Friday, December 27, 2013

Anagram - One Kind of Word Play

In an alphabetical list of Word Play, anagram is one of the first you’ll see. Yes, acronym would precede it – if you call acronyms “fun,” outside of coming up with censored stuff, like my dad loving to say “sure happy it’s Thursday” instead of TGIF.

An anagram is a word, or phrase, made by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. And, get this, it’s a verb, too. (You learn something new every day!) According to, it means to rearrange letters in such a way, to anagrammatize.

The Jumble puzzle, found in over 600 newspapers in the United States and internationally, is an example of anagrams. The objective is to unscramble the words and then use them to solve a riddle. The solving the riddle part isn’t of an anagram, though.

How many words you can make out of anagram? I don’t think there is a one-word anagram. How about “a rag man?”

Above photo: my neighbor impressed us one evening by making different words out of silent. It took us a while to remember that the definition of this word play is anagram.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Social Media commitment

I have made a commitment to grow my business. This entails getting on the social media train. And, Lord knows, that train has left the station so many times with me not on it. So what does this mean? It means, not in any particular order, incorporating a social media schedule into my work week. On what days and what time will I use do my social media? What social media will I use? (This blog of course. Facebook. Get on top of my LinkedIn account. My Web site has been neglected for way too long. And, the list goes on ...)

My colleague, Sara Caputo, owner of Radiant Organizing, a productivity and organizing company, advises "if you wait for the perfect opportunity to do something, you will never get anything done. Stop putting whatever you are putting off OFF! The best strategy is to put time blocks around the overwhelming things and break them into chunks. This makes the entire process easier to wrap your brain around."

This hits the nail right on the head for me. Oftentimes, when I first see the big picture my reaction is I have to take deal with all of it all at once. I get overwhelmed, which results in abandoning the project. So, my first step is to make a schedule (and stick to it). The other steps will fall into place if I stick to my schedule. Also, am going to get a professional head shot taken. Really need to update the 2+ year-old phone photo I've been using.

Above photo, roughing out a social media schedule. When it comes to mapping out a schedule or strategy, I think best with pen in hand.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Copy edit or proofread? Do both!

When I don’t ask someone to proof my work it’s usually because I’ve mismanaged my time, i.e. waited until the last minute and am about to miss my deadline, or I’m being lazy. I give proofreaders a long leash. “Yeah, ferret out those typos, and don’t hold back on your opinions, either.”

When someone proofreads, what are they looking for? For example, a copy editor might change that sentence to “When someone proofreads, for what are they looking?” You know, so the sentence doesn’t end with a preposition. (Though that sentence ends with a preposition! LOL. Get it?)

A copy editor fine tunes the writing. Makes sure the syntax, grammar, and punctuation are correct. A copy editor makes revisions. A proofreader, on the other hand, checks a reproduction, or dummy copy, of the finished piece, such as a book or newsletter. A proofreader makes sure there are no typographical errors, whether in the manuscript or introduced in the production process.

Southern California Edison provided this excellent example distinguishing the two. The email was proofread but sort of missed out on the copy editing phase.

You are forecast to exceed your monthly spending goal for Service Account x-8464.
Your next bill is currently projected to be $35. That's $0 OVER your monthly spending goal of $35.
Your bill-to-date for the current billing period is estimated at $16 with 18 days remaining in this billing cycle. This means there is still time to reduce your costs!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Perks of Being a Writer

Above, the view on a December afternoon from the El Encanto Hotel in Santa Barbara.

No secret here – being a writer doesn’t pay much. Unless, of course, I ever get around to penning that great American bestseller “How to Live Very Well on the Very Little Money You Make Because You Are a Writer.” There are, however, some mighty fine perks that come one’s way. Take yesterday for example. Fellow writer Leslie Westbrook hooked me on to an invitation to the El Encanto Hotel’s spa open house. BTW, El Encanto = big time snazzy in Santa Barbara. My guess is that Leslie was invited to the open house because she wrote on the El Encanto’s remodel for Traditional Home magazine. Read it; it’s a great article.

In addition to soaking up the beautiful view, architecture, and ambiance, I had a mini-oxygen facial and a hand massage. Plus, tasty hors d'oeuvres and some bubbly. Then, we carried on to the Association of Women in Communications holiday party in downtown Santa Barbara. I had to pay for that … and it was worth every penny. And I’d do it again. Along with the mini-facial and everything.

