Monday, July 6, 2020

Finding Words for Your Story



I usually write non-fiction. In non-fiction, especially articles for web content, we need to write concisely. That means, we don't add in flowery description. While this blog is in first person, articles I sell are never written in first person. Each writing project has its own rules.

Writing Your Story

Recently, I wanted to write my story. What I mean by that is a sort of memoir or creative non-fiction piece that describes a specific time of my life. This sort of writing demands flowery description and can be in first person. 

As often is the case, I want to write it to help others who might read it. But another benefit arose. While writing my story, I found healing and better understanding. I thought most of the wounds of that part of my life had been healed, but it was remarkable how writing my story out in detail brought me more clarity and healing. 

Adding Description

They say if you're going to write your story, you need to make it gripping. You do that by showing rather than telling much of it. You do it by adding meaningful description. 

I'm not good at writing such detail. The non-fiction writer in me finds it tedious. But I may want to self-publish my story on Kindle, so I need it to be all it can be. 

A tool I found which helped me put words to my feelings is a website called Descriptionari. This website is remarkable. You simply type in a word and it gives examples of compelling writing using your word or emotion. 

I used this site to teach me how to add touch, scent, emotion, and description. (I don't recommend copying the sentences into your story, but to use their examples as prompts. Then you can put it into your own words.) 

A remarkable thing happened using this tool. The descriptions described my pain in words I could not find. And in doing so, I found more healing

For example, during that time I cried a lot out of confusion, disappointment, and sadness. Instead of simply saying "I cried" I put cry into the tool. Look at this sentence it came up with:

"It is my tears that keep my soul alive in the furnace of this pain. They cannot extinguish what has been, yet only carry me forward until a time comes when that searing pain is distant enough to forget more than remember, and maybe one day erase itself from my brain. So perhaps it may be an oddity to thank my tears and be proud to cry, yet if that's what saves me from becoming a monster, a person indifferent to suffering and sorrow, then crying is the smartest thing I can do." https://www.descriptionari.com/quotes/crying/ 

The words above make me believe the writer knows what I went through. In that sentence, I find I was not weak, strange, pitiful, or odd for crying as I did. I was simply human. It was helpful to see the purpose in crying. 






Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Blogging Is Great for Developing Your Writing



(reprint from 2011)

If you want to be a writer and don't have a blog, start one.  Blogging is free and it is something that will help to develop your writing skills.  Actually, blogging accomplishes several very important tasks for writers:

1.  Whether you gain an audience or not, you will feel accountable to update your blog.  That will push you to write often.  

2.  Needing fresh content for your blog will stretch your mind.  You will think of new angles and approaches to tackling subjects so you don't repeat yourself.

3.  Knowing outsiders may see your blog, you will be more careful about sentence structure and grammar.

4.  Blogging is a little forgiving as far as errors go, and editing is easy.  Even professionals have spelling mistakes in their blogs.  They don't want to use up extra time or money by hiring a proofreader or editor to check their blog.  They like the natural flow of blog writing and they are able to publish their blog as soon as it is complete.  If you slip up on your writing once in a while, relax.

5.  You will feel validated by getting the art of your writing into public view.

6.  If you gain followers that make comments, you can enter into some great two-way conversations.

7.  Blogging can help get you noticed as a writer.  You might even be contacted by a buyer who'd like to buy one of your blog posts for re-publishing.

8.  Your blog can become your personal portfolio of writing style examples.

9.  Blogging keeps everything nicely typed and organized in an archive.  It is virtual and should stay safe for a long time.

10.  Blogging becomes a type of diary.  It's fun to go back and see your development over time.

If you're starting out as a writer or are a writer who wants to develop their skills, try blogging on one of the free online formats.  Doing so will help you become an even better writer and you never know where that may lead.

A Tip for Article Writing



(rewrite from 2011 article) 

Article Writing 

One way to grow in your writing career is to write articles. I started with posting free articles with ezine articles.  

Why write articles?  When I first wrote them, it was to promote my life coaching business. Eventually, I heard myself say I wanted to be a web content writer. With some online searching a little more than ten years ago I found Constant-Content.com. They give a new writer three chances to write successful articles before being allowed to sell with them. 

