Sunday, May 31, 2009

Help with Grammar, Conciseness and Much More

Hi all,

Well, we survived my daughter's graduation as well as the many relatives and friends who attended the open house and had a great time. Our daughter graduated with honors and also already has one year of college under her belt, thanks to the wonderful PSEO program through the high school for honor students. She will be attending college in the fall right here in our town and we are very proud of her accomplishments. Now that all the hoopla is over, I can get back to my writing and my blog.

Before I begin my series on novel writing, I wanted to pass an important site along to all of you writers in case you haven't already found it. It is called "Owl at Purdue" and contains almost everything you need to help you with your grammar, conciseness, sentence structure, proper word use and just about everything else. Even seasoned writers find they have to look up a word or the use of a word now and then. Or perhaps you need a refresher course on commas, semi-colons or quotation marks. Maybe you need help with when to use italics instead of quotation marks. Whatever you need you will find it at this website. Click on the title to go to the site, then click on the "Professional Writers" link in the box on the left. You will find a list of items that can help you with your writing. You may want to bookmark this site so you can use it over and over again. It is also a good site for middle and high school students to use.

I hope to begin my series on novel writing this Monday or Tuesday, so be sure to come back and visit. I hope all of you have your own novels out and ready, or for those of you just starting a novel, get that computer fired up! We can help each other finish those novels!


I now have five articles on Suite101 and so far I find it a good experience. I like that the editors there expect a well-written aritcle in a consistant format and that they do flag an article that does not follow their standards. I have only had one of the five flagged, my first one, and since then have not had to edit any of the others. They have very specific guidelines, but that makes it easier because you know what is expected of you. I would recommend this site to anyone who has had experience writing and who has the time to fulfil the contract obligations of at least 10 articles every 3 months. While I cannot discuss in detail how much they pay, I can say that the pay is higher than Associated Content. However, you will need to publish several articles before you see it pay off fairly well. It is a good experience and a great way to generate a portfolio of articles.

Demand Studios

As if I don't have enough to do, I recently applied for, and was approved for, a position as a writer for Demand Studios. This site offers work to write articles for various sites around the Internet. They post articles that are needed and the payment they will pay you for each article. The prices they pay that I have seen so far are between $5.00 - $20.00 per article, depending upon the type of article it is. They review the articles after you submit them and then pay you each week. There is a wide variety of articles to choose from at any given time, so it looks to be a great place for writers. I have not yet chosen or submitted an article for payment, but will tell you how it goes after I have.

The application process for Demand Studios is quiet detailed, so be prepared to have a writing sample and a resume available to download. Also, be prepared to wait anywhere from one week to two months to receive a response to your application. I was lucky, they notified me in less than 4 days. Once you are accepted you are also asked for tax information as they send out 1099's if you earn $600 or more in one year.

As I learn more about this site, I will share it with you.

Happy writing,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer's Coming - Juggling Kids and Writing

Hi all,

It's summer and the kids are home from school which leaves you even less distracted time to write. Guest author Virginia Williams shares ideas on how to find time to write while still keeping the children happy and occupied.

Happy writing


Summer's Coming - Juggling Kids and Writing

By Guest Author: Virginia Williams

Summer vacations are just around the corner, and if you’re like me, you’re wondering how you’re going to juggle writing while your kids are home for the summer.
I’ve been attempting to balance a writing career with kids for eight years now, and while it’s always a challenge to do the best I can for my kids and my writing, there are ways to make summer a little less stressful.
I’m not going to suggest babysitters, mother’s helpers or summer camps in this post—I imagine, if you’re reading this, you’ve checked out all those options and are facing a large chunk of unscheduled time at home with kids. Following are my ideas for making it through the summer while keeping your kids—and you—happy.

1. Designate one day a week as a non-working day. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I find that giving myself one day to run errands and do chores around the house allows me to focus better on my writing on working days. Schedule in some fun time with your kids—maybe a trip to the ice cream store, running through the sprinkler, blowing bubbles—after everyone has helped with chores.

2. On your writing days, pull out a kitchen timer and set it for as long as you think your kids can manage without you. If you have preschoolers, this will probably be 30-45 minutes, though if you’re lucky, you might get a whole hour. Tell your kids that when the timer rings, you’re theirs. When the timer goes off, spend time reading or playing with them for 15 minutes or so (setting the timer again if you need to), then go back to work for a little bit longer. They’ll be much happier if they know you’re going to pay attention to them when the timer rings than if you tell them, “I’ll play with you soon.”

