alongside the choir. I never did learn all the words to the hymn but it was just glorious belting out the words I did know, especially repeating Hallelujah over and over again. I found this YouTube video of the Soul Children of Chicago singing the Hallelujah Chorus and it brought wonderful memories back. I remember acting just like the children in the video, singing my heart out and enjoying it tremendously... even if all I repeated over and over was Hallelujah and "forever, and ever."

The Easter bunny never made it to our home in Cuba. I don't at all remember hearing about him until after we got to the USA. And, after hearing about him, we snubbed him for years because we didn't understand what role a rabbit played during Easter time. For us Easter was all about Christ.Eventually we did let the rabbit into our home and just this week I put out in my own home the decorative ceramic rabbits, the same ones my mother ended up using to decorate our home as we grew up in the USA.

So... How about you? What has been special for you over the years about this time of the year? What is special now?


Got marathons and Antarctica and Christine Gary on my mind

On March 7, 2010, my daughter ran the Antarctica Marathon!!! She's running a marathon in each of the 7 continents while fundraising for the educational nonprofit I presently manage, ChildrenComeFirst.com. Those who donate to this cause will receive a tax deductible receipt from CCF and will be part of Christine's 7-continent runs as she'll put donors' names on the shirt she'll wear while running them.

I've always encouraged young people to reach for the stars. It's wonderful to see my own daughter doing just that. As she mentions in her website, she's an average young woman attempting extraordinary goals. If you'd like to sponsor her, all donations received are tax-deductible and will go towards the educational work of CCF. A portion of each donation will be sent to Oceanites by CCF.

I'd LOVE for you to pass the word around!!! If you want to use the image of Christine's running shirt as your facebook profile picture for a few days, or digg this blog post, or email it to your friends, you can find this image and download it from: http://www.childrencomefirst.com/runwithchristine.jpg


•♥•♥•♥•♥(¯''·.¸(♥)¸.·''¯) HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY (¯''·.¸(♥)¸.·''¯) ♥•♥•♥•♥•♥• •♥•♥•♥•♥(¯''·.¸(♥)¸.·''¯) HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY (¯''·.¸(♥)¸.·''¯) ♥•♥•♥•♥•♥•


You can have what Navy Seals and Olympic athletes have: Mission focus

Mission focus is something both Navy Seals and Olympic athletes have. It's also something each of us can use to achieve our goals. Chris Jansing, of MSNBC, showed a video clip today titled, "Navy Seals: The Science of Mental Toughness," as part of the NBC special series, "Silent Warrios: An exclusive view at the lives and the training of Navy Seals."

The documentary stood out to me because it focused on the psychological aspects of the making of a Navy Seal. It became even more interesting to me when it compared what Navy Seals and Olympic athletes have in comon, i.e., Mission focus.

In the video Jansing tells us that, "For Seals, mental toughness is the number one indicator of sucess." That's what achieving our goals is all about. Isn't maintaining our focus on the job at hand the way to become a good student, parent, educator, athlete, writer, doctor, engineer, teacher, and even a Navy Seal or an Olympic athlete? Whatever goal we set for ourselves will require mental toughness on our part so we keep going when the going gets tough.

US Navy Seals flag animated clipart
The key ingredient used by Navy Seals to gain this mental toughness is one that is within the reach of all of us. They choose to go through constant training challenges. Time on task. Moment after moment. Day after day. As with the Navy Seals, it's the constant training of our minds, bodies, and souls, that will allow each one of us to reach higher and go further in our own lives.

Research is backing up the idea that mental toughness is key in achieving goals. "The Navy has been doing cutting edge research on mental toughness," Jansingcontinues, "developing a written test that helps weed out candidates who aren't likely to make it thru training."

Cmdr. Eric Potterat, Naval Special Warfare Psychologist adds, "For the first time, to my knowledge, we're able to predict, from the neck up some of the science of mental toughness...Panic, fear, doubt, the minute we teach our candidates to be able to control that, their confidence goes up because they don't have the same fear response that you or I might have"

That's the key, isn't it? How many books have you read that told you the same thing? Whether it be, Hug the Monster, As a Man Thinketh, Unstopable, Dare to Win, An Enemy Called Average, or Unstoppable Women, to name just a few, the advice is the same: Do not let the molehills in your life become mountains. Bring the obstacles you're facing down to size and you'll see that you are, indeed, able to deal with them. You can work through whatever is keeping you from achieving your stated goals.

