So many useful question & answer sites to choose from…

Last week I asked a question to LinkedIn Answers “If I am not currently working, please suggest what I should put in my LinkedIn profile.”

In a short time people began to respond with so much helpful information! Many suggestions for headline titles, suggestions of things to possibly leave out, one man even left me a detailed list of steps to take for a successful profile. It was so nice!

This week I asked two questions at Q&A sites, my first question was to Mahalo Answers. I asked “What is your favorite vegan dessert recipe?”

Not a single person has answered this question yet…and I must admit, this is a big bummer for me because I am a lover of the sweets 🙂 I am ALWAYS looking for new vegan dessert recipes * (But, to be completely honest the reason why no one has answered can possibly be because I did just ask this question earlier today)  

I also asked a question on Aardvark “Have you been hired for a job through LinkedIn?”

Two people quickly answered, it seemed almost instantly 🙂 it was great. One person said they have never found a job through LinkedIn while another said YES! Definately…I responded by asking what sort of jobs did he find but, he has not yet responded. My expierience with Aardvark was very similar to LinkedIn…very helpful!

There are sooo many of Q&A sites out there, all with their plus and minuses. It seems as if  a few of them may be gearded towards a younger audience while others are aiming for a more reserved professional audience.

Like I said, there are many Q&A sites; below are fifteen of the most used sites availiable for  general public use.

I feel Q&A sites are amazing!! Lets say you have a random question just pop into your head and you know no one who would have an answer for you….what do you do?? Go to a great site where you can just type in your questions and in a short time you’ll have a response. It’s great! But remember, just like with everything else in life, you can’t just mindlessly accept it…you must be sure to question it and do further research on your own.



Interview with Grace Markley-Reiter: An Accomplished Ceramicist


I met Grace Markley-Reiter in a great LinkedIn group for ceramic lovers. 🙂*4105

I sent Grace an invitation for an interview and she happily accepted. She responded so kindly saying, “I’m glad to help you in any way I can. That’s what I love about the potters and ceramicists I’ve met in my journey; in fourteen years I haven’t met one who wasn’t able, happy, and willing to help or offer suggestions or share their experience or tools. I believe that’s a common trait among potters.”

This is SO true!!!  All the potters I’ve met have been amazing people…each so beautifully unique in their own way and all sharing a common trait of kindness. I love it! This was another quality that originally drew me to the art of ceramics.

“Almost everything we come into contact with today is mass-produced. The sheer joy of making something by hand, working with the clay itself, is a constant source of inspiration to me” –Grace

Read through our interview below to learn more about Grace, her love for ceramics along with more of her beautiful quotes that she has kindly shared with us.


V: When did your passion for ceramics spark?

G: I can’t pinpoint an exact time, place, or date, but it began for me fourteen or fifteen years ago. I was new to the area (north Atlanta) and I was looking for something to do in the evenings after work. I knew I wanted to do something creative, and found a local arts center with affordable classes that fit my time schedule. I have always been incredibly creative, having spent about the same amount of time working as a prop and set designer in theatre and film/television. I had always wanted to learn ceramics and the art of throwing on the wheel, but never made the effort to look into it. I wanted to take a creative major, like ceramics, in college, but opted instead to do what I thought I SHOULD do, rather than what I was guided to do. This class at the arts center gave me the opportunity to try my hand with clay. I took a beginning hand-building class, and I was hooked. My instructor was a skilled artist, which made me like the class even more. She used to take leather hard slabs out to a firing range and would shoot a .45 at them. She would finish them by glazing them in odd ways with collage elements and displaying them with the shards of the bullet hole facing the viewer. Weird, but wonderful.

V: Which do you prefer: Kick or Electric wheel?

G: I prefer an electric wheel. With a kickwheel, I find I have to concentrate too hard on the momentum of the wheel rather than forming the work. I do 50% wheel and 50% hand building with slabs.

V:  Do you sculpt?

G: No, not as a rule. I’ve done a few pieces of sculpture, but prefer making functional ware.

V: What is your favorite clay…stoneware, porcelain, etc..?

G: I work with stonewares, mainly 378 and 181. Lately I’ve been hooked on Phoenix, which has a fabulous plasticity for throwing or hand building. It also fires to a buff color, which gives greater true color with glazes. I’ve done quite a bit of work with low fire earthenware clay, called 104, which is a lovely, buttery terra cotta. I really admire the work of Liz Zlot Summerfield and her wares in low fire clays, and she inspired me to work with this type of clay. For monoprinting, I use porcelain slip.

V: What is your favorite glaze?