3. Never underestimate the power of cold, hard cash. I’m not talking big bucks here; coins tend to work for my elementary-school age child. I give her some extra, simple chores around the house: one recent chore was picking dandelion flowers out of the yard before they went to seed. For every flower she picked, she got 5 cents, and I got a little extra time to get things done.

4. Take a good, hard look at everything you do in a week, and see what can be eliminated, designated to a spouse, partner, or older child, or rearranged. Can you get up earlier to write, or stay up later at night? Take work with you to do while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, haircut or child pick-up. Eliminate those time wasters (and I know you have them! I sure do), like web surfing, online game playing, and the like.

5. Get organized. I am the queen of disorganization, but I find when I can get myself together enough to make a list of what needs to be done, I am much more productive. Every evening, I make a list of what I need to work on the next day. This eliminates so much wasted time, flitting from one thing to the next and ending the day feeling I’ve accomplished nothing. When I’m particularly organized, I prioritize my list into three categories: things that absolutely, positively must get done that day, things I need to complete in the next 2-3 days, and things it would be good to get to sometime (like deep cleaning the fridge).

I wish all you writing moms a great summer of writing and having fun with your kids! And, if you don’t own it already, I highly recommend you get Christina Katz’s very useful book, Writer Mama, from Writer’s Digest books (some of the tips I’ve mentioned you’ll find here). It is the book for writing moms (dads, too!) everywhere.

About the Author: Virginia Williams writes at home with two kids, two cats, and one very understanding husband. She is working on her first book, a memoir, and her writing website can be found at: Her blog,, is for parents who have lost a baby to stillbirth.

Fun Article to Read

Hi everyone,

While I am waiting to have more time to delve into my series on novel writing, I'd like to share with you an article I wrote several years ago for Minnesota Parent. Actually, it is more of an essay, and it is about a family vacation we took and the things that happened to us, some funny, some inspirational. It's a fun little story that I've sold over and over to many regional parenting magazines and have recently placed on Associated Content. Please click the title so you can read this story: "Two Children, Mount Rushmore and 5000 Harleys"

I am not just trying to get clicks for the article, I just thought you'd enjoy reading it.

Happy writing,


Friday, May 22, 2009

Excuse my Absence & Suite101

Hi all,

I have one week to go and all the cleaning, planning and food prep will be done and graduation (my daughter's) will be over and the relatives will be gone. I will then be able to get back to all of you and start my series on novel writing. Until then, think about the novel you would like to write, the novel you may already have started or the one you are half-way through. Get out your notes and pages and get ready to join me as I also dust off the laptop and resume writing my novel. Maybe we can all finally complete our novels by summer's end.

My first post about novel writing will be on the "idea" for your novel. Be sure to come back and visit after next week and read the first installment.

I have also been working at adding articles to my Suite101 account. I'm starting with easy articles and working my way up while I get the hang of the site. So far I am impressed by the site and how they strive for the best information possible. You can view my articles at:

Happy writing,


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Writing Site Suite

Hi all,

I thought I would talk a little about the writing site Although I am no expert, and would love if any Suite101 writers add comments, I have been learning about the site and will tell you what I know so far.

Suite101 is a site where writers who have been accepted can write articles and earn money through the advertising revenue the site makes.  The information on the site does not give exact details about payment until you are accepted as a writer, only that if you have posted several articles on the site then you have the potential of earning good money. The first hurdle, however, is to be accepted as a writer.

Applying to Suite101

Months ago I began an application with Suite101 and then never got back to finishing filling it in so I went there recently, signed in and finished it up. The application process includes choosing three topics that you would like to write about from their list of topics. There were several to choose from, and you need to choose in the order of interest to you.

The next step is to write a short resume about your education, experience and expertise on the subjects you have chosen. They do not want a professional resume, just a quick rundown on your experience as a writer and in the field of interest of the topics you have chosen.

After this you need to paste two articles you have written and/or published that relates to the first topic of interest you chose. This is so the editor can decide if you have the writing talent they need for the site.

The next part of the application is to list websites or media publications where you have been published. It looked as if you could list as many as you wanted to. I listed several on mine.

Once you submit your application, then you wait. The site said that your application will be reviewed within 48 hours and you will be notified if you have been accepted or declined.

Suite101 Terms

If you are accepted as a writer for Suite101, you will then sign a contract stating that you agree to all of their terms. The main terms being:

  1. You agree to publish at least 10 articles every three months.
  2. You will be paid monthly as long as your account has reached $10 or more. Payment from previous months will be held over until you earn $10, so you will not lose money even when you cannot be paid.
  3. You agree to give Suite101 Exclusive Digital Rights to all of the articles you write for them for one year from publication date. After that you are free to publish elsewhere.
There are more terms, but these are the most important.

