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June 2007 Musings Column


Standing on the Shoulders


“If a person is not talented enough to be a novelist, not smart enough to be a lawyer, and his hands are too shaky to perform operations, he becomes a journalist.”   Norman Mailer


Doing research on the Web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly.” Roger Ebert


“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”   Sir Isaac Newton


There are times in my writing life when I’m more of an internitwit than an internet giant. I’ve acquired viruses by visiting music sites, am regularly and copiously spammed from loving friends in Nigeria and seem to spend hours each day just clearing my inbox.


But I’m here to say, my love for the Internet keeps growing. I adore having an enormous library available 24/7. I place the friends in my virtual world far above rubies. Finally, I ‘m obsessed with “finding out stuff” – where better than the net for that? With practice, I’m also learning to discriminate between good and mediocre sites.


  • One of my recent writing goals is to use the net to work smarter. Here are some Google sites I believe help me maximize my time online:


Google is my best friend.  I have a Google toolbar on my browser, which means I can quickly check information or refine a search without opening another browser page. The search box will open the page for me, and admittedly, it only saves seconds, but I like it. You can get it here:


Google Alerts will email you with the latest references to your choice of query or topic. You can monitor a developing news story, or keep tabs on your published writing by inserting your own name.


Gmail is free web-based mail. I like its search facility and that you don’t have to delete emails. It seems to identify spam well, too. You can find out more here:


Other Google products:


  • There are so many terrific sites to help writers on the net. Ones I visit frequently are: 

Word Counter picks up the repetitions I missed in my writing. It is easy to paste text and it’s free.

Another free site (yeah, I’m cheap) and full of pleasurable distractions, but I rely on it to tell me how to spell US English.

Preditors and Editors is valuable not just for warnings about shonky editors and agents, but is chock-full of information to benefit a writer. Free, naturally.

Poynter Online is a site so packed full of learning for journalists that, if I had to, I would PAY to get in! My current project is to add all Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools to my skills. You can read about them here:

Writers Weekly is a great free site for markets. Anyone who can write an article like this one by Angela Hoy, about raising rates for freelancers, deserves our support!


  • The net has made it much easier for a writer to discover contests. These can be a great way to gain recognition or used as a prompt. Some sites that list upcoming contests for writers are: 


Not all web sites are created equal. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” To me, the World Wide Web consists of giants, dwarves and millions of in-betweens. I believe I can enhance my own vision as a writer by using the excellent information, tools and networks the Internet has to offer. Standing wisely on the shoulders of Internet giants, means I cannot only see further, but also work smarter.


I like that idea.




Have you been to these sites?


Poetry Contest (no fee)

The League of Laboring Poets


The deadline for this contest is August 30, 2007. All forms of poetry are acceptable. Winners will be announced on Sept. 1, 2007

1st Prize = $50

2nd Prize = $25

3rd Prize = $10

Special additional prize of $25 for the best haiku.


………………… invites you to enter its 2008 Expatriate Travel Writing Contest. (no fee)

The Contest is open to professional, freelance and aspiring writers from any location around the globe. Submit an original essay of up to 1,500 words relating to your experience living or moving abroad. Please read the writers' guidelines for Transitions Abroad Magazine as well as sample articles on this site for a sense of our editorial focus.
The Contest begins
March 1, 2007, and all entries must be received by November 15, 2007. Contest Prizes

The first-place winner's entry will receive $500, the second-place winning entry $150, and the third-place winner $100.


Further details at site.



Call for Cup of Comfort Stories


Cat Lovers, Breast Cancer Survivors, Spouses and Children of People with Alzheimer’s, Divorced Women are all coming up in 2007.






Until next month, write on!




Copyright 2007 by The Muse Marquee. All rights reserved. All authors hold individual ownership & copyrights of any material contributed. No unauthorized usage of any published material within the Muse Marquee unless permission is first granted by copyright owner of said material.