I mentioned earlier that as recently as a year or so ago, I was using a very old mail program called Eudora.

Yes, I am married to one of the most highly respected high-tech journalists in the world, and I am usually forced kicking and screaming into new technology.

Eudora had some good things.  I couldn’t receive anything in HTML and couldn’t receive photo images.  Pretty lame.  It was also almost impossible to get a computer virus.

So I was  slow and out of most loops, but I was safe.

Eventually my husband convinced me to move to another program.  It was better, and I got used to it.

Then last year, he suggested I switch again, to Gmail.

Well, I just about threw a fit.  I’m at the age where, in order to learn something new, an old fact has to leave the building.  And I already can’t remember my mother’s birthday.

Learn a new mail program?  Again?!!  No way, Jose.  (Or as my daughter used to misquote when she was four, “I say you’re wrong, Jose!”)   Why on earth would I want to put myself through that learning curve?

He told me.  It sounded good.  I tried it.

It’s true!    

With Gmail, all conversations are threaded.  That means if you and I have an e-mail discussion, our complete discussion is “hooked” together.  In fact, all our e-mails will appear in subsequent replies.

This sounds cumbersome, but it’s not.  Because in Gmail, all that extra text is suppressed unless you click on a link within that e-mail.    It doesn’t actually print out unless you want it to, or til you want it to.

When you or that other person reply in the thread, the entire thread is bumped back up in your “in box”.  So if they reply today to your e-mail from last week, you don’t have to go back to last week to find that.   And the entire conversation comes along with it.

As much of the subject line, and the first line of the e-mail, appear in your in box.  This seemed like a little thing.  But it’s actually hugely helpful for finding the right e-mail when you’re looking for a specific one.

Which brings me to the best thing about Gmail:

You can search it!

You can search it just as easily as searching the web.  Gmail is Google mail, after all.  (Did I forget to say that?  Yes, I did.  Sorry!)

If I want to find that conversation I had with a magazine editor two months ago, I don’t have to search back two months and guess what day we talked.  I don’t even have to pick dates to search.  I can simply search for a few keywords–the name of the magazine, or his name or what we were talking about.

Gmail will pull up every e-mail thread with those keywords.  Not just the separate e-mails, but the entire threads.

It’s then a simple thing to find the conversation I want and find the information I need.

The only drawback was losing my e-mail with my domain name and website in it (although Jon set it up so I can still receive mail sent to luann@luannudell.com, so that isn’t a big deal.)

But I’m finding luannudell@gmail.com is a lot easier for folks to remember than  even my old domain name e-mail.  I think that’s because even I have trouble remembering if a good friend’s domain name e-mail is bob@bobtheguineapig.com, or bobtheguineapig@bobtheguineapig.com, or info@bobtheguineapig.com, etc.

So my business tip for you today is, go grab your name at Gmail.  Try it for a few weeks, keeping your old e-mail addy.  If you hate it, cancel your account and call me irresponsible.

I have a feeling you’re going to love it as much as I do.

COPING WITH COPYCATS: Getting Past the Fear of Being Copied

It’s ultimately better (for YOU) to get out there and make MORE art than to protect what you’ve got.

An artist on a crafts forum posted about someone finding a protected image file on her website. The person had left a cryptic message on her guest book: “Thanks”.

The artist is in a panic about possible copyright infringement. Will her design be stolen? Manufactured in China? Sold in Target stores across the U.S.??

It’s a real fear for artists today, and I don’t want to make light of it. She received plenty of good advice about dealing with copyright infringement, and what you can do about it. (Precious little, actually.)

But it also brought me back to the times I thought someone was stealing my designs. And what kind of energy that built in me.

Here is my take on it, FWIW:

I know the potential for someone lifting your images is real.

On the other hand, you’ve really worked yourself up over one word someone posted to your guest book.

I do not mean to disrespect your fears or feelings here–we ALL do this! And this incident may indeed be legitimate grounds for concern.

BUT my thoughts will be a little different than those who are giving you sound advice about copyright issues:

Try not to let anxiety and fear drive all your business decisions.

