3 tips About Dealing with Criticism

I think one of the things that scares writers the most is criticism. I am not just referring to the constructive criticism we like to get but also that comment or complaint haunting our book’s page.

Criticism can be both a blessing and a curse as it exposes your work from the vacuum of your own mind to the thoughts and ideas of the rest of the world.

The biggest reason that authors struggle with criticism is that our writing is an extension of ourselves and we have a tendency to take any positive or negative comment and apply it to ourselves.

Here are a few tips that could help you cope with feedback.

1) Though important, take feedback with a grain of salt. Everyone has their own opinion of writing just like art. If you feel the feedback is just taste, then you can safely move on.

2) If the feedback has points, consider them. Our profession is unending and we are always learning. Your commenter may have some valuable insight that you would have never considered.

3) Ignore the trolls. This is, after all, the internet. There are people who take great pleasure in attacking people for the sake of attacking. If their review is unfair and you can respond, do so in a calm manner. The response is not for the troll but for the future readers that might stumble on your work.

Above all, remember, if you like your work, that is the most important part. It is good to take your reader’s thoughts in mind as they are paying customers in the indie world but the integrity of the work is yours.

Have any thoughts, comments or stories when it comes to feedback? Let me know if the comments below!

What I hated about Freelancing


It has been awhile since I released anything to my blog and that is because I have been blessed with a career change that was not so draining upon my ability to think. After spending six months in total as a freelancer, I have made quite a few discoveries that anyone thinking about the job should consider.
It sucks trying to hunt down new gigs
The hardest part and what I hated the most was hunting down gigs that I could apply for as many times the gigs out there are from people who do not understand how much an author really costs and so has high expectations for little to nothing in cost.
For every ten applications I submitted, maybe two or three would be nibbles and then one would be for sure but the problem was for every one job I picked up, two finished leaving me behind by one. As I was unemployed and doing this as a means to live, it was a challenge to get all the bills paid.
People demanding masterpieces for a Pittance
This irked me the most. Not because I was greedy and expected people to pay me a lot (as of 2016, the minimum a freelancer should expect is .02 cents per word or $10.00 for 500 words) but there were people contacting me who wanted a 50,000 word novel for only $100 dollars and a timeline of one week including second draft and editing.
Every time I said, “You do realize a good piece of work can take up to six months to write, especially when you are only providing me with a 50-worddescription of the entire story”. The usual response to this was both silence and a lost job or “We can find someone else if you don’t want it” which had me respond, “Go ahead and good luck getting anything decent.”
I can understand people who want to get a decent deal and are usually funding out of their own pocket but at some of the prices offered, it’sdownright robbery and an insult to a writer.
All the Extra Fees
As a beginner freelancer, I am forced to work on projects like freelancer.com or upwork.com and there they charge you a percentage of your income just for getting a job. A lot of these places even charge the client who is trying to hire and so both sides are losing money for the third party service. This, in itself, is not a bad thing because third party companies need money to keep going but it is very hard when you’re hired to write a 500-word article at $10.00 and have to give 20% of that to Upwork for their services. (Take a look at their sliding scale for more information).
The only place I ever found that never did that was writeraccess.com and as of 2017, I highly recommend them. They have a steep application that proves that you can write before letting you onto their program but they only charge the client and not the freelancer for work.
It’s great as a side business
Freelancing is fun, do not get me wrong. I just struggled with it as a full-timeoccupation and it gave me a lot of nights where I just stared at the ceiling trying to figure out what to do the next day. I still do it as a part-time hobby because I could never truly get out of that world but I know longer feel the need to apply to some job because I need the money they are offering.
So, if you are still considering getting into the world of freelancing, try to take these things to heart because at one point you will find yourself staring at the screen wondering a lot of these questions yourself.
What do you think? Did you have a good/bad experience or advice for others? Share it in the comments!

So…You Want to be a Freelancer: Let’s Make Sure You’re Ready


If you have been aspiring to be a writer like I have been for quite a number of years, you have dreamed up this amazing life where you write for a living and can enjoy the awesomeness of creativity. What I am writing to tell you (and what so many writers before me have said) is that the vision you see, does not exist till a long way down the road.
So, you want to be a Freelance Writer is the first step in a series of articles I plan to write on my blog that can give an aspiring writer like yourself an introduction in to the world of freelancing. I have had some ups and downs entering it myself and wanted to share those difficulties with you.
Let’s Get This Straight
Just so there is not any misunderstandings, I want to explain to you exactly what type of freelancing I am referring to. With the advent of social media and the desire of many companies to have blogs a long with their products and services, it has opened up an amazing market of writing that they need filled.
The freelance writing that has the money in it is not the creative writing of short stories and novels like you might think, but the dry copy writing or marketing articles, advertisements and ghost writing. It’s dry, long, and sometimes you just stare at the screen thinking, “How am I supposed to put this article together?”
Honestly, I have come to enjoy working on these types of writings. Instead of taxing my creativity side, these types of articles spend more time taxing my analytical side as it seems to be more of a puzzle to put the research I have done together.
How Do I Start?
The first thing you need to do is to repeat this four times. “I’m not going to make a lot of money at the start”. If you have a day job, I highly suggest you keep it until you are making enough money in your writing to justify leaving. At this point, I have been doing freelancing on and off for six years and still require a day job. Freelancing is pretty much what buys me my toys.
After that, you need to make sure you have the grit and determination to stick with it even when the going gets tough. You will reach a point where you just don’t want to write anymore and that’s not an option. Your money is reliant on you putting out a product and making sure that product is the way the client wants it, not the way you want it.
Finally, the last metaphorical preparation you should do is to be ready for failure. Starting out, you may not give an avalanche of work and you might have to go for a job that is a bit lower in pay than you want. This job is not an instant success story and if you think it is, I would recommend against starting it. Like any business you are starting, it takes time, effort, and diligence to build it up in to anything worthwhile. If you still with it and you have an iota of talent, you could be on the way to a great career!
I’ll cover more in the specifics to the freelancing world in the next post, so stay tuned!

