Monday, August 31, 2009

Write 'free' content - and get paid for it

If you're a freelance writer you'll know that the writing business has changed. Magazines and newspapers are going out of business, but there's still lots of reading to be found -- online. Though it's great that so much information is free for readers, where is there any money in that for writers?

Fortunately writers are still needed to write all that "free" content. A site which has generated a few shekels for me as a content writer is Constant-Content.  This site has a library of thousands of articles on just about any topic you could name. Web masters come by and purchase content from C-C for use on their sites.

Here's how Constant-Content works for writers:

1. Sign-up is free. (Writer's Guidelines - Writer's Tutorial)

2. Authors choose their own article topics or write for requests.

3. Authors price their own work according to rights sold. (They earn 65% of the asking price; Constant-Content takes a 35% commission.)

4. Articles are submitted via online form and uploaded documents.

5. Articles are checked by an editor and filtered for plagiarism before being published on the site.

6. Only a sample of the complete article is displayed online. (You, the author, determine the length of the sample - a minimum of one third is required).

7. Payment is monthly by PayPal (threshold is $5).

8. A widget is available to advertise recently written C-C content on your blog or web site (see mine in the sidebar -->).

Here is a sampling of the 19 licenses (articles) I've sold since joining Constant-Content in 2008.

- An old article that I wrote years ago, but never sold, on honey.

- A new piece about wedding rings.

- An article about "green" house-deodorizers.

- Several book reviews

- An article about showing appreciation.

So if you have an area of expertise or enjoy researching and learning about stuff and then writing about it, give Constant-Content a try.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Poetry sites galore

I got an email from someone unfamiliar the other day - delivered to "Junk" of course. I'm sure glad I dug it out of junk. It was from Accredited Online University giving me the heads-up on their site listing "100 Sites to Study, Teach and Share Poetry Online." Talk about an embarrassment of riches! Check it out:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Author as God?

One of my writer forums alerted me to a fascinating interview with science fiction writer Mary Doria Russell. America Public Media's Krista Tippett interviewed Ms. Russell for the Speaking of Faith program. Here is the introduction (from the website):

"Our guest has grappled with large moral and religious questions on and off the page. We discover what she discerned — in the act of creating a new universe — about God and about dilemmas of evil, doubt, and free will. The ultimate moral of any life and any event, she believes, only shows itself across generations. And so the novelist, like God, she says, paints with the brush of time."

Mary Doria Russell has written several books including: Dreamers of the Day, A Thread of Grace, The Sparrow and Children of God. Her website has many interesting nooks and crannies to explore as well.

"The Author as God" - Mary Doria Russell in conversation with Krista Tippett

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Poetry Portfolio

In the last while I've been mulling over the idea of assembling an online poetry portfolio. I love other just-poetry sites that I often visit - sites like Poems by C. Van Gorkom, Christian Nature Poetry, and Real Poems.

Recently Kimberley Davis, a writer I follow on Twitter, wrote a blog post about doing just that as well. Her thoughts echoed many of my own feelings (positive about posting the poems with images, for example - her portfolio is here).

This week I took the plunge and put up

(click on the graphic and be whisked away to the site)

I will mostly post poems that have already been published in other places. Of course it's not complete. I have yet to add more tabs, with pages for links, and other poetry-related goodies. I'll be adding a new poem about once a week until I run out of 'stock.'

So, if you enjoy poetry, I'd love it if you'd come by for a read!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On Writing by Stephen King (an unreview)

Title: On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner, 2000, Hardcover, 288 pages


I have just finished reading On Writing by Stephen King. I enjoyed it immensely - he came across so unpretentious and likable, not to mention all the wisdom about writing that's in it. I'm not going to write a proper review, just list some things from the book that I want to remember:

1. In order to be a good writer you have to read a lot and write a lot.

2. He wrote his books by setting a 2000 word limit per day. Most of his books took about three months to write.

3. He calls his way of plotting "situational", i.e. his stories usually start when he envisions a potential character in a situation. He doesn't outline or plot, but rather lets his characters develop as they react and interact in that situation. He asks "what if..." a lot. He stresses honesty and letting your characters be and become who they are.

4. He talks about the story developing as if one had found a bit of fossil. Telling the story is digging out that fossil.

