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Number I Non-Fiction Challenge - Please Vote

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Author Topic: Cast Your Votes - The Number One Non Fiction Challenge  (Read 2635 times)

Offline Gyppo

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Cast Your Votes - The Number One Non Fiction Challenge
« on: November 14, 2007, 06:52:18 PM »
Welcome to the first Non-Fiction challenge.  When casting your votes please remember the initial brief.  An article which would interest people enough to make them want to read a regular column on the subject.  Enough detail to show familiarity with and enthusiasm for the subject matter.  Not exactly a sales pitch, but...

This time we have three proper entries for your delectation.  Plus one which was far too long to meet the rather strict 'real world' criteria.  Item four has thus been ruled out of the competition, but may be of interest.  The sender of the overlong item has said they would welcome comments.

So three to vote on, and the fourth one just for comments.

Please use the poll at the top of this thread to cast your vote.

The poll will remain open until Midnight GMT Friday 23rd November.

Gyppo
« Last Edit: November 14, 2007, 07:44:00 PM by Gyppo »
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Offline Gyppo

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Re: Cast Your Votes - The Number One Non Fiction Challenge
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2007, 06:58:37 PM »
Picture Perfect (788 words)

There have been devastating fires threatening Southern California in the United States. Many survivors of the fires state that they ran from the house taking only the bare essentials. Family members, pets, and their cherished photographs.

Our pictures capture the moments we wish to remember. When they are simply tossed into an old shoebox, they become more like scrap paper than precious memories. The way to overcome the shoebox dilemma is to engage in a thoroughly enjoyable process called Scrapbooking.

To begin takes little more than a desire to organize your favorite pictures into a cohesive story. The equipment absolutely needed is minimal. But like all hobbies and crafts, you can indulge yourself and purchase a variety of goods to enhance the overall effect of your scrapbooks.

You will need: a scrapbook cover, designer paper that is sold in tablets or by individual sheets, a good pair of scissors, plastic sleeves for completed pages, and glue. You can purchase scissors that cut with a design, precut decorative borders, alphabets, and stickers. You can buy stylized precut frames for pictures, stiffer paper for backing, and three dimensional enhancements.

The most arduous task is sorting through the pictures to select which ones to include in your book. Once this is done, sorting them into a specific order is essential. Planning the entire book before you begin gives you an idea of how you want the overall product to look. Do you want to remain entirely chronological? Do you wish to group pages by events? Perhaps you wish to have sections dedicated to specific people or pets. Your plan needs to be formed before you get the glue stick out.

After organizing your pictures in order, decide the layout of each page (3-4 pictures is usually the limit). Next decide if you are going to handwrite captions, print them out from a computer, or simply leave the pictures speak for themselves.

Now comes the fun part. Select paper that coordinates for facing pages otherwise your pictures are lost in the glare of mismatched background. Most tablets of paper come with coordinating pages for this very purpose. It is also possible to use some of the pages for accenting your pictures. You can frame a picture with one type of paper and then glue it on a page with a coordinating pattern.

Make your books pleasing to the eye. Not every picture has to be perfectly straight or horizontal. Canting a picture to right or left gives the book a less structured feel. There are many things you can add to your pictures to make them stand out. However, it is necessary for the book to lay flat, so when adding three dimensional items make sure that the book will still properly close.

Making scrapbooks will organize many of your photographs in one place. You might find that you still have shoeboxes full of pictures that didn't quite fit in the first book. No problem. You can next select from your pictures to make a book for each member of your family, or a separate book for each vacation, or even just a new book for each year.

If you are also the family story-teller you can add pictures to one page, while on the facing page have the story behind the pictures written out, either by hand or with a computer. Seeing pictures of the baby at the zoo is fun all by itself, but if you can tell the story behind the pictures in later years you will be rewarded with double the pleasure.

