May 29

Pantsing Vs. Plotting: Do You Use An Outline?

pantsing vs plotting

There’s a lot of talk about writing fiction these days, and Kindle has made self-publishing a respectable option for people like me and you, who otherwise wouldn’t have the patience to write, submit, cry, resubmit, drink lots of wine to console ourselves, etc. the way “traditional” authors do. I’ve recently rekindled my romance with fiction writing, which has been harder than I expected it to be.

Normally, I’ll just get an idea, sit down, and write. There’s no planning, no outlines, just writing. The story develops as I write, with little or no thought about what comes next until it’s actually on the page. This is called “pantsing,” or writing by the seat of one’s pants. This is what I do, or have done, until very recently.

Plotting is the opposite of pantsing. It involves logical, planned-out events in your story, and is probably more efficient than pantsing because it can help avoid writing yourself into a corner or running out of ideas before you finish. Plotting is the practical twin, always knowing what comes next and in what order the story will play out.

Pantsing is the rebellious twin who refuses to bow down to authority and give up her secrets until she’s good and ready. Some could argue that she’s the lazy twin who can’t be bothered to plan ahead, but I like the first description better, because it makes me feel better about my methods!

I think that plotters have a slight advantage because there’s no lost time worrying about what bit to add in next or wondering what to do with the odd character that was introduced early on, but who needs to be done away with later in order to make the story “tidy.”

I’m trying to be a plotter. Or, at least, that is my plan. I am plotting to plot, but not in the book I am currently working on, at least not fully. So, I guess you could say that I’m pantsing the plotting in order to get through the first book, so that I can then plot the subsequent books and make life easier for myself.

Did you get all that? 🙂

I’ve looked around, and found some really good, and some really awful, basic outlines for story-writing.  You can find a few here, and also here.

So, tell me, are you a plotter or a pantser? No judgement here, lol, just asking! Feel free to share your tips in the comment section below!

May 26

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do

What to do when you don't know what to do

What to do, what to do….

 

At some point in your writing career, you’ll probably find yourself doubting your choice of profession. If not, you can skip this post, and go be smug somewhere, sipping a latte and enjoying your confidence in your career choice.

If you are like the rest of us, you’ll find yourself doubting your sanity at least once or twice, maybe even weekly, if you’re very neurotic, like moi. I’m starting to believe that creativity comes with confusion as a package deal, at least sometimes. If you find yourself struggling with “what the heck do I do now?”, these tips will help.
Why do you write?  Ask yourself this, out loud if no one is around, and feel free to answer verbally, too. Then, write it down, like a sane person, and read your reasons. Are you writing for money, but hate what you do? Or, are you writing for passion, but not earning anything for your writing?
There’s a fix for both of these scenarios that will help you move forward.
If you dislike writing, there are so many other ways to earn money online. Spend a little time looking at your skills, and consider changing horses, so to speak.
If you love writing, but aren’t earning, look at your approach. There are many ways to earn money from your writing, but you may have to put in a little extra effort to see a payoff.
•Advertise your writing services on your own website, post ads in classifieds, and check out freelance job boards DAILY. Consistency is key to earning more.
•Sign up as a freelancer on sites such as Upwork and Elance.
•Learn how to properly market any books you’ve written. You may have written a fabulous novel, but if you don’t know how to market it, you won’t earn as much as you could.

Do you lack inspiration?  A LOT of writers seem to think that writing is all about chasing the muse, but that gal will leave you high and dry when you need her most. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can only write when you’re inspired, or you’ll never finish anything.
Instead, just write something, anything, to get your brain going. Write a blog post, describe an object in your home, or write out your shopping list, but write something. The actual act of writing can trigger all sorts of awesome brain activity, and it works whether you are trying to come up with fiction or non-fiction ideas.
Stop focusing on work for a few hours. This one works every time. Sometimes, when you think about something too much, you can overwhelm yourself. Your poor little human brain can only handle so much, then it shuts down, leaving you frustrated, grumpy, and ready to give up.
When you feel this coming on, go for a walk, grab a coffee with friends, or just take a nap. Your brain will ‘reset’ and you’ll be more likely to find a solution to your dilemma.

