I Need a Writing/Critique Group!


——–THANKS EVERYONE!!! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!  We got a writing group together and we are now full.  But if you’d like, we can start some kind of system for helping other people group into writing groups.  Just let me know.  At any rate, I’m leaving the original article up anyway.———

talltab1 Hey, all you writers out there, I have a favor to ask!  I need to be in a writing/critique group, and I’m not sure where to start.  I would be happy to either join one that already exists or start a new one.

talltab1 I’m kind of out in the boonies of Sanpete, Utah, so I can’t meet in person very often.  Most correspondence would have to take place online.  I mainly write LDS nonfiction, so it would be good if it were an LDS group that can help me keep doctrine pure, but most of what I have so far is memoir type stuff anyway.
talltab1 I have done a tiny bit of fiction, but not much.
talltab1 Are you in a writing group that needs another writer?  Do you know other LDS writers that are looking for a critique group?  Please let me know!  Either comment or email me.  I know there are a lot of opportunities for writers living near the city, but it’s hard for me to get up to Salt Lake or Utah county, so your help would be appreciated!


– Chas


The Makeshift Degree: Adlibing an Education without Going to School


Okay, so obviously the most ideal way to get an education in most fields is to go to college, and for many jobs out, it is required.  But let’s face it, there are so many fields out there.  If you’re like me, you have so many interests that it is impossible for you to get a college education in all of your interests.
Also, many people are not in a position to go to college at the moment.
Here are a few ideas for getting an education outside of the school system:

Internet Sources:

The Internet has an endless supply of phenomenal information in thousands of fields.  You’ve just got to know where to look for it.  Here are a few sites I like – (maybe not Ph.D material, but interesting stuff nonetheless):

  1. http://google.com – good ol’ Google search.  You can learn just about anything with that… *
  2. http://www.youtube.com/edu – you know about Youtube.  Well, this is a branch of Youtube that specializes in good educational material.  Not just anyone can get stuff on here, so it’s a big step up from regular Youtube, and it’s a fun source of learning in all kinds of fields.
  3. http://www.ted.com/ – again, not a place to earn a degree, but if you want to get excited about learning, this is a fun place to go.  TED is a collection of fascinating lectures (yes, lectures CAN be fascinating!) that give an interesting perspective on various fields.
  4. http://www.openculture.com/2007/07/freeonlinecourses.html – if you prefer getting your information from reputable colleges, here’s a directory of podcasts that are done by colleges such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, etc.  Just putter around the site to find the subject you’re looking for.


  1. Check the Thrift Stores: As soon as a book becomes obsolete (by college standards that can mean the book has been published for a year and a half and now the photos in the book need to be reorganized), the thrift stores such as D.I. fill up with college textbooks.  After I paid nearly $100 for an astronomy book in college, I found a stack of twenty of them at D.I. the next semester for two bucks a piece.  Ugh… but that’s good for people who are wanting an education outside of school.
  2. Libraries:  They’re still around, believe it or not.  In this “Google any question” era that we live in, this is easy to forget.  Pick a topic, go to the library, and read all you can on the subject.
  3. School libraries: Most school libraries are open to the public.  You may not be able to check things out without a student card, but you can read what you want while you’re there, and if you take your digital camera, you can get instant copies of pages you want to read more about.

This is NOT a comprehensive list.  Fill us in!  What ways have you found for educating yourself on different topics?

* Clearly there is a lot of junk out there, and one of the great purposes of education is to train you to recognize credibility and bias.  You need to learn to check the sources on information.  Just because it sounds legit, or the information is worded in an educated manner doesn’t mean the content is of any real value.  The best lies are coated in great disguises.  So check your sources!

Read more entries with tips and ideas!

The Incrediblenet

The Incrediblenet

Isn’t the Internet amazing? From genealogy to gardening, from movies to email – the Internet has so many resources that it has made a great impact on our day to day living. While we must make necessary precautions to avoid the evil influences that can be found on this almost unlimited source of information, the good influences are more prevalent than ever before.

At least once a month, I discover a new website that absolutely impresses me. I’m sure many of you have the same experience. So let’s share what we’re finding. What are some websites or Internet resources that have really impressed you that other readers may not yet know about?

Here are two of mine:

I don’t think I’ll ever go back to ordinary radio, so long as sites like Pandora exist. Pandora is an online radio station where you create your own stations (as many different stations as you want) from your favorite songs or artists. Once you type in a band or song, it will create a station based on that style, and then find other bands of the same style. As it plays songs, you can thumb up or thumb down the song to tell Pandora if you like it or not.
No matter what kind of music you listen to, it’s there. I have an LDS station, a contemporary rock station, a Celtic station, a piano solo station, an African traditional station, a country station, a soundtrack station, an oldies station, a native American station, an a cappella station, and about half a dozen other stations. I have friends with hip-hop stations, goth stations, and oh, I almost forgot, I even created a funny station. It’s really amazing. I can listen to it all day.


