Archive | June 2014

June’s Favorite Links & Why

Welcome to my end of the month feature: My Favorite Links & Why. I hope this will be a fun posting each month, both for you the reader and me, the writer!  So here goes.

For Writers


http://absolutewrite.com/forums/index.php

Abolutewrite is a hive of activity and a wealth of information. You can get feedback and information of editors, agents, publishers as well as writing tips and so much more. Here are
some of the areas. There is so much on this site, if you need an excuse not to write, here you go!

The Water Cooler is a gathering place with announcements, contests, events and more.

The Break Room has Office Party (writers goofing off and making friends), writing goals and Rejection & Dejection—tales of woe and how to deal with rejection.

love_of_books_202371General Writing Interest—Basic Writing Questions, Outwitting Writer’s Block, Blogging and Social Networking, various genre forums and more!

Discussion-Bewares, Grammar, Story Research and more

Publishing-Publishing FAQs and Resources, Ask the Agent, Ask the Editor, Self Publishing, Book Promotion and General Writing Discussions

Freelance & Work for Hire—Lots here as well

Writing Genre—The name says it all.

Pop Culture-Movies, TV & Theater, Art & Design, Bookclub, Politics, Games, and more

AW Writing Lab-Lots of labs including NaNoWriMo and Beyond

For Crafters

https://www.ravelry.com is a free site for knitters and crocheters. You IMG_3160can imput your patterns, books, magazines then do a search. You can also your imput your stash, needles, photos of projects finished and in process, etc. And you can search for patterns and find many free patterns as well as buy patterns. Great site to spend time when you’re not writing.

Time to Reorganize/Redo

I’m trying to redo and reorganize my house. I’d love to redo our bedroom. My mother lives with us and we gave her the master bedroom and turned it into a small studio. That means my king-size bed is in a 10×10 room!  Here are some bed makeovers.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/27-ways-to-rethink-your-bed
http://diycozyhome.com/27-unique-bed-ideas-for-kids-and-adults/

Have kids? Tight on space? Need guest room ideas?

http://diycozyhome.com/modern-bunk-bed-designs/
http://diycozyhome.com/whimsical-bunk-bed-ideas/

solid2

My office is the family room converted and there is no door which means my office is a free-for-all for dogs and cats. At times, it would be nice to shut the door and lock the household out! This site is intriguing and I may want one of these! Let me rephrase that.
 
  I Want One!
http://hiddenpassages.com/solid_hardwood_doors.shtml

For Fun

1sugar 4Etsy.com has a bit of everything from craft supplies and patterns to finished products in all areas that you can think of.  I have an Etsy shop. Check out my Crochet Diaper Cake. I have another one nearly ready to add.  http://tinyurl.com/kjnfxar

 

What about you? I know you must have a favorite…

Share your favorite link (or two) and tell us what you like about the site or why you like it.

Sydney

 

HAVE YOU TAKEN YOUR ONCE A SEASON BREAK?

4121303If you have children in school, you know all about breaks: Spring/Easter, Winter/Christmas, Summer Vacation, and all the other holidays, staff days etc. our schools manage. If you work outside the house, there’s those wonderful days called vacation. Many work places allow workers to take a certain amount of off days. I know one friend who calls them her mental health days—days where she can just take a day off when needed. Kids and adults alike get or take breaks and vacations or even an occasional mental health day.

Except writers.

I’ve noticed that writer’s just keep going like that little pink bunny. Writers write, even during kids’ breaks, vacations, summers, etc. We’re always struggling to find those few precious minutes to write every single day. How about going on a vacation and taking that lap top or Alpha Smart to get another few pages written? How often do you declare to the world that you are on break, or are taking a vacation? And on those breaks or vacations, do you leave the writing behind; adopt a no writing allowed rule? How about a mental health day to let to relax and refill the well?

When is the last time you, as a writer took a break or vacation? Writers spend a lot of energy
1686891 writing. It may not be physical activity but it is mental work and in my opinion, more exhausting. No eight-hour job I had ever exhausted me as much as four hours of writing. Add to that, being hunched over the keyboard, eyes glued to a screen, and yes, there is the physical effect on our bodies.

For some reason, writers don’t take breaks. Somehow, we’ve convinced ourselves that real writers write every day, no matter what. It doesn’t matter that we’ve just spent six months or a year or more slaving over a manuscript. Take a break? No way. Have to start the next book. And if the book we just turned in was under contract, then we are already behind on the marketing, promotion, and social media.

So the cycle begins anew. One book after another, without taking real-time to just relax and let our bodies recover and our minds refill and even find some balance (that’s a topic for another time). In other words, no breaks or vacations. There’s much to be said for the breaks our children receive. Shouldn’t we as writers adopt this philosophy? And don’t forget those odd mental health days. If teachers get staff days and all the holidays and such, then we should as well.

In the long run, writer are better off for taking time off. It benefits our careers and our health. There is nothing wrong with taking a month or two off after completing a book to have that summer vacation, or a few weeks off during the holidays. Of course, deadlines and contracts might suggest that your vacation or break be only a week or two.

