In Your Dreams #flashfiction

One of the most encouraging and supportive bloggers in the universe shares in 99 words what she never dreamed blogging would do for her. She wrote the words right out from under me. I couldn’t have said it better in 99,000 words. She also shared all her entries in the Rodeo Contest. So much fun. Enjoy reading Norah Colvin.

Norah Colvin

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something a character never dreamed would happen. The situation can be fortuitous, funny, or disappointing. Go where the prompt leads!

When I began my blogging journey in 2013, I never dreamed that I would:

  • continue writing two or more posts a week for more than seven years
  • participate in weekly flash fiction prompts at the Carrot Ranch year after year
  • meet so many fascinating people from nearly every continent with varied backgrounds and interests
  • make so many wonderful friends in the blogosphere whose encouragement and support is constant (thank you)
  • become addicted to the conversations that occur on my blog and theirs
  • enter into a rodeo contest, a writing one at that, and receive honourable mentions for my efforts.

(99 words)

The 2020 rodeo is over now…

View original post 1,066 more words

Like It or Not, You Can’t Avoid Being a Sales Person

Innocent Accusations Open Your Eyes to the Truth!

My dear and sincere friend Debby Gies commented the other day, “I applaud you for always pushing through new barriers with technology and trying out new things. I guess it’s different for you because your blogging reasons are geared toward advertising and mine isn’t. “

Her words shocked me. Immediately, I wanted to wash them off me like the oily sunscreen on my face.

Who me, advertising? Yikes!I’m not one of those greasy hard-hitting internet sales persons, am I?

Bloggers can't avoid sales

Click on the picture above to sign up for Woodlake Botanical Gardens newsletter. 🙂

OK, I admit it, I love to make a pitch! 🙂

Bad News Bloggers! You Can’t Avoid Being a Sales Person!

Like Peter denying Christ three times on the night of his crucifixion, I defended myself unnecessarily to Debby, (Debby loves me) explaining that I make no money. This is true, but obviously not from lack of trying.

Admittedly and openly stated in my public goals, I have tried to “go pro” in the past nine months. I just haven’t had a clear vision of what good I could offer people.  So my sales pitches have been pretty empty.

But the truth is that, in spite of being an abject failure in making money through my blogging, I do enjoy marketing and the joy of pointing someone in the right direction and trying to create networks between people. I’m pretty great at that, too, in life. But in life as on the computer, I’m great at finding work for myself. I’m not great at making the sale.  

Give More than You Get

Chris Brogan says we should give more value to our readers and not charge. Even if we are in business, we should not blog only about business, but about all the side issues that help people in related areas. But for people who may need more help in those topics, we let them know we are available to help them with their specific needs. If we are in business, there is a fee.

If we are hobby bloggers, we give our advice in exchange for friendship.

New Blogs for New Ventures

Bloggers can't avoid sales

Last week I started a blog for Woodlake Botanical Gardens. Our director and his wife have dedicated their lives to establishing the garden at no cost to the community. He’s a professor, a small farm advisor in the heart of the largest agricultural area in the world.

Manuel and Olga Jimenez Became One-Couple Ambassadors for Woodlake

Manuel and Olga created this gorgeous garden in this tiny rural, very poor community because the teens complained that their community (set at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains) was ugly. It isn’t ugly, but the town is poor.

Now, this Treasure may disappear because someone needs to help shoulder the load, and come up with paid help to take the places of these amazing founding volunteers. Without help with watering from the City of Woodlake, in this heat, the trees and plants will be very stressed if they don’t die.

Also, I’ll need plenty of posts on gardening tips, children’s activities, ethical responsibilities of the community, and many other posts if you want to send me a guest post.

Check it out. We have 238 followers, and it just started last week.


To Sustain the Gardens, And the Educational Program They Need Help

So Olga asked me to start a blog, and I did. And a Twitter account @WoodlakeBG  and Google +, and they added me as an administrator on the Facebook Page and we’re serious about being in the non-profit business.However, our new blog can’t be just about raising money even though we need about $250,000 per year to replace equipment, produce materials, replace plants, and most of all, fund two horticulturists and an administrator to work along side of mentors, Manuel and Olga Jimenez. So besides raising money, and trying to get volunteers, We’ll need plenty of posts on gardening tips, children’s activities, ethical responsibilities of the community, and many other posts.

Want to contribute? Email me at

Yep, I’m a sales person, and proud of it. Sign up for our Newsletter, too.  Tell me if I deliver value.

What Is Your Passion?

