All Set…

I’m ready for NaNoWriMo! I’ve got my story all set, an actual outline (try not to die of shock), plenty of tea and candy, and I’m organized. I’ve even got a handy little badge on the sidebar of this blog to help track my word count.

I’ll try to keep posting on One Story Slinger regularly but no promises. I decided to be selfish and focus on my own writing this month, although that’s not entirely my fault considering I set up to do reviews but no one emailed me back. 😦 Total sad face.

The trick will be finding time to write on days like today when I’ve got a migraine and want to shoot myself instead of write. But that’s a challenge I always face.

Happy Writing!

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One Story Slinger to Launch Writers’ Workshop in 2014

 

 

cartoon of editing disorder club

You’d think the writers community would be a competitive field – as technically we’re each other’s competition – but what I’ve found is the opposite. We support fellow writers in many ways – by reading each other’s work, helping to promote their publications and even by critiquing and reviewing each other’s stories and projects.

Constructive reviews are essential to becoming a better writer. I’ve been writing since I was able, and I’ve taken a zillion and one classes, but I know I can keep learning. I attend bi-weekly workshops to have my stories critiqued and to help others become the best writers they can. I’m always reading news articles, posts and books by fellow writers to learn tips of my trade.

Some of the best comments and feedback I’ve received have been constructive. A writer will tell me flat-out that something doesn’t work, and here’s why. But I’ve also received compliments that I remind myself of when I’m stuck at a certain plot point or need inspiration to get back to a story.

I highly recommend writers of all skill level attend critiquing workshops. To that end, I’ve decided to launch a Workshop on One Story Slinger in early 2014! Each month we’ll critique several stories of a certain word count limit. This will be in a forum-type setting, or possibly through Google Chat. The details – and kinks! – are still getting worked out. If there is enough interest, I’ll host a separate Poetry Workshop as well.

Stay tuned to One Story Slinger for more about the Workshop! Questions? Want to join the workshop email list? Email me!

Be Careful Out There!

There really are all kinds of people and companies out there waiting to take advantage of writers – newbies fresh to the playing field and established pros. I’ve been writing for professional publication since I was a teenager so I consider myself more of a pro than a newbie. I’ve done some investigative work on several writing sites that claim to pay you for your creative content and the outlook is grim.

The best rule of thumb is always “if something’s too good to be true, it usually is.” And this is the case when it comes to these writing sites. I was looking to make a little bit of extra part-time money writing. As a federal employee, I can’t make over a certain amount at an outside employer without obtaining permission. So I never agreed to write any articles, but still managed to find the deep, dark secrets of these so-called writers’ sites. (Actually I would have had to obtain permission to write the articles anyway.)

The first site I investigated is called iWriter. It’s a self-proclaimed “article writing website.” Basically clients post job articles on a discussion board and writers pitch their posts and articles to them. The clients determine the pricing per post and list that in the job ad. Most of them were pretty cheap, IMO, but I’m not surprised. Plenty of people think creative content should be cheap. The clients on this site can literally nickel and dime you down on your creative content, but since you, the writer, decide which articles to write, I’m not as annoyed by that as I could be.

iWriter claims it’s free to sign up. All you need is a paypal address for the money for your writing to be deposited either weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. I went through with a fake profile and entered all the info, then started searching for jobs. Here’s where it gets interesting. Job ads are posted in three categories based on the “writer type” you are – standard, premium, or elite. You start as standard, which makes sense – no one there really knows who I am and my experience.

But wouldn’t you think experience would count for something – either real world experience or actual experience on the site? It doesn’t matter. In order to become a premium writer you literally have to pay for it – to the tune of $147! They call it an “application fee” and try to assure you that you’ll make the money back. But job ads are about $10 each for 500-600 words, and I’m being generous by rounding up to the nearest $10. Most ads are in the $6-$8 range. Even if they were $10 a pop, you’d have to write 15 or so to start out even!

Many of the ads are written in poor taste, too, with terrible spelling errors and grammar mistakes. This drives me “nutz” as a writer. I realize that the so-called “clients” are seeking writers perhaps to help themselves with writing. But try to be respectful or just display common courtesy! One ad said “chick writers need not apply. No welcome.” The topic wasn’t for men’s health or car parts – it was for relationship help. Unreal! Another used ALL CAPS – beyond annoying.

I deleted my account after I found out about the $147 fee – which is basically the way the site makes money off the writers too. Writers then get screwed twice: their stupid fee, and the clients gyp them out of good pay for good content. Yes, of course, the content may not be all that great, but I’m thinking best case scenario. Clients can also reject content – so you may count on 15 stories to pay off the $147 fee and be rejected for all but one of them. Then you have to write more.

Bottom line? This is a scam, designed to prey on writers, and is solely created to benefit their “clients” instead of support the real people who create the content – writers. Avoid!

Do you know of any scams like this one? Or perhaps you know of a legit writers’ site? Email me or post in the comments so we can support each other as writers!

Happy Writing!

Daily Writing Prompt #3.13 – Fave color for the first time (8/28/13)

Daily Writing Prompt #3.13 – Pretend you are seeing your favorite color for the first time. Describe it. (8/28/13)

I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of the question, “What is your favorite color?” I’m reminded of the exact same line from the Troll at the Bridge in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I watched this movie over and over growing up and still catch it every year or so as an adult. (As proof that I am a fan, I also know the question that causes the Troll to say, “I don’t know,” and fall to his death – “what is the air speed velocity of a fully-laden swallow?”)