If you don't wish to spend a lot of money on your books, they can still be beautifully rendered by using a computer to help accentuate your pictures. Some pictures may be enhanced by selecting a relevant quote, rendering it with a fancy font, printing it out on colored paper, and using a fancy border. It looks very professional when printed out on photo paper if you do not want to use a color or pattern.

There is no limit to scrapbooking. You can make your books highly decorative, very structured, whimsical, or visual stories. The fun doesn't end when you finish your book, however. The real pleasure comes from looking through your masterpieces later and sharing the finished product with family and friends.

The only rule is to have fun. Don't rush yourself, the pictures were in the shoebox for years. The finished product will allow you to share the pictures, the stories, and also preserve the memories in a beautiful format.

Our pictures hold a special place in our hearts. With scrapbooking, they can hold a special place in our homes, as well.

***
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Cast Your Votes - The Number One Non Fiction Challenge
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2007, 07:00:42 PM »
Challenger 2

Move Into A Writing Career (724 words)

Is your job getting you down? Are you beginning to think you’re invisible? Do you feel you have something to say but no one will listen? Well, they will if you learn to communicate in a more effective manner. How do you do that? Simple; become a writer. While you can’t force people to listen to the spoken word, almost everyone reads a newspaper or an advertisement for a new soft drink. You could be the writer behind those articles and sales pitches; You not only get the satisfaction of sitting back and watching those who once thought you were invisible react to your words, you get paid for it too.

Being a writer is not easy. You need a decent grasp of the English language and you need a lot of luck! With that said, however, it’s a very rewarding career and not impossible to achieve. For instance, there are many on-line writing courses that can help you improve your writing skills and at the same time teach you the different areas, or genre, writing has to offer. Maybe you want to pen the next great American novel, or maybe you just want to give your views on current affairs and politics. Either way, you can learn these skills and you don’t have to pay the earth for them. Shop around on-line and you’ll find there are plenty to choose from. You will find courses specifically aimed at creative writing and journalism. Whatever you desire to write, there is a course to help you achieve that goal. A little time researching online will reveal a whole host of writing courses suitable for your needs.

To begin your career, start with the basics; reader’s letters and fillers. These are probably the easiest things to write and can be nice little earners too. Have you read the letters page in a magazine and been able to relate to the stories of children that have said the funniest thing? Or maybe your pet has a unique talent? Well, instead of just relating to them, write one. It’s easy to do and while reader’s letters don’t pay for everyone printed you stand a chance of winning the star letter prize which is often a free product rather than remuneration. However, with that said, some magazines do have cash prizes.

Fillers are where the hidden money is. What’s a filler? Well it’s a short paragraph of information used to ‘fill’ a gap in a magazine or newsletter. It can be a very lucrative sideline; Readers Digest for example actually keeps space set aside for these fillers. It may seem like an unattractive way to get published but think of it this way: firstly you’re a published writer; secondly, magazines, TV and radio can pay anything from $5 to $50 for a half hours work. Compare that to spending hours, or even days, researching and writing a query letter for an article just to be rejected.

Now you’re thinking, what do you put in a filler. Look around you, shop windows, newspaper adverts, signs, passing vehicles. Everywhere you look you will see inspiration. Listen to peoples conversations when you’re stuck on the bus or in a queue in your local store. You’ll be surprised how much you pick up once you train your mind to focus on things going on around you. Take a notebook out with you and jot down details as they happen so you don’t forget them. For instance, I was driving home one day and passed a local farm that ran two businesses, on the gate post was a sign, instead of reading ‘Furniture stripping & Potatoes’ it read, ‘Furniture stripping potatoes’ Yuck!! Would you eat them? It took me less than a minute to write down, ten minutes to type up and I got $15 for it, around £8 GBP. Not bad, considering I was going about my daily business when I spotted it. Now, do the math. Ten minutes divided by $15 equals $1.50 per minute, $90 (£45) an hour! Where else can you earn that kind of money?

There is no end to what you can do once you set your mind to it. Just remember, keep good records, write everything down, learn to focus more and you too can move career into being a full-time writer.