Most hobby bloggers are blogging out of a passion. What is yours? Write and tell your story on Always Write.

What pitches can I make on your behalf to move your passion and your blog forward in the overcrowded blogosphere seas?

Bloggers can't avoid sales
Use to advertise a guest post

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What Would You Ask a Lovely Human About Blogging?

Chris Brogan is a Lovely Human

In two more days, Chris Brogan will be my guest on Always Write for twenty amazing minutes. I announced this event in a Facebook Group, Serious Bloggers Only. Claire Emerson of Get Bossy Now wrote, ” Chris is such a lovely human. Good luck with the interview!!!”

lovely human

That is one of the nicest things you could say about another person. After following him for two months, I agree.

Besides being humble and generous, what I notice is that he gets quickly to the crux of the matter and sluffs off the unimportant trivia.

One Example of Why Chris Brogan is a Wise and Lovely Human

An article I wrote about whether or not make links open in another tab or not had me spinning in circles wanting to blog correctly and get the most traffic possible if I’m sincere. But it also reflects how I like to study. You can read how my readers responded. It was a great discussion.

The post asks the question, “Is it better to let readers decide what happens when they click a link, or to decide it for them?”

If the user chooses the default mode, they have to click the back arrow to get back to the blogger’s site. If the blogger decides, then the tab with the blogger’s post stays open while the reader meanders through the internet link hopping.

So I researched the subject long and hard, wrote an excellent post, and in a thousand words or less, may have missed the deeper point.

The Psychology of Opening Links in New Tabs

Chris Brogan dug deeper into what it says about a blogger sociologically and psychologically to keep the links in default mode so that the readers decide whether they want to go back and read your post after they finish reading the linked post (or to change it to keep your blog open manually). Chris broached this subject in his book, Social Media 101. (Amazon affiliate link)

 … Sometimes this (linking back to your own blog) makes sense. But if every link keeps the audience on your site, you’re telling me that you don’t want me wandering around the Web sharing attention. … Links are the currency of attention (in Internet currency).”

Another Example of Chris’s Wisdom

As a new blogger, I struggled with the vocabulary of blogging; I anguished over “branding.” Blogging 101 from many sources reminded me that my blog was not complete until I had a” brand.”

Since I wasn’t selling anything, I wondered why I needed a brand. A blogger Penny Howe tried to coach me in the meaning of a personal brand.

First I struggled to define who I was and created a child-like logo to tell people who I was. It went nowhere. Someone told me to use my picture as my brand. I did that.

Eventually, I started Always Write, which my husband and I laughingly agreed was the right name for my blog. After about six months I designed a logo. Then my web designer remodeled it so that I’m proud of it. Colors on my blog feel like representations of me.

Chris Brogan on Branding

In his weekly newsletter, words of wisdom, not trivia bleated out from the title.

“You can’t avoid being a brand”

Don’t you love that title? Woah! I am a brand! When Penny tried to explain that five years ago, I didn’t entirely understand. Then Chris went on to explain himself.

“If you swap the word “brand” with “reputation,” it might resonate with you a bit more. What are you known for? What associations do people make when they think of Marsha?”

Now, this is an email that goes to thousands of people, yet he thought enough to put a marker that inserts my name there. It’s strategic. It makes me stop and think about what do people think of me? Chris continues.

  • Action is good.
  • Repeatable results are good.
  • A clear way to describe those results is gold…”

Unfortunately, I left off that last line as unimportant when I first copied it from his newsletter. Chris delves deeper into the topic.

“The question to answer when it comes to your personal brand as it relates to doing business is: ‘Why does someone call YOU?’

Imagine a group of people having a discussion around a table. They’re frustrated. Something’s not working quite right. They haven’t been able to solve it and they’re feeling less and less like they ever will.

‘Oh wait,” one says. “We should call Marsha!’


What do you solve for them?

That’s the question.”

Let me think about this.

Yes, people call me. “Marsha, can you chair a meeting, take on the administrative duties of our

“Marsha, can you chair a meeting, take on the administrative duties of our non-profit, publish our newsletter, help me start a blog, manage our nonprofit’s social media, write a magazine article? Can you be the secretary of our organization, sell tickets, and wash wine glasses at our event? Would you interview kids, be on the Senior Portfolio and, the Ag committees, speak at career day, judge a student event, help my students with their History Day projects? Could you write a grant to create a guidebook for our museum? Or in my husband’s case, make cookies, pull weeds and pick up dog poop.”

Yes, I can do those things and am glad to serve, except for the dog detritus.

What I can’t do is describe the results, other than a somewhat cleaner yard.

