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The Write Alley Goes Dark to Protest SOPA & PIPA

18 Jan

The Write Alley Protests The Protect IP Act

Many websites are blacked out today Weds. January 18, 2012 to protest proposed U.S. legislation that threatens internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
From personal blogs to giants like WordPress and Wikipedia, sites all over the web — including this one — are asking you to help stop this dangerous legislation from being passed. Learn how this legislation will affect internet freedom and please take action.

According to Gizmodo,  “The momentum behind the anti-SOPA movement has been slow to build, but we’re finally at a saturation point. Wikipedia, BoingBoing, WordPress, TwitPic: they’ll all be dark on January 18th. An anti-SOPA rally has been planned for tomorrow afternoon in New York. The list of companies supporting SOPA is long but shrinking, thanks in no small part to the emails and phone calls they’ve received in the last few months.”

So what is SOPA? or PIPA? At first, it sounds like a good idea–it is supposed to protect content providers. But Gizmodo argues that “SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet which would go almost comedically unchecked to the point of potentially creating an “Internet Blacklist” while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily and potentially disappearing your entire digital life while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective but stands a shockingly good chance of passing unless we do something about it.”

So call. Or email.

After I post this and publicize this, by 9am I am planning on joining in as well and staying off the internet today. This site will be “dark” from 8am-8pm and post a flag about the issue until January 24, 2012.


The Write Alley: 2011 in review

9 Jan

Happy New Year!

The Write Alley Highlights from 2011 included:
–travel to Egypt where I taught a writing workshop on the Nile in January
the release of my 3:15 Experiment Middle of the Night Poems From Daughter to Mother :: Mother to Son from en theos press in March followed by several featured readings and positive reviews
–co-leading a “Message in a Bottle” writing workshop with Danika Dinsmore in March
–creating and officiating a wedding in May
–writing about wine and travel in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California
–researching my book on family and sustainability in the wine industry in July
–returning to school for a PhD in psychology in October
–serving on a panel about wine and food at the International Food Bloggers Conference in November
–participating all year in many online twitter tastings to review wine samples
–being featured in several articles online and in print during the year

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for my blog, The Write Alley.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I am so busy right now that I am not taking on any new projects or clients until May. However, I would be happy to meet at our earliest mutual convenience to discuss working together during May through August on your writing project whether it be a manuscript, book, blogging, family history or for business!

I hope to continue posting valuable content on a weekly basis here; for more regular updates and links about writing and social media, subscribe to my Twitter feed and “like” my page on Facebook. And of course, if you are not already, please subscribe to this blog!

I also plan to post weekly on my other blogs: Compassionate Rebel, Bikergogal, Wine Predator, and Art Predator. With my teaching load, my PhD classes, my family, and my writing projects, 2012 looks to be an exciting and busy year!

How was 2011 for you? What are looking forward to in 2012?

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Options Other Than Ads To Monetize Your Online Presence

13 Nov
I’m at the International Food Bloggers Conference where I spoke yesterday on creating compelling content about wine for food bloggers. (It went well! Lots of people have come up to me to say how inspiring it was!)
This morning I had a choice of these two sessions
  • Session Option 1: Eating on a Budget with Kimberly Morales (Food)
    It’s a common goal to save and spend money more wisely. And as a food blogger, it’s natural to want to try all the latest products and prepare a slew of different and expensive dinners. Hear from savvy, budget-conscious bloggers about how they mastered clipping coupons and embraced canning, preserving, and buying in bulk. You’ll learn how to feed your family and yourself while spending less, and how to keep food blogging from breaking your bank account.
  • Session Option 2: Monetizing Your Blog with Barnaby Dorfman, Melissa Lanz, and Andie Mitchell (Writing & Technology)
    Here you’ll learn the ins and outs of monetization- everything from partnering with ad networks and affiliate programs to publishing your work in print and online media.

I’m sitting in on the second session where I posted the following nuggets on twitter (this is reverse chronological order–ie, the tweet at the end is the first one on the topic, the tweet at the top is the last one). You can check out what others had to say by checking out the hashtag on twitter #ifbc:

  • @melissalanz last word of advice: get reader emails to add to your list.
  • Control yr message, offer online & live events, consider charity partnerships to build yr brand, be good for business. Think globally! #ifbc
  • consult, coach, teach, speak are all ways you can grow your brand, get more valuable, turn into $$ says @melissalanz #ifbc
  • be honest about your affiliate partners & talk about their products that you use & love in an authentic way says @melisslanz #ifbc
  • what do you know? what can you teach? you can teach & sell classes online building from your online content #ifbc
  • you can make a simple app w/o spending thousands of $$ & get it up & running in your blog #ifbc (really? how? cool!)
  • Kindle feed your blog on amazon –love that as a passive way to monetize your blog & let your readers support what you give online #ifbc
Melissa Lanz has promised to share her slides with us –with the joke that this will be the one and only time she ever offers something of this much value for free!
Speaking of free and of value, yesterday I attended  Rand Fishkin’s session that focused on SEO for Food Bloggers and you can check out his slideshow “SEO for Food Bloggers” for yourself.

