Tag Archives: writing

Seven (7) in (in) Five (5)


Seven in five.

September, 2016 to February, 2017.

That’s my timeline.

“For what?” you’re wondering.

I have seven books in the works and my plan is to have them all written and published by February, 2017.

“Seven books in five months? Are you nuts?” you might be asking.

Yes, it does seem daunting. A novel length book is a minimum of 50,000 words. Multiply that by 7 and you get 350,000 words. That’s a decent amount of words.

Unless you’re a writer. On average I write 5,000-15,000 words a week, not including Facebook posts, emails, blog posts or messages. That’s 20-60k words a month, mainly about stuff I really don’t care about. In five months, that’s 100k to 300k words.

But the good news is that I don’t have to actually write that many words. Three of the books are at various stages of completion (two over 50 percent completed). Two of the books are going to be more novella length (less than 50k but more than 25k). I guesstimate having to write around 235k words between now and late January, early February. Which is more than doable.

Well, don’t overwork yourself. Don’t burn out. Pace yourself. This has been the advice from many. I appreciate the words, I know they are meant to be helpful.

But hush already. LOL This is how I want to make my living. I don’t want to write for mills and impossible clients anymore. I don’t want to spend my days writing about stuff I don’t much care about. I can deal with doing it for a few hours a week, but not all day, every day. Not anymore. I’m starting to view my work with the same disdain reserved for “traditional” work gigs. And I can’t allow that to happen.

So, I’m diving in and getting these books written. This is what I want to do with my life, it’s how I want to make a living. Are the next few months going to be easy? Nope. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Perhaps. I can always change my schedule if I need to, but I’m going to try like hell not to do that. I’ve been saying “I’ll do it later” to my career for more years than I even want to think about. I’m staring at 50. If not now, when? If not me, who?

So, wish me luck. Ask me how things are going. Say prayers, light candles, think good thoughts as I dive into my career, the career I’ve always wanted, for what feels like the first time. I’m excited. Let’s do this!

 

Tagged , , , ,

Hi There!


I know, it’s been a while, I’m sorry. If I had to describe the last six months of my life, I’d have to say it looked something like this:

tangled ball of yarn2

Between health issues, work issues and an overall displeasure with my life’s path, I knew changes had to be made. But look at all that tangle and mess! Where does one begin?

Well, I started with the obvious. I started taking some meds and I started changing up my diet. I’m still getting around to exercising more, but since the meds seem to be working, I’m dealing with less pain so now I can seriously look at the exercise options.

I also made some professional decisions. I went back to a regular, 9-5 day job like normal folks.

Yeah, stop laughing. It was worth a shot. It didn’t last long but I did learn some valuable lessons. No, I’m not sharing them here, and I’ll explain why in a moment.

There’s something I’ve always known about myself that I tend to ignore for a myriad of reasons. I don’t “do” normal. I don’t think normal, I don’t react to things the way normal people do, my brain has some different wiring. And I’m okay with that, until I start to believe when people say I shouldn’t be okay with it. When people (who for the most part only want me to be happy) tell me that if I just “play along,” or “play the game,” or “think of it as a role and I’m going for the Academy Award,” I’m tempted to buy into it because quite frankly, being me is exhausting. So, I try it. Then I quickly remember why I stopped playing along in the first place.

Because you see, as exhausted as I am being me, at least I don’t feel defeated. As tired as my own brain makes me, at least at the end of the day I can look in the mirror and stare down my own reflection. And as weary as being me can make me, at the end of the day, I’m proud that I am who I am and when I get up the next day, I’m ready to do it all again.

If that’s not enough for some people, if the real me isn’t good enough, I really don’t give a damn.

Okay, got a bit off topic, but apparently I needed to say that, so there you go. 🙂 Now to the real reason for this post: I’m switching this blog to writing only. That’s kinda what it was supposed to be from the beginning but me being me, (see I get in my own way!) I kinda let it become a catch-all. Well not anymore. This blog is about writing. My books, articles, rants about clients, all that will be here. My personal thoughts have a new home: Unapologetically Mocha. Follow me over there for my thoughts, feeling and rants about the world.