***
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Cast Your Votes - The Number One Non Fiction Challenge
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2007, 07:06:07 PM »
Challenger 3

Easy Tech Treasure Hunting (809 wds)

Last summer my family stood in a field of wildflowers overlooking the ocean, and miles of secluded beaches wrapped with evergreens that we wouldn’t have found if not for Geocaching.

Geocaching is a game where geocachers hide waterproof containers with a logbook, pen, and trinkets in a special location. These locations are called waypoints that give coordinates of longitude, latitude, and altitude. Coordinates are logged and entered on a website for other Geocachers to download and find.

To join in this growing, worldwide pastime, you’ll need computer access and a handheld GPS receiver simply called a GPS. GPS’s are battery operated ranging in price from $75.00 and up depending on the software and added gadgetry you want on your system. Magellan, Garmin, Lowrance, Cobra, and other companies manufacture handheld GPS’s. Refurbished GPS’s are available, and some cell phones and Blackberries are equipped with GPS capabilities.

Chances are if you’ve hiked lately, you were within close proximity of a geocache. Perhaps you drive by one on your way to work everyday. How would you know? Simply go on-line and search Geocaching. Several sites will appear from your search. Some require membership, which is usually free.

After you find the site you wish to search from, type in your search criteria and the waypoints of several geocaches are displayed. You can create an account and a nickname so that you can later log your find. With your GPS software, download waypoints directly from your PC into your GPS then away you go.

Geocaches can be hidden just about anywhere. There are drive-up caches where you don’t even need to get out of your car. Some caches require special equipment like scuba gear for underwater geocaches or rock climbing equipment for cliff dwelling geocaches.

Once you find a geocache, be sure you sign the logbook with the date, what you exchanged, and any anecdotes about your journey. Logbooks can contain useful information about nearby attractions or coordinates to other unpublished caches.

The general rules are take something, leave something, and have fun. Follow rules, regulations, and laws of landowners, property managers, and cache owners. Tread lightly and be stealthy or the geocache may be “muggled” or pilfered by non-Geocachers. Never move a cache and always get permission from the property owner before you hide one. You may have coordinates that lead you to a property posted with NO TRESPASSING in which case you have to find another way to get to the cache. Another common sense rule is to never leave food in a geocache. Caches with food are commonly destroyed by hungry critters with keen noses. Avoid putting matches, explosives, knives, alcohol, drugs or pornography in geocaches keeping in mind that people of all ages hide and seek geocaches.

There are several different types of geocaches from micro-caches, Earthcaches, and traditional large caches with inexpensive trinkets to the TerraCaches, which pride themselves on quality and a strong sense of adventure. Event caches such as Cache In Trash Out, Mega-Event Caches, and many variations of GeoGaming are growing in popularity. There is even GeoBookCrossing where books are moved around the world to promote education and reading.

Things you may find in geocaches are maps, software, money, jewelry, tickets, antiques, tools, games, semiprecious stones, CD’s, DVD’s, and toys. There’s also the much-coveted hitchhiker or travel bug, an officially registered and tagged item that moves around the globe from geocache to geocache. Travel bugs are logged and tracked via the Internet as they travel. There are also geocoins and contests available to geocachers. Some business, radio stations and newspapers, offer “First Find” awards of monetary value or coveted tickets to performances or attractions

At any given time, there are three satellites over your head known as Global Positioning Satellites. There are 30 of these working satellites called Navstars orbiting the earth, originally created for military use. Until 2000, their signals were scrambled by a process called SA or Selective Availability which limited accuracy for civilian use. On May 1, 2000, President Clinton announced that the SA would be turned off allowing accuracy for civilian use to within five meters.

The next day, Dave Ulmer suggested celebrating the demise of SA, and hid a bucket of treasures in the woods beside Portland Oregon. He announced the coordinates in a posting on USENET newsgroup. The stash was found within a day of being hidden. This laid out the ‘groundwork’ of a hobby known as Geo-Stashing. The name was later changed to Geocaching because of the negative connotations associated with the word ‘stash.’  Now there are hundreds of thousands of geocaches hidden in countries worldwide.

