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The 7 Biggest Mistakes Most New Daycare Owners Make – And How to Avoid Them!

Splash of Colour

What does it take to be successful in child care?

Obviously, you should have a deep & passionate desire to take care of children, a huge amount of patience, and the ability to juggle several tasks at once (such as warming a bottle while helping toddlers with an art project).

It also helps if you have a separate space in your home, such as a finished basement, where you can run your child care business.

But as if that isn’t enough, there are many things that a successful home daycare owner needs to be good at besides caring for children. Honestly, it can be quite daunting.

Things like getting paid on time from parents, writing solid policies & contracts, marketing your business to new potential clients, obtaining the right insurance policy, understanding record-keeping and how it affects your taxes, and overall, just getting started in a manner that will optimize success.

To help you get started more successfully, here are seven of the biggest, costliest mistakes women make when starting their own home-based child care business, and how to avoid them.

BIG MISTAKE #1: Not doing the proper research on the child care market in your town or city.

This is a crucial step that many new child care business owners miss, usually because they’re not sure how to go about it. Or they may think that it’s not really necessary to do the research, because they don’t understand how it could impact them.

After all, it’s just a small home-based business, right? Why do you need to do all that extra work up-front?

The goal here is not to spend weeks or months completing some huge market research project that you’re not ever going to use.

I’m talking about spending a few hours over the next few days, calling around (or maybe visiting some other child care businesses) and asking key questions.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. My neighbor Mary, who runs a child care business in her home, discovered a couple things about our local market that helped her create a more profitable business. The first thing was, our town has ½-day Kindergarten, not full-day. By talking to other Moms in our town, Mary found there was a need in our town for “before-and-after care”, that is someone who could watch Kindergarteners & older kids before and after school. She structured her daycare to fill this need. All she had to do was make sure the buses were able to pick up & drop off these kids at her home, and she was able to start taking kids.

So what you want to uncover, when you do your upfront research, is a “pocket of unfulfilled need” in terms of child care. You don’t need it to be a huge pocket, but something unique about your business that will bring you customers who have that need.

Other examples of this are:

– offering second or third shift care if you have large companies in your town who employ people on evening or overnight shifts

– offering bilingual care or special languages, such as sign language for babies

– offering special meals (such as organic or vegetarian) if you live in a town where that would be considered desirable (like Boulder, Colorado or a similar college town)

Again, you are asking key questions and trying to uncover an unfulfilled need in your town or city. You can begin by calling your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency (CCR&R), your local elementary schools, talking to neighbors and friends, and visiting other child care businesses in your town. You can even call other home child care businesses and talk to these women about what they are seeing in the market. Usually, women in child care help each other out by forming friendships and partnerships, so don’t be intimidated.

By taking the time to do the research, you will gain a huge advantage by understanding your market and how you can be successful within that market.

BIG MISTAKE #2: Not getting the right liability protection for you and your business.

If you want to be able to sleep easy at night and not worry about getting sued, you’ll need to be properly covered. You need the real scoop on what type of insurance to buy, and how much it should cost, so you don’t overpay.

Many new child care business owners make the mistake of thinking that their homeowner’s policy is enough to cover them if there’s a problem. But the truth is, that policy usually doesn’t provide enough protection, nor the right kind of protection you need for special situations that a daycare owner can face.

An example of this situation would be if your house had a power outage, and you had to close temporarily due to the loss of electricity. If you had a business liability policy with coverage for “business income interruption”, you would be covered by your policy and you would still get that income.

Likewise, if you were sued by a parent for some situation, your policy would cover you in most cases.

Surprisingly, a business liability policy for a home daycare is not that expensive, and is well worth the investment (in my opinion). These type of policies usually cost $30 to $40 per month. Is that worth a good night’s sleep?

BIG MISTAKE #3: Not charging the right fees.

Do you know how to find out what other child care homes and centers are charging? Most new daycare owners literally leave money on the table by not setting their rates properly. You’ll get short-changed by charging too little, and if you charge too much, you won’t get any clients!

So how do you go about figuring out what to charge? This is a similar process as doing the upfront research in your town…it’s simply a matter of making some phone calls or visits to other child care businesses and setting you prices appropriately.

Many new family daycare owners charge the same weekly rate for each child, regardless of the child’s age. However, if you talk to centers in your town, most of them charge the highest rate for infants, and the lowest rate for older kids (pre-K and older). Many parents are used to this type of pricing structure.

So depending on the ages of kids that you can accept, if you charge a bit more for infants and young toddlers, you may find that your income will be a bit higher than a flat-rate for all ages. You’ll have to look at your individual scenario and choose what’s best for you.