Hold on to Your Hearts Bloggers

Chris has his knife out. Watch out lard, cancer, stopped up valves. Chris cuts to the heart of the matter.

“…But think of all the efforts that WON’T solve this challenge.

  • No one cares about your logo
  • No one cares about your font
  • No one cares about your tag line or mission statement.
  • No one cares what color you wear to conferences or your fancy socks.
  • None of that matters directly.”

So, Chris, you’re saying that what is important is what I do repeatedly.  Most of all I need a clear way to describe what my work does for people.

Wouldn’t You Love to Spend Twenty Minutes With This Genius?

If so, you can listen to him every day on his blog or subscribe to his YouTube channel. You can do what I did and join the owners club. (I’m not an affiliate, by the way.)

Maybe you’ve never heard of Chris Brogan. You can listen to the podcast interview on Always Write. This amazing thinker and expert in social media and marketing agreed to do a twenty-minute interview with me Thursday, Sept 7th.  It will post the following week.

However, I’m so excited that I’ve written and rewritten my questions. I’ve read more of his books, listened to his podcasts, attended my first blogging, not education webinar.

If this sounds as great to you as it does to me, stay tuned. I’ll have some insane gifts to go along with this interview, too.

Free Gifts

To get the gifts from Sally Cronin’s interview, sign up for my newsletter (again!) Every time I offer new gifts, you have to sign up. (Sorry!) The newsletter database all syncs. No worries. You won’t get 10 of the same newsletter in your email.

When I finally start sending newsletters regularly, I’ll try to make them as valuable as Chris’. I love getting them!

Chris’s Books

Clicking affiliate links (the book covers) to order will support Always Write charities.

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How to Write Great Content Fast

By Victoria Greene

Are you a content writer who’d like to be able to work a little faster? No matter how good you are, there are always little ways to grease those cognitive wheels and work a little faster. Next time you’ve got an article you need to get out the door as quickly as possible, these tips could make the job a little easier. Have you ever thought about content curation? And did you know that there is software you can use to limit distractions? It’s true. Here are even more ways to write great content fast.

content marketing

Borrow Ideas

Are you struggling to come up with a plan for your next article? Well, the chances are that somebody will have already written something very similar to you in the past. The internet is a big place, after all. Why not find a similar article and use it for inspiration?

This can be a good way to fuel the creative fire. However, there is a difference between borrowing ideas and stealing them. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Copy-pasting: Never ever. This is theft and will be spotted as duplicate content. Do not copy and paste any part of an article.
  • Rewriting a single article: If you find a good article on the same subject, don’t just rewrite that one article. Cherry pick the best ideas from a range of other posts and allow them to springboard your own ideas, otherwise, you’re just copying someone else’s work.
  • Borrowing images: Borrow and recycle ideas that you find in other articles, yes, but do not do the same with images. Images can have all kinds of copyrights attached to them and if you borrow an idea and an image from another source, the fact that you gleaned inspiration from them will be quite obvious.

Use Editing Software

When you’re in a hurry, you might have less time for editing. In these situations, it can be beneficial to have editing software installed on your computer. Here are a few examples of the more popular editing software options:

  • Grammarly: This is very comprehensive. Not only does it check your spelling, but also (as the name implies) your grammar. It can be installed in your browser, meaning it will work with all CMSs too. What makes this even more appealing is that it can be used for free.
  • After the Deadline: This will not only highlight any typos, spelling mistakes, and grammar issues but will also make suggestions about how you can make your writing more readable. It also considers different contexts in which certain things might be erroneous.
  • Hemingway: If you’re after something that will actually edit your work (as opposed to just spotting typos and grammar issues) then Hemingway is what you’re after. It helps you to avoid using a passive voice and highlights words that could be removed (among other things).


Small Things Make All the Difference

If you’re looking for further advice for speeding up the writing process, the following tips might be useful:

  • Disconnect the internet: This only applies once you’ve finished your research. With so many fun and exciting things to see online, it’s easy to get distracted. It might be worth disconnecting and doing your writing on Word.
  • Turn off your phone: Even with the internet switched off, your phone can still receive messages or reminders to play whatever app you’re currently addicted to.
  • Find the right environment: Maybe the reason you’re finding it hard to write is that you’re on the sofa in your pajamas and you’ve got the TV on. You’ve got to have a proper work environment. Go to a library or set up a proper desk in your apartment.
  • Eat some food: If you’re struggling to write or to think of ideas, perhaps it’s because you didn’t have any breakfast? Coming up with ideas and writing them down coherently takes up a lot of brainpower, which requires a lot of energy. Fuel your thoughts with healthy meals.


