Tool Foolery

When you’re first starting out as an odd-jobber, you’re unlikely to have a lot of tools. Not unless you had some money put aside to invest in new business ventures. You’re going to have to build up your arsenal a little at as time, as and when you can afford it. The type of work your getting, and the problems you find keep coming up, will help you figure out what you need to buy at the time.

Having said that, if you can afford to invest a little money into buying tools before you start though, it will definitely help avoid embarrassment when a client’s tool breaks while you’re using it. Look after client tools as well as you can, but sometimes they just break.

It might be because it was a cheaply made tool only meant for light work, and the work that needs doing is too much for it, but sometimes your client won’t share this opinion, and just sees that you broke their stuff. If at all possible, avoid working for clients that jump straight to accusing you of deliberate misuse. Keep the clients that are more worried about whether or not you hurt yourself when the tool broke.

If at all possible, have the right tool for the job before you start. If the right tools aren’t available, or you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to manage the client’s expectations beforehand. “It looks like the ground is really hard. We could use the fork and spade, but it’ll take a while. A mattock would be better if you have one.” for example.

This also helps with under-promising and over-delivering. If you tell the client that it’s going to take a while, but then do the job well in less time than they expected, they’ll be a lot happier than if you say, “No problem. I’ll have it done in a jiffy”. Chances are, you’re going to come across some issues you didn’t anticipate. Don’t be afraid to undersell yourself, then allow your actions to speak louder than your words.

Back to tools. Chances are, when you’re first starting out you’ll have very few of your own tools. You may not know enough about DIY and Gardening to know whether or not the tools provided are going to be good enough. You’ll just have to take care, and be willing to learn.

Chances are, you’ll be working for people that used to be able to maintain their home and garden themselves. They have all the tools, and the knowhow, but their body is letting them down. Make sure they know that you’re new to this work, but you are willing clay, and let them teach you.

Sometimes the client may not know much themselves, having always relied on a late partner or other handy-folk. Luckily, you can make use of the internet to search for how-to guides and videos for nearly everything you’ll be asked to do. You can also ask friends and relatives that have done Gardening and DIY themselves, including me. I’ll be happy to help anyway I can.

Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing how to do everything already, or for not having all the tools necessary for every job. I started with only the experience I’d gained from helping my parents and having (briefly) been a homeowner myself. You’ll learn a lot, very quickly, and before you know it you’ll be able to make suggestions about how best to tackle the job.

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The Book Factory

When I was running the Creative Writers group, I had an idyllic hopeful notion that it might evolve into a full-fledged business. I had dreams of an office building with the words ‘Creative Writers’ Press’ emblazoned on it. Those who work there would write for a living, with supervisors to keep them on task and accountable.

There’d also be in-house editors, cover-artists and proofreaders, and books that sell particularly well (the company would handle the marketing, but individual authors would be encouraged to brag about their latest book on social media also) would earn bonuses for the authors.

Even though my first attempt to find a group of like-minded individuals failed, the idea still persists. I wanted to start over. Create another group that would give writers the support and guidance they needed to keep writing. I’m currently reading a book called “How to be F**king Awesome” by Dan Meredith. I highly recommend it. In it, Dan mentions creating an accountability group, and that sounded like a fantastic idea.

Part of the problem was that Creative Writers got too big to handle, and drifted far from my original vision. I was unable to steer it back on course, and attempting to do so was frustrating, depressing, and spirit-crushing. So to avoid the same fate, The Book Factory will be a secret group, accessible by invitation only.

This will also (hopefully) prevent trolls, time-wasters and those that want to use the group purely to promote themselves from joining, or at least make it easier to spot them and remove them before they take over. If you’re out to prove that you’re the best writer ever and the only true expert in the group, you’re welcome to start your own group or fan page for yourself, but The Book Factory is not for you.

If you’re serious about writing, but find yourself procrastinating despite your best intentions (just like me) perhaps we can help each other out. Find me on Facebook and message me to join The Book Factory group. Hopefully we can start churning out books and making a living from it instead of playing Skyrim (or is that just me?).

MjollBearded.jpg
If you give Mjoll the Masque of Clavicus Vile and steel plate armor, you end up with this amusing combo. Nice beard Mjoll!

I play way too much. As I’ve mentioned in the previous article, I do believe that I’ll have better luck staying motivated and disciplined when I have a separate room for writing, away from my Xbox, and with my family around to keep my spirits up. It wouldn’t hurt to have some support from the online community too, and also help others to keep up with their writing.

I am pleased to say I have at least one story in print. A short story called ‘Murder Inc.’ in the “UbiquiCity” anthology. I had to replace my copy because a guest at the hotel I work at bought it from me. We had been talking about artificial intelligence, smart technology and dystopia masquerading as utopia. All of which are themes of both the UbiquiCity collection, and my own work-in-progress, Hermes925 (which I really need to finish).