This is just my attempt to unravel the tangles and make my life more doable. If I had to wager, I’d guess my life currently looks like this:

not so tangled balls of yarn

Progress! 🙂

Tagged , , , ,

A “Typical” Work Day…


I’ve been asked more than once what a typical workday for me is like.
Well, short of taking you on a Periscope trip (which I might do when it gets warmer and I’m on the road more), the best way to describe it is to show you a picture of my desk at any given moment of the day:

20160222_115345[1]This is what three businesses on one desk looks like. At least when I dump it all out like this to take a picture so you all can see what three businesses on one desk looks like. 🙂

I took this pic this morning while I was determining what all I had going on today. The receipts represent the mystery shop reports I have to complete. The jewelry supplies are for jewelry orders that I need to complete this week, and the notebook (far right corner) has a list of my writing assignments for the week.

Now, when I’m *actually* working, my desk looks more like this:

Writing

20160222_120950

Jewelry making

20160222_121404

Working on reports…

20160222_120804

There ya have it…a peek at my desk and a glimpse into my work day. So, what does YOUR desk look like?

Tagged , , ,

Apparently…


I need to declare my worthlessness to the universe more often. I had one of my most productive days in a very long time today. It’s as if the universe looked down on me and said, “Well, you know that the first step is admitting you have a problem.”

Well, as great as it was to get stuff done, I’m so far behind from such a long dry spell, I’m still not out of the woods. So, Universe, if you could see fit to keep things rolling tomorrow that’d be great. I had forgotten what it was like to actually get stuff done. It was awesome. I want to feel that again.

Don’t really have much to say otherwise. I’m living a pretty boring life right now. But that’s what happens when you’ve been sick. It throws everything off. But this is the week leading up to my Birthday week, so I’m determined to get as much done this week as possible so I can enjoy my birthday week. I’m getting excited for that. It’ll be fun! I’ll fill y’all in on the possible activities tomorrow.

Okay, I’m off to do a bit more work before calling it a night. Namaste all!

Tagged , ,

I’m still up….


and therefore the day isn’t over for me and this post is not late. 🙂

I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire right now, from working on the new book and trying to get my book signing set up, to regular client work and helping someone get their business idea off the ground.  And in the middle of all that, I’m working on my taxes.

I was looking at my bank statement and I noticed a direct deposit that I could not identify. It wasn’t a huge deposit, but it was enough to make me wonder where it came from. I looked through my client list, my mystery shopping clients and my one-off work list…no match. I had no idea where the money came from.

I let it go, figuring the mystery would solve itself. I was taking notes on an essay I’m writing for the book, and it hit me; I hadn’t checked my book sales recently. So, I hopped over to Create Space to look. As I was looking at the sales, I saw the “earnings earned” field. Lo and behold, the amount in the box was the same as the direct deposit.

I earned royalties on my book?

Holy crap, I EARNED ROYALTIES ON MY BOOK!

I wish I would have realized it sooner, I would have spent the money on something more fun. To be honest I think it became grocery money. However I spent it, my book created income for me. And that’s totally cool!

One of my goals is to write books that people enjoy and that will pay my bills. I feel like I just placed the cornerstone. I’ve got something to build on. And that is awesome!

Tagged , , ,

Channeling My Inner Peter Gibbons


For a while now I’ve not been happy with my career trajectory.

And by “awhile,” I mean several years. Heading into a decade actually.

Now technically, I am a writer. I write words. I get paid. I write more words…

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The problem: I don’t like the words I’m writing.

The other problem: I don’t like what I’m getting paid for the words I write.

The third problem: I don’t like the crap I have to deal with while writing the words I write.

Not liking what I write + Not liking the pay for what I write + Dealing with crap while I write =

A PETER GIBBONS MOMENT

I hope that most of you get the reference to the guy who was the hero of all cubicle dwellers in the early ’00. But for those of you who are not familiar with the guy or the movie in which he appeared, check this out:

This is the attitude that greeted me this morning. It’s not the first time, but this go around it was accompanied with a declarative statement:

I’m done.

I’m done working for peanuts.

I’m done writing about stuff I don’t give a crap about.

I’m done with being too tired to work on writing I WANT to do because I have to work on so much of the crap to make ends meet.

I’m done dealing with clients who do not appreciate what I do for them.

I’m done feeling guilty for crocheting, chainmailling or just watching a tv show and not working at the same time.

I don’t like working for peanuts, for people who don’t appreciate what I do for them anyway so I’m just not going to do it anymore.

I’m. Done.

So here is my plan:

By the end of next month, I will have my book completed (“From the Minds of my Family” is the tentative title. I also like “Words with Skip and Mary,” but that might be limiting.) and a solid first draft for my online dating book. No idea what I’m going to call it.