So, I’ve been Freelancing and Noticed Something…


For those of you who do not know, I have recently upped my game when it comes to the freelance writing market with quite a bit of success. I have a good handful of clients that provide work on a regular basis and enough one time jobs to keep me happy. It has been a very interesting experience to delve in to the world of the freelance and wanted to share something that came to mind. 
For anyone reading this who has done freelancing before, you probably can relate to the fact that many of the clients out there on the website like upwork.com and writeraccess.com offer well below the value of what your work is worth. 
At present, the lowest side of the pay is .02 cents per word which amount to $10 dollars per 500 words. In my browsing of the freelance market, I have found clients who want 1,500 to 2,000 words for only $5 or $6 dollars. For every one good job I have found to apply for, there were seven or eight that were just ridiculous in their demand. 
More and more I have found that people who utilize something that is considered art, are routinely never really given credit or value for your work. A good artist friend Kathleen Ruhl has told me about times that clients want expensive work for pennies on the dollar. 
Do not get me wrong, a lot of freelancers are not greedy or want to charge an arm and a leg, but on the flip side clients and people who want to hire a writer or artist need to understand a lot goes in to their work. An artist has to pour their time and creativity in to their pieces while writers put a lot of mental energy in to the pieces they turn out. At the end of the day, I have found myself really exhausted and unable to write the things I want to write due to having to complete an essay or blog someone hired me for. 
What is the point of my little article? If you are a person looking to hire a freelancer, I am not trying to damn you for looking for a deal, but on the other end of the equation, remember that your freelancer goes through a lot to provide you a quality piece and what you pay is truly what you get. 
Do you want to know more about what freelancers go through? I highly recommend taking a look at http://clientsfromhell.net/ for some idea what we have to go through.

Meet the Villains

“She had always found villains more exciting than heroes. They had ambition, passion. They made the stories happen.” Soman Chainani, The School for Good and Evil

Before I start I would like to thank Jonathan Snyder for allowing me to write a guest post on his blog. It’s a great honor for me, and I hope you will enjoy this little excursion.

Villains are the spice of the stories we read, the movies we watch, the campfire legends we are told. But writing a villain is a really difficult thing to do! Why is that? For me personally it is, because I have a problem to identify with them. We meet people we can use as a blueprint for characters all the time, but how many villains do we meet to do the same?

We might know the one or other bitch or jerk, someone who makes your life hard, a poor misunderstood soul or someone who had a bad day. That is a good start. But usually when we meet them, it is a rather one-sided and subjective image we paint them in. What would make them an effective counterpart in a story?

I’ve been thinking and researching, talked with readers and authors and have compiled a small check-list that helps me to determine if my villain is someone I’d be interested in reading more about.

  • One dimensional villains often get boring.
  • To do evil just to do evil makes it hard to identify with them, which also can lead to disinterest in reading their parts. There are stories of course in which that is appropriate – use your best judgement.
  • Villains need a motive. That ties in with the last item, but even if someone is evil to be evil, they have a reason for it. He it mentally, something in their past, a certain trigger etc.
  • Nobody is born evil. Show what made this happen.
  • Villains are people too. Sometimes we want to know more about them. Their life, their thoughts, the ins and outs. In some cases the villain is just a regular person, that nobody would suspect, so show that environment.
  • Some readers also mentioned that they want to understand villains and why they do what they do. That ties in with some of the points I have mentioned.
  • Make the villain believable. If s/he has special powers, make sure they fit in the setting. If they have super skills make sure to explain how they got them. They also make mistakes, don’t be afraid to show that, it is a great tool for character building. Even a villain does not ‘magically’ know everything about the hero and their plan. They had to have time to research and plan. Where did they get their information from and so on.
  • There is no black or white. Not everyone is only good or only evil. Actually that’s a rarity. So sometimes you want to make your reader guess, or surprise them about who your villain is.
  • When it comes to the Villain / Hero interaction there are two things that have been mentioned many times, which I personally find important as well:
    • A villain who cannot be beat, gets frustrating. It is no fun for the reader to see that no matter what the hero does, they fail because the villain just is perfect and too strong. Make sure that there is a way to beat him at his game. He is fallible to and might make a small mistake, or a big one. Either way don’t make him unbeatable.
    • A villain who loses at the Hero’s first attempt, is boring. He wouldn’t be a good villain if he can’t even hold out for that long. That just makes him a regular person who is not very smart.
    • So a balance is important: Not too strong, not too weak. Enjoy some cat and mouse play between them, make it smart and interesting, but don’t stretch it out too long or make it impossible to beat. If you plan on a re-occurring bad guy, let the hero have small victories and the villain learn from them. But in the end the bad guy should be beatable, unless you plan on a story that ends with the hero being the loser that is.

