Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The MBA Essay

I completed 50% of an MBA in Management at Colorado State University in the early 1990's. I wrote many project papers and did fairly well since I was in my late 40's and early 50's at the time.

The MBA essay is what distinguishes you from thousands upon thousands of other applicants. A well-crafted MBA essay will represent who you are, allowing the admissions board to see you as a person, rather than just another number. After all, a GPA is just a number, a GMAT score is just a number, and every recommendation letter paints every applicant in the same glowing light. A good MBA essay will tell your story, and allow the admissions board to see why they should pick you from the crowd.

Business school students face a uniquely difficult challenge, because most programs require a series of essays rather than a single business paper with comprehensive personal statement. This fact alone should indicate the importance that business schools place on your written responses in your business papers. Part of the reason for this extra required writing is that business schools also place a stronger emphasis on practical experience.

Thus your admission will depend largely on your ability to convey your experiences and goals in business papers. Self-assessment is a significant part of this process, as is a careful review of both your life and what you have done professionally. Many successful professionals have simply never had to articulate their accomplishments before in business papers. Now for the first time, the applicants must communicate this information in a very clear, concise, powerful manner of business papers that is accessible to anyone, even without knowledge of their field. Being able to convey both the substance and significance of one's work life in the business papers is crucial for all applicants.

You have two objectives when you are preparing your business papers as part of the admission process. Firstly, you need to persuade the admissions officer that you are worthy of admission. Secondly, you need to bring your application to life to make the admissions officer or committee aware that you are not just another "standard" applicant. Whilst this can be easier said than done, every prospective business student should be able to write an business paper that catches an admissions officer's attention.

Nearly all applications will feature a question that asks about your reasons for wanting to obtain an MBA at this stage of your career. Some will explicitly ask you to tie these reasons into your background and your goals in your business papers. Even for schools that don't offer this specific direction, you should plan on such a discussion of past and future, as it provides essential context for your application in your business paper.

"Why MBA?" is often the first question asked and without a doubt the most important essay you will write. The MBA essay includes essential information about whether you're qualified, whether you're prepared, and where you're headed. The other essays fill in details about these fundamental points, but a strong answer about, for example, how you overcame a failure will not revive a candidacy that failed based on a lack of career focus.

There are no groundbreaking reasons for pursuing an MBA. This is not a place to aim for bold originality. Rather, you should focus on articulating detailed reasons that are specific to your situation.

About the Author
Sharon White is a senior writer and writers consultant at essays help. Get some useful tips for MBA essay and MBA dissertation.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Better Thinking Skills Through Writing

Better thinking skills come from practice. What are some good ways to practice? You can sit and think, for starters, you can work on specific puzzles and problems. You can have interesting discussions with others. There may not be a "best" way to practice your thinking skills and boost your brainpower, but one of the most powerful is to write.

Why writing? Because unless you are just copying words, to write is to think. There are three basic ways in which writing helps your thinking skills.

1. Writing clarifies your thoughts.

You may have noticed how much clearer an argument or opinion becomes to you once you express it. Talking forces you to clarify your thoughts, but not just to the other person. Putting thoughts into words is also a process of telling yourself the logic behind what you "felt" or what you only partly understood. You try to make the other person understand, but you are often also bringing yourself to that understanding, or at least a better one. You are thinking aloud.

Writing accomplishes the same thing. It is essentially like talking to the paper or computer screen. Compared to talking, it has the disadvantage of not giving you outside feedback. On the other hand, you get to express and develop your thoughts without interruption. This is a great way to work on your thinking skills. Boost your brainpower by exercising your "explain power."

2. Writing establishes firmer memories.

We cannot use what we cannot remember. This isn't entirely true, because we are often using a lot of information from our unconscious minds in decision making and everyday life. However, to consciously think about a topic effectively, we need to have the knowledge and ideas we have gained available. This means we need to remember things. Better memory equals better thinking skills.

Writing helps with this. This is why we were all advised in school to take notes. It wasn't just to have the notes for later, but also because the process of writing things down helps us remember them. By the way, a piece of paper and a pen in your pocket is a good idea if you want to remember new people's names. Just write them down as soon as you learn them.

3. Writing gives you new insight.

Do you want to understand a topic? Write a book or ten articles about it. Okay, you may not have the time, but if you are learning about behavioral economics, for example, you can write a letter to a friend about it, and you will understand it better.

Do you want to invent a new product? Write down an explanation of the problem you are trying to solve (ex: create a better chair). Include an explanation of the good and bad points of the current solutions. Write about some possible approaches, and write about anything else you can think of. Do this exercise, and you're half-way to your new invention.

People don't necessarily write about something because they understand it already. They often start writing about something because they want to understand it, and the process of writing is what brings about their understanding. Why not start a journal today and improve your thinking skills by writing?

