"Saint Patrick in Stained Glass" by NeitherFanboy
At the cusp of March 2013, it's time to answer questions about St. Patrick's Day. Therefore DeHaan Services proudly presents "The 2013 St Patricks Day Parade in Toronto".

Two Writing Tips for St. Patrick's Day

It's just the luck of the Irish that we can present two writing tips for St. Patrick's Day. Both deal with search engines, to some degree.

The first writing tip is that it's tricky to include a possesive apostrophe (') in an article's title. Notice that the DeHaan Services article uses "Patricks" without the apostrophe; but here the title includes it ("Patrick's").

The reason is that different sites and different browsers capture special characters in odd ways. It might become something like "Patrick&quotes", or be displayed as "Patrick?s".

Whether that confuses the search engines or not, it certainly looks bad if someone else links to your article and the title has something odd.

The second writing tip is to watch for variations in the way people spell the keywords you're using. Here are five that affect my current article:

  • St Patrick Day
  • St Patricks Day
  • St Patrick's Day
  • St. Patricks Day
  • St. Patrick's Day
Obviously I prefer both the (.) and the ('), but I also want people to find my article however they mangle "St. Patrick's Day".

I didn't even bother with "Saint" versus "St.".

If you have an excuse to write several different articles at different sites, you might flood each article with its own variation. Then each site has one consistent version. I went in the opposite direction today, giving each spelling at least one moment "on stage" in the one post.

So buy a few St Patrick's Day shirts to wear to your next upcoming St. Patrick's Day parade.
"Gardiner Museum in Toronto" image by End User
The Gardiner Museum hosts one of many events for your "2013 Spring Break Activities in Toronto".

My article answers "when is Spring Break 2013" and "what are the March Break activities in Toronto for 2013"? At least, I give about seven suggestions so you have some choices; and over a week to plan your spring vacation.

If you've found this page in 2014 or later, you should read the article anyway since many of the venues host annual activities; and it also links to different school board sites if you need to find official academic year calendars. Or check my Squidoo "Lens of Annual Toronto Events" since it should be updated annually for spring

One Writing Tip for March Break

I've noticed a trend that I'm following, at least for the moment.

I've written and published several date-specific articles a week or two before the event.

Last summer I was scrambling to write about a Toronto event a day or two before it was to occur.

My writing tip is to discipline yourself to research your topic, then write and publish so the article appears a bit before the day when people need it.

That gives the search engines enough time to index your article, but not enough to drop it into the "stale and outdated" category.

By the way, I've been amazed that "Celebrate the 2013 Chinese New Year in Toronto on a Budget" is still my most-read article for today, Feb. 27, according my site's CyStats module. The Lunar New Year was Feb. 10, 2013; are people still looking for party ideas over two weeks later?

Anyway, the extra views for Chinese New Year are fine by me; but I was really pleased to post that article a week before Tet.
"Fitness at Big Bay Boot Camp" image by Port of San Diego
My latest DeHaan Fitness article asks "Do You Need a Weight Loss Boot Camp This Spring?".

Many weight loss boot camps pop up every spring. Should you even think of attending one? What you you look for? How can you follow up for successful long-term weight reduction?

If it's a tough question for you, what about sending your child to a boot camp for kids?

My article attacks these questions. As always, my DeHaan Services blog also publicizes my article in "Can a Boot Camp Teach How to Lose Weight?" (Added on Feb. 26, since I had already publicized a Decoded Science article on the 25th).

Fit for a Writing Tip

This article took a surprising turn after I'd started it. I wanted to focus on boot camps in Toronto, regardless of whether they promoted "weight loss" or "extreme fitness".

Although I do see them advertised on lamp posts every spring and summer, they generally have a very outdated online presence.

Rather than focus on local boot camps for weight reduction, I switched to a more general overview of what to expect from a burst of diet and exercise.

My other choice was to alert my readers that they might be disappointed if they pursue fitness boot camps online. I'm not sure this would have been very helpful. It could also become untrue by next week, if the boot camp operators simply schedule themselves to update their sites every March.

The writing tip is to keep an open mind when researching your topic. If you're surprised by something, ask yourself whether your readers would want you to share that surprise with them? If not, can you take a different approach?

In this case, I took a different, and perhaps more universally helpful, approach to weight loss boot camps.
"Bicycle Shop in Gurgaon, India" image by comprock (Michael Cannon)
My latest DeHaan Services article about annual Toronto events is "The Spring 2013 Bike Show in Toronto on the CNE Grounds".