1687179Regardless, taking time off does not mean you’re not a writer. (Where did this idea that writers must write every day to be considered a real writer come from anyway?) It means that you are in tune with your mind and body. Sure, you can go from one book to another with no time off. For a while. But if you neglect your body and mind, both will let you down when you need them the most.

Listen to your body. If the writing isn’t coming, if you rebel against placing butt in chair and fingers on keys, then maybe you’ve pushed yourself too far and need a break. How long has it been since you stole a day of play? If you can’t remember the last day you didn’t write (days where the family or work claim your time and energy don’t count.)

So take that break. A spring break or winter break or a summer break. Maybe a once a season break. How long? As long as you need.

Now, by writing this, you’d think I live by my words, right? Um, no. I seem to be going from one project to another. A write-for-hire novella, then a novella from my contract with my publisher. A circle of projects. Luckily, I can at any point schedule the work for hire out or skip a month, etc. And my contract with my publisher has four more novellas due. I figure I’ll be done in November and you can bet your first-born that I’m taking December off. I’m claiming a winter break. Of course, I say this now, knowing that I’ll need to get a proposal done for the next contract but if I’m smart and savvy I’ll get that done in November so I can have my holiday.

What do you do to refill the well? Do you take a break or jump right into the next project” What advice would you give to the work alcoholic writer?

Sydney

EROTIC FOOD OF THE MONTH: AVOCADOS

One of my favorite foods is the avocado. This fruit’s phallic shape lends itself perfectly as an erotic food. Avocado is derived from the Aztec word ahuacatl.

avocado_188851FUN FACT #1: Did you know that Aztecs once called the fruit tree the testicle tree?

FUN FACT #2: Many call the avocado an alligator pear, because of the shape, green skin, and rough texture of the Hass variety.

DID YOU KNOW: The yummy avocado is also touted as being a food good for great sex? Sex requires energy and a healthy libido and avocados can give you both! Loaded with minerals and good fats and vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids, avocados can give you that much needed energy and help keep both your energy and sex drive up and ready for bedroom activities. See below for some benefits of the avocado.

If you have a favorite avocado recipe, feel free to share and tell us your favorite way to eat this delicious fruit. I love it in salads and as a topping!

Here’s a perfect summer salad featuring our erotic avocado.

Berry Avocado Salad & Honey Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

Salad Ingredients

2 ripe Avocados (Peeled & diced)
1 package spring mix salad (5 oz.) or your own combination of lettuce
1 can mandarin oranges drained well. (11 oz.)
½  cup glazed walnuts (chopped coarsely)
½ cup sliced green onions
1 ½ cup fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or combo)
 
Dressing
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp. honey
1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
 
Instructions:
Mix lettuce, mandarin oranges, walnuts and green onions in a bowl.
Mix oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, and salt in a small separate bowl.
Drizzle over the salad ingredients in your bowl then toss until the lettuce is well coated.
Add avocados and raspberries to the lettuce mixture then toss lightly.
Grab plate & fork and enjoy a nice refreshing taste of summer
 

Some benefits of avocado:

Healthy heart                                      Lower cholesterol

Eye Health                                          Healthy Brain

Blood sugar levels                               Digestion

Blood Pressure                                    Anti-inflammatory properties

Protect against cancer                         Pregnancy-help prevent birth defects

Anti-aging properties                          Fight free radicals

Reduce stroke risk                              Cure bad breath

Great for your skin                              Weight loss

Arthritis                                               Help increase nutrient absorption

Source of dietary fiber                        No genetically modified avocado crops

Here’s a couple great articles you can read to learn more.

(This article is for fun. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions)

 Image from http://all-free-download.com/free-photos/

GHOSTWRITING SPARKS CAREER CHANGE

GHOSTWRITING LEADS TO REBRANDING 

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to rebrand myself. When the downturn in the economy hit, my publisher went out of business (Dorchester) and I found myself out in that cold, miserable world. I was an orphan with several major roadblocks:

  • My books were part of two different series which made it difficult to sell elsewhere.
  • Historicals were not doing well. Westerns were worse. And of course, I wrote Native American/Westerns
  • Publishers were not buying much. They had their current authors. Those of us out on our own faced tough times.

cropped-shutterstock_99091442.jpgMy career had come to a grinding halt. My agent managed to sell my backlist. I’d been fortunate enough to see the handwriting on the wall and had my agent get my rights back a good year before Dorchester bit the dust.

When I sold those books to Carina Press, I thought I was back. But they didn’t want any more White series books or the SpiritWalker series. So I wrote two more books in my two series for my fans/readers and started a new contemporary series. But while doing this, I needed income but an outside job wasn’t feasible as I’m a full-time caretaker for my mother. I started checking online to see what might be available. I found a blog by a writer on extra ways writers could make money.