About the Author:

Steve Gillman has been studying brainpower and related topics for years. For more on How To Increase Brain Power, and to get the Brain Power Newsletter and other free gifts, visit: http://www.IncreaseBrainPower.com

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Friday, July 13, 2007

The Sound Of Your Book

In his Entertainment Weekly column Stephen King recently extolled the virtues of the audiobook. I agreed with his take, especially the stressing that most writing is, after all, about story-TELLING. But it's interesting to me how many writers go about their work without considering how their words will sound as spoken words. We're so used to reading silently in our heads and, of course, that's what most of our readers will do. But thinking about how your book will sound is an important key to ensure that you're writing well. Usually if it sounds good, it is good. Here are a few things to consider...

How Do You Want to Be Heard?

We think so much about story, plot, characters, as we're planning a book, but just as important is this: What do you want your book to sound like? Will your characters speak in dialect? Will your narrator have a unique voice or will he/she sound like all the other characters? Does your book sound right for the time? My current manuscript is a historical novel and my concern is using the correct slang and general tone for the time period. I also want it to have the feel of a woman sitting in a room telling me this story in one sitting in an intimate setting. I always asking myself if that is indeed what is happening with what I'm writing.

Listen Up!

If you're confused about how you want your book to sound, listen to a recording of one of your favorite novels. The beauty of audiobooks is that we have so much to choose from when we want to hear what great writing sounds like. As I searched for examples to inspire my own work, I discovered (on iTunes!) a recording of the great actress Ruby Dee reading "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston. Ms. Dee's reading conjured the magic and soul of the book and it gave me great ideas on what I could try to bring that kind of depth to my writing. I'm not sure I would have heard the same thing reading the novel on my own.

For Non-Fiction: Your Voice

Sound is just as important for non-fiction writers. With non-fiction, the sound of the book is your own personal voice. How do you want to sound to your readers? Authoritative? Friendly? Professorial? Humorous? Keep your answers in mind as you write and edit your manuscript. Is your tone consistent or are you changing it again and again? Does it make readers want to know you and stay with your book? Or does your too-serious tone keep readers at a distance or--even worse--drive them away? Your information and personality can't help but mingle to create your tone. But is the mix a good one?

When in Doubt, Read It Out (Loud)!

When I worked at Time Inc. my editors endlessly stressed reading a piece out loud during the writing process. If you didn't, you risked the embarassment of standing next to an editor while they read a few sentences of your story out loud and then turn to you and say, "Does that sound right to you?" It's amazing how ghastly different something can sound in your head versus reading it out loud. Don't be afraid to do it. Find yourself a quiet spot and really speak the speech as though you were giving one. Does it sound awkward? Boring? Totally engaging? If you can't tell, get a friend to read it out loud for you. If they stumble often or if the words seem lifeless, you'll know your marching orders. Time to rewrite!

About the Author:

© 2006 Sophfronia Scott Author and Writing Coach Sophfronia Scott is "The Book Sistah" TM. Get her FREE REPORT, "The 5 Big Mistakes Most Writers Make When Trying to Get Published" and her FREE online writing and book publishing tips at http://www.TheBookSistah.com

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Art of Antique World Maps

Since antiquity we have tried to make sense of the world around us. The development of charts and maps has echoed this desire as well as providing an insight into the knowledge possessed by humans at different times throughout history.

Given that maps in the past were very valuable objects, it is no surprise that they were treated in much the same way as art, as objects to be cherished by their owners. Over time items that were initially functional objects soon attracted the attention of skilled artists and draftsmen whose efforts reflected the growing importance of maps as not only useful objects but as works of art in their own right.

Until relatively recently our curiosity of the world around us outpaced our knowledge of geography. Early attempts at extending this knowledge were limited to oral tradition and based squarely on what people could see for themselves. This knowledge of a landscape and local environment, often combined with lore and myth, helped create “living maps” communicated from person to person and generation to generation.

The need for more reliable methods of communicating this local knowledge led to the development of topographical maps. These captured the salient elements of a terrain to more reliably record and pass on knowledge. These early maps tended to concentrate on the relationships between obvious topographical features, with little attention paid to true measurement or accuracy.

However these early attempts were successful in that they stored knowledge for future generations and, although inaccurate by the standards employed today, it did standardize the kind of knowledge passed between generations and helped sow the seeds for early cartography. They also offer historians a unique glimpse into the lives and preoccupations of these primitive societies.

Although maps and cartography continued to develop by the Middle Ages things had slowed down. During the Medieval era accuracy, and the desire to create realistic maps, declined. Philosophical thought was much more concentrated on religious matters, and this was reflected in maps. Many maps during this period had strong religious overtones, often warping the reality of geography to represent some religious bias – such as the Holy Land represented as the center of the earth.