I enjoyed seeing how the research and experience that the Navy has garnered in this field is being shared with Olympic athletes. Jansingasks, "how does a Seal on a mission, how does an Olympian in a gold medal moment, make years of training come together when it counts most?" We each have our "goal medal moments" where it's up to us to stay the course or throw in the towel. It makes sense that our individual mental toughness can be a key determining factor of our success at such times.

I agree with what a US Olympic psychologist says in the video. He thinks that, "there are things that are similar in terms of how we have to be primed and ready for an elite performance opportunity." Long before the opportunity comes for us to perform at our best, we need to be ready for it.

The video shows us members of the Olympic Water Polo team going through mock drills under the Navy Seals' supervision at the Seals' base in Coronado, CA. Terry Schroeder, USA Water Polo, shares why they came, "So often the difference between winning and loosing is just a fraction. And so we were looking for whatever little piece we could grab."

Wrapping up the segment, Jansingsays that, "On the playing field and the battlefield, using mental toughness to come out on the winning side, both Seal instructors and Olympic coaches told me that what they all have in common is mission focus."

Mission Focus. Now there's a thought worth grabbing hold of, isn't it? What is it you want to become? What do you want to accomplish? How are you focusing on your goal, your mission? Take a hint from the Navy Seals and Olympic athletes and work hard at maintaining your mission focus.


Meet New Year's Goals with HabitForge's Help

In the past few years I've almost stopped making New Year goals and resolutions. Not because I don't have things I'd like to accomplish, but rather because I rely on my never-ending "to do" list to keep me focused. This strategy has served me well, up to a point. The thing with "to do" lists is that they often are made up of things that scream so loud for my attention that whether they're on the list or not they will get done. But what about my silent goals? What about the desires I keep in a hidden corner of my heart?

If you're like me, those longings of our hearts tend to take a back seat to the screaming demands of daily life. Thankfully, they do not go away. More often than not, their embers remain in place, softly calling us to blow upon them with our time and promising a glorious flame of victory once we do so.

Whatever your New Year's goals may be, habitforge.com may hold the key to your success. Their website tells us that, "Every 6 minutes someone joins habitforge." This is followed by a long list of testimonials from folks who've signed up for free and are being helped by the site's technology to accomplish their goals.

Is 2010 the year you'll start writing your novel? Or finish writing your work in progress? How about your reading? Would you like to read more this year? And when it comes to your physical well-being, do you want to exercise more? Walk more? Rest more? Eat healthier? I've signed up at habitforge.com and hope this will help me accomplish one of my heart's desires. How about you? If you do sign up, come back and tell me whether you found the site helpful or not.


Xerox Technology to Fuel Espresso Book Machine

I've been tracking, on and off, the development of the Espresso Book Machine and am totally fascinated by it. Back in 2006 we posted an article about it to the CCF website and today we found a press release from the Xerox Corporation announcing that Xerox technology is to fuel the Espresso Book Machine. Even more promising for what has been termed "the ATM for books," is the fact that Xerox's worldwide agreement with On Demand Books includes global marketing and sales support.

Click to enlargeXerox and On Demand Books will jointly market and sell, on a worldwide basis, the Xerox 4112 Copier/Printer together with the Espresso Book Machine -- a fully integrated solution that prints, binds and trims books with full color covers on demand in retail locations and libraries.The Espresso Book Machine can produce paperbacks in variable combinations of trim sizes between 4.5" x 5.0" and 8.25" x 10.5" for a production cost less than one cent per page.

This technology should be able to help us get our hands on out of print books and it should also help small publishers, as they won't be forced to keep large inventory of titles on hand.

I am an author, editor, and bookseller and don't see the Espresso Book Machine and related technologies, whether they be amazon.com's Kindle, etc, as threats. Instead, I see them as enlarging the reservoirs from which readers worldwide can more easily satisfy their thirst. What do you think?