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Alley to Speak at Bloggers Conference

12 Nov

This afternoon I am speaking at the International Food Blogger’s Conference in Santa Monica; I’m on a panel about integrating wine into a food blog and my specific topic is to share some ideas on how to create compelling content about wine and food. I was invited because I am considered an influential wine blogger who frequently includes food in my wine reviews and because I am a writing teacher and coach.

As I reflected on what I wanted to share, I realized that creating compelling content is the same no matter what the topic. This seems obvious now and it took me down a much more productive path in terms of my preparing to contribute to what I think will be a valuable session.

The key points I will be offering are:

1) Go for the jugular.
2) Tell stories.
3) Be specific.
4) Experiment.

You can read more about it over at my Wine Predator blog. I’ll be posting notes from my presentation there as well as here.

PS Today is my son’s birthday! He is 8 years old today.

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Alley Profile In VC Reporter

25 Aug

Last Thursday Michel Cicero of the VC Reporter contacted me to ask for an interview. I’d dropped off a copy of my book Middle of the Night Poems for her to review but she said she wanted to do more than just write about the book, she wanted to do a feature on me, my wine blogging, the ArtRides I lead and more.

Of course I said yes. We had a great time conversing on the phone and before we knew it, we had talked for almost two hours and she had more than enough material for her interview.

All she needed was a photo. Hmmn. I knew I needed professional photos but I still hadn’t made the time to get some.

What was I going to do?

The next night, on my friend Lucy Williams suggestion, Brooks photo student Gabriel Romero (http://GabrielRomeroMedia.com) called wondering if I’d be willing to sit for a portrait assignment. Sure, I said–but could we do it right away so I’d have something for Michel?

He came over that night and I showed him the house my grandfather built in 1961 complete with a wine cellar that everyone thought was a bomb shelter.

I wanted to take some portraits for my wine blog Wine Predator in his wine cellar and I thought they’d be fun for Michel’s article too. It would be cramped but he figured he could do it so we made plans for the next night to shoot.

It took about an hour to set up the lights in the cellar and then we shot for another two hours trying different poses, wardrobe and lighting. It was strange but fun too.

In the end, he submitted the photo at top and middle to his teacher for the assignment and the bottom one to show his lighting set-up; I submitted both to Michel and the one on top she used–which was one of the last ones we took!

Here’s a link to the article: Gwendolyn Alley: creative types by Michel Cicero VC Reporter Aug. 25, 2011.

So here’s the take-away–if you haven’t yet, get professional photos done! You never know when you’re going to need one! My only regret is I didn’t make time to have someone do my hair and make-up!

PS The golden liquid in my glass is a sherry from the silver bottle to my left. It was a gift to my grandfather from the year I was born…and I am drinking it while I write this.

Also, I will be reading and signing books Th. Sept. 15 at 7:15pm at Bank of Books on Main just east of downtown Ventura. You can also buy a print of ebook from Amazon or the publisher en theos press.


Tuesday Tips: Network, network, network!

23 Aug

Last week, I joined the No More Nylons group for a Women’s Business Social at La Fonte in Ojai and I took some pictures (that’s Jodi in red).

The evening weather was glorious, the pinot grigio (pictured) cold  and excellent, my ceasar salad crisp and refreshing, and the several people who ordered pizzas were very happy (mmn the pizzas smelled so good! I’ve eaten there before and highly recommend it!)

While the location, the staff, the wine and food were all top-notch, we all really came for the company–to be in the company of a group of dynamic women in business who came to meet each other and help each other along.

I had a great conversation with Lisa Casoni who I had recommended to someone looking for a videographer. We talked about that project but then we got into discussing some other ideas. We finally had to drag ourselves off to other commitments!

Tomorrow the Women’s Business Social meets in downtown Ventura at Tutti’s just off Main at Palm. They have a courtyard also and it should be a nice warm summer night.

Tuttis off main
34 N Palm Street
Ventura, California

Women’s Business Socials always meet from 6-8pm. The next one in Ojai is Tues Sept 6 at

Ojai Beverage Company
655 East Ojai Avenue, Ojai, CA 93023
Ojai, CA

They are held monthly locally and less often in places including New York and London.

Green Drinks in Ventura is getting off the ground again; they meet this Friday from 6-9pm at

The Refill Shoppe
1068 E. Main St.
Ventura, CA
This network gathering is also social and for people in green businesses or with green interests. Here’s the facebook event link.

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Heather Gold’s Tools for “Tummeling” at WordCamp SF 2011

14 Aug

So I’m still writing from WordCamp SF 2011 where, following Matt Mullenweg’s “State of the Word” presentation and feasting at lunch, now I’m at a workshop titled “Tools for Tummeling.”

Tummeling? What’s tummeling? I asked at the WordCamp registration desk.The young man looked bewildered. “I don’t know,” he answered. “Have you checked the program?”