Everyone has a favorite – or a couple faves, right? What is your favorite color and why? Do you like red because you are a passionate person, or yellow because it reminds you of sunshine and daisies? Think about things that contain your favorite color.

Describe your favorite color as though seeing it for the first time. How does the color make you feel? Is there a smell or aroma associated with it? Is there an accompanying memory that reminds you of the color?

Happy Writing!
free-apple-clip-art-puzzle-leaf-rainbow-smart-simple-cute_270-162500

“To-Do List w/a Twist” – 8/27/13 Writing Prompt Result

The “To-Do List w/a Twist” Writing Prompt Result from 8/27/13
I just had to make it to the dry cleaner’s before they closed. I headed down Church St,, crossed over Vanderbilt Ave, nearly collided with an idiot on a bicycle. “Hey, watch it!” I shouted at the non-helmet wearing man who turned right in front of me without any warning. A walker behind me slapped my rear bumper. “Hey you watch it,” she said, shouting at me angrily.

“Screw you!” I was much more impolite than that, but come on! Hitting my car like I’d misbehaved or was her child? “Touch my car again and it’ll be the last thing you do!”

I got to the dry cleaners a few minutes later, still shaking from my run-in with city people. Mr. Lee was just about to put the “Closed” sign on the door, but I barreled out of the car and begged him to open the door. He complied, but added, “Ms. Harris, we do close at 6.”

“I’m so sorry, I rushed here from work,” I said, digging in my pocket for the cleaners ticket and tossing $20 on the counter. This wasn’t my first time cutting it close to the closing time for Mr. Lee’s cleaners, but it was the earliest I had gotten there.

“It’s $10.50,” he said, handing me the small pile of suits and my own son’s Superman costume, an old Halloween costume he wore as his favorite pair of PJs.

He handed me the change and I tipped him $2. “What’s this for?” He asked, staring at the two sweaty bills in his palm.

“For staying open late and being patient with me. It’s been a rough day.”

He laid the bills back on the counter. “It’s OK. Please say hi to Greg for me.”

My heart sank. He hadn’t heard. I broke down in tears and Mr. Lee’s face changed to concern. “Ms. Harris? Are you OK?”

“My son is dead,” I said softly, fingering the Superman costume, which was still wrapped in the cleaners’ plastic. “I’m burying him in this.”

Mr. Lee reached across the counter and patted my hand. “I’m sorry, Ms. Harris. Did the cancer return?”

I nodded, choking back the memory of my little boy crying in the dark, in pain from the treatment. He had begged for me to help him, to ease his pain.

In what world was it OK that an innocent little boy dies while an ignorant man riding without a helmet and annoying, self-righteous woman who slaps a CAR in traffic live?

In my world, that’s where.

Mr. Lee returned the $20 bill to me and said, “It’s on the house. Please, if you need anything else…”

Back in my car, I sobbed into the Superman costume and looked up just in time for the non-helmeted bicyclist to zip into traffic – and then out of traffic so quickly two cars collided.

Yep, in my world those people get to live and my son is dead.
Dry Cleaning Racks of Clothes

Author’s Note: This is a work of flash fiction. All work is copyrighted by the author. Want to use any part of it? Just ask!

Writing Letters for Fun

We’ve all got ’em. You might not call your List of Things to Do Before You Die a “Bucket List,” but since it’s shorter to type and not as morbid, I call it that. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a Bucket List is a to-do list of sorts – places to visit, things to do, people to meet/see, etc, all activities you want to complete before you kick the bucket or check out from this world.

As a writer, of course completing a novel is on my Bucket List, but I hope I complete it much earlier than before I die…here’s hoping I won’t be dying any time soon. [knock on wood] I have a novel in progress and it’s my Bucket List item #1 for 2013 – that is, I hope to finish it by the end of the year so I can start getting it published in 2014.

Another item on my list was to write to a celebrity for advice. Random, I know. I don’t think I’ve ever written to a celeb before, although when I was a kid I did write to then President George HW Bush and got a reply letter back that I cherished. I had a friend in high school who wrote to everyone from Suzanne Somers to Madonna…and got responses back (including photos).

In my research, I found Chris Lucas, a fellow writer and sometimes actor, who has dedicated his life to the written word – literally. I bought his e-book on how to craft letters to celebrities to get responses and got to work.

I love writing letters and have two pen pals through the Letter Writing Alliance. (More info on that later this week) So taking a couple minutes each day to write another letter isn’t too hard for me.

Who did I write to? Well Curt Schilling, my all-time fave baseball player; Fannie Flagg, a favorite writer; Jane Espenson, a fave screenwriter/producer; and, OK, one of my celebrity crushes. I’m embarrassed to reveal that name but he knows whom he is. 🙂

The point is, I always try to find a way to write everyday – even if I’m in the grips of a horrible migraine, as I was for most of today. Too many days go by that I’m not successful at writing daily, but I’m working hard at it.

Do you write everyday? Do you enjoy writing letters? Have you written to any celebs – and have they written back?

Daily Writing Prompt #1.13 – School Memories (8/26/13)

The daily writing prompt #1.13 for today, Mon., Aug. 26, 2013 is “School Day Memories.”

Write about your favorite or most vivid memory from school (grade or high school or college). Do you remember your favorite class or teacher/professor? Why do you think you remember this particular memory? Write about all the senses – the smell of new pencils and paper, the sound of the school bus or lockers slamming, the taste of chewing on pencil erasers, whatever you remember about that memory.

PENCILS