Your best defense against having a design stolen is what’s actually good for you as an artist as well: Keep moving! Keep developing more work, keep your ideas coming, keep your work fresh.

I’ve been there. I’ve found myself in situations where I felt paralyzed, fearful an action would put me in the way of being copied or my designs ripped off.

But when I look back, I realize that all the energy I thought I had to devote to protecting myself, would have better spent simply getting my work out there and making a heckuva lot more of it.

I’m NOT saying roll over and play dead. Sometimes all that’s needed is a cease-and-desist letter from you or your family lawyer to put a little fear into the heart of your copycat.

I’m saying that the energy you put into controlling this possibility could be better spent on your artwork.

In fact, if you “shut down” and try to control all access to your images, and focus on protecting yourself, you will be working against yourself.

In fact, your best defense is to get your work established, recognizable, and GOOD. True, that alone may not get you $$ from the design infringement. But it goes a long way to getting the infringement STOPPED.

We only have so much time, energy and money to spend on the things that are important to us. We read in the news about people who win big lawsuits and huge settlements. It’s easy to think that could be us.

In reality, those “windfalls” involve time, angst, lots of lawyers, and yes, more money. When people say, “Nobody gets rich but the lawyers”, believe them.

In the end, even if you COULD get rich and famous from defending a design, is that what you want?

Or do you want to get rich and famous by getting your work out into the world and seen and enjoyed and bought by as many people as possible?


Climbing walls teaches me about taking risks and having fun doing it.

A few weeks ago, on a whim, I visited the wall climbing class at our local Y.

I found a small group of avid, enthusiastic climbers. Before long, I found myself strapped into a climbing harness and scrambling up a wall.

It’s exhilarating. Exciting. Exhausting!! After two days of climbing, my hands and forearms feel like jello. No, scratch that. Jello bounces. Let’s make that limp, cooked spaghetti.

Here’s my big breakthrough moment while climbing the walls:

It’s okay to fall.

I obsessed at first about picking “safe” holds, making sure my feet were firmly planted before I made my next move. When I couldn’t find the next spot to move to, I’d panic. I worried I wasn’t making good decisions.

Was I doing it right??

I was terrified to fall.

But my coach finally convinced me it’s okay to fall. “Everyone falls!” she exclaimed. (She’s 65, by the way, and would look better in a bikini than most 20-year-olds I know.)

In fact, you SHOULD fall. When you get to a tricky bit, try a little jump up. Try a hold you’re not sure of. Reach. Leap. Go for it.

Because—and this is important:

You’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Because the point of climbing, oddly enough, is NOT to avoid falling. It’s simply to get to the top–any way you can.

You can dash up, you can scramble, you can go slow and stop and rest. You can go up sideways, you can stretch off to one side. You can even just jam your foot against the wall, and push off against that. If you’re stuck, you can simply decide to take a little leap of faith. Take that big step up and lunge for that handhold you’re sure is just out of reach….

Because even if you peel away from the wall, you are perfectly safe.

You’re in your harness, your spotter has a rope on you, and you’re not going anywhere until you say you want to come down. (Which is pretty darn fun, too!)

As I went up the wall for the third day today, I actually felt my brain unlocking.

I thought of that saying: “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

Because when it comes to taking chances with our climbs, with our ambition, with our art, failing does not kill you.

Oh, your pride may be ruffled a little. And I’m sure there are some nasty souls somewhere who will take pleasure in your little downfall.

But I would rather focus on those enthusiastic voices below, the ones who are taking real joy in your efforts. The ones who really want to see you make it, all the way to the top.

And the rewards are so great.

“Beautiful climb! Good job! You made it!”

Hello world!

Welcome to my new blog site!

But my old blog site is still good, too.

For years, I’ve blogged at Radio Userland. It was easy, and I knew how to do it.

I hate making big changes. But I realized my old blog was difficult to search for information.

Nothing’s changed except the location, except I hope it’s easier to find the information you’re looking for here. And maybe I’ll finally learn how to post images, too.

So feel free to check back at my old blog, starting with Holding Onto “Facts” That Hold You Back for years of posts on business skills for artists, and stories about my life as an artist.

And get ready for moi entering the 21st century–at last!

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