By the 16th and 17th centuries however things began to change. With many European nations, in particular the Dutch and the British, taking to the high seas mapmaking became important.It is at this time we see maps moving beyond simple functionality to art. Although initially fulfilling a technical need the role of the cartographer soon developed along similar lines to other crafts. By the 17th century skilled cartographers were in great demand. This recognition of the profession soon gave rise to some leading lights who took cartography from drawing functional charts to creating unique works of art.

In addition many cartographers were accomplished draftsmen due to the nature of their profession, and often embellished their work with decorative details such as sea creatures and mythical gods. It was commonplace to see maps designed by Abraham Ortelius (1528 – 1598) or Petrus Plancius (1552 - 1622) decorated with elaborate pictorial detail.

A good example is Obis Terrae Compendiosa, designed by Dutch cartographer Jan Baptist Vrients (1552 - 1612), a successor to Abraham Ortelius. Like many maps of the day it is decorated with numerous details including symbolic figures at each corner, landscape vignettes and exotic animals and fauna from the far-off shores it represents.

One of the most famous examples is Typus orbis terrarum, designed by Abraham Ortelius. It is replete with an astonishing level of detail matched only by the breadth of its knowledge. Like many antique world maps dating from the period it reflects a perfect fusion of geographical knowledge and artistic endeavor.

Nowadays many people are looking to antique maps to add some charm and history to their home decor. With a vast array of options to choose from, including posters, prints and wall tapestries, there's never been a better time to appreciate these unique works of art.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Geeeeee, you think there was "hype" about the iPhone? That was nothing compared to the last and newest "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" book!

Security is high, books must be sealed and secured. No talking to the press....no really!

Parties at major & minor book stores abound. Will people "camp out" for the book? Who the hell knows? It's crazy. The local public library claims a 6-12 month wait on reserve.....uh huh. I have a copy reserved, maybe I'll sell it on EBay for $500...haha!

OMG, the web sites devoted to this and the secondary marketing of toys, the movies, they even publish "Harry Potter" in brail! All types of media including, print, web, video, etc. are in play. Thanks to the internet, fan fanaticism, much of the "hype" and coverage is free marketing...........the real reason she allows "unofficial" books, etc.
Here are just two sites:



Can there be any doubt on why the author is a "Billionaire"? I am surprised though at all the "un-official" products and books out there. Unlike Microsoft who sues anyone who remotely uses their trademarks or ones that are similar, Rowling, appears to just "feed the beast", and allow copycats. Strange but true.

Monday, July 2, 2007

OK, I once worked at a college bookstore and recently stumbled upon a "Norton Anthologies of Poetry" in the Bookstore where I work. These were the mainstay of almost every college English class.

Seems like if you were "exploring" poetry or literature, that may be a good place to start.

Our bookstore, a chain, is pretty large ....but the "poetry" sections is only a few shelves. Literature comprises about 20% of the store, so an anthology would allow a broader scope of styles.

Of course a bookstore, is not a Library, yet many people feel this way. Our major chain store only has perhaps the top 25% of available "New" or even "Classic" Literature available. A Library probably has more, but books published more than 5-10 years ago, may only be available on-line or at a used bookstore..


Anthologies: Your Shortcut To Getting Published
By: Sophfronia Scott

What do you get when you mix a handful of writers, a hot topic and a snazzy title? You get an anthology--and one of the more popular form of books being published today. A recent article in the Sunday New York Times (see article at http://www.profcs.com/app/adtrack.asp?AdID=238123) noted "the wave of anthologies has not yet crested" and the phenomenon is still a great seller, especially for women writers. You can take advantage of this trend to get yourself published faster than working on your own. I know it might not be what you dreamed--sharing a byline and being in a book that's not wholely yours, but it is a way for a first time author to get a foot in the door--and I know of at least one publishing company, Love Your Life Publishing, with a program designed to help you do it in as little as six months! (You can find them at www.loveyourlife.com. Tell them The Book Sistah sent you so they'll treat you REALLY well!) Here's how you can start the legwork on your own.

Choose Your Topic

Anthologies are organized and driven by their subject matter. And the title usually makes it crystal clear what that subject is. Examples: "Maybe Baby: 28 Writers Tell the Truth About Skepticism, Infertility, Baby Lust, Childlessness, Ambivalence and How They Made the Biggest Decision of Their Lives"; "The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood and Freedom". When you choose your topic you'll want it, of course, to be something you're interested in writing about, but you'll also want it to feel as though you are responding to what's on the minds of a particular group or society at large. You'll want to do your best to plug into the zeitgeist because that's what will generate buzz about your book and get you interviewed in the media.