These tips should help you get moving forward again the next time you are at a loss for something to do. How do you get that forward momentum going again? Please share in the comments section below!

January 18

Honesty and Openness In Online Business

1280px-Pinocchio_1940

When I first started looking for ways to make money online, I was shocked at some of the really outrageous people who were trying to sell me stuff on promises that I’d “make money overnight”, or I could just buy their product and push a button in order to earn thousands of dollars. Yeah, right. Whatever! See, I might have been new to the business of earning online, but I wasn’t stupid. So, I made sure that I was super careful about who I listened to, and where I put my own hard-earned dollars.

I was immediately drawn to anyone who confirmed my own suspicions that you don’t have to spend lots, or any, money when you are just starting out. I valued the advice of people who told me to slow down, take the time to hone my skills, learn new ones, try new things, and not be afraid to fail.

I loved finding out that there were actually people who built six-figure earnings every year from patience, hard work, and being honest with their audiences. It made me feel like, “Hey, if they can do it, and they started with nothing, so can I!” So can you!

What I really wanted to say in this blog post is that not everyone who earns a living online is honest and open about how they do it. Some people sell you products and make claims that they can’t really substantiate. They make a killing selling to desperate, needy people, then move on and sell another product to a different group of desperate people once the first group catches on. Kinda like those old timey snake oil salesman, but a lot slicker.

In my experience, the best way to build an online business is to start by doing what you already know how to do, whether that’s writing, taking photos, helping people, or just being yourself. Heck, some people make good money by just being themselves and putting all in a blog, adding some ads and monetizing the whole thing.

If you don’t have any “skills”, learn some. If you can spend a few hours reading posts on Facebook or keeping up with celebs, you can spare half an hour a day to learn how to write a blog post or how to build a website.

One of the smartest people I know in online business is Tiffany Lambert. She is as honest and open as it gets when it comes to making a successful living online. She started the same way many people do…by chance. She didn’t have a clue when she started out, but she’s one of the most successful people I know now. Check her out, and take a look at people like Dennis Becker and Mike from Maine. These are all real people, just like you and me, who wanted to be successful, but didn’t really know what to do. So, they taught themselves, learned from others, and shared what they know for free or very little cost, so that we could do the same.

Even if you don’t want to make loads of money online, I recommend checking them out. Their stories are quite interesting, and they are just “good people,” as my Nanny Padgett likes to say. When I think about how I want to build my own online business, I know that I want to be the kind of “good people” that others can trust. I am learning, I don’t know it all, I mess up, I don’t make a fortune yet, but, you can trust that what I tell you is the truth. I wouldn’t want to be lied to or swindled while I’m building a business, and I promise that I won’t do those things to you, either.

How do you feel about online business people who are less than honest? Is there anyone you have had amazing experience with online that makes you think they’re “good people?” Please feel free to share in the comments section below!

January 12

Building An Online Empire In Five Bucks A Day

New_five_dollar_bill

I’ll bet you think five dollars is nothing, if you’re talking about earning money online. Spend five bucks a day, however, and you’ll see it adds up fast. Five bucks a day adds up to $25 per week, if you don’t count weekends, and who counts those? If you want to start earning money online, you need to start somewhere. Whether you want to build an online empire or simply earn a little extra money every month, these opportunities will help.

 

Write something, get paid

Were you a good writer in school, and can you still remember how to string sentences together? You can easily earn money writing for online content mills. Google the phrase ‘content mills’ and you’ll see lots of reviews, good and bad, about them, plus you’ll find several listed that are begging for writers. Some have waiting lists a mile long. My recommendation is to sign up for several, be sure to read the fine print so you’ll know how long it takes to get access to your cash, and start writing.