I have two clients that I will continue to work with because I actually enjoy working with them. I will seek new clients, but I’m going to be picky.

I’m going to go back to my first love, which is feature writing.

And finally, I’m going to crochet and chainmaille more, hang out with my granddaughter and watch tv….without feeling guilty about any of it.

Life is about to get more interesting because I’m finally going to, you know, LIVE IT!

🙂

Tagged , , , , ,

**Tap tap** Is this thing on?


Bet you guys thought I fell off the planet, eh?

Nope. I have simply been too busy to blog. Even my friends on Facebook have noticed I’ve been less vocal of late. But I’ve got a few minutes of downtime, so I thought I would catch you all up with what’s been going on.

I’m Working…A LOT

I have several clients which are keeping me very busy. This is a good thing, since for the most part, they all pay a fair wage, and I enjoy the topics. It’s not all moonlight and roses, but it’s not thunderstorm and daisies, either.

Okay, I actually like thunderstorms and daisies, so that wasn’t a fair assessment, but you get my point.

I’m Working on the house…A LOT

We’ve ripped up five rooms of carpet, stained five floors and now we’re laying time. Eventually I am going to tackle the upside down fruit wall paper in my kitchen…just as soon as I can bring myself to look at it long enough and measure.

Yes, I said upside down fruit wallpaper. And not just any fruits…we’re talking pineapples. mangoes. Grapes.

Yeah, it’s bad!

But it’s starting to come together. Slowly, but surely.

I Went back to school. Again.

I bit the bullet and started my PhD program. I’m studying E-learning and Instructional Design. I think I’ve lost my mind.

Check that, I know I’ve lost my mind. But it’s a means to an end, and I’m sure once it’s all over, I’ll be glad I did it.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

This Area Is Intentionally Left Blank

I might have some good news to post here, but I don’t want to jinx myself, so I won’t say what it is about.

And that, ladies and gents, is what I have been up to. But I do want to leave you with one pearl of wisdom before I delve back into work. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles and blog posts on how to become a writer. The information has been interesting, but frankly, unnecessary. You don’t need a 2,000 word blog post to tell someone how to be a writer.  I can do it in less that 100 words.

Ready? Here goes:

How To Become a Writer 

By: The Classic Quill

Step 1: Write.

Step 2: Write some more.

Step 3: Submit what you write to people who need what you write.

Step 4: Keep writing.

Step 5: Ignore those who ask if they have possibly read what you’ve written. They probably aren’t your intended audience anyway.

Step 6: Read. Read for fun. Read to see what to do and not to do. Read those whose work you love a respect.

Step 7: Did I mention WRITE?

Step 8: After a few months, look back at the first three things you wrote. Cringe and laugh. Tweak if as necessary.

Repeat Steps 1 through 8 for the rest of your life.

And there you have it. The only way to become a writer, is to write and submit what you’ve written. It’s not rocket science. Yes, there is a bit more to it, such as learning to research markets and determine a publications needs and tone, but those things don’t matter if you don’t write.

And with that, I’m off to practice what I just preached. 😀

 

Tagged , , , , ,

New Directions


For the last few days, I’ve been contemplating my career and where I want it to go. As a writer, there are many avenues available to you — provided you are willing to do the work and learn that particular part of the craft. In my almost 20 years in this biz, I’ve tried my hand at fiction, journalism, article writing, column writing, copywriting, general writing (business plans, marketing plans, grants, white papers, etc.), content mills and web writing.  In other words, I’ve pretty much been there, done that.

Except for plays, movies and television scripts. But it’s on my list.

I’ve published a book, I’ve written an award-winning column and I’ve written things that brought me praise and criticism galore. I’ve written some things that make me cringe, and I’ve written things of which I am extremely proud. I have enjoyed almost every minute of my writing career.

But now I feel as if I’m at a crossroads. I love writing for a living, I really do…

But I don’t want to do it anymore. At least not how I’ve been doing it recently.

A friend gave me The Renegade Writer as a gift this past Christmas. I’m not a huge fan of how-to or self-help books — I’m a firm believer that the only way to learn to do something is by doing it. No book can replace the knowledge you gain from the “Nike” approach. The book has been sitting on the corner of my desk since the day I unwrapped it — but for some reason I picked it up and starting thumbing through it yesterday.

In each chapter, there are sections called “Break this rule.” I started reading those because, well, I am a rule-breaker.