Gang Up! Find Your Co-Authors

Next, find other writers interested in participating. You can do this by Googling your subject and seeing what writers are already working in the field. You can also scan online groups, like on Yahoo, to find unpublished writers looking to do their first book as well. Note, if you are not self-publishing, you may need to entice a few known authors onto your list in order to pique a traditional publisher's interest.

FYI, Love Your Life Publishing is looking for contributors to an anthology they're assembling entitled "The Spirit of Women Entrepreneurs". If this is your expertise, contact Love Your Life for more details.

How Will You Publish and Split Costs?

If you self publish your anthology, you'll have to come up with a plan for how you'll handle the costs and oversee the project. Will it by "your baby", in which case you'll pay for the book's production (and possibly even pay the bigger name writers if that's what it takes to get them involved) and marketing costs. If you go in with a group of first timers, you'll all be able to split the costs, but it might be a good idea to have someone act as the project manager, to keep from having a "too many cooks" scenario develop.

Co-Market For Your Best Results

The best part about working with more than one writer is that you'll be able to use the muscle of marketing to more than one list. Ideally each writer will have their own list (either their personal contacts or a list they developed as part of a business) and that automatically multiplies the number of people you can reach with the book. You'll want to put your heads together to develop a good marketing plan so you're all sending out similar materials with a similar message. Again, you can designate a project manager to handle submitting the book to media markets (your co-authors can handle local media if they already have their own contacts). Hopefully everyone will pitch in and do their share. After all, if the book succeeds it could be the stepping stone the writers need to their own individual book contracts!

© 2006 Sophfronia Scott

About the Author:

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE? See Sophfronia's The Book Sistah Blog, category "Articles". Author and Writing Coach Sophfronia Scott is "The Book Sistah" TM. Get her FREE REPORT, "The 5 Big Mistakes Most Writers Make When Trying to Get Published" and her FREE online writing and publishing tips at http://www.TheBookSistah.com

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Six Steps To Better Editing And Writing

Proofreading and editing one’s own writing is very difficult. A quick reread seldom exposes the errors inherent in the work, but following the steps discussed in this article, should help you develop an efficient and effective method of proofing and editing your writing. These steps will help you become a better editor and in turn a better writer.

1. Spacing after punctuation. Make sure to use only one space between sentences. The double space was used on the typewriter to help the reader differentiate between sentences. It is not necessary to add the extra space when using a word processing program and many offer the option of alerting you when you’ve added an extra space. The first thing I do when I edit a piece is a search and replace of all the double spaces.

2. Web site versus website. The second thing I do is a search and replace of all the incorrect and often inconsistent uses of Web site. The World Wide Web, or the Web as it is more commonly referred to, is a proper noun, hence it should be capitalized. Site or host or any other word that we try to combine with Web is in fact its own word.

3. Internet versus internet. The third thing I do before I begin to edit a piece of writing is to perform a search and replace for the incorrect and again often inconsistent uses of Internet. The same principle applies here. Internet is a proper noun and therefore is always capitalized.

4. Apostrophes. Next, I actually read the piece with an eye out for certain apostrophe errors – in particular, your and you’re, they’re and their as well as possession issues. Some industries identify themselves by using an acronym. For instance, a CPA is a certified public accountant, a VA is a virtual assistant, and there are many more. Many writers mistakenly use an apostrophe when they actually intend to form a plural of the word. VAs is correct as is CPAs when referring to virtual assistants or certified public accountants. An apostrophe would only be used for possession. The VA’s services were superior represents a correct use of the apostrophe.

5. The wrong word – make sure you’re using the right word. When do you use then as opposed to than, or effect instead of affect? How about it’s and its? If you’re not sure – look it up.

6. Consistency – some errors can be excused, as long as you’re consistent. I say that with some degree of sarcasm. Pay attention to Web sites, advertisements and other marketing pieces currently used by businesses of all size and reputations and see if you can notice the inconsistencies that exist. Does it affect the way you see the company? How about if they were offering editing and proofreading services? If you’re going to capitalize Client – make sure you do it throughout all your materials.

In order to spot errors in your writing, you need to slow down your reading speed. Your normal reading speed will not give your eyes the opportunity to pick up the error and will allow your mind to fill in the gap or correct it automatically. Read your piece aloud – slowly. This encourages you to look at every word. You can also use a ruler or another piece of paper to force your eyes to review each line. When reading, put yourself in your reader’s shoes and listen as your audience might. If you follow these tips, you’ll be editing and writing wisely.

About the Author:

Laurie Dart, author and owner of Writing Wisely provides writing and editing services to entrepreneurs and small business owners. To improve your writing, visit the Web site: http://www.writingwisely.com.

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