The New Plan – Operation Freelance!

After talking it over with a very smart friend I’ve decided to offer blog articles for £100 each, and £50 each for short ones.

I’m offering Ghostwriting and Co-Author services too. If you have a great story idea but don’t think that you could do it justice, then I can help. You may even have started writing it yourself and got stuck. You can hire me as a Ghostwriter, in which case the book has your name on it, and you get to keep the royalties, but you pay me for my time upfront. Or, you can let me take a Co-Author credit, both names are on the cover, we split the royalties 50-50, and it costs you nothing.

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I’m hoping to build up a client list as quickly as possible. I need to be a full-time writer. I’m going nuts. I’ve been trying to build my profile, and my reputation. Take my time. Do this right. Work wherever I can to survive while I make myself look great online. The problem is that the job I’m doing for money is taking all my time, energy and motivation.

I didn’t realize when I started working nights how lonely and depressing it would get. I needed some time to think, but now I’m ready to rejoin the world. I could just get another shitty job doing bar-work, retail or call centre customer service, but I really don’t want to have to. I want to write. It’s all I want to do, and I’m good at it.

I got my start as a blogger writing geek-culture articles for a WordPress-based website. The articles I’ve written for them seem to have gone, but I saved a few of my favourites and re-blogged them on Games ‘n’ Geekery. A geeky website of my own I created using all the skills I learned while working for them, and a few tricks I’ve picked up since.

They didn’t pay me anything, but the experience was invaluable. I learned how to use WordPress, how to make a good-looking blog article, and that I could churn out an original 500-1000 word article, including research, links, pictures and video, every single day.

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I used what they taught me to create this blog, and others. The Hermes925 serialized story that I’ve been posting to this website attracted the attention of Tod Foley, who recruited me for the UbiquiCity project. The writer team would video conference online to talk about our ideas and world-build together, then we each wrote a short story that fit into the world we created. My short story, and the others, are now available on Amazon as part of the UbiquiCity anthology. The accompanying RPG sourcebook will be out soon. It was a fun project. 🙂

I got the opportunity to ghost-write a story for someone, and that was fun too, but the client put the project on hold before I saw a penny for the work I did. I definitely learned a lesson there, but it put me off the idea of ghost-writing for a while.

I submitted a short story or two to contests and publications that offered a cash prize or payment if you were accepted, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that writing short stories for submission, especially if they don’t get accepted. Too much time and effort, for not enough guaranteed reward. If I write a good short story, I want some guarantee I’m going to get paid for it, and I certainly didn’t want to have to pay someone to publish it.

It’s about that time I got distracted by the Creative Writers group. It had only 32 members left, no admin at all. It occurred to me that I could test some of the things I’d learned about social media management and audience building, and also create the kind of supportive community I wanted to find. The group now has over seventeen thousand members.

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I even created an opportunity for group members. I’ve always been a ‘learn by doing’ kind of person. I learn best when it’s a necessary means to accomplish a desired outcome. In hindsight the Monolith project was probably a little too ambitious, but that was kind of the idea. Set the bar high and see if I could pull it off. I didn’t, but I learned a lot along the way.

The idea was to create a series of large anthologies, containing well-written stories, all conforming to the same theme. There would be no charge to submit and we would review the stories as they were submitted. That way we wouldn’t have to try and deal with a huge pile all at once after the submission deadline, and the writers would get feedback right away instead of having to wait. This also gave them an opportunity to try and improve their submission and try again.

We ended up with a lot of great stories, and a lot that could have been good if the writers had been willing to improve them. The project became a logistical nightmare, even with help from other admins in the group, and so the project was abandoned. However, I decided to test self-publishing anyway with one of the short-stories I had written. It sold pretty well for a short story, and I’m currently writing a longer story, hopefully a novel, inspired by the short story. It’s called The Haunted Story.

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It’s taking longer to write than I wanted though. I enjoy writing stories, but they’re harder than blog articles. I have several work-in-progress story-lines that I will to turn into books. A few of the ideas have already been mentioned in this blog. I know I can manage my time better, and be able to spend more time and energy writing my stories, if I can write full-time. The night porter job is an inefficient use of my time and wastes my creativity.

