You work hard on a post for hours. You choose your words very carefully. You make sure that the rhythm of the words is just so to deliver that emotional punch or punch line depending on the tone of the piece. You revise it. Then you revise it again.

Finally you are ready. You take a deep breath, you swallow back your insecurity, and you hit the publish button. The world can see what you have poured your time and energy into, the masterpiece that you are now sharing with them.

Unfortunately, they can also see your typo.

This happens to me all the time. Here’s an example from last week’s post on LinkedIn.com. When I originally posted it the second sentence read:

I have never met Stephen King and likely never will. But I am certain that I know what his least favorite Schoolhouse Rock Video. It’s this one:”

Even though before I posted it, I proofed it and slept on it before hitting publish, I missed the typo. And 4,000 people read it with that huge typo in the first paragraph. The. First. Paragraph.

Nearly every time I publish, I get a comment from my aunt or editor friend about the typos that I missed in my thorough proofing process. Yes, it’s the plural I’m afraid–the word typo rarely gets used in the singular as it pertains to my writing. It’s a condition I like to call Chronic Typo Syndrome.

If you are like me and suffer from Chronic Typo Syndrome, here are the tips I have for catching typos (I know, taking advice from someone with my condition about how to catch typos is counterintuitive, but hear me out):

  • Tip #1: Know your shortcomings: Figure out what your common mistakes are and be on vigilant look out for them. For me it is the form/from substitution and also the it’s/its switcheroo (There are actually quite a few more but I have work to do today so I decided to limit my example to these two.).
  • Tip #2: Print it out: I know. This isn’t great for the environment or even possible if you are working in your “satellite” office (read: Starbucks). But sometimes seeing it in good old-fashioned black and white on paper can help you spot what you are missing on the screen. Use recycled paper if you are worried about the trees.
  • Tip #3: Read it out loud: This one takes time and feels silly, particularly when there is no one there to hear you (does it make any sound?). But it is a great way to see what you actually said instead of what you thought you said. I’m sure this is because reading out loud comes from a different part of your brain than when you read it silently or something.
  • Tip#4: Sleep on it. This one is hard for me since once I have an idea I just can’t wait to share it. But every time I give myself a day to sleep on it, the post is always better for it, last week notwithstanding.
  • Tip #5: Consider an Online Grammar Checking site. To be honest, I don’t use one of these yet. Based on last week’s blooper, it’s probably time to start. Grammarly.composted this funny meme last week on Facebook:

So true it’s almost not funny, huh?

Clearly, I need some help with typos so I think I might try them. Is it because of the funny memes? Absolutely. So take that, social media advertising naysayers!

Typos are the bane of my existence. I can’t publish a blog without a typo.* It’s like a law of nature or something. This goes for my Facebook posts and comments, too. No matter what I write, no matter how many times I proof it, one will always slip through. This is definitely a theme in my life; I have a third, “happy surprise” child in my home.

Typos can happen for lots of reasons. Sometimes they are because you forgot the rules of the language. Sometimes they happen because you hurried. This is usually the case with my posts.

Sometimes it’s because Word didn’t catch it. But I said in another post, you can’t depend on Word to catch all your mistakes. How many times have you had a “form” make it through the spell check even though the word you meant to use was “from?” Although in Word’s defense, form is not misspelled…

I don’t send my stuff to an editor. I look forward to the day when someone who is a far better proofer than I can catch these embarrassing little snafus before I publish them. But until then, I will rely on my family and friends to set me straight. And maybe the algorithms at Grammarly.com.

What is your best advice for how to find the elusive typos in your copy? Please share what you have learned in the comments below.

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. She writes for her clients that want to enhance their content. For the past 15 years, she helps create effective marketing materials that communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com.


*For the record I have proofed this 1000 times so if there is a typo, I give up. It was fate.

The Writing Process — Animated

This video is definitely a great spend of 13 minutes of your time. I am already incorporating some of his strategies in my posts (meaning I changed into more comfortable pants and switched out my chair). But I hope to do a better job of using the other techniques he outlines here as well.

May this help you improve your process as well!

“There is no gr…

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” — Maya Angelou

 Honestly, I get what she is trying to say here, but I think she might have forgotten about child birth. But that being said, we all have our stories. It’s time to share them. So to kick off a week this Monday morning, write a short story/blog post/new chapter that you have been meaning to and send it to someone you trust for feedback. 