Written just over a week before the Toronto International Bicycle Show, it offers several reasons to attend and adds some advice for getting there.

Rolling on with a Writing Tip

This is a new writing tip in this series, based on my experience writing this article for DeHaan Services.

I found it remarkably straightforward to research the information, organize the material and write it down.

I may be a slow learner, but after dozens of "annual Toronto events" articles, it's becoming second nature.

The writing tip is to be mindful as you write and develop your writing style. You will improve your own technique with practice; and it will become easier and quicker as you gain experience.

It's not as easy as rolling off a log; but like riding a bicycle, writing in your own voice will become a well-trained havi
"Baby Polar Bear Cubs in Den" by beingmyself
My latest DeHaan Services article is based on an infographic offered by LearnStuff.

"What is Climate Change Doing to the Earth, per LearnStuff" begins with me answering some preliminary questions, and then turns the metaphorical microphone to LearnStuff's well-researched infographic.

It finishes with another bit of research by yours truly, along with the note that polar bears are endangered by global warming, which is the most frequently cited example of climate change.

One Earth-Friendly Writing Tip

I'd featured their infographics in a couple previous articles. I was surprised that one of the online magazines didn't want me to use them, since they had published others already. When they offered me another, I wasn't sure where I could use it.

Then I decided that it was such good content that I'd add "Public Service Announcement" to my DeHaan Services categories, with "Does Toronto Stand Alone in Banning Plastic Bags?".

This earth-friendly writing tip is that collaborating can be a good way to extend your writing repertoire.

Just be sure that you can endorse and espouse what you publish on your site. I do include a disclaimer, since the infographic is indeed LearnStuff's opinion and "voice". But readers would still notice that I gave them a voice on my blog, so inevitably my article would be seen as an endorsement.

One bonus thought: be sure to add some research or personal viewpoint. Your reader is right to expect you to do more than simply use other people's content, even with their permission. Be sure to add something of value to your readers. Do you think I did so, in my DeHaan Services article about climate change?
"Grace O'Malley Irish Pub in Toronto" by Mike DeHaan
It's been a while, but I finally added a new Lens to Squidoo.

"The DeHaan Lens for Irish Pubs in Toronto" is my list of Toronto's Irish pubs.

Since I can't possibly visit them all, I need to take in readers' comments to make the list more complete.

Naturally, this Lens also gets publicized by "Find an Irish Pub in Toronto for St. Patricks Day" in DeHaan Services.

One Green Writing Tip for Irish Pubs

A gratuitous writing tip is: don't mess with the colours as much as I just did in the above title. Yuck.

The actual green writing tip is to engage your readers with open-ended questions as well as voting widgets.

In this case, I made a virtue out of necessity. There's no way to do all the research for a complete survey of Toronto's Irish pubs.

Rather than hide, and hope that readers will not be too angry, I admit several times that the list isn't complete. Then I invite comments so we can improve the article.

Frankly, I'm a bit ticked by the online articles that have a boilerplate close, "What do you think about [the issue]? Leave a comment below". It's just too easy to ask for those comments, and there's no guarantee that the author or editor will actually engage in the further conversation.

In this case, the article about Toronto Irish pubs promises that I will update the information as they provide it.

Even if you're the world's authority on [your issue], you might just learn from your readers. See if you can incorporate their feedback into your next article.

In my case, I hope to fill in a few blank spaces
"Pi Approximation on a Grid" : image by Jose Kevo
You probably won't be surprised to learn that the answer is, "Yes, the Buffon Needle Drop experiment does indeed support calculating an approximation of pi".

Now you just need to read "The Buffon Needle Drop: a Math Activity for Pi Day" in Decoded Science to learn the background, the materials and how to run the experiment.

You will also learn the answer to "What is Pi Day"?

My DeHaan Services article, "One Pi Day Math Activity is the Buffon Needle Drop", adds some advice for math teachers and particularly for math tutors to set up the Buffon experiment.

The Second Pi Day Article is Circular

On Feb. 24, Decoded Science published the second of the three articles on this "Pi Day" theme.

"One Circular Math Activity for Pi Day" involves measuring accurately, rather than calculating statistical results. It's publicized separately by "Second Math Activity for Pi Day 2013" in DeHaan Services.

The Third and Final Pi Day 2013 Article

My set of articles for the 2013 Pi Day was completed by "Roll Out the Simplest Mathematics Activity for Pi Day" on Feb. 25.