Island of my heart, by Olgy Gary

April 29, 2010 is my self-imposed deadline to finish the middle grade novel I'm writing. I keep a copy of the manuscript in my Kindle and love to browse through the various chapters before I go to bed at night. The memories are crisp, clear, and the years separating me from when the events in the story took place vanish as I relive them in the stillness of the night.

Now that I'm settled into our new home in Virginia it's time for me to finish the manuscript and submit it to the editors and agents who have asked for it after hearing my pitch. The plan is to finish writing it by April 29th and then have the months of May and June as a time where the manuscript is read by pre-selected readers, including members of my critique group. During these two months I would work on rewrites and edits prior to submitting the manuscript to various agents and editors come July 1, 2010. At present my critical path is BIC HOK TAM (butt-in-chair; hands-on-keyboard; typing-away-madly)! It's the motto of the Book-in-a-week group I belong to and it really is the best way to get writing done.

Island of my heart / Isla de mi corazón is the working title of my forthcoming middle grade novel. It's also the sentiment many Cubans have about their homeland. Andy Garcia encapsulated this feeling in his movie, "The Lost City." [Final scene of the movie shown below.]

My writing in Island of my heart has garnered praise from award-winning authors who've read it. The manuscript also won 2nd place in the YA category of the Paul Gillette Writing Contest in 2005.

I'll keep you posted on my progress as the days go by and give all my blog visitors permission to hound me so that I keep to my deadline and finish writing the manuscript by April 29th. I've set up an Island of my heart group at myspace and would love to have you visit with me there as well.


Kindle for PC: Another reason to adore your Kindle

Just when I thought the Kindle world couldn't get any better, it did! Amazon.com now offers Kindle for PC, with the Mac version on its way. This means that every single book or document I've ever downloaded to my Kindle I can now download and read on my PC, my laptop, or my notebook.

Honestly, it's just awesome to be able to do this. If I don't have my Kindle with me I still can keep reading where I left off by going to my Notebook and launching the Kindle for PC application from there. All my documents and books are available, even the archived ones. And my notes and bookmarks that I made while reading my various books or documents in my Kindle also show up. Is this ever cool or what?!?

If you already own a Kindle, you can start using the Kindle for PC application right away. If you've yet to purchase one, you may want to consider going global! Yes, the latest generation of the Kindle Wireless Reading Device is not only wireless, like the other versions are, but it's Global Wireless!

Up to now you had to be within the USA in order to be able to download books or documents to your Kindle. Not anymore. With the Global Wireless version of the Kindle it works anywhere else in the world you find yourself in. Probably tourist or business travelers will find the global wireless useful. We've found yet another group of folks who will be able to use the global version of the Kindle: our deployed military men and women. This is just what our friend has done. Her son has been called back into active duty and he's taking with him the global wireless Kindle.

It's also nice that the newest version of the Kindle is smaller, it's 8"x5.3"x0.36", so it's smaller than the Kindle-2, which was smaller than the Kindle-1. I could go on about how much I love my Kindle-2 but I'd rather hear from you! Write back and let me know how you like yours. Or let me know if you have any questions about these units.

If you end up purchasing a Kindle or any of its accessories from the links on my blog a portion of the purchase price will come back to CCF, the educational nonprofit I manage. Just know that I wouldn't be singing the Kindle's praises if I did not totally believe in them. At our home we have already purchased two of these units and a third one is on its way.


Very cool news: Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews Lives to Write Another Day http://bit.ly/4GDQ4F

Dreamdark's Silksinger: an excellent read

ChildrenComeFirst.com has posted a great review of this middle grade novel. They write that,
"We received a review copy of Laini Taylor's Silksinger earlier this year from its publisher, along with the first book in the series, Blackbringer. The paperback edition of Blackbringer came out in May of 2009. The hardcover edition of Silksinger came out in September. Both titles are part of the Faeries of Dreamdark books that Taylor is writing.

Click here to read the rest of the post


Happy New Year to our friends & family!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Click to view the card from our home to yours.