So I did: there I learned that “Tummeling” is the Yiddish word for the act of engaging an audience. The presentation is by Heather Gold an “artist, comic, speaker and talk show host best known for her ability to work the room.” Continue reading 

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Jeff Veen’s Brief Explanation of the Web: by way of a narrative about ice & gold

14 Aug

Jeff Veen

How the Web Works“ Jeff Veen, along with Greg Veen, is a co-founder of Typekit.

“The web is going to be more like the way that we live and not just the way that we work” @Veen #wcsf

Back in the day, no one had cold drinks–except in winter–until someone, a doctor, figured out how to make ice which helped people. But it was up to an entrepreneur to figure out how to get it to people–how to  store it, and market it. Not to make cold drinks but to repserve food and thereby to make it safer and people healthier. (And the really brilliant idea wasn’t to deliver ice to people but to deliver a way to make your own ice to the people–good health and cold drinks!

You might have noticed that gold is heavy. (Well, maybe you’ve never been lucky enough to hold enough gold in your hand to notice its weight!) The race was on to ship it, move it quickly and safely from point A to B. The brilliant idea that changed how we deal with gold was when someone realized that you didn’t have to physically move the gold. You could keep ledgers of the gold and transfer it. Wealth became data and the industry transformed.

The web, Jeff Veen argues, is no longer about selling assets but providing services that makes experiencing what’s on the web seamless.

How can we make sure that we are looking at the web in a way that will keep us relevant as the race =for tech change increases?

The qualities that contribute to the web are what will make us users successful.

He tells a story about how competitive the web was and how showing running code built consensus. His story concludes with the lesson to listen to and work with your user base. You might want to get it out as soon as possible–so do it! And get feedback. And when you do, don’t apologize.

The speed of iteration beats quality of iteration.

Here are some quotes he shared during his presentation which support this concept:

Be liberal in what you accept and conservative in what you send. Jon Postel

Small pieces loosely joined….can accomplish amazing things. (?? will find out)

Information wants to be free. Stewart Brand.

We put everything, even our most previous memories, our photos on the web. We trust the web. It’s available, it’s democratic.

And it’s about to spill out of our computers.

All of the data we’ve been aggregating everywhere together is going to be available everywhere.

The web works best when it’s free and available for everyone. People are selfish. But those selfish people will lose out in the end.

Well that’s it for the first session! Food blogging is next! I’m going to post that over on Wine Predator–share the wealth…

Sorry for typos –just trying to get it out! (Oh, wait –what was that Jeff said? Don’t apologize?? Just do it! So here it is!)

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Welcome to WordCamp SF 2011!

14 Aug
Time Here’s the program–and what I’ll be doingand blogging about today!Information and Inspiration How-to, Tips, and Tricks
Opening Remarks
State Of The Word
Lunch! BBQ Buffet on the Terrace
Lightning Sessions
Lightning Sessions
IRL FTW! Organizing Meetups and WordCamps
Closing Remarks


WordCampSF 2011 Arrives!

13 Aug

WordPress sponsors WordCamps around the world but the granddaddy of them all takes place once a year in San Francisco.

And that event is this weekend August 12-14, 2011!

It’s a lot of fun as you might guess from my WordPress tattoo which earned me a WordPress moleskin journal in 2008!

This year on Friday WordCampSF offered a new users workshop. If you missed this full day of learning how to blog, and you’d like me to tutor you, let me know! I can teach you!

Saturday is for developers and Sunday is for content creators.

It’s all sold out but you can still attend by joining the livestream and following along the conversation and main points on Twitter. Check out the hashtags #wordcampsf and #wcsf. You might also check out @kashaziz suggestion that there’s a crowdsourced collection of slides from #wcsf here – lanyrd.com/2011/wordcamps…. People can sign in with Twitter to add more.

I attended and “live” blogged sessions at WordCampSF in 2008 and 2009 (plus WordCampLA 2009); it’s just worked out for me to go tomorrow for Sunday’s session, so subscribe to this site (and Art Predator!) and you’ll get what to me are the most important highlights.

Here are some of my blog posts from previous WordCamp Sessions as originally posted over at Art Predator. As I review them, I realize how much I’ve learned from going to WordCamp and I’m excited about learning more tomorrow!

WordCampLA 2009

September 12, 2009Live Blogging From WordCamp LA 2009

September 13, 2009Ben Huh: guess some lol cats thought my blog post was a cheezburgr & ate it

September 12, 2009Andrew Warner: Using video instead of relying on text to convey your message

September 12, 2009Jim Turner: Never Fear, Genuine is Here! Or how to pay your mortgage by blogging

September 12, 2009Ben Huh: your best bet is just to google my name

September 12, 2009Failure is Job One: Micah Baldwin says “Go to the SEO panel”

September 12, 2009I’m Shayne: WordPress MU & WP ecommerce

September 12, 2009Live Blogging From WordCamp LA 2009

WordCampSF 2009

WordCampSF 2008

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