Below, this is where I had my mini-oxygen facial. It was fabulous.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Pencil Bag -- this writer's toolbox

Last night my friend asked me, in a rhetorical, off-handed way, if I had some Scotch tape. We have a standing Sunday night meeting at a coffee shop to work on our respective businesses ... you know, catch up on emails, update web sites (here's hers: Curious Cup; here's mine: Amy Marie Orozco),and all sorts of little stuff so we can hit Monday morning running. But back to the tape story ...

Fully expecting a "no" answer, she was pleasantly surprised I had the requested item. I was pleased the tape had been returned (by me!) to my pencil bag. Yes, pencil bag. I carry it in my purse. It is filled with pens of different colored inks, a variety of highlighters, scissors, glue stick, tape, some loose paper clips and binder clips,and sticky notes. There are some other goodies in there, too. Pencils being one of them. Mechanical pencils and replacement lead. Had to switch, the pencil shavings were getting too messy.

It's a writer-nerd thing, the pencil bag is. You can always find a piece of paper if the notebook/journal didn't make it back to your purse, but it's not always easy to find a writing implement. (And if you can't find a piece of paper, writing on the wrist will do in a pinch.) Yes, I have a digital recorder and could use my iPhone notes function. It's not the same though. Maybe one day, one of those gadgets will replace my pencil bag, just as composing on a keyboard has replaced longhand. Until then, a good pencil bag is this writer's toolbox.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Repeat After Me: Anaphora

Alliteration, onomatopoeia, allegory, and similes are well known literary devices. I just learned a new one. Well, I didn’t just learn the device, but I learned the name for the device. It’s called anaphora. Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences, clauses, and/or verses.

This new knowledge comes to me thanks to the January 2014 edition of Writer Magazine. Probably the best known example of anaphora is Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech given in 1963 at the March on Washington. King repeats the phrase “I have a dream” at the beginning of his sentences.

“… I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood …”

Anaphora. Great word, isn’t it? Great device, don’t you think?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Betcha Can't See It Just Once

This Saturday is the Carpinteria premier of the The Bet, the feature-length film from the Community Film Studio Santa Barbara. Matinee at 2 p.m./$10. Gala party at 5:30 p.m. followed by the film screening at 7 p.m./$50.

I bought tickets to both. Want to know why? I'm in the movie. Yes! I play "waitress," which is a speaking part.

Sometimes I need a break from sitting behind a computer. Acting not only gives me a break, it inspires and motivates me. Plus it's fun.

Anyway, it will be a fun day in Carpinteria. Hope to see you there. Oh, The Bet is playing at the Plaza Playhouse Theater,4916 Carpinteria Avenue in beautiful Carpinteria. Thanks.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Obeying state laws on mandatory rest and lunch breaks

You know how experts tell you the importance of taking breaks? Ten minutes a pop is enough to refresh the mind, and upon returning to the task at hand one will be ready to approach it with renewed vigor. I’m really not a believer in that theory. I’m more of a “if I get off this six-hour jam I’ll never be able to hop back on the train.” And, because I’m self-employed and a lone practitioner, I’m not worried about the state of California cracking down on me regarding mandatory rest and lunch breaks.

Well, a dog has special needs, such as being taken outside to go to the bathroom. Now, breaks are imposed on me. Meet Libby. She guarantees I’ll be taking breaks. At least every three or four hours, Libby puts her paw gently on my thigh and gives me a knowing look. Then it’s outside for a short stroll. And, when I get back to my desk, I, must admit, I do feel better – refreshed, renewed, and ready to tackle the project at hand with renewed vigor.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Inner Editor - friend or foe?

I love to write. The stereotype of the tortured soul enduring bouts after bouts of writer's block does not apply to me. Oh sure, sometimes a deadline is under my nose, and, yes, I'd rather be at the long lunch a group of don't-get-together-often-enough friends is having. Of course, writer's block has knocked on my door, though, I find procrastination and not enough coffee far greater adversaries. Thankfully, I've pretty much got those licked.

Here's what I have yet to conquer: my inner editor.

My inner editor prevents me from taking full advantage of some my profession's most enjoyable and rewarding work. Take free writing, for example. In free writing, one writes (in longhand usually) for a specified amount of time without stopping, without giving a care to spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, relevancy, and all the other stuff one is to be 100% cognizant when writing (for an audience, for a living, for a college board, et al). The idea behind free writing is that it primes the pump, helps overcome self-criticism, and sets the writer free. Anything goes, and the idea is to let go of the inner critic and the inner editor.

An inner editor is not to be confused with an inner critic. The inner critic is the inner voice judging, and, most likely, demeaning you. The inner editor is the inner voice that says you forgot to put an apostrophe in the first paragraph of your freewriting piece on "Creating My Perfect Day." But, according to the workshop leader to whom you have paid $325 for four hours of "unlocking the magic pen within," under no circumstances are you to go back an insert the apostrophe in that first paragraph.