For example, let’s say that according to your state, and the ages of your own children, you can accept 1 infant, 3 young toddlers (15-24 months), and 2 older toddlers (3-4 year olds). If you charge $120 per week as a flat rate, you would have a weekly income of $720.

If, however, you charged a bit more for infants ($135/week), and young toddlers ($125/week) and less for older toddlers ($115/week), your weekly income with this scenario would be $740. That amounts to an extra $80 per month, or an extra $1,040 per year.

Small adjustments like these in your price, if it makes sense based on your local area, can make a difference in your take-home profits at the end of the day.

BIG MISTAKE #4: Not covering yourself with a proper daycare policy handbook and contract.

Okay, this is a really big one. You need to have a well-written contract for your parents, and you need a comprehensive policy handbook. If you use your contract and policy handbook properly, you can literally save yourself thousands of dollars of lost income (and countless hours of headaches!).

So what’s the difference between a contract and a policy?

A contract is a binding legal agreement between two people. If you agree to care for a child and the child’s parent agrees to pay you for that care, you’ve made a verbal contract. If you put the contract in writing, it becomes a written contract.

There are 5 key elements of a child care contract: the names of the parties, the hours of operation, the termination procedure (that is, how either party may terminate the agreement), terms of payment (including rates, due dates, and extra fees), and the signatures of the parties. Be specific and clear with your wording.

A policy handbook is longer and more detailed than a contract. It should contain all the rules that state how you will care for the children, how you’ll handle specific kinds of situations, and how you run your business. For example, you should include your vacation & sick day policies, how you handle behavior issues & discipline, and how the children will be fed.

It’s a good idea to require a signature page at the end of your policy handbook, where the parent agrees that he or she has read the entire handbook and agrees to abide by the policies you’ve laid out.

You need to have both documents in writing. (If you need actual examples that you can copy & edit to fit your business, they are provided in my Daycare Success System…more about that later).

BIG MISTAKE #5: Not using the best ways to market your business to future customers.

Let’s face it, you may not be a marketing and advertising whiz, but you need easy and low-cost ways to get the word out and bring in new customers.

We’ve all heard that the best advertising is word-of-mouth. That’s after you’ve gotten started and your clients recommend you to their friends and neighbors.

But what about when you first open your doors, and you have no proven track record?

Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can get the word out about your new child care business, and most of them won’t cost you much money. Here are 4 marketing ideas to get you started.

Marketing Tip #1: Register with the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Office in Your Area.

This is the very first thing you should do to get your name out there, and it should be done prior to opening your doors. The website is located at: www.childcareaware.org

Then enter your ZIP Code in the search field and you will receive the contact information for your nearest CCR&R office. You can also call them toll-free at (800) 424-2246.

As of December 2007, in order to be registered with most CCR&R’s, you do not need to be state-licensed or certified. However, they may have special requirements to be listed, based on your state.

For example, in Ohio, they request that solo family daycare providers have a maximum of 6 children at any time, and no more than 3 children under the age of 2. If there is more than one caregiver in the home/facility, the numbers can be higher. These rules vary by state, so be sure to call your local CCR&R branch to confirm your rules.

Once you register with your CCR&R, they will provide your contact information, along with any special information pertaining to your daycare, to parents seeking child care….for free!

Marketing Tip #2: Contact All Elementary Schools on Your Bus Line and/or in Your Community.

Most schools maintain a list of Childcare Providers, which they provide to parents upon request. Ask to have your name and phone number added to their Provider list.

Marketing Tip #3: Verbally Communicate to Everyone You Know.

Tell everyone you know that you are providing child care and ask them if they know anyone who is seeking childcare in your area. Make an announcement at your church, and at all other groups to which you belong. If you don’t belong to any community groups, join some! You’re an entrepreneur now, it’s time to start networking!

This may be your strongest source for enrolling daycare children. Most parents prefer to leave their children with a provider that was recommended by a friend, neighbor, coworker or family member.

Marketing Tip #4: Place Announcements or Small Ads in Community Newsletters.

Ask every organization you know and/or belong to such as a Church, Play Group, or Community Group, if you can place an announcement in their Newsletter.

If you know a community group, church, and/or business professional that mails out a newsletter, ask them to advertise your business for the local residents on their database. In your advertisement, focus on the unique features of your business and the benefits that children and parents will receive from being enrolled with you.

Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg. When you learn these easy and inexpensive (or free) methods to bring in new leads, you’ll have a full and profitable daycare center and you’ll establish an ongoing relationship with your parent-clients that will have them raving about you to their friends and family!