I’ve known about the idea of the podcast for over a year now, but only in the past few months have I discovered that podcasting is its own entire realm of social media. You can find a podcast on any subject, and thanks to feed readers (such as Google Reader – which is built into every Gmail account), you can have a collection of dozens, even hundreds of regularly updated podcasts on your favorite subjects.
So why is this such a cool thing? Consider that you are interested in pottery. A rather obscure interest in terms of the Internet, don’t you think? Well there are a number of pottery podcasts. If you have a computer in your home, you can listen to your favorite pottery podcasts and hear interviews with some of the worlds greatest potters while you are doing the dishes or exercising.
If you have any kind of Internet handheld device, you can listen to your favorite podcasts while you drive, walk, or work. I listen to podcasts often at my job, because I sit at a computer for the majority of the time. My Google reader is automatically collecting podcasts on dozens of topics that I have chosen, such as the music business, gardening, humor, fiction stories, genealogy, writing, news, photography, science, and as of today, dogs. That’s probably only half of the topics I do, and in each topic, I have numerous podcasts.
If you don’t know where to start, either Google search “podcast directories” or simply “pottery podcast” or whatever topic interests you. Google is pretty good at finding stuff like that. While your at it, start your own podcast. How? Google the words “how to make your own podcast.” It’s really easy.

So how about you? Any sites or Internet resources that have really impressed you?

Cautions for Bloggers

I’ve been reading some of the cautions for bloggers, and I realized that I’ve been going against far too many of the warnings. It’s a dangerous world out there, full of psychos who would love to use my blog to destroy my life. So I came up with a few ideas to protect my personal identity and the reputation and lives of those around me.

The world is full of pathologic googlers who can think of nothing more fascinating to do than sit at their computers and search the Net for every person they know. When they find you, they dig until they can find your blog, record all the personal information they can find, and sell it to conspirators. These conspirators sell your email to spammers, your phone number to telemarketers, your address to bulk mail distributors, and your name to pulp fiction writers.

Therefore, it would be terribly dangerous for me to put my real name on my blog. I think I’ll adopt a pseudonym – maybe one of those cool ones that uses real words with alternate spellings, such as Daye Greenwood or Zeneth Paine. Or maybe I should use one of the fantasy sounding ones like Tugath Zangweaver.

Then again, I mostly do non-fiction writing. Nonfiction readers want to know your credentials, and I’ve never heard of a Tugath or Zeneth with any decent credentials, so maybe I should adopt one of the CEO sounding ones, like Craig Power or Eric Doams.

I’ve also got to avoid putting real pictures of myself, let alone my family or kids, so perhaps I’ll follow the blog-warning-website’s advice and start using avatars in place of my real face, and the faces of my family. Japanese cartoons make great avatars.

Oh, and I have to be careful not to tell too much about myself, such as what I do in my spare time – after all, the infamous “they” might think to look for me at the Scottish Fest if they knew I was into kilt-weaving.

And lets not forget about password security. The last thing I need is to have some hacker break into my blog, change the password, post bootlegged Mrs. Fields cookie recipes, and get the FBI after me. Therefore, I’ve devised a simple yet effective password protection system. Take the month – in it’s numeric form, divide it by your age, and type the resulting numbers while holding the shift key (this should make all the numbers into characters). Then for every consonant in your name, type the next alphabetical consonant, and for every vowel, the next alphabetical vowel. Use this as your password. Then just change it monthly. I don’t think anyone will discover, let alone remember your password. And in the shear chance that they do figure it out, they will be thrown again when your age changes.

I’ve also thought of a way to secure my bankcard information. Whenever I make a purchase online, I could immediately call the bank and close the account. That way any stalking hackers who intercept my information are thwarted when they try to use it to buy Nevada lottery tickets. It will probably drive the bank bonkers, but better them than me. Maybe I could even try encoding my bankcard info when I submit it so the machine has to consult the bank before letting the purchase through.

Yup, you can expect that I’ll be good and safe from now on. So if you Google Zangweaver Powers, you still won’t be able to steal my money or identity – especially if I decide to start writing my blogs in binary code:



01001000011111001001010 101010000101101010 110110011010010 1010100101 010000101110101110 100010100101001 00001110010 01010101100 00101101010110110011001010101 001010100010111010111010