Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Jingle Bells," karaoke, and what every blogger can learn from American Idol

Adam Lambert (of last season's American Idol)
was so awesome, in part, because he never did it "karaoke-style."
He understood that every time he got the microphone,
it was his opportunity to be unique. To be remembered.
We bloggers can learn from him.
Every time we sit down to write a blog,
it's like someone's handing us a microphone...

So I was cooking dinner the other day, listening to a favorite song on my playlist, and my hands were all goopy rolling up non-meat-meatballs so I just let it play on from the songlist in alphabeltical (get it?) order. And I discovered that I had 3 versions of jingle bells. And I listened to them all. In a row.

Now, outside the fact that it's nowhere near Christmas time, it got me thinking - what a great lesson in the importance of "voice."

It's what Simon and the other judges are always saying on American Idol - don't just sing the song the way we've always heard it. If you do, it's too "Karaoke," and while karaoke is fun to do, it's not so much fun to listen to (unless it's one of your friends, dancing on top of a table, humiliating themselves.)

So now it's your turn to Play Along At Home (or on the go) with these versions I found for you. Listen to these:

Ella Fitzgerald's version of Jingle Bells

Barbra Streisand's version of Jingle Bells

Kyle Massey's version of Jingle Bells

Diana Krall's version of Jingle Bells

Melinda Doolittle's version of Jingle Bells

And go ahead, sort your playlist alphabetically by song title and see how many versions of the same song you have (it doesn't have to be jingle bells - any song you have multiple artists' versions of will do.)

Listen to them all in a row.

Note how each artist really puts their own spin on it. And for those artists that don't put their own spin on it, think about how ultimately forgettable their efforts are, in a sea of versions of the same song.

This is a good lesson to think about when blogging.

It's very possible that you're going to be blogging about something other people are blogging about, too. Whether it's about American Idol, or wishing Raven had won RuPaul's Drag Race, or even the new gay character in the Archie comic book universe, often we're blogging about stuff that's already been discussed elsewhere in the blogosphere or on the web.

Whatever you're blogging about, make sure your version is unique - an expression of you and your voice.

Otherwise, it'll just be Karaoke.

Oh, and will someone let me know when Adam Lambert puts out a version of "Jingle Bells?" I can't wait to see what he does with it!

Namaste, and keep it Zen,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

1 Minute To Blogging Greatness, Episode #3: It’s Earth Day. You Wanna Blog About Holidays? Here’s what you need to know.

So I’m hiking, and leaves and gravel are crunching under my feet, when an eye-height spot of yellow catches my attention, and I get An Earth Day Inspiration...

One blogger who is a master at threading their theme through each post is my friend and writer Sara Wilson Etienne, who blogs about things in her life in a way that always brings it back to the process of writing. Check out how her insights and humor are anchored to her theme, which lets her blog posts dance!

Happy Earth Day, and like me, I hope you get inspired by Nature.

Namaste, and keep it Zen,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Blogging and Social Media Secret: Butt OUT of Chair

I know, you're all thinking, "Lee, you got it wrong, it's 'butt IN chair' because you have to write your books, create your art, make your products. You have to create your "real estate" before you try to sell it, right?

Well, yes. You do need that "butt in chair" time.

But for your blogging and social media efforts to truly pay off, you need to get your butt OUT of the chair, too.

You need to get out of the house and go to some events. Meet some people. To borrow a phrase from social media guru Greg Pincus, let those "happy accidents" occur.

Here's a double example of what I'm talking about:

This past weekend, the Los Angeles Region of SCBWI had it's annual "Writer's Day" conference. I went, and decided to wear my blog logo t-shirt.

Me and the amazing Eve Porinchak at Writer's Day,
photo taken by the wonderful Rita Crayon Huang

At the conference, a woman approached me because she recognized me (maybe my t-shirt, maybe my profile photo) and asked if I was the fellow behind "The Zen Of Blogging."

I smiled and said, "Yes, I am."

And then she said "Oh, The Zen Of Blogging saved my life!"

I asked her if she'd say it again, on camera. She graciously agreed:

So it was good for me to get out in the world, because lo-and-behold, I got an amazing testimonial out of it. On video, no less.

But look at it from the other perspective.

Diane Browning is an author with a new book coming out. She got her butt OUT of her chair, went to this event and had her book right there in her hands. She said hello to a blogger she recognized, and shared her appreciation for what he was doing.

And then, lo-and-behold, she got the opportunity to plug her upcoming book (Signed, Abiah Rose) and her blog on HIS blog. (Right here - you just saw it.) On video, no less.

So Butt OUT of Chair worked rather elegantly for both Diane and myself.

And it can work for you, too.

Namaste, and remember to keep it Zen.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

1 Minute To Bloging Greatness, Episode #2: Twitter For Bloggers - The Top 3 Things You Can Do!

I was honored to premier this second episode of my blogging tips series over at the unstoppable Tina Nicols Coury's blog, Tales From The Rushmore Kid!

Tina is running a series called "Cyber Tip Of The Day" and I'm in good company, what with Anastasia Suen and Greg Pincus being the previous Tip-Givers.

So here's my tip:

And here's another tip for you - check out the great stuff Tina's up to (agent interviews, author advice and wacky hats to name just a few) on her blog!

Namaste, and remember to keep it Zen,


Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Great Video About The State Of The Internet

It's fun. It's animated. It has a great soundtrack. And this short video has a fantastic overview of just how BIG the internet and our world of bloggers has become...

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

While the numbers can seem overwhelming, remember, we each just need to find OUR Zen path to blogging.

You need the one thing that can distinguish your blog from the 126 million other blogs out there.

And you already HAVE that one thing. It's YOU.

Here's the secret:

Be yourself when you blog.

Your passion.

Your perspective.

Your voice.

Now that's Zen.

Thanks to Jess3 for creating this video, and to

Greg Pincus, my friend and social media guru who shared this video on his social media blog, The Happy Accident, which is where I saw it for the first time.

Greg has the incredible ability to make the whole world of social media (including facebook, twitter, blogs, etc...) more comprehensible and less overwhelming, and his blog is a Zen must read.