Some pay really poorly, some pay well, and others pay extraordinarily well. You will have to do your own research on which o;nes fit you best, but it’s how I got started and still earn a huge percentage of my income. Most importantly, it’s highly flexible…you write as little or as much, whenever you can grab work.

Writers are notoriously funny about sharing their work sources…after all, more writers means less work available, but here are a few you can try that I’ve used and that I maybe won’t get hunted down and executed for sharing. Yes, there are writer ninjas, and they will do anything to protect a source of income…

Textbroker

WriterAccess

Blogmutt

 

Do small tasks that add up to big money

Ever heard of microtasking? It’s basically where big companies hire lots of people to do small jobs to get the work done faster. My favorite microtasking site is mTurk, but there are loads of them out there, just search ‘microtasking sites’ and you’ll get a whole slew of them popping up. My only real tip is to avoid the ones that pay, like, a penny for doing something that takes ten minutes. Aim higher than earning a third of the national wage per hour, please!

Most sites let you sort the tasks by the amount they pay, and some tasks pay really well. I earned several thousand dollars last year from one site alone, primarily doing writing tasks. You can also do surveys, check how websites are functioning, do secret shopper telephone calls…the list of jobs is varied and long. A lot of them you can do while you watch TV, which is more than I can say about some jobs. 🙂

 

Do some gigs on Fiverr

Okay, so you’ll actually have to do more than one gig on Fiverr to earn five bucks, because they keep a dollar from every gig you do, but it’s a real and viable source of income for many people.

Basically, you do a service of your choice for five bucks. For example, I hire people to design book covers or make logos for five bucks, then I use them on my own products. You could do anything from dress like a chicken and dance for your five bucks to write an entire novel, if you are so inclined. I haven’t done this one much…I just haven’t had time to develop a good gig that I want to do, but I earned about $12 in under a week there before I got distracted, I mean, moved on to other projects.

Oh, and if you sell a certain number of gigs, you can add extra services like ‘speedy delivery’ for additional money, so some people end up earning $30 or more dollars per gig in very little time at all.

Fiverr

Freelancing

Okay, this is where you can really make a lot of extra money, especially if you are good at things like web design, writing, creating press releases or copywriting. I have done well with the two sites I’ve listed below, but I could do better. The key to being successful on these sites is KNOW YOUR WORTH, don’t undervalue yourself, and do a good job, on time.

People will hire you to review their books and products for them, to edit things they’ve written, to draw illustrations for them, and so much more. You can meet awesome clients from around the globe, and you get to do things you are good at, for money. Why would anyone do anything else? 🙂

Check out oDesk and Elance. These are two that I use personally…you can find my profiles on there pretty easily to see what I’ve been up to.

 

The idea for this post was inspired by Dennis Becker’s book, 5 Bucks a Day: The Key to Internet Marketing Success. It’s aimed at internet marketers, but is pretty inspirational for anyone just starting out online.

Have you tried any of these methods? Which works best for you? Let me know in the comments section, and maybe we can help someone boost their income a little. After all, a little bit every day makes a big difference!

November 20

If you want to build an online presence, you need a website

How-to-Create-a-Simple-Website-CLICK-HERE

I know some of you are reading this just to earn a little extra money. Some of you want to build a business, and still others aren’t sure what you want to do, but you know that the Internet is the place to do it, whenever you figure out what ‘it’ is!

I built my first website to promote my children’s book, “Roast Potato”. I was clueless, terrified, and convinced I’d screw it up somehow. But, I did it anyway. Yes, it took me ages because I had to learn everything by myself, and no, it’s not perfect, but I did it.

I wish I’d had help when I was trying to work out the steps, or that I’d at least had someone to reassure me that I wouldn’t completely break the internet if I didn’t do it right. Lucky for you, you can always email me if you need help, but if I were you, I’d turn to someone who knows a little more than me!

You could spend hours searching online for all the steps (like I did), or you could check out this fantastic product by my friend, Victoria Virgo.