G: That’s a tough one! I’m not sure I can give a straightforward answer because there are so many from which to choose. At the studio where I do my work I use a combination of Cone 6 electric glazes called Nutmeg, Karen’s Starshine, and (yes, this is really the name!) Men In Tights. The name of this glaze cracks me up – it’s the color of the tights the actors in the old 1950’s Robin Hood movies used to wear. I also love a color called Acid Green, which fires to a satiny sheen in electric, and to a low gloss matte sheen in a Cone 10 gas kiln. I also love working with underglazes (Amaco LUG’s.) Using them gives me a chance to experiment with my painterly side. When using the underglazes I’ll typically fire the color in at bisque, then use a matte transparent glaze called Dixon to vitrify the work and make it food safe. I use this process when I create a series of the same image using a monoprinting technique (see “Paul Andrew Wandless” on the web.) I greatly admire the work of Akira Satake, who does a process called “Kohiki,” where you slather porcelain slip onto a dark stoneware. Once the porcelain sets up a bit, you lift the dark slab and smack in down on a table. The porcelain cracks, revealing the dark clay underneath. When I do this work, I’ll typically use a Cone 6 glaze on the inside, and use only iron oxide on the outside, which intensifies the texture of the cracking.

V:  Do you sell your work?

G: I do sell my work. I’ve been selling through a couple of local gallery/art stores, and through the community center where I teach. I’ve had a couple of solo and group shows where I’ve sold as well. Right now I continue to build my inventory, since my husband and I will be opening a small teaching studio and gallery in the next year. The bulk of my sales have been through commissions as a result of people seeing my work, and wanted something custom. In the near future, I’ll be taking my work online for sale. It’s important not to “under price” your work. It can be a tough call to set a price, but if you think about trips to the studio, electricity for kilns, wheel, lighting, the cost of equipment and tools, studio space or membership fees costs for clay and glazes, and then add the value of your time into it – it adds up. I’m always pleased to see my beginning wheel students begin to understand why someone would charge $25 or $35 for a coffee mug, as they learn what goes into creating a simple, finished functional piece! I try to take the stance that I want my work to be accessible, while not undervaluing my effort or originality.

V: Do you love or hate raku?

G: Although I haven’t done much Raku firing recently, I absolutely love the process. Fire, flames, sparks, general mayhem and conflagration – can’t think of many better things to do on a cold autumn evening. The process of watching the kiln, then seeing that perfect point where the temperature is just right and the glaze bubbles up, slicks back down, and poof! Open the kiln and start the hectic process of getting everything out into the right containers with the right combustibles. The issue I have with Raku is that the work isn’t vitrified or food safe, and since I specialize in functional ware, this is a problem. But occasionally I’ll do some work just for Raku; mainly wall art slabs. I’m really interested right now in “Naked Raku” and Saggar firing. A.J. Argentina does fabulous work with Saggar firings. I also really like the effects gained in a pit firing, using dog or cat food, copper wire, old rotten food, etc – great flashing and coppery appearance.

Best of luck! ~Grace


Please take some time out of your day to view Grace’s  beautiful work at … you’ll be glad you did **

Thanks again so much Grace *

Interview with Steve Ostrander: A Communications Professional

 I met Steve Ostrander in the LinkedIn group for online reporters and editors.

I invited him to do an interview with me and he graciously accepted. Steve is a very talented writer/editor/journalist from Columbus, Ohio who has written MANY articles, a few award winning books such as Ohio – A Bicentennial Portrait, The Ohio Nature Almanac as well as other bestselling books.

Steve seems to be a very helpful man…I emailed him my interview questions and in a matter of hours I had a response! It was awesome!

Continue reading below for more great information and tips:   


V: When did your passion for journalism begin?

 S: I drifted in journalism after grad school (history), first as a sportswriter and then as reporter and eventual editor of a weekly in Ohio. I really got hooked when I won awards from peers for editorial writing and general excellence (age 28). I considered my writing jobs for state agencies as journalism too, and my confidence and passion soared as my stories appeared in print.  Then I drifted into government PR.

V: What were the first steps you took to get into the journalism industry? e.g. schooling, internship…

 S: As noted above, I migrated into journalism as a historian. Never took a journalism course, learned to write on the job. I guess I would be considered old school, someone more concerned about clarifying ideas and storytelling than the technology of distribution. As manager of communications depts. for state agencies, I offered internships knowing these provided great on the job training ops.

V: What was your first journalism job? Sports writer for Hudson register star or did you have small jobs before that?   

 S: I wrote several stories for my college newspaper—on student protests. But not paid. The sports writing job was the first.  

V: What advice would you have for beginning journalists?