LinkedIn: Harness The Power of Groups


Let’s face it…there are a lot of writers out there. It can be overwhelming, even deflating, to consider how many writers there are. But the truth is that other writers can be the best support network you have ever known.

Social media is permeating our lives. Facebook has become a noun and a verb. A few years ago, no one knew what you meant when you said Tweeted it; now it’s embarrassing not to. New social media sites are popping up nearly every week, each one touted as the latest and greatest new “it” thing. Some of them probably will be. Like the sheer numbers of writers, the varied options for your social media strategy can be enough to make you want to bury your head in the sand “ostrich-style” when someone asks you how you use social media for your business. Foomp!

A great place to start a manageable social media strategy is to set up a LinkedIn profile. Since LinkedIn is all about networking for work, it is a truly excellent place to showcase your experience and latest portfolio samples for prospective clients. Plus it’s where employers go to look for people they want to hire, so it’s an important place to put your name out there. And if you have an Elance profile, you can link it to your LinkedIn profile making it even easier to get hired.

But LinkedIn is more than just a place to post your resume and some of your latest projects. It can also be a place where you find support from other writers. I chose the group Writum, but that is just one of many. In a way, it’s a lot like wordpress.com, but your posts, called discussions, serve as the “blog” and the discussions host the comments.

Here is my latest discussion:


Now that’s a URL, Huh? I am resisting the impulse to make a size joke here.

If you clicked on my link then you can see that it is my earlier post about Word’s spelling and grammar check feature from my wordpress.com blog. But I introduce it to the other group members who may not know my blog but are part of the Writum community so they can also comment on their experience using the program. It is often gratifying to have others acknowledge and share their similar experiences and frustrations that accompany the mechanics of writing.

Can it get ugly? Sure. Does it sometimes feel like people are trying to promote themselves more than actually contribute to the community? Absolutely. But it can also be a community of like-minded writers who share their experience and help cheer each other on in the difficult, maddening, and often times lonely profession of writing, which we all know and love. To echo the sentiment of the Google Chrome ads that make me cry, “The web is what you make of it.”

It’s easy to join a group. Once you have established your LinkedIn presence, peruse the “Interests” pull down menu, and then select “Groups.” LinkedIn will make suggestions or you can create your own group. Find the one you like then click on “Join”. Usually you will have to wait until you are accepted and you usually are as long as you fit the profile that is set up by the group “owner.” This can take a couple of days.

Once you are in the group, be sure to post to it and comment on other writer’s posts. This is essential to making groups effective for your professional network. You may find a new online friend, a great new resource for material, an article that really shapes your publishing strategy, or even the future publisher of your next work. Participate as much as you can, but no less than once a week to get the most benefit from the group.

We are all stronger together than we are separately. By harnessing the collective artistic power of writers, we can all benefit. Writing is a solitary road, but being a writer doesn’t have to be.

“Go into the ar…

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

— Kurt Vonnegut

I could post everyday with important things that Vonnegut has to say…

And Wear Sunscreen!

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…


When I was an actress, I used to dream really big. I thought that someday I might win an Academy Award…because of course that was likely. Part of this fantasy was to constantly write in my head my acceptance speech, adding and subtracting people from my list in accordance with their status in my life, not too unlike a wealthy elderly widow who would change her will to favor those who treated her well and striking those who did not.

Sadly, my acting career was sidelined by a lack of belief in my talent and minimal tolerance for struggle and the desire for a few vestiges of stability. If you want to read more about this, see my essay on the topic called, “Wrestling at 2am”.  With my acting career behind me, I was sure that my chance at a big award was behind me as well.

That is, until today. You see, today a fellow mom/children’s writer/blogger nominated me for the prestigious Liebster award. What is the Liebster award? It’s an award given to a blogger by another blogger that says, “Hey! I like what you’re doing. Keep up the good work!” Even better, it helps bloggers use our collective power to build up an audience and market for one another.  As a result, each nominee is to then nominate an additional 10 blogs with less than 300 followers and answer 10 questions. So thank you Kathryn Howes of Kateywrites.wordpress.com. I appreciate the nod, humbly accept the award and will try to do the same for you and ten other bloggers.

I would like to nominate the following blogs for the prestigious Liebster Award:

http://chainringtatt.wordpress.com: A great blog for cool bike videos to show your kids (while you warn them of the dangers of a brain injury) and great recipes to clean up your diet

http://thesailorswoman.wordpress.com: She’s married to an officer and a gentleman, and was kind enough to follow my blog.