Now let’s get back to the 7 Biggest Mistakes and how you can avoid them.

BIG MISTAKE #6: Not utilizing the tons of free resources in your local area, including sources of grant money.

Many new daycare or preschool owners don’t know about the local resources available to them, and how to navigate the waters of state, regional, and local government agencies.

With so many organizations and websites out there, it can be really tough to figure out where to go and who to ask, if you don’t know where to begin.

The best place to start is with your state. Every state in the U.S. has an agency within their state government that sets the rules for family child care providers. This agency is usually called something like the Department of Child & Family Services (DCFS), or the Department of Job & Family Services (DJFS) and they all have websites.

(If you are in Canada or another country, you probably have a similar office in your government).

Simply go to your state’s website (such as http://www.Illinois.gov) and look for the appropriate department, or type “child care” in the search box.

The website should contain phone numbers for the Child Care contact person in your state. Call them on the phone and inquire about your state’s rules and what they recommend for people who are just getting started in family child care.

Most counties also have a child care office that helps people at the county level. Ask your state contact person how to find help for your specific county. Then, contact your county rep and ask the following questions (these are also good questions to ask your state rep):

– What do you need to know that’s specific rules or regulations for your county?

– What training are you required to take before you open your doors?

– What kind of ongoing training / learning is required?

– Do they have any recommendations on insurance providers for child care owners in your county?

– What resources do they have to help you get started?

– Do they know about any sources for grants or low-interest start-up loans?

– Are there local or county support groups that meet to discuss child care issues?

There may be other questions you’ll think of, too. Don’t be intimidated. You have the right to get the best information to get started, and you owe it to yourself to start out as successfully and as knowledgably as possible.

BIG MISTAKE #7: Not getting licensed or certified by your state.

Getting licensed or certified with your state can be a bit of work, but it’s probably easier than you think. Usually, to get licensed you are required to take a certain amount of training (often very low-cost or even free) and your home will be inspected once or twice a year by a state inspector to ensure that guidelines are being met.

There are lots of reasons why you should consider it…the top reason being that you can charge higher rates!

Here are some of the other benefits you will gain by being licensed or certified with your state:

– You will be proud to know you are providing the highest quality of care (and you can communicate this to others).

– Potential parents will be more likely to choose you, so you won’t have to spend as much on marketing and advertising

– Schools and other businesses will be more likely to recommend you.

– You may be eligible for grants or low-interest loans to expand your daycare or improve it with a new outdoor play area, etc.

– You will stand out from the crowd as a superior business.

You will have the highest chance for success if you strive to be the best at what you do.

Good luck!

Writing a Rap Song

Church of Santa María de Colliure, France

Writing a rap song, can be achieved by following some basic writing steps of structure and pattern. Rap as a genre may seem limited by a predefined set of beats and verses, but there’s a lot more that goes into a rap song than these few elements. Each rap song has parts that are common to all songs, regardless of the genre or artist. For instance, each rap has a beat, hook, chorus, and verses; it is the arrangement of these components that differs from song to song and artist to artist.

Usually, when writing a rap song, the artist will start by working on the beat before writing the lyrics and vocal tracks. This is because once the instrumental beat is finished, it is usually easier to write lyrics to the beat that than writing the lyrics first and then trying to develop a beat that would go with the lyrics. Most raps consist of a drum track and bass line that plays along with the beat. Not many instrumental parts are required because the main part of a rap is the vocal track, specifically the hook or chorus that plays on repeat between the different verses.

These days, however, rap songs are becoming more experimental and collaborative, and many artists collaborate with other rappers during the process of writing a rap song. This leads to a final product that is a combination of two different rap styles that should complement one another. In addition, it forms a new style and makes the song writing process more manageable and interesting as each artist has a unique musical perspective.

Sometimes along with the drum tracks and bass lines, a rap tune samples loops of tracks by other artists, not necessarily belonging to the rap genre. Such samples layer over the original instrumental tracks to add another dimension to the song. This brings about a combination of two different genres that collaborate for writing a rap song that has all the elements of a classic rap, with the beat, hook, and verses as well as a looped sample track that adds a new layer to the rap tune.

Writing a rap song requires practice and editing. In all likelihood, your first draft will be mediocre at best. That is fine and is to be expected. Just rewrite, reorganize, and rework it until you achieve the desired affect. You can also hire a rap writer and editor to help turn your rough draft into a completed song.

Writing Without Rules

Sissinghurst Castle and Garden - As Beautiful Without as They Are Within!

How does that work when you have writer's block? Even famous authors can suffer from writer's block. It can be very frustrating when you have a deadline and have to get that essay or report in on time.