 S: Ultimately you must write a story that appeals to a reader, connects the reader to the information and message of the article.  Not a story that appeals to you. Next, develop a personal voice (this is the part that appeals to you) that slyly connects you to the reader. It’s hard to explain, like an artist trying to explain a work. Storytelling and personal voice are keys to broadcasting too.  Learn all aspects of the trade—graphics, photo, etc. You must be curious, intrepid, earnest and dogged. And the stuff you learn in j-school is important too.  Try to know as much as possible about a topic before an interview so that you don’t lose momentum asking silly preliminary questions. For example, think of the prep needed to interview an expert on nuke

V: Where do you find your inspiration?

 S: Inspiration usually arises from observation, reading, experiences and curiosity.  It is important to read literature (all kinds) that are on the frontier, pushing forward, offering new perspectives (try Freakonomics), and challenging you to be motivated. Once I learned about an archeological study to determine the site of a landmark Indian battle in Ohio. I participated in the study with a metal detector and walking a grid.  I found a flattened musket ball fired from a British gun by a Shawnee. Had it inflicted a fatal wound? I had to know. Wonder is inspiration.   

V: What is the first question you ask yourself when beginning to write an article?

 S: There are several initial questions I ask myself.  Who is my final audience (understanding that the main audience is the editor who first reads the article)?  How much will I earn (if a freelance job)? What resources are available (persons to interview, documents, online research)? What do I need to know? Where do I get the answers? Can I finish it by deadline?

V: How long does it usually take you to write an article around 200-500 words?

 S: Depends.  I can still write a 200 word sports story based on eyewitness reporting in less than an- hour, perhaps less if it is formulaic.  A 500-word essay requiring research can take days. Rewrites of 500 words can be done quickly. There’s no definitive answer.    

V: What is your favorite topic to write about?

 S: There’s a saying that says to be a good editor you must fall in love quickly, fall out of love just as fast, and fall in love again—all part of a day’s work. So, be open to devotion to many interests.  I have several favorite topics—nature, history, politics, sciences.  Whatever really engages me at the time.  I don’t write sports anymore, but I dive for Sports Illustrated in waiting rooms.

V: As a journalist, do you use Facebook, and if so, (a) how do you use it and (b) what Facebook lessons have you learned.

 S: I am new to Facebook and social media, so I don’t its value. I know it’s the rage but I’m skeptical of its use as a tool for traditional journalism. I don’t use it as a journalist, though many use it for journaling.  To me messaging via Facebook is personal communication so the audience is narrow or limited. Standards for writing style, fact-checking, editing, references seem casual and not policed.  I am dabbling as an online freelancer, but the quality I read is questionable and payment ridiculously poor. Someone proficient in navigating social media, building “electronic” relationships among visitors, and transmitting a purposeful story may show its power. The person who managed the social media in my last government agency seemed to be an air traffic controller.

As I said, I’m probably old school, so social media seems more about process and production than information integrity and storytelling.  Or, how I got the message and return a message prevails over the value of the message and what I learn. 

 I hope this helped you. I had fun and will clarify answers if necessary. 

 Steve Ostrander


Thanks again for the great interview Steve! 🙂

LinkedIn Today

News straight from your connections and others who share your same interests

Last week on March 10, 2011 LinkedIn launched their new product LinkedIn Today. LinkedIn today delivers top headlines chosen by people in your industry. These articles you receive are especially for you and the peers in your industry…LinkedIn has a filtration system that weeds out all the unnecessary articles that don’t pertain to you. This seems like it would be very helpful to many people who are constantly on the go and don’t have the time to read/scroll through pointless articles. LinkedIn offers a straight to the point news; this is a great time-saver!

LinkedIn Today is completely customizable; YOU choose what industries you would like to follow. Just as Twitter and Facebook have their share buttons, LinkedIn has a sharing button that will now share your article with their all of their connections. You can now easily with the click of the mouse spread the information with all of your connections.  

Just as Facebook and Twitter have so many devoted users, LinkedIn would like everyone to be daily users of their site too…I feel this will happen..It’s just a matter of time.

LinkedIn and journalists

LinkedIn can be very beneficial to journalists.

There are said to be over 35 million members on LinkedIn! The current population of Oakland CA is 390,724…let’s do the math: 35 million / 390,724 is approximately 40 Oakland’s’!!! This is a HUGE database where you can find many resources for your article/post…

LinkedIn has an extensive advanced people search where you can search through the 35 million members based on industries, groups, languages, interests and more. You can find and expert in a field in a matter of seconds! I wanted to try it out so I did a search for alternative medicine, instantly I found many interesting people from around the globe! This database can also be used to find interviewee’s for your next interview post…

Let’s say you are still unsure about your career path (like me :))…LinkedIn can help with that to! You can search for people in the same industry that you are wishing to go into and get to know them. I’m sure someone could be found that would be willing to share their knowledge with you.  