It's important to note why there is such a service. It's because there is a market for articles today like never before.  Website owners need articles and blog posts to keep readers coming back and to keep their sites optimized.  

People are Readers

People read articles online daily.  Articles are usually informational or inspirational.  They often set out to give the reader a new perspective or updated information.  

Simply reading an article can enlighten a person.  It can change their focus and their mood. Articles can be powerful tools to lift others up. 

What to Do 

Do you want to be an article writer? 

On one of the websites I sell articles with is Constant-Content.com.  One of the rules they have is when submitting, the writer must allow at least a third of her article to be shown to potential buyers prior to purchase.  Some writers have gone further showing the full article to potential buyers. 

A hesitant writer I know asked if I was not afraid of article theft.  By putting it available for sight, it could be snatched.  Of course, that chance is always there.  And, yes, I have had articles stolen, unfortunately.

My answer to her, however, was that I have so many new articles in me and ways to re-write an existing article that I don't fear.  I take the chance.  I regret the times I invest time in writing and don't see a sale or have it stolen, but it is a risk I'm willing to take.

Re-Writing for Multiple Sales 

Once you're an up-to-speed writer you too will see how easy it is to re-write the same article and potentially sell the topic more than once.  Now, I'm not talking about doing cheap article spinning where you flip things around for the sake of flipping them around, sometimes with a spinning program.  What I mean is, re-writing your article from a different angle.

Here is are examples:

Sample article on writing fiction:

Want to write a novel?  Need new ideas?  Put yourself in the story.  Picture where you'd like to go, what you'd like to see.  How might you see things differently than another person?

Same article re-written:

Are you in the midst of writing a novel and find yourself stuck?  Why not use this trick.  Dress yourself in the era of your novel and walk its streets or corridors.  That's right, put yourself right in there.  Smell, hear, taste, and see the environment.  Write about your experience.

Same article re-written:

Fiction writers have various ways of developing their work.  Many writers like to put themselves right into the story.  Once they've gotten an idea of the era and surroundings, they find it helpful to think about what they might see, where they'd want to go, what they'd like to do.

How's that for switching things up and making your writing go further? 

If you have questions or comments, feel free to connect. 

Happy Writing!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Managing Writing Inspiration



If you're an article writer who has the option of choosing your own topics to write on, there are a few tips that can help you collect inspiration:


1. Typically, a writer's mind is always writing in the same way an artist's mind is always seeing art in nature.  When an idea pops into your head, scribble it down or get to your computer to jot the idea down. 

2. When you read something online that inspires you, cut and paste it and save it into a special Word file perhaps changing the print colour so you know it is something you copied and not your own work. 

I named my file fodder (material that is used for a particular purpose). When I want to get some writing done to submit for pay, I look in my fodder folder for ideas. 


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Content Writer Fees



The need for writers has never been greater. There is so much web content businesses need. 

They need to update their websites and blogs regularly.  They need blurbs written.  They need articles. Most business owners focus their time on making sales, not writing content.

Never before, however, have businesses tried to undercut freelance writers.  They're all looking for bargains.  With offshore outsourcing, some of us freelance writers are up against writers that charge $3.00 an article. We prefer to earn $20 to $400 an article. 

Be aware, a buyer will get what he pays for in many instances.  In many cases, offshore outsource-rs cut and paste, spin, and plagiarize what others write. The result is often gobbledygook.

I don't believe in working for wages that are illegal in my country.  Yes, in Canada we have a minimum wage that employer HAVE to pay.  They can be fined, or taken to court if they fail to pay adequately.

If you are a business in need of web content that is written in good English, plan to pay respectfully.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Get Tough On Yourself and Write with a Point



An editor within the agency I write with rejected an article I had written and submitted recently. I've had them rejected before, but usually, the editor has pointed out corrections needed. 

This time, the editor's words were piercing:


"You failed to deliver on the article's title.

Do not resubmit."

Wow. That hurt. Surely I could change the title. I'm certain something could be reworked. And, by the way, isn't it up to a client to decide if it is buyer-worthy or not?


So the idea that I failed to deliver on the article title's promise hit me for more than a few seconds. Ultimately, my writing didn't take the editor where they felt they were promised to go. 


I admit, this was one article I wanted to get submitted without letting it simmer longer or re-editing. 
But had I let it simmer, I might have seen the problem for myself and changed it.  