What causes writer's block? Think back to your time in English class in school. Your teacher wants you to write an essay about Shakespeare or your thoughts on a particular poem for your homework. This you find boring. As you sit at home with your copy book open on a blank page the clock ticks loudly in the background. It is not happening. There is no enjoyment in the task. Teacher has set certain criteria about what has to be included in the essay, how long the essay should be, specific very important points that need to be expanded on and of course your own opinion. The list is endless and monotonous. The deadline is tomorrow morning first thing.

The stress levels are fairly high now. Where has the fun gone? Many adults have memories from school similar to this one. Now when you sit down to prepare a report or article this memory from your school years is playing in the back of your mind. You may not be aware of it but if you are sitting in front of a blank screen or piece of paper then there is a traumatic memory in there somewhere from your school days.

So what can you do about writer's block? Give this exercise a go before you start. Hold a pen in your non-dominant hand. Hold the palm of your other hand in front of you and draw what you see without looking at the page. Keep your eyes focused on all the creases and undulations of the palm of your hand. This is not about the finished piece of artwork. This is about the process.

You activate the right side of your brain when you draw with your non-dominant hand. This part of your brain is responsible for your creativity. The left side of your brain is you logical and analytical side. This is the side where you can get thought up in all the detail – such as all the points the teacher wanted included in the essay, the length of the essay and all the other 'teachers' rules from you school days.

When you activate the right side of your brain you will release your creativity and the ideas will start to flow. It will be a lot easier to write. Forget all the rules which the English teacher set. The only rule here is there are no rules. Give it a go and have fun writing without rules.

Do People Really Drink Warm Beer in Europe?

Qoʻqon UZ - Dakhmai-Shokhon 06

Being a person who has sampled quite a lot of beer in Europe, friends in America will often ask if they really drink warm beer there. Since Americans like their beer almost to the freezing point and then served in a frosty mug, they can’t imagine how you could drink beer that isn’t ice cold. The fact is European drink their beer less frosty, shall we say, than the American counterpart. This article will explore some of the reasons for that as well as shed some light on just what we Americans term as “warm beer”.

According to experts beer as well as red wine should be consumed at slightly below normal room temperature. That is if those beverages are high quality. If they are of the highest quality we want to get every bit of flavor out of them as you can. If they are lacking in quality or are downright poor, to make them drinkable they should be as cold as you can get them. Europeans will tell you that most American beer served cold for that reason.

Although serving temperatures in beer varies country to country they are served warmer than in the USA. The specific brewing temperatures of ales are normally about 52 to 63°F, and lagers about 40 to 48°F. This might vary among brewers, but those temperatures are where the most flavors can be had from the beer, even if it is not what most Americans are used to. Remember that beer in Europe has a long-standing culture, and even if American brewers originally came from Europe in time beer was produced for volume, not for the quality.

On top of it American beers can be highly carbonated which further will mask the flavor but give it a pleasant tingle. In Europe beer is beer on its own, and I could never recall a quality beer in Europe that would carbonate their beverage.

So to conclude this short lesson on European beers and why they are not as cold as American beers, let’s mention perhaps the most famous European beer: Guinness. Brewed in Dublin it is also served chilled. But if you have a Guinness in the United Kingdom I’m sure you’ll notice that it is richer and I think more full-bodied. It’s still good in America and in other parts of the world, but Americans drink their Foreign Extra Stout. If ever you’re in Europe you should try it there, as I’m sure you will find this much better than the American version.

SEO Services

Church of Santa María de Colliure, France

Professional SEO services can lift your site above your competitors. According to SEO experts, they help business owners deliver their sites to top rank search engines. They ensure that the site has a unique setting that attracts Internet users. Search engine optimization experts apply the newest analytics service, which has a positive impact on a website. SEO companies are facing great competition in the SEO field. However, they introduce guaranteed SEO services to cope with the competition.

These SEO companies have a strategy requiring clients to pay the major search engines (including Google and Yahoo) for monthly website maintenance. However, the company has guaranteed SEO services, where clients do not pay maintenance for that month.

Google has remained top, since they have accurate methods and algorithms that deliver credible results to the searchers. However, Google has made it difficult for web developers to use optimization tricks in manipulating search engines. This is why SEO companies have the guaranteed SEO money refund.

SEO companies ensure that guaranteed SEO services include the Google’s webmaster guidelines. Webmaster guidelines boost website rank and search activity. The services clients get from SEO experts are like marathons. However, clients should be aware that SEO tricks can have a great impact on a website and damage it-which is why they have to use the legitimate SEO strategies in order to receive impressive results.