One Triple Writing Tip for Pi Day

The one writing tip that I have from writing about Pi Day is that there is a wealth of material on the subject.

Two more articles are waiting in the Decoded Science wings.

This does remind me of several previous tips: if you find a topic with a lot of depth, jump in and cover it with several articles.

Even these three Pi Day articles leave a lot of room for more sub-topics and various angles for articles. When you find an interesting topic with lots of possibilities, just go for them!
"91-55-X Military Rifle from Operation Desert Storm" image by U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command
My latest Suite 101 article is more of a news item than usual, although I was clever enough to create a channel for Mennonites "...still making history in current events.

"Why did the NRA Take Aim at Mennonite Central Committee?" digs into a story carried in a mainstream Mennonite news article, and reports a later reaction from MCC staff people.

While promoting this article in my DeHaan Services blog, "NRA Battles MCC over Anti-Gun Lobbying" moves on to my own Canadian Mennonite perspective that notes how the Bible might view gun control and pacifism.

One Disarming Writing Tip

When writing a news article, seek a quote from an eyewitness or a participant. If it's something more long-lasting, such as a recipe or a product review, you can still try to quote an expert or a tester.

It's certainly possible to write articles based on careful research into the available literature, but this disarming writing tip is to pursue at least one enlightening quotation.

At the very least, an exclusive quote will give your article one unique sentence that no-one else can supply. For the MCC versus NRA story, I was first with a quote about the third organization that linked these very different groups together in the original NRA IRL list. (And you have to read my main
"Image of Sarcoptes scabei, the Adult Scabies Mite" by Kalumet
The scabies mite is very tiny, but can cause the seriously itchy skin condition also called "scabies".

My latest Suite 101 article, "All about Scabies, the Mite and the Condition", introduces this arthropod, the skin condition, and discusses cures for scabies.

As always, my DeHaan Services blog ("Itching for a Cure for Scabies") also publicizes this article.

One Pest-Free Writing Tip about Scabies

My Suite 101 article does something that I truly enjoy.

It brings together a health condition, the cause of that condition, and some third aspect that does not get much notice.

In this case, it's easy to find mainstream medical discussion about scabies. There are lots of articles about the scabies mite. But only completely separate sites sell natural scabies cures.

My writing tip is to appeal to readers by touching several aspects of a topic. In this case, a reader who wants natural scabies treatments is unlikely to look for the regular medical or scientific viewpoint. Likewise, most will not realize that one of the standard scabies cures really is herbal medicine.

So the writing tip is to do enough research that you can open new doors to readers who expected a very quick peek into just one room. In my case, read the Suite 101 article to learn almost all about scabies.
"Valentine Chocolate Hearts by Giorgio Grilli" image by Tuscanycious
Surprisingly, my stress over Valentines Day ideas was neither due to concern over what Valentines gift to give my wife, nor for a lack of topics for a St. Valentine theme for an article.

Rather, I had too many ideas and too little time to develop them.

As a result, "What Day Is It? St. Valentines Day 2013" touches lightly on a several different topics.

A Writing Tip for Special Days

A writer can have three problems:

  • I have no idea for a topic.
  • I have too many ideas for a topic.
  • My deadline is too close.
  • My deadline is too far in the future.

Many of my previous writing tips dealt with finding inspiration for a topic. Today is different.

Today's writing tip is to schedule enough time to select and develop the best topic for an article, without straying too far from the centre.

So this time, don't do as I did: don't include pieces of different topics even though each one helps to complete the picture.

My one article should probably have been divided into three or four separate essays. Each would have needed more research. Some might have fit into different specialized online magazines or blogs.

Unfortunately, I hadn't left the time for the extra research and writing.

This is less of a problem in a year-long topic. For example, I'm writing a series within one topic in mathematics for Decoded Science. Unless I can synchronize the articles with a public education system, the publication dates really do not matter.

Writing about public holidays does have a built-in deadline. Didn't Shakespeare say that "There is a tide in the affairs of men"?

So the writing tip is to plan your schedule so you can focus on a topic, "nail it" with research, and publish on deadline. Doing so might be as rewarding as having the right gift ideas for Valentines Day. (PS: consider "Choosing Chocolate or Carob as a Valentines Day Gift" when deciding on ).

    Mike DeHaan

    Mike DeHaan began writing professionally in 2010 as the sole proprietor of DeHaan Services.To see this information with the best background image, please refer to "About.Me",  befriend me at Facebook, or circle me at Google+.


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