One of the sites he recommended was Elance. I signed up thinking I might find some freelance jobs like office work or data entry. There was so many jobs, it was overwhelming, and I didn’t really find anything to fit my skills. I searched on writing and again, found tons but most of what I found, I either wasn’t comfortable doing or I didn’t have the skills or knowledge to take it on. Lots of blog writing, articles needed, website work, etc. Then I saw a job posting for ghostwriting. I searched the site on ghostwriting romance and wow! I was once again overwhelmed with tons of postings, and again, a lot weren’t good matches like a poster wanting a 65k word novel with pay well under $500.00. Really? I don’t think so! I wasn’t about to hire myself out for peanuts so I kept searching and hit the jackpot when Ishutterstock_105513959edit1 found postings seeking erotica writers.

One stood out. It was for a job of approx. 25-26k words and the poster’s guidelines stated that the proposal had to be under $300.00. We’ll I proposed just under that amount (taking into account the percentage Elance takes from her). I wrote up a formal proposal with review quotes, my awards/kudos, a sample of several of my books, love scenes of course and included an unsold erotica short story written sometime in the 90’s.

To my surprise, my proposal was accepted! Now, I’m multi-published with 14 full-length novels in the Historical Romance genre (http://susanedwards.com) but I had never sold anything less than a full-length novel (85-95K words). The change in genres didn’t worry me as my historicals tend to be very sensual and for me, writing love scenes/sex scenes is just a matter of how much, how you describe it, etc. The woman who hired me sent a story sample and some tip sheets. I read the story she sent then went out to Amazon for research (and even found the story she sent).

I found a lot of erotica authors offered book one for free then if the reader liked what they read, they could then buy the entire book. I downloaded tons of free “first books” and got a feel for the genre and the requirements of light BDSM. I wrote the novella and turned it in. The woman who hired me loved it. She sent over a transfer of copyright and within hours of sending it back signed, I had my money in the Elance escrow account! (Elance does take a small fee) Wow, I thought. For the next contract, I decided I wanted to make a bit more. I proposed a new amount and she agreed. The third contract we had, she moved me into a more elite line. Slightly longer books and she agreed to increase the pay accordingly. For me, this was a great bit of validation.

Not only did she like what I produced, but she was willing to pay more and move me up. How does this figure out pay wise? I’m getting a bit more than a penny a word and I’m trying to get my time spent writing these stories for her down to where I’ll at least make minimum wage per hour spent. It’s not great money but it’s regular. I can plan and schedule and count on what I earn. But there are pros and cons to freelance work, especially writing for hire. PROS

  • Money—you know how much you’ll get and when you’ll get it. Elance uses an escrow account so I make sure it is funded before I start the job.
  • Branch out. Learn new abilities. Great way to experiment and push your boundaries and stretch your abilities.
  • Validation. Nothing like having someone want to hire you to prove you are not washed up!
  • Seeing your book out on the market for sale even without your name on it. (yes, I’ve seen one of my stories out for sale)

CONS

  • Contract. You agreed to do the job. Now you have to write it.
  • What you agreed to be paid is all you’ll be paid. No royalties.
  • Falling in love with the story and the characters and knowing they won’t remain yours.
  • Signing the transfer of copyright ownership. Knowing the book you loved and those characters who’ve become your friends now belong to someone else. Worse than sending off your child to that first day of school. At least they come back home.
  • Seeing your book for sale with someone else’s name on the cover.
  • You do have to take time out of your own writing to write for someone else. You have to think of this as a day job and schedule it in with your regular writing.

My experience doing ghostwriting or work for hire, was a real eye opener on many levels.

  • I learned a lot about my writing and myself.
  • I discovered and proved that I could write shorter novels.
  • I kept a time sheet just like a regular job. I wanted to see what the cost to my time was and discovered I could write fairly quickly (I use Power Writing which really focuses my writing time. See previous post)
  • It was taking me approx. 40-50 hours to write a novella of approx. 30-33k words. Of course, my life doesn’t allow me to just take 40 hours in one week and crank out a book!

Aside from discovering I could write novellas and erotica, I learned how to write a lot faster as one of my goals was to cut my hours down to under 40 hours per novella. That means I need to be more efficient and treat this like a job. I know, sad that my goal is to earn minimum wage or a bit more. But the point of this endeavor for me was bringing in additional income.shutterstock_108382202 But ghostwriting did so much more. I discovered I had the talent and ability to write erotica. I squeezed in time to write my own erotica novella (Cinderella & Her Dom, sold to Wild Rose Press).

Even better, I created a six book series (Once Upon a Dom, a fairytale series). This is when I realized that I’d rebranded myself. I thought I was writing erotica to earn money until I sold a contemporary. Instead, I fell into a career change.

Often, we find what we need when we’re not even looking. I had no idea when I sent off that first free-lance proposal that I was embarking on a new career or that Sydney St. Claire would be born. Because I was open to, and willing to, learn and try something new, I have a six-book contract for a new series with a new publisher.

Will I continue to ghost write? For a while. At some point, I’ll be way too busy but for right now, its money in the bank, proof that I’m not washed up and speaks to the old adage that an old dog can learn new tricks. A writer can rebrand him/herself. In the meantime, life is busy and exciting, exactly as I like it!

How about you? Have you ever had an experience lead you into something new and wonderful? If you are an author who had to rebrand yourself, how did you do it? What did you learn from it? Would love to hear from you!

Sydney