Although one may read a lot about the search engine ranking, no search engine optimization company can ensure that his or her site will get the first page in Google or Yahoo search engine results. Despite this, SEO companies have guaranteed SEO services and it is great when one signs with Google. The fact remains that SEO services assure clients that even if the site will not rank among the top search engines, the money will not be a waste because of the refund.

Many webmasters are confused when hiring a search engine optimization SEO expert. Although SEO experts are believed to save time and improve webmaster sites through SEO strategies, they can also frustrate webmasters. Thus, webmasters must investigate the pros and cons of SEO services. The major tasks of the SEO experts are:

– Ensure that the site is well reviewed in the content or structure

– Provide Search engine optimization SEO advice on website development like use of JavaScript and web hosting

– Develop website content using SEO services

– Provide online business improvement campaigns

– Target keyword research

– Offer SEO training

However, the webmasters can grasp search engine optimization SEO through websites. They will understand the benefits of hiring an SEO expert and what to expect from one.

It is clear that when webmasters hire a search engine optimization SEO expert, they stand a better chance of maximizing their SEO services. When they want to start a new site it is good to look for web developers who have web design talent. The web developer will ensure that a webmaster’s site reaches the top search engine ranking like Google or Yahoo. The web developer also assists in improving an existing site.

However, webmasters have to ask several questions about search engine optimization SEO including:

1. Do they have previous examples and testimonies from past clients?

2. Do they follow the guidelines from the Google webmaster?

3. Do they implement the SEO Internet marketing services to improve online business?

4. Do they have experience in the webmaster’s industry?

5. Do they have knowledge of the webmaster’s country/city?

6. Do they have experience in developing sites for international companies?

7. What are the best SEO techniques to implement on the webmaster’s site?

8. How long has the SEO expert been in web design?

9. Does the SEO expert have good communication skills when making changes on the client’s site?

Although the SEO experts provide great SEO services to their clients, there are a few who ruin the web design industry through their greed in marketing efforts and manipulate search engine rank. If search engine optimization SEO does not involve ethical practices, the site may have low visibility on Google or even be removed from the Google index.

SEO and social media marketing ensure that one’s site has the best SEO Internet marketing, which means that their company can remain competitive in the online market. All the individual has to do is transition in their online business.

SEO Internet marketing has major components, which develop the website traffic, and top search engine rankings. However, webmasters should be aware that these components are not easy to get. They must apply formulas and SEO strategies to produce effective results. There are many websites providing pertinent information about SEO and online marketing, and you can learn from them.

If one’s business does not have SEO Internet marketing strategies, he or she will need help from SEO experts. They will have to find SEO expert websites, who will help the business owner’s site have many customers in online marketing. The obligation of SEO experts is to create exposure to businesses. They focus on SEO Internet marketing goals and provide top search engine rank like Google and Yahoo. However, to accomplish all this, web developers use SEO custom services, which have long-lasting SEO Google rank.

SEO companies ensure that your site has all the SEO Internet marketing such as business improvement, localized product sales, high quality online generation and the rest. Webmasters are guaranteed to remain competitive in the online business if they stick with SEO experts. They will have all they need to ensure business success.

Business owners who do have a business website lose massive amounts of money from online marketing. They should know that SEO Internet marketing mandates a business website, since it is a necessary online marketing tool. A website or blog is same as news ads, letterheads, or the yellow pages. However, the website must be user-friendly and just as advertisement is important, the SEO website is the same.

It is true that 44% of small businesses do not have a website or blog. They are unable to reach 73% of Internet users each day. If your company has a website, customers can research the latest products the business owner’s company offers. SEO Internet marketing can help any company through their site to sell products. All businesses should have their own website, including companies using websites provided by insurance.

Four Key Habits For Successful Screenwriters

Batemans Castle

What separates winners from losers? Why do some people manage to sell a screenplay, while others do not? In short, is there anything that we can learn from successful screenwriters that will allow others to achieve success?

Having worked in this business for around ten years now, I've certainly had lots of time to ponder this question, and, of course, to try and apply the lessons I have learned to my own career as a screenwriter.

While I do not profess to have all the answers – if I did I would be luxurating by the pool in my Hollywood villa rather than writing this article – I believe that you can adopt that will increase your chances of success as a screenwriter:

Persistence: This is the first key habit for a reason – this is not an easy business. If you come into it thinking that you can just whip out a quick draft of the first idea you think of and Hollywood will come knocking at your door you are in for a rude shock.