5. His work ethic is incredible. But one gets the feeling it's not entirely a work ethic -- but a play ethic. He loves writing, believes he was destined to be a writer and couldn't have been anything else.

6. Here are some quotes from the book:
"The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better." p. 269

"Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work and enriching your own life as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy." p. 269

The book is in three parts:

Part 1- he calls his C.V. It's his growing up years and the trace of his experience as a kid, then student, and older, looking back and seeing all the evidences of his destiny as a writer as they played out.

Part 2 - his beliefs about writing and all the practical things he shares from his experience as a writer. Early on in that section he introduces the idea of a toolbox. That is essentially what he shares in that section - his views on story, plot, character, dialogue, symbol, theme, getting an agent, etc. etc.

Part 3 - tells what was going on in his personal life while he wrote the book (the middle craft part). He wrote the first part and then in self-doubt put the ms. aside for a while. In this last part he also shows how he edits his own work by quoting a partial first draft of a story and shows that same segment edited. Finally, he answers the question that people continually ask - 'What do you read?' by listing recent favorite novels he's read in the last 3-4 years ('recent' as in 2000 and before).

Reading his book has inspired me to simply spend more time writing. I've spent too much time spinning my wheels on the internet. I'd like to build up my writing muscle to do some steady and uninterrupted writing each day. He talks about the time the writer writes with the door closed as a time of creative dreaming or sleep. You block out distractions and interruptions as you would if you were physically sleeping. He suggests starting for an amount one could realistically write, and building up writing stamina as a runner conditions for longer and longer runs.

More excerpts from On Writing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

publishing surprise

The designer Metropolitan Frock didn't ask for permission to use my poem "In Stitches" on her Etsy Page - but then she attributed me as the author, and included the copyright date so I'm not complaining (I look on it as free advertising). Plus I love her clothes - so we'll call it win/win.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Book review: Mohamed's Moon by Keith Clemons

Title: Mohamed's Moon
Author: Keith Clemons
Publisher: Realms, May 2009, Paperback, 302 pages.

Beautiful medical student Layla thinks she loves Matthew Mulberry enough to accept his ring. Yet she senses there is something he’s not telling her. One day she comes face to face with Mohamed El Taher. He’s Matthew’s double but also a ghost from her past. After that, hers and Matthew’s relationship gets even more tangled. However, in Mohamed’s Moon Keith Clemons doesn’t only create a love triangle but brings the world of these Egyptian expatriates into collision with a cell of calculating killers that has infiltrated America’s highest office.

Clemons’ deft storytelling captivates as he whisks us between the present and the past, Egypt and California, and the viewpoints of Matthew, Mohamed and Layla. Through Mohamed we come to appreciate how even a belief system even intent onmurder can make sense and have a steely grip on mind and heart. Somehow using his writer’s sleight of hand Clemons makes us sympathetic toward all three of the main characters, even though two are bitter rivals.

I especially enjoyed the parts where Clemons portrayed life in Egypt. Passages like the following have earned Clemons the label “atmospheric” storyteller:

“The wind blew incessantly, painting the sky a dirty brown. It had come up suddenly, a desert storm, whipping the sand into a froth, tearing at clothes, twisting hair, and scouring lungs. The man hid behind his camel with his head buried in the animal’s thick fur, using it as a wall against the assault. Smelly matted hair, like old rugs, soiled and musty and full of ticks, but the insulation kept him alive. The beast knelt with its eyes closed its legs folded underneath, hunkered down to ride out the storm.” p. 1

Clemons deals with some significant themes – inequality between rich and poor (including the amusing irony of the Lexus-driving Mohamed pontificating against America’s wealth to his rival, who drives a beat-up VW), forgiveness, and the clash between Christianity and Islam. Mohamed is thoroughly versed in the Qur’an and he and the cavernous-eyed professor Omar quote it often. When Mohamed obtains a Bible, its message of love and forgiveness shocks him. Could this be true?

Mohamed's Moon is full of surprises and suspense – a book with a taut beginning, middle, and end that’s hard to put down. This is the first of Clemons’ five books that I’ve read, but I’d definitely read more. It’s not every day you find a writer who tackles a timely and controversial issue in a story so riveting and with such literary finesse.