Here are some points on that topic. 

Make Sure Your Writing Delivers 


Literary agents will be sure to tell you problems like that mentioned above are common. They want to know a book is going to deliver not only on what the title promises but on what the book back or Amazon description promises. 


As for my editor, she wanted to know the article she was about to read would give her some new insightful information that answered any question posed in the title or introduction. 

It sounds simple, but time and again authors miss the point of their article or book too easily. 


I've purchased self-published books and discovered that for myself. It may be the book trails off in a new direction. This can happen when an author puts the writing aside for a time and, when they return, their passion or mindset is different. 

I've started books only to discover what an author suggests works for all people doesn't work for me. Painting too broad strokes may be problematic. For example, in a number of books I've read on life purpose, the author has assumed readers have 
fulltime jobs or careers like they do. They tend to focus on finding purpose in a career. Since my main focus for many years was that of stay-at-home mother, their advice didn't fit me. Neither will it fit the retiree. 

Sometimes the problem with a book is a chapter problem. An author gets so attached to a chapter he can't bring himself to chop it. It gets included but has little relevance to the rest of the book. 


When writing and editing, it's important we write for a target audience. Otherwise, we're merely writing for ourselves and our own fun. 


Ask These Questions 

We can ensure we make a point when we ask ourselves important questions as we're writing such as these: 



  • What's the goal of this article, book, or book chapter?
  • What is the point of this paragraph?
  • Does this story illustrate the point of the chapter?
  • Does this anecdote reflect the book's theme?
  • What conclusion am I urging the reader to draw?
  • Have I enlightened, informed, or inspired the reader?
  • Do the stories I add undergird the theme of the book or simply make the reader feel displaced?
  • Why am I mentioning such-and-such?
  • Have I already said this?
  • Does mentioning such-and-such distract from the story?
  • Are my words bossy, preachy, or spoon-feeding the reader?
  • Do I let the reader fill in the blanks?
  • Is this book merely my own catharsis, a way to brag, an attempt to make a quick buck, or does it offer value to the reader?
  • Why would someone pay to read this?

Writing is easy and hard. Good writers get tough on themselves and grow with each writing project they take on. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Should You Take a Writing Course?



Every day there are courses offered for writers.  There are online courses and there are writing coaches who will help you walk through the steps of writing.  (I know of several if you would like me to refer you).  I started writing in a creative writing course in high school.

Do you have to take a course or have a degree to be a writer?  No.


Just get writing and see where the path leads you.  Do what suits your personality and skill level. Look up help online to improve your grammar. 


If you feel taking a course will help, sign up for one.  If a writing group is of interest, join one.  


Grow as a writer at your own pace. You should know when you're ready to take the next step of publishing a blog, writing a query letter, sending an article to a content site editor, signing up for personalized coaching, or sending a manuscript to an agent. 


The point is, there is no set path for a writer. 



Thick Skin


T
he field of writing can be tough on you, though.  You will have editors rip your work apart. You will want to be as prepared and knowledgable as you can be. 

As you develop your craft, you will likely see yourself make dumb errors and feel embarrassed when important people point them out.  You will get rejections and your feelings hurt.


Writers take the pain in stride.  They take what they're dished and pour it back into their writing to be used for good.

A great way to test your skills is to put a piece past an inexpensive proofreader or editor to see how you fare.  Another way to test your skill level is to send an article to an article site--preferably one that uses in-house editors that will scrutinize your work and offer feedback.  

I have learned a lot from the editors at Constant-Content.com where I have many articles for sale. I don't always agree with the editor's comments. Like art, some writing is subjective. But good grammar is also needed. 

Writing for an online audience is also far different than writing more intensive materials. Look into tips for writing for online audiences if that is your goal. Much input can be learned online and through studying style guides. 

If you really love writing, you will also be a reader. Much can be learned simply through reading. 




Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Adding Description to Your Story

This was a cover contest submission. Not an actual cover used by R. Warren.



Do you want to write fiction? Do you want to write a memoir that includes storytelling?

During the lockdown of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I've taken to learning how to write a story or a memoir. This is a change for me because not only do I not write fiction or stories, I don't read them often either.
Some might think that makes me shallow. Perhaps so. I find some of the descriptive parts of fiction tedious. But as I've been learning, I understand how they help bring a reader into a scene. 