I could replace the hotel job by securing enough clients to write an article a day, just like I used to do. I’m a good writer, as you can see from this blog and my published stories. I’m more than happy to negotiate, especially if I can gain something else besides money, like cover-art, editing, or marketing.

I can do blogging, and it comes easily to me, but I’d prefer to write a book with you. I know from the previous experience that I write better and faster when I’m working for someone, and it gives me something to look forward to each day. Unlike my current job. At this point I’d welcome any opportunity to write for a living really.

So, want to write a book with me? If you don’t have any ideas, I can help with that too. I’m aware that some people just want to see a book on the shelves with their name on the cover. I can arrange that. I can also go to the opposite extreme and help you polish up and revise a story that you’ve mostly written already (and that wouldn’t cost as much). It’d be much more fun to bounce ideas off each other and come up with a great story together, but I’m flexible.

Please email me: antonym.copeland@gmail.com or leave me a comment if you have any questions, advice for new freelancers, or a project for me. Whether you’re a fellow writer with too much on your plate, a website manager that needs more content, or just someone that wants their name on a book, I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great day 🙂

 

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Dawn of the Superbabies!

I was considering writing an article all about it now being legal in Britain to produce a child using the DNA of three parents. I was at work when I first heard the news and wanted desperately to jump online and write about it. However, I was at work. By the time I got home nearly 12 hours later the subject had been well covered, but I really liked the working title, so I kept it.

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We cannot use personal phones whilst at work, which is annoying since I not only use my phone to take notes, but I might also have been able to do some preliminary research via the internet. There are cameras everywhere, allowing the management and the owner to see what we’re doing, to make sure we’re keeping busy. I know that taking 5-15 minutes to scribble down my ideas, even on a traditional notepad, would be frowned upon.

Speaking of the owner, not my favourite person. He has the tendency to talk to me like I’m subhuman. He talks to us all like that. He has friends. All of them living very comfortably. I think he may only respect those who have worked hard to become wealthy, like himself. I’m certainly not going to please him by being a good employee. He ignores us when we do well, and berates us all if he thinks that any of us are doing something wrong.

I’m done being ordered around. It’s high time I found a way to make writing a financially viable career path. I’ve already thought about asking for donations, in fact this blog has many times included links to my Paypal (see what I did there). I’ve also thought about a GoFundMe campaign, but it doesn’t feel right.

I’m currently on the cusp of asking various local, national and international companies for sponsorship, in exchange I will help them sell their products. I’ll start with companies whose products I already enjoy, but I’d also love to showcase small business and start-ups. It also occurred to me that I could try to sell some of the business ideas I have from time to time.

For example, I wrote a document entitled “How To Sell More Food – Why ‘To-Go’ Boxes Are Awesome”. I posted a copy in my Writing Archive (follow the link if you’re curious). It’s aimed at restaurants and offers a step-by-step process to introduce the concept of taking leftovers, and even extra meals and desserts, home in a to-go container when you’ve finished your meal.

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This is something that is common in America, but is under-utilised here in the UK. The restaurant where I’m currently working will pack up your food if you ask, but makes no effort to inform customers that it’s an option. I was going to present a copy of this proposal to my boss today. I even rehearsed what I was going to say to him, however he didn’t make a point of coming to find me and tell me to sweep the leaves or not to poke the fire, so I brought it home again.

I have real trouble working for someone that I don’t like. The thought of doing anything to increase his wealth makes me nauseous, so I’m glad he didn’t get a chance to read my ideas. I honestly wouldn’t expect him to adopt my suggestions anyway, and certainly not to pay me for them. I have to find a better way to make money though. Working my arse off for minimum wage and receiving no respect or appreciation is not going to tolerated much longer.

I could find another job, but it would likely be the same old story. Good employers aren’t hiring. They don’t have to. Their workers stay. Anywhere that is hiring is likely to have a high turnover due to the job being rubbish, the pay being crap, the boss/ owner being awful or a combination of the above.