So, there you are. Vacillating between putting in the apostrophe and trying to get your $325 worth out of "unlocking the magic pen within." What would you do?

I recommend this book. Love Natalie Goldberg. Love her books. Haven't met her yet. Need to save my money and go to one of her workshops.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Due to technical difficulties ...

My domain name expired and along with it went my gmail account. In the big scheme of the universe it's not such a big problem, and I've been trying to remember that. It's just so darn inconvenient and annoying.

My new email address is

Thanks for sticking with me on this tricky tech-y trail.

Also,check out the poster. I'm in the play! (But maybe I already told you that.)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thinking on your feet while sitting at a computer and writing

May I suggest taking an improv class if you find yourself frequently stuck, or saddled with the comment ailment of writer's block. May I suggest taking an improv class if you like to have fun and want to sharpen your mind.

Improv isn't just for actors, you know.

No improv class near you or available to you? Well, then do what I did -- organize one! Now in its fifth session, the Improv Workshop at the Plaza Playhouse Theater starts up on Sept. 3. There's a new acting class, too. Check out the above flyer.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Logo Contest - Call for Entries

As you may know, I volunteer for the local theater, the Plaza Playhouse Theater. So, I'm helping to put the word out ...

Calling all artists! Carpinteria's Plaza Playhouse Theater wants your submission for their logo contest. Come on, sharpen those art supplies and put on your thinking cap. The deadline is August 31 ... this year! Some details follow. Visit for full details. Maybe your design will be chosen and your name will be in lights.

World’s Safest Logo Design Contest
Plaza Playhouse Theater invites public to submit artwork

Carpinteria, Calif.—The Plaza Playhouse Theater has released a call for entries to design a logo for the nonprofit arts organization. The contest is open to all interested parties and the deadline is Aug. 31, 2013. Along with bragging rights, the artist of the chosen design will receive $350. The new logo will be unveiled at the historic theater in the fall before a to-be-determined production.

“We are looking for a logo that represents the music, theater, and film aspects of the community theater,” says Asa Olsson, For a complete list or submission guidelines and contest rules, visit president of the organization. “In keeping with our mission as a community venue, we want to have as many people as possible submit their vision.”

Basic contest guidelines include:
• Digital entries only, jpg or pdf formats, will be accepted.
• Each entry must be submitted in full color and grayscale.
• Email entries to
• Deadline is midnight Aug. 31, 2013.

The selected logo will be used for branding and in promotional materials for the Plaza Playhouse Theater.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Reading

Go get a copy! Check out the Web site, I think you'll like it. I liked helping to create it. Looking forward to the next one.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Catalyst on the air

Yesterday I participated in a radio interview. It was a lot of fun, and I even have a little air time. It is all part of my volunteer publicity work for Catalyst for Cats.

Randi Fairbrother, president and founder of Catalyst for Cats, was the featured guest on radio host Jim Sirianni’s show. Randi used the opportunity to talk about the nuts and bolts of Catalyst’s work, such as Trap-Neuter-Return, fostering kittens, feeding colonies, and educating the community.

The segment will air on AM 990 KTMS, Saturday, June 15th at 5 p.m. and Sunday, June 16th at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. On 99.9 FM KTYD on Sunday, June 16th at 11:30 p.m.; 101.7 FM K-LITE on Sunday, June 16th at 6:30 p.m.; and 94.5 FM KFYZ (Z94.5) on Sunday, June 16th at 6 a.m.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

La Dolce Kitty

It’s difficult to answer “what was the highlight?” upon the return of a three-week trip to Italy. Truly, the entire time was one big megawatt spotlight highlight.

Fabulous food – check.
Lovely people – check.
Glorious scenery – check.
Sense of awe and wonder – beyond expectation.

Though I’m finding it impossible to name a favorite moment or place, I can say that Gatti di Roma was the most surprising highlight. Also known as the Roman Cat Sanctuary, Gatti di Roma is located at Torre Argentina, where about 250 spayed and neutered feline friends are sheltered among ancient Roman temple ruins.

I came across this lovely spot when walking to my hotel after sightseeing at the Colosseum and Forum. The sanctuary is open seven days a week from noon to 6 p.m. Volunteers hailing from a number of countries (including the United States) run the shelter – feed, clean, look after the cats.

Check out their Web site. And, if you are going to Rome, they have a wonderful items that make great souvenirs.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The importance of timing in the editing process

Don’t ever go grocery shopping while hungry is one of those basic rules of household budgeting or dieting. Here’s one for editors: Don’t ever work on a beer feature in the morning. Ever.