Have you ever had to write a post and been stumped on what to write about…I know I have! 🙂 Not a problem at all….LinkedIn has an answers section where many ask any question they want an answer to from “What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made when launching a new website and what did you learn from it?” to “Are we running out of salt?” (Actual questions) While looking through the many questions inspiration can be found; when you read that question it will spark interest then you’ll be off writing your post.  

Another big way LinkedIn can help journalists is the fact that it’s getting your name out there. You are growing your connections via social media…it’s awesome!

What was your reason for going vegetarian/vegan?

A great LinkedIn group, Vegetarians & Vegans asked:

What was your reason for going vegetarian/vegan?

A few members responded:

LaMana Donadelle • I realized how scandalous the meat industry is and that enabled to give up meat cold turkey (no pun intended)!

Melissa Starr • My main reasons for going vegetarian was for my health. I had a lot of stomach problems and then I was introduced to animal cruelty, everything that goes into that food, and how damaging it is to the earth by producing so much beef and pork products along with other meat products. I am so glad I made the switch. I feel years younger, have lost weight, my stomach has not bothered me for quite some time and I love being an advocate for healthier living.

Sara Ramos • I was just turning 16 when I saw a program of how animals were being killed in abattoirs. It just put me off there and then, 8 months later I decided to stop eating fish and have been a vegetarian ever since.
I was a vegan for 2.5 years at one point in my life, but did find it very restrictive.
I also had a go at being a frutarian, that was just to see what it was like and I lasted a month and four days. :p
Whatever the reasons, becoming a vegetarian has been the best choice I have ever made, and lets face it, nowadays it’s so easy being vegetarian.

Vineca Gray • The tremendous fortune of having a mother who lived her life passionately and compassionately – she helped me understand that all life is deserving of respect. Recently I took the full-on leap from decades of commitment to free-range chicken/wild caught sustainable fish to veganism.

The epiphany I had while watching ‘Earthlings’, the documentary film, was incredible. I cried a great deal, and I concluded that there are choices that I can make – painlessly.

This film gave me wings – I set flight into a more respectful world of sharing, instead of taking. Thank you world.


Similar to Vineca, after watching a film about the wickedness done to animals in factory farms, this completely opened my eyes to the facts and drove me to never support that cruelty in any way.

Please…we must try our HARDEST to end the cruelty to all beings: people, animals and nature.  

Check out the group for yourself, you’ll be glad you did 🙂

LinkedIn question with so many helpful responses **


My question was:

If I am not currently working, please suggest what I should put in my LinkedIn profile.

I do not currently work and will not be looking for employment anytime soon.
I am unsure how I can benefit from LinkedIn…I tried to complete my profile as much as I could but it seems somewhat bare…what do you think?
Thanks in advance * Have a nice day *

Best answers: listed in order best at the top *

Dinesh Ramkrishna – 

Greetings Vanessa:

How about this ?
“Retired From Job not from Social Networking”



Al Macintyre –

Find a word that you are comfortable with like
“between jobs” or “job hunting”
or “semi-retired”
and enter that for the name of your current employer.

You will be surprised to find that once you have identified whatever, that your choice has a surprising number of fellow Linked In members also there.


Judy B. Margolis –

You’re an artist, Vanessa. Say so. Friend and other descriptors isn’t particularly appropriate for a professional networking site. I didn’t read your full profile, but whether you’re a graphic designer, painter, singer…what have you, there’s likely groups of the likeminded you can join here. Just do an Advanced Group Search using the keywords that best describe your areas of interest.


Ed Han –

I’ve spent a lot of time in Q&A but never once have seen this question, so this is quite refreshing!

I would suggest that you consider a headline that communicates what’s most important for other people to know about you. I agree with Judy that “friend” seems out of place. That also invites people to cite “friend” as the reason to send invitations to connect with you, since you’ve included your e-mail in your headline.

I would suggest removing your e-mail: given the size of your network, you don’t strike me as someone who’s particularly interested in growing it tremendously.


Martin Thomas –

I think the approach you’ve taken is kinda nice. Yes it is bare. So why not expand on the sections on Awesome and Creative and talk more about yourself. You can also move the sections around a bit and de-emphasise the CV part of your profile. Look at mine as an example – it’s not perfect but it is a different approach to what you can do.

If you just want to use LI to discover interesting new people before going back on the job market you can do worse than plague this Q&A and also a bunch of groups.

I have met a bunch of friends here and many new business colleagues too this way. It is time consuming but it can be addictive and is definitely useful.




It was suprising when I instantly started getting responses to my question…it was very nice. Everyone was so helpful…I like that. I received many helpful suggestions/tips that I am taking into account while I work on enhancing my profile.  

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