Some of these might make you wonder. Why should a villain be relatable or why should I understand them? Please note that every kind of story can have a different kind of villain to work with. For me personally there are a few types of villain that I enjoy to read about:

  1. The kind of villain that makes me want to crawl into the story to beat the crap out of them.
  2. The kind of villain, that makes me hate to hate them. Someone that I can relate to, understand and think ‘But he had a good reason!’ or ‘It was a good cause’.
  3. Someone who is like me, faced the same hardships or others that I can relate to.
  4. The surprise villain. Someone I had not expected to be ‘it’, but when I think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

All of these are pretty vague and can be about anyone in any role in any kind of story. Different examples for villains I have found all over the net and the list varies depending on who writes it. Neither list is finished by any means, they can be pretty extensive. Tastes are different but pretty much everyone has this one thing in common:

Make the villain interesting!

The Staff (Belaria Series #1) Review

The Staff (Belaria Series #1)
Science fiction and fantasy. They are the books that I like the most so when A.J. Chaudhury’s Belaria Series came up for review, I was optimistic in trying it. To say the least, I was not disappointed. The first book of the series deals with the main character Charlz as he gets caught up in a conspiracy around the Staff of Belaria. I’m not going to go in to detail, but it is an exciting story filled with twists and turns like you would not believe. 
What stands out the best to me is how Mister Chadhury created a fantasy world the feels familiar, yet exotic thanks to the influence of his own country of India. The Staff is a great story to curl up by the fire with and read and an author to continue to pay attention to. 

Sra’Kalor (Ashwood Falls #1) Review

Sra’Kalor (Ashwood Falls #1)

I am not a big supernatural fantasy fan, but I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised in what I found in those pages. A good friend of mine asked me to read her book and it turned out to be a great suggestion! Jessica Werner’s Sra’Kralor, the first book in the Ashwood Falls series is a very interesting take on the supernatural creatures living in our world theme. It follows the story of Alana who has a mysterious ability that her family cannot deal with and when she turns eighteen, she is placed on a bus and sent to the nearby city of Ashwood Falls. If she thought her life could not get stranger, she would be in for a big surprise.

Jessica Werner has a very short way of saying things, but packs a lot of meaning in each word she chooses. Though English is not her first language, you can tell that Jessica is doing her best to capture her world in a foreign language. At times you can tell, but not enough to take away from the story. It is an adventure that any supernatural romance reader would love to add to their read lists and one you should not miss out on.

For those who have read the first release, I highly suggest giving the book a second try as it has become a great piece of writing!

Facing those Insurmountable Odds

Have you ever decided something and when you finally sat down to put it in to action, you were completely struck by the insurmountable odds in front of you? Well, that is what just happened to me when I decided to not only get back in to writing, but also to try and make it pay. I have always loved writing and after a recent string of jobs that I just could not fit in, it dawned on me that it might be time to try my hand at something that I once loved.

The hard question is, could I do it? For so long, writing had been my only passion and now it has be reduced to a bunch of scribbles on the back of receipts. The feeling of creation had completely left me and some days I just stare at a blank page just wishing the words would come out of my fingers. Could that ever happen again?

I sometimes wonder if it is that line that all writers hit. When you move away from looking at it as a hobby and an “art” to realizing it has to be a business if you plan to make money at it. Sometimes I wonder if I cannot accept the fact that writing is going to be a chore and inspiration is never going to hit me every time I sit down at my computer to tap words out.

So, why is this blog on the failing writer that I am? Well, this blog post is the first step into the New Year to go from being a scribbler on the back to receipts to a freelance writer who has gotten a renewed love for writing. I want to get back the excitement and the adventure of this wonderful craft and leave behind the awful, horrible, writer’s block that has haunted me for years.

So, this is to my future freelance career and I hope you all (if anyone is out there reading this) will join me for the ride! 

My First Published Story of 2014!

You know those days where nothing seems to be going right? The days when your projects are behind, life has decided to kick you in the face multiple times, AND you spill your favorite pop all over your favorite shirt? (Of course it’s a blue shirt and a dark pop). That is what has been happening to me for a few weeks, but something exciting has happened and I’m glad to share!

I have published my first story for 2014! It’s the first part of a serial I plan to work on all year and you can find it here:

http://www.jukepopserials.com/home/read/1835

If you are interested, please take a look, comment, vote and give me your feedback. It’s only through help that I will be able to improve and become a better writer. You’re support, though invisible, is essential. I appreciate every bit you all give me!

Thanks!