Many people think that screenwriting is easy – they've seen plenty of bad films, and they think "I could easily write something better than that!" And compared to a novel it's a snip to write a film script – whereas a typical novel weights in at around 120,000 words, a screenplay is closer to 20,000 words – so how hard can it be to write 20,000 words?

Actually, it's pretty hard! For while the screenplay format is significantly shorter than a novel, that brevity places its own demands upon you – no thoughts, no space to explain everything – you have to get straight into the story and show everything through what your characters do and say.

The truth is that many people write one screenplay, can not sell it, then quit – but like anything else, you get better with practice, so your second script will be better than your first, your third better than your second, and so on. Persistence is vital. Because if you keep writing, keep improving, keep networking, keep sending your scripts to people, you will eventually find someone who is interested in what you have written.

Keep Learning: Screenwriting is a skill, and you need to keep on developing and improving your skills. One way to do this is to be open to learning. There are many different ways to learn this skill – you can take a screenwriting class, buy a book on screenwriting, read articles like this, read professional screenplays, and of course be sure to regularly sit down and analyze completed films to see what works and what does not. Learning never ends.

Write From The Heart: Many writers spend time trying to write what is currently popular. Writing what you think people want to see – or, in fact, what you think they might want to see in three years time – is a waste of time. As William Goldman famously said of the movie business, "nobody knows nothing." The bottom line is that all good writing is about emotion – if you are passionate about your story and your craft, the emotion will show in your story, and readers will respond to that.

Write Regularly: Finally, any writer must commit to writing regularly. The only way to BECOME a writer is to BE a writer. Of course you will have another life – a job, family, hobbies etc – that will make it hard to write every day, but the more often you do, the better your writing will become.

With a few rare exceptions, good writers are made, not born. You can make yourself a good writer by being passionate, persistent, open to learning, and by writing every day. If you write it (and keep writing it) they will come …

Analysis of Philip Levine’s Poem – "Starlight"

paradise of ducks

In introduction, I will identify and analyze various components of Philip Levine’s “starlight,” such as, speaker; situation; diction; imagery; figures of speech, and other elements of poetry. Throughout this article the preceding elements will be meticulously expounded upon.

The speaker of the poem I will termed as a ‘he’ because the poet is a male. The progression of the poem is vey climactic. In other words, it signifies a turning point like most works. For example, line # 21, which illustrates where ‘father and son’ meet eye to eye (thus, allowing the son to bask in the glow of the starlight with his ‘head up in the air’). In addition, he proceeded to ask his father the question that his father asked him earlier in the poem: “Are you happy?” The speaker’s point of view points to the reflections of himself as been an image of his father; growing up to be like his father, and ‘the father like son’ syndrome which, in a subtle way, is illustrated by the following lines: “I am four years old and growing tired (line 3) – in comparison to – … but I can smell the tiredness that hangs on his breath.” (lines 16-17) Moreover, the latter part of the poem corroborates this point, as well.

Of course, the point of view – as pointed out above – introduces the implied attitude of the speaker toward his view of the poem, thus setting the tone of the poem which is very somber and gray (which is in direct irony with its title, “Starlight”) with the use of keywords, such as, “growing tired; cigarette; moon riding low over the old neighborhood; alone; thick and choked; the tiredness that hangs on his breath; autumn, and boy slept never to waken in that world again.”

The structure of the poem is very interesting. Well, it seems to be written in a closed form upon viewing it, initially. Howbeit, when it’s viewed closer it can be noted that the initial letters of the lines are not capitalized; only where a new sentence begins. Therefore, I surmised that its structure is presented in an open form. Furthermore, there are neither visible breaks nor stanzas in the poem. I ponder, does the form represents “a tall, gaunt child (line 28) or a somber, gray tower of Babel (in its aborted attempt) to proclaim itself to be there among the stars (line 21)?”

The theme of this poem is one of comparison (both emotionally and physically) between speaker and his father as was illustrated in the above paragraphs – framed by it’s content – for instance, lines 8 and 22. In these lines, the same question was asked by both parties (which give a subliminal reference to their emotional state). Plus, lines 3 and 17 (‘tiredness’) give a subliminal reference to their physical well-being. In interpretation, these instances represent the speaker (a boy) ‘growing’ into his father.

The situation seems to be set in a small town. This assertion can be asserted by line 7 – “…low over the old neighborhood….” In addition, the site of this poem is assumed to be in Northeast America because of key words, such as, autumn; summer moon, and porch (usually, veranda – outside of the United States). Moreover, I deducted this particular setting because of the stimulation that I received from reading the poem which, of course, is very subjective. Furthermore, the experiences that is reflected in this poem allows me to draw on my own experiences as I draw a mental picture of what’s taking place in this poem. Thus, my response to the poem is very subjective to its classical sense of writing. Plus, my reaction to the dynamics is somewhat subdued although the dynamics of the poem has an evenly paced up – tempo style.