I need to show my progress on my other WIPs too. So far they’re all hand-written, and I’ve gotten good feedback and encouragement in the past from posting the second draft on this website. In the meantime, I have a bag to pack, a room to organise, and lots of stories to write.

Have a great day 🙂

 

 

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Merry Solstice/ Christmas/ Kwanzaa/ Hanukkah/ Saturnalia/ Festivus

In recognition of the festivities, I’m offering a £10 discount on all my rates from now until the end of the year!

That means blog articles are now £40 (instead of $50) per 500-600 words, and my normal rate of £25 per hour for ghost writing short stories, novellas and novels is now reduced to just £15 per hour!

What is Ghostwriting?

Let’s say you’ve always wanted to be a published author. Nothing would make you happier than to see a book with your name on it being read on the train, or being sold in your local bookstore, or on a shelf in the library. There’s only one problem. You hate writing. It’s just too hard and everything you try to write seems stupid and childish. Don’t worry, you can just hire a ghostwriter to do the hard part for you.

As a ghostwriter I can write any story you want. If you don’t have any idea what sort of book you want to write, I can help you figure it out. I have a ton of ideas just waiting to be made into stories, but if you’d rather use one of your own, that’s marvelous. 🙂

You may even have written other books yourself already, but there’s this one story that’s been bugging you for years and you can’t figure out how to finish it. I can help you with that too. I’ll use your outline and whatever you’ve written so far and get the story going again.

Why does it cost money to do this?

The story I write will be yours to do with as you wish. I don’t want an author credit or any of the royalties. It’s 100% your story, and any and all money you make from it will be yours. It could become and international best seller, and make you a millionaire, and I would have no legal entitlement to any of it.

Whatever you choose to do with the story is up to you, it’s yours. You can have it edited, changed and rewritten to suit your own needs, and I won’t bat an eye. You can then submit it to prize-winning contests, have it published (either through self-publishing or traditional), or even sell the story to a movie studio to become the next blockbuster hit!

Of course, you don’t have to make money off the story I write for you. If you like you can commission me to write you a unique, one-of-a-kind book, just for you. You could even have me include a loved one as a character in the story and give it to them as a gift.

If you do choose to use the story as a source of passive income though, then the money you pay me is your initial investment. It also means that I can do this full-time, without being distracted and exhausted by a time-consuming and low-paying traditional job. I simply don’t have the time to do this while also working as a minimum wage employee.

What exactly am I paying for?

I have loved reading and telling stories for as long as I can remember. I was raised on amazing stories from fantasy, folklore, science fiction and history. Over the years I developed a fascination for the art of storytelling that borders on obsession.

In later years the childish sense of the fantastic and whimsical has been tempered by disappointing reality. This too has influenced my writing, adding a layer of cynical realism to the magical and futuristic worlds I created. I still write the fanciful and idyllic from time to time, but I find that a touch of real pain and conflict makes the characters far more relatable and interesting, don’t you?

If you would like to see some samples of my work, there are a couple of short stories on Amazon published in my name, and also a first-person sci-fi story called Hermes925 that you can find right here on this website. The two short stories are Dead Letter and Murder Inc. The latter of which is part of an anthology called UbiquiCity. You can also observe the ongoing fantasy adventure I write as the GM for an RP group on Facebook called The City of Gate.

What sort of things will you write?

Pretty much anything. For myself I tend to write sci-fi, fantasy and horror, but I don’t mind writing romance, westerns, comedy, self-help (and other non-fiction), and any other genre you can think of. As I’ve hinted at earlier, I’ve already written campaigns for role-play adventures such as D&D and ShadowRun. Ask for something really weird and see what I can come up with. It’ll be fun!

If you need a screenplay or script, It’ll be a new challenge for me, but I’ll give it a try. I’d likely write it as a story first, then try to adapt it. If you’d rather have someone with experience do the adapting, I’d be more than happy to just write you the story and let you do whatever you want with it afterwards.

I think I’ll just save my money and write it myself

That’s awesome. If you want to bounce any ideas off me or any other members of the Creative Writers Facebook community, just ask. If you get stuck, we can help (and it’s completely free). If you try everyone’s suggestions and your story still isn’t going anywhere, you’re welcome to talk to me again about ghostwriting it for you.

You’ve convinced me. What’s next?

If you’re ready to discuss ghostwriting your project, or have some more questions, just contact me using the email form on this website, or you can track me down on Facebook and message me, or or my sadly neglected Google+ profile and chat via Hangouts. You could even use the comments section of this blog post if you like 🙂

I hope to hear from you soon. Have a great day 🙂

 

How To Become a Full-Time Writer

I realised as I was put this article together that I’ve been letting my ego stand in the way of my success. Sure, I’d rather only sell books that I’ve carefully and lovingly crafted as a true expression of my talent and imagination, but I’d also rather work full-time as a writer than having to fit writing in around working for someone else. At least I’d be writing full-time, and perhaps generating enough of a surplus income to build Creative Writers Press into a real business.
I’m going to start with ‘The Haunted Story’. It’s not doing me any good while it sits waiting for me to rewrite it as a paranormal crime novel. I may as well see if I can generate a little cash from it.