The first article you write for Suite101 will be reviewed by an editor before publication, and once it is ready will be published. After this, it sounds like you can publish articles without going through an editor first, but they do read the articles and will contact you to give advice on how to make them better if they feel you need to. Understanding SEO writing and keyword placement is very important at this site to generate as much traffic to your articles as possible.

The one thing that was cloudy to me in the explanation was if you have to write only on one topic or if you can write on several topics. On the application it said to choose your topic of choice, but that you wouldn't be locked into this topic later on. But the site looks to me as if you have to write on only one topic. Maybe there are some Suite101 writers out there who can clear this up for me.
This site sounds like it is a good place for both novice and seasoned writers as long as you have a good grasp of grammar and the topic you are writing about. I'd love to hear from any experienced Suite101 writers as to how well the pay is and how they like writing for the site.

As for now, I have submitted my application and will see if they will accept me. Could be a blow to my ego if they do not, but we will see. I love finding new outlets for my writing, but making money is good too! I'll let you all know if I am accepted and how it goes.

Update 8/25/10: Suite101 has changed some of their rules for writing for their site.  They no longer have a minimum amount of articles you have to write in order to keep your writing position there.  They also now allow you to write articles in second person as well as the previous third person.  This will make it easier to write articles, especially in topics such as travel and parenting.  Any other previous rules will stay the same. :)

Update: I was accepted at Suite101 as a contributing writer within 24 hours of my application. Now I have to sign a year's contract with them and go through their tutorial. I will let you know when I actually post an article there. This may be interesting. :)

Update 5/18/09 - I have decided to write for Suite101 for awhile and see how it goes. After reading all of their material after signing the contract, I now see that as a writer for Suite101 you cannot discuss payment as well as other parts of the site or you can be let go. So I will honor my contract and not disclose this information. But, I did find out that as a contributing writer I can write on any subject I wish; I am not locked into one of the topics I put on my application. If I want to try to be an expert on a particular subject, I can limit my topics, but that may not be the best way to earn money. I also really like the format that they want for all articles - it is more like magazine and newspaper format instead of internet style. They want you to use sources and show those sources, which I like to do.
I would suggest that anyone who enjoys writing look into this site further. They seem to have a good writing ethic and I think writing there will pay off in time.

9/22/09 - Update Suite101 - I have been writing for Suite101 for a few months now and it does appear to be a good site to make residual income.  It takes awhile to build up your articles and income, but like any residual income site, after you have a good catalog of articles the money gets better and better.  This would be a good site for anyone with polished writing skills and who likes researching intersting topics.  Last month a Suite101 writer earned $5,000 in residual income for the month.  Persistance at this site does pay off.

Happy writing,


More on this topic:

Suite101 Update

Sticking with Suite101

Suite101 Continues to Grow

2012 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market (Novel and Short Story Writer's Market)

Write Moms Blog Has Won an Award!

Hi all,

Thanks to Camryn Hartle of Mean Mommy University I have been awarded the "One Lovely Blog Award". Thanks Camryn. You definitely have to check out her site - it is crazy and fun.
Now that I have been awarded this honor, I am asked to nominate 15 blogs for this honor also. I will review all of the blogs I have been following in the next couple of days and then make my nominations. If you'd like to be considered for nomination, leave a comment and I will come visit you.
Happy Writing,
So far I have chosen these sites:
I will be adding more today and tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Conquering Writer's Block

Hi all,

As a writer it always seems that it is feast or famine - we may have days where we seem to have an endless supply of ideas and inspiration for articles, then suddenly it all dries up. How do we get our creativity back? Here are a couple of articles that may help you when you experience writer's block.