It turns out that a lot of what they advise I’ve been doing instinctively for years.

Now, you’d think this would make me feel better. Make me feel like I’ve been on the right path.

Nope. It really made me sick to my stomach.

Cuz, the last few years, I’ve been ignoring my instincts in exchange for making a decent living. And now I wonder — if I had stuck to my path all those years ago, where would I be now? Would my byline be in Forbes, or Women’s Day or Inc.? It’s not even about the bragging rights — it just made me realize that as a writer, I could be so much further along than I am, and it’s hurts like hell that I’m the reason I’m not where I could be.

But that all changes tomorrow. I’ve still got a couple of steady clients that keep food on the table and a roof over my head, but I’m done chasing after more of their ilk. If I’m going to do this, I either need to go big or get the hell out of the game.  The publication studying and query writing starts tomorrow. My goal is to make it into a National magazine before the end of the year, if not sooner.

I’m going for the big time, folks. Wish me luck.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Wow…


You have all rendered me speechless. Almost. 🙂

As a writer, sometimes you like things you write, and sometimes you merely peck out what you can and hope it’s not the drivel you are sure it is. It’s the nature of the beast. There are three truths you quickly learn as a writer: #1 — Not everything you write is going to be brilliant. #2 — A writer is often his own worse critic.

But then, every once in a blue moon, you write something and you know it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. Something you are totally proud of.

Yesterday’s post was one of those moments.

However, even though as the writer, you love it; even though you want to print it out, put it in a frame and hang it on your wall, you still pause before you hit the submit button. Why?

#3 — Just because YOU love it, that doesn’t mean your readers will. And if they don’t love it…

Well, there really isn’t a worse feeling for a writer.

So you can imagine my elation and excitement when the comments and emails started rolling in about my post. I smiled with every comment, email, retweet and share.

I’ve been doing a lot of smiling.

So, thanks to all of you for showing my post so much love. To my new subscribers, welcome and I’m glad you’re here.  To my old fans, thanks for the support you’ve always given me. I will do my best not to disappoint.

When I started this blog almost a year ago, I really didn’t know what I was going to write about, or if anyone even wanted to read what I had to say. I just felt compelled to share. My outrage. My joy. My amusement.

Okay – mainly my outrage, but with a tinge of amusement thrown in, because quite frankly, if I couldn’t some sliver of humor in this world’s craziness, I’d be a quivering mass under a desk somewhere.

So, you can count on me to continue to shine light on the absurd, the ludicrous and the deplorable. I will continue to rail against stupidity and the wrongdoings of others. And I hope you stick around for the ride.

The trip’s a helluva lot more fun with someone riding shotgun. 😉

Tagged , , , , ,

Freelancing — a Primer


It was brought to my attention yesterday that not everyone knows what a Content Site (or Content Mill) is, so I’m going to take the time to explain what a content site is, and the general process of working with one.

A content site is a company that hires freelance writers to write content for them. The content might be used on their personal site(s), or sold to another site or private customer. For example, Demand Media hires freelance writers to write content for sites they own (eHow, Cracked.com, etc.) and for partner sites such as Local.com.

Content site pay varies, but most sites pay between $8 and $20 for an article. Most articles are in the 400-500 word range. You can find a variety of things to write about, from medical conditions to legal articles. Some sites also pay on a revenue sharing platform — for every visit to the website your article generates, you get a share of the profits.

Now, for why some in the writing community refer to these sites as “content mills”. There are two reasons: first the pay is lower for a content mill than it would be if you sold articles in the traditional manner (something I’ll go into in another post). Second, the quality of the articles are not always as high as they could be. Part of this is because of the ease of being accepted to write for the site.

Which leads to my next point — to write for a content site, you apply directly to the site. Each site has a different method they use to approve writers, but most require a potential writer to fill out an application and submit a writing sample. There may be a grammar test involved as well. If your writing sample is acceptable, you’re approved to write for the site, and can select articles that interest you. Once you’ve written the article, you submit it to the site for approval. Some sites use editors who review your work, other sites send work directly to the client and they either approve the article, send the article back for revisions, or reject it. This is another area I will go into in a later post.

If your article is accepted, you get paid. Most sites pay via Paypal, though there are a few who direct deposit pay into your bank account.

And there you have it — a brief explanation into content sites. In my next post, I’ll examine the pros and cons of working for content sites. As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,