Geocaching continues to grow as a hobby and family pastime offering a variety adventure, excitement, sports challenges, contests and enjoyment.

***
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Cast Your Votes - The Number One Non Fiction Challenge
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2007, 07:18:09 PM »
Comments only on this one, please, if you'd be so kind.  It is outside the competition due to being nearly double the set length.

Gyppo.


=====

The Business Trip (1650 wds)

Day one:

My wife chatted me awake, “Sorry honey, we’re really late!”

“Oh, what time is it?” I said blinded, as she raised the roladen, letting in the scathing morning light.

“It’s nine”, she replied. “What! I need to be at the airport in thirty minutes.”

So, this is how day one started. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom. In the mirror, I was not surprised by thinning hair, red eyes and the tired look I had on my early forties face. Damn, next time I would take on the responsibility of the alarm clock my self.

It was Wednesday and the idea was to get up early and get the kids and the wife to the airport, have breakfast and let them see me off with a smile. Now things were different, we had to move fast or I would miss my flight to London. I took a later flight than usual because my first meeting wasn’t ‘till late afternoon, hence, the nice breakfast and time with the boys. So, we managed to get the kids dressed in a hurry and out to the car with the bags, and on the Autobahn in record time. I was at the helm and hit two hundred km’s per hour and kept it there.

I live outside of Frankfurt and quite a distance from the airport, but at the speed I was driving, Frankfurt was behind us and the airport in sight within minutes.

Pleased with myself and our time, we parked and headed to the automated ticket machines. Frankfurt airport is all about efficiency and a well-planned infrastructure. The machine showed me what seats were available and I picked an isle seat like all business travelers. Turning ‘round boarding card held high showing it to my sons like a trophy or hunting prize I snickered; “Ha! And we even have time to get something quick to eat.” Again, proud of made up time through sheer speed and lack of a shower. I smiled, and my son’s little faces lit up.

I hate airports; they’re expensive, and tacky and often dirty and drab. Frankfurt’s was none of the above, just expensive. So, when looking for food, one must be careful, or pay way too much. The closest and least expensive option was sadly McDonald's. How cliché; an American in Europe eating at McD's. The McDonald's in Terminal Two is a veritable playground for kids. It has a veranda where you can watch planes landing and taking off. It also has a giant rubbery area with slides and a huge ball pool where kids can get lost in ball fights while their parents double check their tickets and baggage, shoveling fattening unhealthy food down for a quick unsatisfying meal, while calling their children back to the table over and over again for tasty little bites the stuff.

We had a good table and view of the play area. We gaily joined the other folks in calling our boys back to take a bite of this and sip of that, while I double checked my bags, passport and such. We had a surprisingly nice meal and I threw a few balls at the boys accidentally hitting someone else’s child, making her look up in surprise and frustration, as I over apologized my way back to our table.

I looked at my watch and realized that I had to get going, the security, always taking longer than expected. I kissed and bid my sweet family adieu and headed toward the dreaded security area.

Frankfurt does a lot of things right, and security is one of them. I was surprised how quickly I moved through the first of two controls. The Germans are no nonsense and efficient. I’m glad I left when I did, because my gate was the last one in D section, and seemed like miles and a labyrinth away. Flights to the UK are not considered inner Europe flights and therefore you have to go through two controls and march a mile to get the their distant gate. “Their” being British Airways. Finally, I arrived at the gate and like all others in Frankfurt there was the usual overprice stand for drinks and snacks. There was also a magazine stand with local and international fair. The gate wasn’t full and seemed just sparely littered with suits, businessmen with ears to mobile phones or thumbs bashing away at their blackberries. I found a nice spot and took out this journal. My new journal is a MacBook my brother left me when he died a few weeks ago and I promised to carry it with me and use only it for my writing. I tossed my Dell, and went Mac all in one flash of a decision based on love and loyalty to a brother who died way too young.