In regard to the poem’s style of writing/choice of words, specifically its diction – the diction used in this poem is very concrete. Excluding, of course, the poem’s last six lines and the quote, “Are you happy?” These quotes are abstract and are basically the engine that drives the poem. For example, these quotes are located in the beginning and ending of the poem. Likewise, the poem is detonation oriented except for the above quotes which are cloaked in connotation. The meanings I construed in reference to the above quotes (respectively) are expounded upon in the following sentences. The first quote deals with the speaker’s happiness in his state of being in comparison to his father’s happiness in his state of being (for example, the father said “yes” to the question while the speaker hesitated to answer). The last six lines deal with the transition (reflection) of the son growing up to be like his father in the future (“autumn…until the boy slept never to waken in that world again”).

Besides the ‘father-son relationship’ been the centerpiece of this poem. This literary work is very rich in imagery which captures my imagination. As I pointed out before, keywords such as: “the glow of his cigarette, redder than the summer moon riding” – lines # 5 – 6 – places me in the active scenery of the poem. It suffers me to see the poem as seeing it as a movie reel. I must say that his poem is visual (lines # 5 – 6), auditory (line # 22), olfactory (line # 25), gustatory (line # 16 – 17) and synaesthetic (line # 16 – 17).

Moreover, the figures of speech (specifically the metaphors) add to this poem, as well. For example, “…smell the tiredness that hangs on his breath.” – lines # 5 – 6. On the other hand, there is a limited use of similes and other figures of speech in this poem.

On the other hand, several elements of poetry are well represented. For example, “autumn” – line # 30 – symbolizes adulthood going onto old age. The syntax does not contain many rhymes (sounds) although rhythm and meter are maintained throughout the poem. Also, the whole irony of the poem projects the gloominess of the experience into the background of the ‘starry night’ – hence, the title: “Starlight.”

In conclusion, this poem was superbly written. The 1st person skillfully places me in the poem, thus making me an active participant of the poem. The poem makes an interesting reading. I’ve been exposed to new insights from the speaker’s point of view.

Dan Brown's Angels and Demons – A True Masterpiece

Lake Saiful Muluk

Like most people, I did not read Angels and Demons until after I read The DaVinci Code. Blown away by The DaVinci Code, I gave Angels and Demons a try. Dan Brown, yet again, weaved a complicated web of plot, character, murder and suspense, keeping the ending unknown until the very last page.

Angels and Demons starts out with the beloved scholar / symbologist Robert Langdon, who is awoken by a phone call early in the morning. After a disturbing fax that reveals a mutilated human body, Robert sets off on a high intensity journey in hopes of stopping a murderous cult.

I would highly recommend any of Dan Brown's books, but especially Angels and Demons. A word of warning: if you are not 100% set in your faith, do not read this book. Just like The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons cause controversies with its inclusion of the Catholic Church and religious myths. It was this controversy that initially caused me to buy his books. I am someone who is deeply sure of my faith, and because of this assurance, I did not second guess my beliefs for a work of fiction.

Part of this controversy is from people who are worried that these books will have other people deny their faith because they have another point of view containing unanswered questions. In my personal opinion, if reading any work of fiction is going to cause you to question your beliefs and faith, you really did not have faith to begin with.

Famous Psychic Mediums – Supernatural Household Names

Magical Places and Things -Egypt- The Nile (7)

There have been many famous psychic mediums over the last hundred years, all were of course very popular and sought after for readings, but all were also very controversial as well as being talented intuitive in their respective fields.

One of the least known, yet most impressive mediums was named Leonora Piper, and lived and practiced at the end of the 19th century. She remains to this day one of the most scientifically studied, analyzed, poked and prodded medium in the history of parapsychology research. While the passage of time has relegated her name to the great pile of unknowns in our present, modern day society, she had a greater impact in the study of survival research (the study of life continuing after bodily death) than just about any other individual psychic reader on record.

One of the most salient and convincing aspects of her skills and talents weren’t just the startling revelations she would share while in a trance state, but also – her own refusal to monetize or brag about her skills. Ms. Piper remained as curious about her talents as those who traveled vast distances to study her, never herself even sure as to what was happening (or what she was revealing to a shocked audience) while in her trance.