Creative Writers' Blog

I know there are several people in Creative Writers that (like myself) want to make a full-time career as a writer. Today I had a conversation with an author, Candace Ayers, who had posted on Facebook, “I make six figures a year from royalties. It supports my family very comfortably. I don’t love writing. It’s not my passion. But, I like it okay and love the lifestyle it provides me.”

This made me curious. I wanted to know how she’d managed to build a six-figure income from writing. I asked her if she had an article on the subject (I didn’t want to tread on her toes) and got this amazing response:

“I haven’t written an article about it, but I can share a few of what I consider important tips on the way I do it.

1. I write to market. In other words, I don’t write what I…

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Playing Catch-up!

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time, inspiration or motivation to update this blog, but I’m in the process of making the necessary corrections to my schedule and priorities so that I can get back on track.

I’ve already made some significant changes that have helped a lot. Including changing my ‘day-job’ to a ‘night-job’! With the release date of the Monolith anthology looming ever closer I knew I needed to save my money up. So far every attempt to crowdfund the Monolith project has failed, so it’s down to me earning as much as I can.

However, the hotel I was working at offered only the minimum wage. I applied for a supervisor position, which I didn’t get, and moved up to full time while I looked around for better opportunities. It’s early days yet, but I seem to have found one. It’s a night-porter position at a different hotel It’s only a 10-minute walk from my house, it’s more money, and the workload is light enough that I can get some of my writing done in my downtime.

If all goes well I’ll have enough to afford a high-quality edit of the final manuscript, and have enough time to complete it. I highly doubt that I’ll also have the money or time to pursue other goals (there’s a girl in Italy that I would dearly love to meet in person), so that will have to come later, and hope that she doesn’t meet someone else (though that would solve the dilemma rather neatly).

Space_station

I’ve also been planning out the ongoing adventures of Hermes925.  *Spoilers* The Pan AI has taken over the ship and thinks he can do a better job. He will attempt to replace the ratkin on board with genetically engineered lifeforms. The ‘infected’ ratkin were his creation. An attempt to kill off the existing population so that he can harvest the genetic material and build a new species. The ratkin fight back though and survive despite Pan’s efforts.

Does using the word ‘ratkin’ as both the singular and plural form sound right to you? ‘Ratkins’ doesn’t sound right to me, but maybe it will grow on me.

I also intend to rewrite the story so far to provide a deeper understanding of the civics and politics of the world that Jaime grew up in. Namely that criminal convictions, matters of public interest, and even proposed laws are put to a public vote. Anyone that might be affected or has previously expressed an interest in similar matters is notified of the debate and can submit their response via the N-Viron network. The votes are calculated in real-time.

I also had an idea for the end of Pan’s part of the story. The Nymphs on board the ship are a cutting edge fusion of soft-robotics and genetic engineering, or at least they were. Earth’s technology continues to evolve in Hermes’ and Pan’s absence. Wetware technology becomes the next big thing. The N-Viron network becomes obsolete, replaced with a biotech equivalent that’s completely compatible with the human genome.

The discons have become even more paranoid of the technology. Especially when the new humans are born with technology already integrated into their bodies. Despite the fact that the disconnected humans are convinced that the technology is a threat to humanity, the new humans colonise one of the planet-sized bodies orbiting Jupiter and leave Earth to the discons. When Pan reaches our system, he’s not compatible with the new network of augmented minds.

 

FroudfaeriesAll of this is distracting me from rewriting the story I would like to include in the Monolith anthology. A series of short stories that tell the story of The War On Magic. It’s a story that’s been playing around in my head for a while, and it would be nice to get it out there, but the story I submitted to my fellow admins received enough negative feedback to necessitate a rewrite. You can see the current version here. Please offer any feedback you think might help make you want to read part two.

Once I get the story ready for Monolith, I can get on with polishing up, and adding the finishing touches to, the rest of the anthology. At least I don’t have ‘Write a blog article’ on my to-do list anymore.

Thank you for reading. I’d ask for support for I know that you’re all as broke as I am. Feel free to share and comment on anything you like.

Have a great day 🙂

What do I write about?

I wrote this for the Creative Writers’ Press blog.

Creative Writers' Blog

Lots of people have posted in the group,

“I want to be a writer, but I don’t know how to get started.

There’s been some great feedback in these threads, but it’s a fast-moving group. It doesn’t take long before the last post on the subject is too far down the page to easily find, and someone else asks,

“Hey, I’m new here and I’ve always wanted to write. How do I get started?”

The most obvious, and frequently commented answer is, of course,

“Write”.

While this may seem condescending, obvious, and not particularly helpful, it’s also true. As daunting as it always seems to put pen to paper for the first time before you even have an idea, it really is the best start. Free-writing, which is writing with no agenda (for those that didn’t read Overcoming Obstacles), is a great way to practice writing, get in touch…

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