All I could think about from 9 a.m. was how much I wanted a beer. A finely crafted micro-brew … just like the ones written about in the beer story for the next issue of Carpinteria Magazine. I felt like a prisoner marking time. “OK, it’s 10:10 in the morning. That means at least 7 hours ’til I can safely say it’s beer:30.” It was one of the longest work days in recent memory. Maybe worse than waiting for recess as a kid.

This has given me a really good idea. I should start a list of helpful hints for editors. The beer tip (tipsy ... be great to work that in) could prove very useful for some editors. After all it could apply to food, erotica, and, well, you get the idea. Oh, the next issue of Carpinteria Magazine is due on the street early May. And, when it hits, I’m going to get a beer.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Penny wise, pound foolish no more! (I hope)

Next time I post a blatantly time-sensitive item, remind me of the Valentine's Day one I'm just getting around to updating (on March 20 ... a perfect time to coincide with spring cleaning). Don't want that to happen again.

Since Valentine's Day, I've learned a valuable lesson. Or, maybe I haven't learned it yet, most likely I'm still learning. Here's the lesson: the true meaning of "penny wise, pound foolish." In addition to money, my lesson was also was about efficient use of time.

I had a large project. Hundreds of pages to go over. I thought I could cut some corners by printing out the document in Fast Draft mode. (You know how expensive toner is. Sure, the printer is free with the computer but the toner costs a lung.) Of course, the Fast Draft printing was illegible. So that was a waste of time, toner, and paper. I had to reprint as the job still needed to be done. Of course, halfway through the job, I ran out of toner. Now, I've wasted more time, toner, and paper ... and I still haven't begun the job. Grrrr ...

I was getting a bit panicky as the closest office supply store to buy toner is a good 30 minutes away -- one way! Thankfully, I remembered the shipping and packing store in town also served as a copy shop. I got a quote, emailed the document, and picked it up in less time than the original Fast Draft print job took.

Hopefully, I've learned my lesson. If not, please feel free to remind me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Day Special

Valentine's Day is just about here. Feeling stymied? Flummoxed? In a conundrum? Lots of us feel that way around Feb. 14. And the reason for all this wringing of the hands? Presents!

Seems no matter the stage of the relationship – from the early days of "what if s/he gets the wrong idea" to the comfortably yet horribly unromantic been-married-a-long-time phase of "we need to get the sprinkler system fixed" – choosing the right Valentine's Day gift is a relationship minefield.

Worry no more! I have got a solution for you. Buy Beth McDonald's "The Very Generic and Experiential Zodiac-Based Guide to Valentine’s Day Bliss." Click here to check it out. Not only is it gift to yourself as it is a very entertaining read, but it is a very good bargain. (OK, it's downright cheap.)

Actually, Beth co-authored the book with Jamie O'Toole, who did the wonderful and beautiful artwork. Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that I had a pass at proofreading the book ... so I really know what a great book it is. "The Very Generic and Experiential Zodiac-Based Guide to Valentine’s Day Bliss" go buy it now. Click here,sweetheart.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Extra! Extra! Read all about me!

My new membership to the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Association for Women in Communications has certainly more than paid for itself. The newsletter's Member Spotlight feature shines on me this issue. Check out what I have to say! And a big "thanks a million" to interviewer extraordinaire and writing colleague Leslie Westbrook.

In addition to getting my name in lights, I learned a lot from this month's panel "Why Women in Communications Need to Negotiate." With their varied experience and expertise, panelists Lisa Gates, Britt Andreatta, Renee Grubb, and Lois Phillips covered a lot of the sticky territory of negotiating. Definitely am doing my homework on that ... last night I made some changes to my fee schedule. I made a separate category for proofreading.

Plus! The next morning I received a referral for a job. Now that's an amazing return on investment. Can't wait to see what next month's meeting brings.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What does it feel like to be a writer?

I subscribe to "The Writer." The print magazine arrives in my mailbox 12 times a year. It offers practical tips on writing for a living, writing because you want to, and writing because you need to. Typically, I find more than a few tips in each issue and easily can justify the subscription cost. (Actually, the subscription rate is very reasonable.)

"The Writer" frequently addresses how many writers don't really think of themselves as a "writer." I know the feeling. It's not like I think I should be wearing a beret to my office or anything. Maybe if I wrote more fiction I'd feel more like a writer. Maybe I should be yearning to write. (One thing I do yearn to do is use my forearm to swipe all the stuff of my desk. A swift and definitive windshield wipe.)