Leonora Piper and the readings she gave led to one of the scientists dedicated to exposing her as a fraud (Frederick Meyers)to do a complete about face in his skeptical beliefs, and write the seminal work on life after death – ” Human Personality and it’s Survival of Bodily Death” , in which he outlined his new theories on the soul and it’s evolution beyond this world.

Today, we see mediums like Sylvia Brown, John Edwards, George Anderson and many others fill the airways with their prognostications about the lives (and deaths) of people who travel from near and far to see them. Many look to these types of readings as a lifeline to loved ones who are no longer with us.

Others look at the very same mediums and their readings as opportunistic and exploitative in that they can be very expensive, and often seemingly take advantage of people who will give anything for another opportunity to “talk” to a lost loved one.

Everyone needs to make their own decision on this – my feeling is, I DO believe in the continuation of consciousness, have HAD my own experiences of the same, but WOULD NOT be comfortable charging five hundred dollars an hour to someone who needs to REINFORCE their belief that they will indeed see their loved ones again. I would simply recommend that ANYONE who wants to learn the very same skills, do so – as they exist within us all.

Online Writing Contest – Competition Tips – How to Win Every Contest You Enter

Lluent.

So you’ve stumbled across an online writing competition / contest, or perhaps your favourite brand of cereal is offering you a chance to win a holiday around the world. All you have to do is tell them in 25 words or less why you want it. And you want to win, right?

Well believe it or not there are a small number of easy steps you can take to dramatically increase the odds in your favor. And here they are, free of charge just because I’m such a nice guy…

No Sob Stories!

This tip goes first on the list, because it is the most important. For some reason the first thing that seems to come to people’s minds with these contests and competitions is “how can I get them to pity me?” It sounds like a great plan as an entrant, but speaking from personal experience as a judge in these contests, I can tell you that it’s a complete turnoff.

Nonetheless people will try ever trick in the book…

We can’t pay the rent… our house burnt down… everybody in my family has cancer… I need 16 operations so that my dog stops being depressed and I can have my leg re-attached then pay the rent and burn the house down… well you get the point.

Let me make it very clear – this tactic does not work, even if you are telling the truth, because:

1. Judges can’t verify your claims, so anyone can make up any story they like.

2. After a while these entries become so numerous and laborious that they don’t stand out.

All that you will do is send the judge into a depression spiral. More to the point, you will end up highlighting your competitors’ entries because theirs are more enjoyable to read.

Be Creative and Make it Fun to Read

Depending on the number of entrants, judges can often have a lot of text to read. As their head slumps closer and closer to the desk and the coffee starts to wear off, your entry is going to need to have something special about it to get noticed. The best thing you can do is get creative. And I mean really thinking outside of the box (if you are thinking poetry right now, you are not thinking hard enough).

My advice to you here is simple. If you come up with something different and make it really stand out, and MAKE IT FUNNY, you will win. When I hear a fellow judge burst out into laughter at his or her desk, 9 times out of 10 he or she is reading the winner. I can usually even tell which entry they are reading because I had the same reaction when I first read it.

If you can manufacture a reaction like this, chances are you are on a winner. I suggest using your friends and family as test dummies here. If they end up in a ball rolling around the floor you’ve done your job. If the best you get is “not bad”, “(chuckle) very good” or even “looks good to me”, then you need to go back to the drawing board.

Now that’s not to say every winner will be comical or humorous, but your entry needs to stand out as somehow being impressive or interesting.

Stick to the Rules and Stay on Topic

If I had a penny for every time a “words or less” entry broke the rules, I would currently be Bahamas and you would be on your own with this one. Take the time to read the rules, terms and conditions before entering. And if you are provided with a quick-start guide to entering a competition, read it over at least 3 times and make sure you take the advice onboard.

In general, you should always:

· Stay within the word limit

· Write in direct response to the competition’s question or topic (really important!)

· Avoid coarse language

· Submit your entry in the language requested

Short, Sharp, Shiny

Just because you are allowed to use 25 words doesn’t mean you should. If your entry says what you want it to say, don’t fill up the rest of your word limit by repeating yourself or adding useless details. All you end up doing is diluting your message.

Polish It!

So it took you 5 minutes (or maybe 2 days) to create your entry. Would another 5 minutes of proofreading kill you? No, of course not, but it will definitely help you win. Check your grammar, check your punctuation, check your capitalization and check your spelling. Presentation makes your entry easier to read, and will greatly improve your chances.

Submit It

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But how many times have you seen a competition you would like to enter, only to let the due date slip by? As the saying goes, you’ve got to be in it to win it. And if you use the advice I’ve just given you, your chances of coming out on top will greatly improve.

So what are you waiting for?