Happy writing,


Four Tips For Writers - Where To Find Ideas
By Donovan Baldwin
Many people watching a writer at work probably wouldn't even realize that he or she was actually working. While the physical act of putting words on paper or into a computer is easy to recognize as "work" one of the hardest parts of any writer's task is not always coming up with the words to express an idea. For many of us, the most difficult part is coming up with an idea to write about!
While creativity is generally believed to be something that someone is born with, and maybe it is, everybody has some sort of creative streak matter how well hidden. The trick is to find ways to tickle that creativity so that it produces at least the germ of an idea. Many writers and artists find that once they have the initial hint of an idea, the work, whether it be a book or a statue, almost reproduces itself.
Below are 4 tips on how to wake up the sleeping giant of creativity within and put it to work.
1. Yoga and Meditation - Alternative Routes to Creativity
Most people want to attack a problem head on. For the artist or writer, however, that approach often just creates another problem. Do the words, "writer's block" mean anything to you? Hmmm? It seems that the harder we try to attack the creativity problem the harder and thicker the wall becomes between the conscious mind and the ideas that may be lurking just on the other side.
Yoga, meditation, long walks and other such physically relaxing and sometimes demanding activities actually tend to dissolve the barriers and allow us to access the ideas that have been hiding behind them. Here's another way to think of the process. Imagine ideas as small animals which become frightened and curl up defensively when they realize we are hunting them. When we appear to be ignoring them, they uncurl and expose themselves to our subconscious which in turn puts them on a fast elevator up to the conscious mind where they seem to appear out of nowhere.
2. Creativity Is Your Job - So Show Up For Work
Back in school, we were given study tips that often included this one; study at the same time and in the same place. That sounds a little like "showing up for work". Freelance writers in particular often fall prey to not having a place to go to and a time to be there. Of course, if the flash of brilliance comes at two in the morning, at breakfast, or while you are having sex, that's when you should write it down. Okay, delay that last one a little bit.
On the whole, however, to produce a somewhat steady stream of creativity, not to mention the output which should result there from, it is important to prepare an "office", even if it is a table on your patio. That's where you show up and expect your creative muse to meet you. Dock its pay if it is late.
3. Ideas Are Everywhere - Be Prepared For Them
In this crazy business of writing, or painting, or sculpting, ideas are all around. The secret is catching and keeping them. The chance comment of a friend, a sound bite on a TV news show, an obituary, the neighbor's new car, the local high school football team, your spouse's opinion on the TV sound bite, a paragraph in a chapter in a second hand book you bought for $2.99. That glimmer of an idea that later becomes a book, a poem, an article, or a short story can be found in any of these.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that once you catch on to this, you will find yourself with more ideas than you can remember or develop at any given moment. That's why you want to have a notebook, diary, or journal to jot down the basic idea and a quick development if that's available. You might also want to invest in a small recorder so that you can dictate ideas while driving or at other times that writing might be difficult. This could be a good idea if you have ever had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with a fantastic idea, gone back to sleep, and then woke again in the morning to find that you have completely forgotten what it was.
4. Your Brain Is Already Full Of Ideas - Put Your Built-In Search Engine To Work
Your subconscious is a brown-noser. It just can't wait to show you what it's done for you while you were sleeping or busy with another problem. As you lay in bed at night waiting to fall asleep, tell it forcefully and directly to come up with some ideas while you're asleep. This is not 100% perfect, but it will produce fruit from time to time. Unfortunately, the ideas often appear in the middle of the night (see tip #3) although you will often awaken with a great idea.
By the way. Have you ever heard about great discoveries being made while people sleep? Many of these stories are true.
It often happens that concentrating on a problem and then letting go of it to work on other things often produces the same effect as "sleeping on it". More than one bright idea has occurred to someone after they let go of the problem that they were working on. While you are asleep, our brains are busy with the work of replenishing the various neurotransmitters wihc organize our neural networks which are essential to our remembering, learning, performance and problem solving. This activity includes tracking down and organizing seemingly random pieces of data into ideas!
There you are! Four tips just like I promised.
Oh! Where did I find the inspiration fot this small article on creativity?
Well, I was reading some notes I had made about a year ago, and....
Donovan Baldwin is a Central Texas writer. He is a University of West Florida alumnus (BA Accounting 73), a member of Mensa, and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. His interests include nature, animals, global warming, health, fitness, and weight loss. He has posted several articles on fitness and weight loss at
About the Author: Donovan Baldwin is a Dallas area writer. A graduate of the University of West Florida, Pensacola (1973), member of Mensa, and retired from the U. S. Army, he writes essays, articles, poetry, and product reviews for use on his own website, and for other webmasters. His blog on internet business and marketing, and related subjects, can be found at
Defeating Writer's Block
By Amanda Baker