Victoria-Virgo-photo

How To Create A Simple Website is exactly what it says, an easy to understand PDF plus videos walking you through the entire process. Victoria walks you through everything you need to know, from how to choose a domain name and what exactly ‘hosting’ is (and why you need it), to putting content on your site to share with the world.

For just under ten bucks, you can have the entire, mind-numbing experience made easy for you.

Victoria is also top-notch when it comes to internet marketing, and she is just an awesome person.

Do yourself a favor and check out her informational product. It’s one of those things that will definitely help make your start at working from home a lot less confusing, and her British accent is totally worth the cost, lol!

Let Victoria help you make your first simple website, and begin your own adventure in earning money online!

July 20

How Your Kids Can Get Free Stuff (Including Money) For Reading

read this summer

 

You’ve probably heard it said that reading is one of the most important things your kids can do to avoid the summer brain drain that affects so many children. It’s true, reading is important, and it’s awesome fun, but if your child just isn’t motivated to read during the summer months, how can you get them to pick up a book? How about free money?

I always enroll my kids in the summer reading program at our local library, where they can earn lots of fun freebies, including a free ticket to a baseball game. But when my oldest started balking at the library’s offerings, I did a little digging and found some other great summer reading programs that offer kids rewards for reading. After all, I don’t know a kid who doesn’t love to get free stuff, especially by doing something as easy as picking up a book.  Here are three that are well worth your child’s time, so break out the books!

TD Bank

TD Bank offers anyone who has a Young Saver’s account $10 just for reading ten books. Just drop by your local branch and pick up a reading log, then cash in by August 31st to get your money.

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble offers kids a choice of a free book from a list of books that they have in-store. Print off the reading log from their website and log eight books to collect the free book.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

If your child loves a little competition, this is the perfect motivation. As they read, they can clock their minutes online at the Scholastic website. They get to see how they compare to other kids when it comes to time spent reading, and they can earn virtual rewards with every book they read. Plus, they can win real prizes (books), too. Sign up online at the Scholastic website.

Go ahead and get a book in their hands, and they’ll thank you for it when they pick up all their great freebies!

June 4

Read, Kiddo, Read!

FIRST BOOK KIDS WHO READ BEAT SUMMER SLIDEEvery summer vacation I look forward to the Summer Reading program at our local library. I am a major bookworm and so is my oldest daughter, so it’s perfect for us. My favorite part? It’s free…duh. I love free almost as much as I love to read, and the library is one of our best resources for free books, movies, CD’s and magazines. Plus it has awesome air-conditioning and the Bubble Lady does her show there every summer…what more can a girl ask for?

This summer, give your kids the best vacation ever…sign them up for a library card. Get one yourself, because it is truly your ticket to anywhere you want to go. Okay, I hear some of you clicking away from this post already. You say you don’t read? Your kids don’t read? You don’t even remember what a book looks like? I’m not gonna judge. But I will try and educate you just a wee little bit….

Kids can lose a huge amount of knowledge over the summer if they don’t keep up with their reading. It’s called the ‘summer slide’ and it’s real folks. Remember how hard it was to go back to school in the fall and start all over in class? If you didn’t read all summer long, it was definitely hard to readjust to all that in-class reading. This infographic and article sums it up pretty well. But wait, there’s more!

Not only do kids who read during the summer avoid the slide, but they actually perform better on standardized tests, too. It’s a fact…reading is important!

What if you or your children don’t like to read? Well, there’s hope for you, yet. Graphic novels, comic books and audiobooks all stimulate your brain on slightly different levels. It’s not exactly the same as reading, but it’s a good second choice.

Don’t get sucked in by the Summer Slide…get your kids to the library, pronto! They can escape into a book, you can get some peace and quiet, and you’ll all enjoy the Bubble Lady’s show if she visits your local library branch. J

For some great Summer Reading suggestions for all ages, check out Read, Kiddo, Read!

Go on, get reading!