Paulfgeroblog.com/the-ones-i-love-project-post-three-orange-county-portrait-photographer/: A super talented photographer who makes even an ordinary day at the park a work of art.

http://call2read.com: What a great way to create art and enjoy it. This one may have more followers than the award calls for, which wouldn’t surprise me, but it is great nonetheless.

http://joellewisler.com: Another Mom with a great perspective on parenting and being an artist.

http://itsjustalittlething.wordpress.com: I like rants. Hers are entertaining.

http://sophiebowns.wordpress.com: This writer is working on her craft and sharing it with us online. Give her a read and see what you think.

http://orionwriter.wordpress.com: We share a love of Disney.

http://thewritefox.wordpress.com: In particular, I share this writer’s opinion that strong female character does not have to mean literally strong.

http://abiburlingham.com: Children’s writer and great inspiration for what you can do with your blog, Abi understands the world in which children’s writers live.

Part of this exercise is to answer questions. These are Kathryn’s for me:

  1. What one thing do you wish you had never written? A really bad essay for my scholarship application in college. I didn’t get the scholarship.
  2. What did you not write, but now wish you had? I had the idea to write a book about Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty in the manner of “Wicked.” I am too late.
  3. What are your favorite pajamas like? This time of year, I like them warm and fleecy.
  4. Is there a word you hate to use in conversation? Utilize. It’s just a fancy way of saying use.
  5.  Did you have an imaginary friend?  Describe, please. Not a friend, but several imaginary companions. See my post Romance Junky, if you want to know more.
  6. Fame or fortune? Both, of course. Why settle for less?
  7. Peanut butter or jelly? PB has the protein, so that’s my choice.
  8. Whose praise means the most to you? A complete stranger’s because I know they aren’t just being nice.
  9. Whose means the least? Anyone who is non-specific.
  10. What’s the nicest thing you ever did? It was anonymous and should    stay that way, but let’s say that it was a contribution to someone who needed one.

So in the spirit of reuse, recycle, I ask my nominees to answer the same ones.

Enjoy and explore fellow bloggers. You are all part of what makes the World Wide Web what it is today. Let’s use our powers for good and not bad. And always, always, remember to thank your spouse in your acceptance speech.

Goal Setting: Beginning with The End in Mind

Goal Setting: Beginning with The End in Mind




Whether it’s your life, your work, or a personal/spiritual journey, any effort without a goal is doomed to fall short.

This is an article posted by a client of mine about setting goals and how to achieve them this year. As you read through his points think about how they apply to what you are trying to do.

Too many great people end up achieving less than they could simply because they didn’t plan and organize their business. Don’t be one of those great people. Realize your full potential for greatness by simply defining how you want to achieve it!

If you Freelance, You Must Elance


Many writers are artists, content to starve and struggle while they write the great American novel. I say, “More power to them” while simultaneously saying, “No thank you” as it pertains to my own career. Luckily for people like me, there are resources that can help you be a creative artist without all the starving and angst.

I decided a while ago that I was ready to get serious about my career. No longer was I content to submit essays to contests and hope for the best. No, I had decided that if I was going to be hired as a writer, I’d best get my shingle hung. So at that time I had two options: Elance or Odesk.

I chose Elance. Why? Simple, I went in alphabetical order. But clever decision-making process aside, I am happy that I did. This site is a great way to get experience in writing professionally by connecting you with people who want to hire professional writers. Personally, I have made several connections along the way and learned a lot about the business of writing.  You won’t have the same arduous decision-making process that I did, however, as the two sites have merged.

You should become a premium member. It’s a cheap investment and makes a big difference in where your proposals are listed. But if you really don’t want to invest any money per month, you can set up a free profile.

Elance.com makes it easy to hang your writer’s shingle. When I say easy, I don’t mean that it isn’t time-consuming or that it doesn’t take a certain amount of discipline. I just mean that they outline the process for you pretty well of what your shingle should include if you want their clients to hire you. Here is where you can find mine.

Here’s what your Elance Profile should include:

  • A photo that you have verified. This lets people know you are who you say you are. It’s a little bit of a bizarre process where someone calls you on Skype that you can’t see and says, “Okay, thanks.”
  • Put up your education and have it verified. This again just assures people that are hiring you that you are who you say you are.
  • A complete profile. Yes, it takes a while and in my case, I wasn’t entirely organized for making an online profile. But I did it and it’s important to both Elance rankings and clients’ perception of you.
  • Take the skills tests. I’m not gonna lie…the tests are not easy. In fact, I failed the Native English Speaker’s test – and it’s the only language I speak! I also just reviewed my profile and saw that I could definitely use a few more tests.
  • Put up samples. The portfolio gives you a chance to show off what you can do. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of stuff here at first. Just put up what you think best represents your work.