To grow in my learning of how to add description I've done five things. 

First, I wrote my story including all events I wanted to be included. 

Second, I searched online for articles on adding sensory descriptions to stories. I learned about the importance of creating a visual, an aroma, a texture (touch), and sound. Easy to read about, not always as easy to capture. 

Third, I visited websites that give examples of show, don't tell.

Fourth, I pulled some of my husband's fiction books off the shelf and also a few from my daughter's old room. I sat with a notebook and Post-it notes. I looked for examples in these books that might describe parts of my story. 

For instance, in a scene where I'm confronting someone, I looked for the same in the fiction books. 

Then, I took notes or put a Post-it note on the page to hold the spot. I returned to my story inserting something similar. I didn't copy exactly what the book said, but I used it as an example and worded it to fit my character.

Fifth, I realized my daughter's books weren't helpful as they pertained to fantasy and unreal worlds mostly. I'd need another avenue for this exercise. 

So I took to Amazon. I searched a number of memoirs for sale that have the "search inside" feature. 

This was fun. I was able to glimpse into so many books! I could even use my keyboard to search for certain words like "farm" or "disappointed". 

I borrowed a number of examples to put into my story, again rewording lest I be accused of plagiarism. (My examples were far different enough.) 

At one point, I put my story through an online tool called ProWritingAid. It didn't like several of the words I'd used. It suggested I used too many words in some sections. 

On editing, I went through my story again, adding more texture and reworking the story as we always do when editing. 

This has been a very fun and helpful exercise to help me increase my storytelling. Even when I write nonfiction, I often tell small stories. I am better prepared now. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Are you About to Self-Publish?



Motives and Focus

I believe some authors have the idea that writing a book makes them appear more legitimate or important. I believe one's motives for publishing a book should be better than that. 

That leads me to write this blog and ask some important questions:

What is your reason for writing and publishing your book? 

Maybe you do have a good story to tell or sage advice to offer others. Perhaps you've uncovered a niche market that is in search of a solution you can provide. Does that describe you? Then I'd say that's a worthy motive.

Is your motive for writing and self-publishing simply an attempt to earn lots of money? 

When I tell an average new non-fiction author what they can expect to earn from their book, they are sometimes offended. One friend said, "I can't charge a mere $5 for my book after all the work I've put into it!" 

That feeling is common, but ignorant of the truth regarding the book-buying market. People want to buy books at low prices. KDP has a price-setting tool to use and often it suggests a price point of $3.99 to $4.99 on my books.

Think about what you might be willing to pay for a similar book. 

(On a side-note, I think it is awful some people will pay $5 or less and then leave critical reviews. That hasn't happened to me, but I see it all the time. For $5 it isn't very kind to give a hostile review on a piece of work someone probably spent 1,000 hours writing. But neither should you give a 5-star review for something mediocre just because a friend wrote it.) 

I've seen some authors charge over $20  for their book. I'm not sure there is a market for such by unknown authors. I did purchase one and was shocked by how little there was inside the book. It was a good well-written and helpful book, but $20 plus taxes and shipping was extreme in my opinion. 

When you publish with Amazon KDP, you receive a mere percentage of each sale. Big buck earnings are hard to come by.  

Yes, authors put in hours upon hours to write and edit. Some work on projects over years. Some pay for critiques and editing. It adds up. 

If you self-publish, any marketing that is to be done is up to you.  

I don't mean to sound negative, but realistic. This comes from my place of being in the writing world interacting with writers for some time now. 

If you're about to self-publish, do it. But set the right motives,  and set realistic goals for your writing. 


Affordable Copyediting is Available

Typos and Edits 

Before you go and self-publish through KDP I want to share some points. I recently paid $10 for a book from someone I met on Facebook. Something in her post resonated with me causing me to make the purchase. I hoped I'd find some new direction and inspiration from her book.

The book started off great. But then it led me down bunny trails. Reading it from the viewpoint of a writer who has done editing, her errors were glaring. There were grammar errors, punctuation errors, typos, and so on. But what really bothered me was trying to understand the point of the book as it tended to stray.  


I now provide a copyediting/proofreading service purposely for self-publishers of books under 40,000 words.