Motivate Yourself to Achieve Great Things

If all else fails, one thing I find to be a powerful motivator is imagining my project once it’s complete. Whether it’s that Mailchimp email shot, the product descriptions for your online storefront, the first few blog posts for a new WordPress site or anything else – imagine it all finished. Imagine the pride and happiness. It could all be yours – all you have to do is start writing.

If you want to get your writing speed up, this should help you to do so. Another option you might like to consider is hiring a virtual assistant – they can help you with a lot of the smaller tasks associated with blogging and content writing. If you’re keen on VAs, you might like to consider supporting Always Write in helping to provide VAs with the training they need. Whatever you do, whether it’s just making sure you eat properly or going all out on a piece of editing software, you’ll find there are lots of ways to speed up the writing process.

What do you find helps you write faster?

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.

Victoria Greene is an e-commerce marketing consultant and freelance writer, working with large brands to help them blossom. She loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge with the world and encouraging entrepreneurial dialogue.

How to Travel in Delaware Like an Expert: Easy Walking Paths

Going to Delaware? Need some travel ideas?

#Travel #DE #WinterthurGardens1 Garden Photo Challenge  

Travel to an Iconic Kid-Friendly Walk in DE

Hi, I’m Marsha. In September my travel plans included beautiful, forested Delaware. If you want an easy walk that families can enjoy because ANYONE can do it, come to Winterthur Gardens in DE. Here I am resting on the edge of my seat at the edge of the Enchanted Woods at Winterthur Gardens near Hockessin, DE.

Travel: walking paths Marsha Ingrao at Winterthur Gardens
I asked Mom’s cousin Hal to snap a picture of me. He got 139 bursts of me. Too many hehehe! Not a bad picture for someone who is nearly blind.

More than one of the du Pont boys who owned DuPont Chemical Company, where my mother’s cousin Hal worked, loved gardens. We were so glad he did as we meandered the broad path around the gardens for about three hours. Yes, we were lost at times. This map did not help. 🙂

Travel: walking paths Map of Winterthur Gardens

Winterthur’s 1,000 acres encompass rolling hills, streams, meadows, and forests. Founder Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) developed an appreciation of nature as a boy who served as the basis for his life’s work in the garden.”

Off the edge of the pathway at a middle point in the 1,000 acres of Winterthur was an Enchanted Woods.

Travel: walking paths Stone troll bridge in Enchanted Forest-Winterthur Gardens
Do you dare to cross the troll bridge?

Be Brave! Travel On!

We crossed the troll bridge into the Enchanted Woods. First, let me introduce you to Hal. As some of you already know he’s 91. In his day he engineered hard plastics in car engines. Although now he is at the losing edge of blindness, he walked three hours guiding me through the gardens at Winterthur. (The blind leading the blind at times)

As we entered the Woods Hal could not resist the first hands-on activity for us kids.

I felt like a kid here. At one edge was a fairy ring. Hal told me not to get too close. But, Hal is blind. What does he know, right?  Who can resist advice like that?

Travel: walking paths Along the edge of the path-Fairy Ring.
Nothing happened. Did I dare step inside the ring?

I was clearly standing on the edge. What would you do with a sign like that? You can’t read it either, can you? hahaha

Travel: walking paths Mist pours from beneath the concrete mushrooms inside the fairy ring.

Soon I was covered in a mist that spread through the gardens. Everyone passing by knew I had disobeyed the sign. I hoped these were good fairies.

Travel: walking paths A clump of stumps next to the fairy ring
What happened here. Did the fairies cut down the trees? Maybe the trolls did it.

Here are a few more pictures of the fairy ring. These giant concrete mushrooms trapped several gleeful young children. We could hear laughter and see mist filtering through the trees as we walked around.

Travel: walking paths Mist coming out a hole at the bottom of each concrete mushroom
Like magic, the mist started.
Travel: walking paths Mist shoots straight up from the inside the ring
Watch out!
Travel: walking paths Mist spreads outside the ring and begins to dissipate.
Whew! I escaped unharmed, but those little spirits chased me for a while.

Lucky for me I run fast! 🙂 That’s it for now.

Blogging Tip: To Build Community Use Photo Challenges to Share Your Travels Posts

For more garden pictures click here.

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Love to travel?

Help me convince my home-bound husband and share this post.

If you love to write about travel, please contact me about a guest post.

Don’t forget to follow me on social media!

Safe travel to you!