As one would expect, advertisements for writing programs punctuate the magazine. There is something for every level and for all types of degrees and certificates. One quarter-page ad was about "writing in Paris," which of course is the stereotypical dream of all writers.

That ad made me feel like a writer fraud. When I went to Paris I did not want to write. Indeed, I went there on vacation ... to get away from writing. I went there to see the sights, eat the food, drink the wine. I went there to get away from myself. To rejuvenate. So I could come home and pick up the writing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Open Call for Fiction

Calling all writers!

Dust off that manuscript, finish it, and submit it. Don't bother me with any excuses. I've heard, or used, them all.

Carpinteria Magazine has a call for short stories. And, as always, never a submission fee.

Deadline is Feb. 28. As a writer, I always work backward from the deadline date. That's why I put it first. Maximum word count is 2,500. Send text-only (Word docs preferred) submissions to:

No fuss. No muss. Fingers to keyboard. Write that story. It's in you. Get it out.

Carpinteria Magazine is open to themes and subject matter. But, you'll find in past issues the selected short story is Carpinteria-related. Visit the Web site to read past selections. Begin with the Summer 2011 issue and work backward.

Monday, January 14, 2013

No Coupon Necessary

"You're so organized" is a compliment I hear every once in a while. It is flattering, but I'm not sure how well deserved it is. Basically, I'm running a one-woman operation at Orozco Ink so my organizational skills never have been put to a real test.

This is typical of me to downplay a compliment or to consider a skill of mine as nothing special. After all, I do manage multiple deadlines and tasks daily. And, missing a deadline is so out of character for me it would cause a client to check in on my well being.

One organizational thing I can't get my arms wrapped around is coupons. Yes, I'm talking about coupons of the grocery variety, the X-amount-of-dollars-off an item in exchange for a piece of paper.

After a while, I just swore off the Sunday paper coupon pages. Most of the stuff I don't buy anyway. Plus, if I figured the time and effort put into clipping and tracking them, it wasn't worth the 35 cents off -- even if it were to be doubled.

I must confess, I still fall prey to Costco coupons. And, I still mess up. I dutifully cut them out (even the "no coupon needed" ones just so I won't forget to buy the item) and put them in my wallet, next to my money so I can't forget them.

Well, forget them I do. I hate that. Three days after the Costco run I discover them in my wallet. I've tried clipping the coupons to the list and to my Costco card. Still doesn't work.

From now on, I think I'll just forego the Costco coupons. Organize them into the same category as the Sunday supplement coupons.

Monday, January 7, 2013

What’s in a Name?

I chose the name Orozco Ink for my business because I like the play on words between “ink” and “inc.” The “ink” part related well to the business of writing, and I thought the “inc.” gave it an official tone. Kind of, anyway.

I still really like the name.

Well, it is funny how confusing a name can be. I never considered the following: A call from a potential client looking for a calligrapher to do some menus. A very friendly man he was, by the way. We chatted a bit about mix-ups and how confusing the English language can be.

Another interesting call I received was someone looking for a tattoo artist. Of course, now that I think about it, “ink” is much better suited to a tattoo artist than to a writer who uses a laptop.

And, FYI, I don’t even have a tattoo.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Time's Up!

Nothing like New Year’s to remind you of time. The figure of Father Time – replete with an hourglass and scythe – is seen frequently in advertisements and political cartoons on this side of the holiday season, as are the flying pages of a calendar or a countdown clock.

Time is one of the most important tools of a writer’s trade. It’s up there with a keyboard and monitor or writing implement and paper. Or should I say “measured time” is one of the most important tools? If it was not for deadlines, I don’t think I would finish many projects. And by “finish,” I mean walk away from a project and turn to a different one.

That’s the beauty of a timed writing exercise. Set the timer for any amount of minutes (not sure I have ever used hours) and I’m guaranteed to get click-clacking away on the computer. Timed writing is wonderful for not only getting the job at hand to the finish line but also for brainstorming new projects and ideas to pitch.

Here's what I usually do: Make a reasonable estimate on how long a task should take. I try to break down an assignment into chunks, such as outline, research, quotes from sources, and the like. Then, I set the timer accordingly and away I go. Usually I finish before the timer goes off, but if I don't, that's OK. I either continue to the finish line without the timer, reset the timer, or schedule it for another day.

It’s such a simple and effective tool. This is my New Year’s resolution – do more timed writings.

At left is my trusty phone that has a convenient timer. I also use a kitchen timer sometimes. I prefer something with an audible alarm, unlike an hourglas, but nothing too jolting, like a fire alarm.