Yes, it is scary having someone else read your manuscript. But it can be well worth it. 


Need Editing or Proofreading?

Are you a blogger, article writer, or Indie author? 

Do you have a short book, article, letter, or other item you need proofread or edited at an economical price? 

I am available to work on your project--all done virtually. 

Please see my website www.RosalieGarde.com for details or contact me at this email.

Writing/Proofreading/Copyediting
Rewrites/Critique
Nonfiction Only

  



Don't get caught looking unprofessional! 
Have your writing checked!


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Writing Non-Fiction? Are you Realistic?



When I submitted my first book for publishing, publishing houses were still viable. I was brave and submitted a manuscript. The returned message was discouraging as it is for most.  I was told I would do better with a platform. 

But that doesn't mean the person without a platform doesn't have something meaningful to communicate. 


The response I got that day also urged me to try article publishing first. I made queries to several magazines, mostly to no avail. 


I sold my first print article to the Evangelical Church Library Association for $50. It was a fabulous win for me at the time. 


Then, in 2010, I got a gig with a web content company. To date, I have over 500 purchased articles published in a 10-year period. This is my anniversary of getting my paid writing career off the ground!


Over time, publishing houses went belly-up. CEOs were let go. Self-publishing began to take the stage.


I don't believe in writers pursuing self-publishing with companies that make you pay to have their book published. Too many friends of mine have ended up with stacks of books in their garages. They have no idea how to sell them.  


I do believe in Kindle Direct Publishing by Amazon (KDP), though. I have had good success with it. 


Friday, January 17, 2020

Editing or Proofreading for the ESL EAL Market




  
There is a writing, proofreading and editing market for the EAL and ESL sector.

Many people need help with written work here in Canada and the USA.  The work can range from a newcomer needing to fill out government forms to an engineer writing a report. It might include a university professor submitting a scientific journal or a student submitting a paper. 

Some people I've helped with their written work have included:


  • A scholar submitting scientific journals  
  • An executive needing his CV tweaked
  • A BSc student applying to med school
  • High school students needing essays proofread
  • An MBA student's multiple submission of documents 
  • A recent immigrant's government documentation 
  • A Professional Engineer submitting a report
I offer my services virtually.  I don't ever have to meet a client face-to-face, but I can if necessary.

If you are a writer and want to help out this market try these methods:

  • Put ads for your services on online directories such as  www.Kijiji.comwww.craigslist.comwww.foundlocally.com
  • Post an ad in your local school or college.
  • Spread word by word of mouth.
  • Spend time in the ESL/EAL communities getting to know people who may need your help.
  • Do quality work and don't get pushed around.
If you want to do this type of work, set boundaries. For instance, it won't help a student if you significantly change their writing. Their professor or potential employer needs to see a true representation of their abilities through their writing.

Use the Right Style Guide 

Be careful to ask if there is a specific style guide you're to follow eg. APA, ALA, CMOS, or other. Scientific writing is much different than writing for the arts. 

Decide how you will do this work. When I started, I worked in person with one client.

Another author brought a thumb drive to my house and picked up the changes a few days later. 

Then I began email exchanges with clients. 

How to Do it

I always edit in MS Word with track changes on. I send back a marked-up and a final copy. I allow one revision in the price quotation.

I have found I need to charge more for most ESL/EAL writing when the grammar is extremely choppy. It takes time for me to understand what is being communicated. That is more time consuming than simple editing. It is about making the writing make sense. 

Getting Payment

I usually back the work and then forward an invoice to be paid through PayPal. 

I had one student who wanted to ignore the invoice and when she did pay it, complained about having to pay the Paypal service fee. In the future, I may only return half a document until it is fully paid. 

If you have an idea of how to do this more effectively, perhaps with a document download prevention program until payment arrives, that would be ideal. 

Editing and Proofreading Help for the ESL/EAL Student

I live in Southern, Ontario, Canada but I can edit your ESL/EAL work, in most cases, no matter where you live!

If you need proofreading or editing of your project, let me know how I can help at this email, or visit my website at www.RosalieGarde.com for further information.


Finding Words for Your Story

I usually write non-fiction. In non-fiction, especially articles for web content, we need to write concisely. That means, we don'...