If you're a writer, or a student, or anyone who's ever felt the desire or need to write, you know all about the dreaded thing known as writer's block. You sit at the computer, or you're at your desk with a pad and pen, ready to write. But nothing happens. Your mind is drawing a complete blank. You feel as if you'll never be able to string even five words together into something coherent. It's a tragic problem and many experience it. The sad thing about this particular monster, is that once it's bitten, it sinks its teeth in and begins to work its way into your mind. If you don't defeat it immediately, it can be around for quite some time. You'll find yourself thinking "why can I write anything?"
There are a few fabulous techniques for slaying this particularly ugly monster: Just write! Write absolutely anything, even if it doesn't pertain to what you want to write. It doesn't matter how bad it is, it's just important to continue. Even if doesn't even make sense! Who knows? Somewhere in all of the mess, there might be a few incredible pieces!
Take a walk! If weather permits it, a walk outside just might help you, as something you see might break the wall that's holding those good ideas hostage.
Remember when you were in kindergarten? That's right, take a nap! Some of the best ideas come from dreams. And it's been said that we often dream the solutions to our problems.
Meditation is an easy task, even if you've never practiced it before. There are many reliable resources that can teach you how to meditate. Like taking a nap, meditation offers the ability to quiet the mind long enough to find a solution or an idea.
Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! Do some yoga or aerobics, or maybe go to the gym and walk on a treadmill. While you're at it, observe the other people in the gym. See if that doesn't jog your brain into giving up those great ideas.
Sometimes, it just helps to talk to another writer. There's an expression that many authors use - "Only another author would really understand this." It's true - it's hard to explain to someone who doesn't write how sometimes our minds and our muses just don't want to work with us when it comes to our writing and coming up with great ideas. So, call another writer friend and talk about your writer's block. Sometimes two heads really are better than one.
It doesn't matter if you're writing a research paper, a love letter, or the next great international bestseller - everyone suffers from writer's block now and then, even people who don't consider themselves writers! The important thing to remember, no matter what option or techniques you use, is not to let the writer's block defeat you. You have to destroy the monster!
Amanda Baker writes for All Things Pondered:
About the Author: Amanda Baker writes for"> as well as and

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Freelance Writing Job Sites

Hi all,

I've come across a couple of sites that offer freelance writing job resources and/or writer's guidelines for several magazines of varying interests. Sometimes these sites can be difficult to navigate so you may have to dig a little. I searched through them and found some really good resources for freelance writers. Here are the sites: - This site is basically a clearinghouse of several freelance writing sites around the web such as ODesk, Craigslist, iFreelance, etc. You can check all of their newest listings for freelance writing jobs right here on this one site. Once at their homepage, click the sidebar on the left that says Freelance Writing Jobs and it will take you to a listing of each different site and the current jobs available. This site also has a section for Writer's Guidelines for many different publications. Just click the Writer's Guidelines section on the left sidebar on the homepage. - This site may ask you to register for their weekly e-mail newsletter before letting you check out their magazine resources. It is free to register for their basic list, although you can subscribe to a bigger list if you want. On their free list, this site has many links to magazines looking for freelancers as well as their writer's guidelines. Some of the links are old and don't work well, but you can always go to the online magazine that interests you and find their guidelines there.

I hope these resources help you find freelance writing jobs.

Happy writing,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Where Do I Sell My Writing?? Writer's Market is the answer.

Hi all,

I see this question from newbie writers all the time. Where can I sell my writing? Finding publications to sell your articles to can be time consuming unless you have the definitive book of resources, Writer's Market.

Writer's Market is a resource book that is published yearly and contains over 1000 pages of information on writing and listings of places where you can sell your writing. Almost every magazine imaginable is listed in Writer's Market with information on addresses to mail submissions or queries, writer's guidelines, submission details, type of articles the magazine prints, and much more. Along with information about magazines, Writer's Market also gives the names, addresses and guidelines of book publishers, small press publishers, and also agents. In the front of the book you find helpful advice on how to submit a query letter, and also how to write up a book proposal to send to an agent. There is a lot of helpful tips from authors also to help you learn more about the publishing world.

Writer's Market 2009 is available at for only $19.79. Click the book title to view it at Amazon.

For those who prefer a more techno way to get their information, Writer's Market is available online for a monthly or yearly fee. Cost for Writer's Market for one year is $39.99. Click here to visit their homepage.

Writer's Market is published by Writer's Digest, a magazine all about writing and selling your work. If you are a newbie, you may want to subscribe to the magazine for at least one year to learn as much as you can about the professional writing world. Writer's Digest Magazine costs $19.96 for 8 issues, but it is well worth the price. Click here to read more about this magazine.

I have used Writer's Market for years and is has been very helpful in my writing career. I also learned a lot of information about writing and selling by reading Writer's Digest Magazine. I hope these resources help you in your writing journey.

Happy writing,


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