Once you have a profile complete, skills tests taken, and everything else, you are ready to start applying for jobs.

The great thing about Elance, beside the fact that it is a huge contributor to the growth of my business over the past year, is that you can pick and choose what type of project that you want to pursue and more importantly, what you would rather not.

For example, I get a lot of blogging work (because these days, who doesn’t?). So when I go out on Elance, I never apply for blogging work. Besides way too many writers are willing to write 1000 words for $2 in some other country, so blogging isn’t exactly a money-maker. Instead I choose to pursue projects in fiction and children’s writing. As a result, I was contracted to write several projects of both. I look at it as a way to get paid to learn to write a certain style, which in my case is how to write a book.

Check out Elance.com. If you want to be a freelancer, it’s a great way to connect with people who want to hire freelancers. Is it going to derail your efforts to be a struggling (read: starving) artist? Probably. But is it going to help you earn money doing what you love to do best all while working on your writing skills? Absolutely.

“A year from no…

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.”

— Karen Lamb, Fellow Author and good point maker.

I know that if I had kept working on my romance story over the past year, I would be really excited today. What project have you had in the back of your mind? Isn’t today a great day to take the steps to get it started?

Taking the Thorns: When Not to Defend Your Work


Criticism is never easy for anyone to take. Whether it’s a real estate agent coming through your house to tell you what you need to “fix” or a family member with lots of “helpful” advice about things you could do to raise your child better or a suggestion from a coworker about how you might do a project differently, hearing criticism is not easy.

While no one really loves criticism, it may possibly be even harder for the creative types, of which I am one, when it is in relation to their work. Why? Because we think the criticism of our writing, the same writing that we carefully chose every word to express ours or our characters thoughts and feelings, is a criticism of our talent. Very few of us have enough confidence not to doubt our ability every day at least a little.

It is important to remember that criticism, in most cases, is meant to take your natural talent to the next level. It is not an attack on your ability but instead a coaching to improve that talent and hone your skill. Is it fun? No. Does it frustrate and bewilder you? Absolutely. But once you get over the initial reaction and absorb the criticism, you usually end up with a stronger piece as a result.

Take my recent reading of a book a friend of mine wrote. He asked me to tell him what I really thought. Generally, I thought the book was a great story with a lot of interesting characters and an exciting premise. But I had a couple of criticisms that I shared with him about a couple of minor parts of the book. Not surprisingly, he defended himself back to me (extremely pleasantly). Clearly, he disagreed with my criticism and to be fair, that’s his right. But as my criticism was only intended to make the strong parts of his story even stronger, is he missing the point by defending the parts that are a little weaker? Time will tell.

Of course, today I just did the same thing. Only it was to my mother, the only person in the whole world who thinks I am more talented than I do. She explained to me that my latest children’s book was hard to follow in the beginning. She mentioned a couple of specifics that she was confused about. Instead of listening to what she was saying, I said, “It’s on the first page!” Of course, since you are reading this you’ll have to imagine my snotty tone. In my defense, I am a little sick so I tend to be whinier and more negative at times like these.

But sick excuse aside, instead of receiving her well-thought out advice to me, I deflected it. Feeling like she was wrong and didn’t read my first page carefully enough, I didn’t stop to think that maybe the first page was confusing. Or that possibly since I am awfully close to the story that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t say what I thought I said on the first page.

A better strategy might be to say, “I never thought of it that way.” Or, “I’ll look into that.” In order for criticism to actually help you grow, you have to hear it. If you don’t allow your critics to help you grow, you will stay right where you are, possibly making the same mistakes you are making today years from now.

So what’s my point? Simple: take the criticism. In my acting classes in college (Oh, yes, before I was a writer, I was a professional actress. You can only imagine how fun criticism is as an actress…), we used to say after a scene for the class, “you have to take the roses with the thorns.” This is true. Thorns can hurt, but you would never have the roses without them.

For writers, criticism is an important part of the creative process and hearing it is certainly a high priority in order to be any kind of help. So don’t defend your work when you are having a discussion with your editor, publisher, colleague or even your own mother. In most cases, particularly the last one, they usually only have your best interest at heart.