So here I am, hacking away at this thin white notebook, stopping every now and then to have a look at my fellow flyers. I, like all writers, am very curious and I love to watch people. I just find people very interesting. How they walk, what they wear; it’s all interesting to me. My late brother always said I had a penchant for the trivial. He would say, “It’s like you’ve set aside a part of your brain to store useless facts and silly information that no one needs and you’ll never use. Chris, you’re a factoid, and I think this is something similar though worse than a hemorrhoid!” Well that was Todd, and he was very right.

The suit nearest me was wearing a drab colored combination, just a bit to tight and obviously worn and old. I looked down at myself and was proud of the fact that today; I was wearing casual trousers, timberland shoes and a comfortable shirt. I today was certainly not a suit. I made an effort to leave my blackberry in my bag for the whole waiting period and would not take it out till in my hotel room.

The boarding call came on time and I quickly put my Mac away and moved like everyone to the line and waited to present my boarding pass. The bus waiting for us was large and I quickly found a seat. Like most things in Germany, the bus was very clean and took off in a timely matter.

The other thing I think a lot about is time. I like to be on time and I like others to be on time too. The one thing I hate about British Airways is that they are always, and I mean always---- late. I hate the fact that my firm has a corporate contract with them and we get to fly so damn cheap. So whenever flying outside of the US, I almost always have to use BA, arrgh.

So, we arrived at the plane, out deep into the tarmac, and it was not ready for us to board. The German bus driver made a funny comment about the airline, which proved my theory about their punctuality.

Finally, the crew had the plane ready to board and off we went up the aluminum steps to board the small craft. It was typical of the airline, shabby, small seats and not very clean. Thankful for my choice of an aisle seat, I waited while the other passenger in my row sat down.

Finally seated, we waited. We had to wait twenty minutes because our wonderful airline missed their take off window. The take off was inconsequential and I pulled out the usual travel magazines from the rear of the seat in front of me. Shortly, the service began and I was offered water or a canned soda. There were sandwiches offered, cheese and meat or simply cheese; both were the typical BA soggy white roll in a plastic shell consisting of zero ingredients for those on healthy diets. I denied the offer and continued to read and drink the water. Water is key for flyers; planes have climate systems that just seem to such the moisture out of us humans. So, I always drink lots of water. It’s also helps to override any alcohol consumed during longer flights.

Two hours later we were going into a landing pattern and had made up a bit of the lost time. Off boarding was uneventful and I hurried through the customs and received my stamp of approval.

London City airport is truly brilliant, its location is ideal for the business traveler and landing in the airport is always fun. It lies on the water of the Thames and looking out the left window, one always feels that we are about to land on the water. I like that part.

Off I hustled to the taxi stand, and entered a traditional black London cab I immediately enjoyed being basked in my native English. I live and work in Germany and am fluent in the language, but it's always a pleasure to be surrounded by the warm blanket of ones own native language. The cabbies in London are amazing and they always know exactly where to go and how to get you there fast. My cabby was an older man with the wrinkled face of a smoker and possibly drinker. He was friendly and had a hard cockney accent; I was whisked rapidly away to my hotel.

I stay in The Grange, directly at the Tower of London. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a Russian baggage handler, he's very large. As my bags were gently removed, I am surprised as the handle just disappears in this guys ham like hand, I was thinking, would hate to be other side of a punch from this guy....

to be continued....

***



« Last Edit: November 14, 2007, 07:20:50 PM by Gyppo »
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Mark H

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Re: Cast Your Votes - The Number One Non Fiction Challenge
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2007, 11:20:41 AM »
Thinking of writing a non fiction piece yourself? Before you do, relax a little with some wonderful haiku AND spice up your life with some triple voting action.

http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=11393.0
Buy Bristle Side Down, The Man Who Wore Brown Shoes and Middleclass Machismo here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=570142

If poetry is not your thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PueM04F0Qz8 or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Zm8cj9MGg