I want to work for myself. Until that’s possible, I’d at least like to be writing for a living. Writing product reviews, ghostwriting, blogging (for someone that pays), interviewing authors to create their biography (which was an actual opportunity I’ve found and applied to already) or something like that.

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If you happen to be rich and are willing to pay me $200 a week to write you unique stories for your kids (or yourself) about a bear named Frank that goes on adventures, I will do that! I’ll be your own personal author, write anything you want and no-one else will be allowed to read it except you and your kids (and me of course). I’d love the challenge.

Anyway, it’s now midnight. I have more writing I’d like to get more writing done tomorrow before my shift starts at 3pm. If by some miracle, you happen to be a wealthy individual or corporation willing to hire me to write for you then please contact me. It’s all I want for Christmas! I’m going to go to bed now and hope there’ll be something nice in my inbox when I wake.

Goodnight, and have a great day 🙂

Leveling Up

I feel like I don’t write enough lately. At least not in anyway that people can easily track. The life-work balance is, as predicted, tricky. I find that when I have a day off, I don’t want to write. As much as I love it, writing is work, and I just want to relax. Let my muscles recover from the hard week. Zone out while watching tv shows. Hang out with friends. Blow off steam.

In my last roughly written article “Your Own Personal Facebook” I mentioned an idea I had regarding writing a self-help book of some kind. It’s not really a new idea. I had thought about writing a self-help book a while back called “Leveling Up” intended to put advice like how to go about finding yourself, navigating social interactions, and reaching your career potential in terms that gamers would understand.

The slogan for the book, website and social media presence was going to be something like, ‘you can’t level up without gaining experience’. The idea that failure allows you to learn more than getting it right the first time was going to be a recurring theme. In many role-playing gaming systems, your character gains experience points during the adventure. When you have enough points you can level up, gain new permanent skills and bonuses.

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I love this analogy for life, as imperfect as it is. In real life we don’t suddenly find ourselves able to understand animals because we killed enough goblins. We can suddenly find ourselves able to use a computer system easily after having struggled with it for weeks though. There are other examples in which something that was once hard suddenly becomes easy. The first few weeks of working behind a bar again would leave me so tired and sore that I thought I’d do permanent injury to myself. Now it’s easier. It doesn’t wreck me like it did.

I’m definitely going to write this book, or something very like it. I’m so eager to do so that I didn’t want to go to work today. Except I still want to save up enough capital to self-publish if I have to. Plus I was hoping to bump into someone again. A professional ghostwriter. I was hoping to ask him about how he got into it. There’s lots of stuff online about becoming a ghostwriter, but most of it seems to be trying to sell you something. I would like to hear from someone who has successfully made a career out of writing, how they did it. I’ll let you know more if it ever comes to anything.

I did go to work. The front door to the pub was closed when I got there, so I went in through the kitchen. I told the first fellow member off staff I saw that the door was still locked. Then I proceeded to remove my coat and hoodie, clock in, find my fob, and head down to the bar. The door was still locked, but I checked behind the bar to see if anything needed taking care of there first. That’s when the owner came downstairs and saw the door was still locked.

He was not happy. Now bear in mind it was 11am. He’d been there since 6:30am, and yet it was my fault the door was still locked. He admitted that he had forgotten, but he expects anything that gets missed my him to be done by the person coming in at 11. If the door isn’t open then we can’t get customers, without customers we don’t stay in business. He told me that he didn’t understand why people don’t care that the pub stays in business, and expressed that he doesn’t want to pay people that don’t care about the business.

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I understand perfectly why he cares so deeply. This is his passion, his love. He has dedicated his life to making The Brown Cow Inn successful, and I admire him for that. I didn’t tell him that I would’ve gotten to the door myself. I have no way of proving it. I also didn’t tell him that I’m only there to earn a wage. I’ll do what needs to be done, but minimum wage isn’t enough to make me care. If the pub went bankrupt tomorrow, I would find another job.

There’s got to be a smarter way to earn money that isn’t so physically demanding and exhausting. At least I don’t feel like I’m doing anything unethical. I don’t need to lie to my customers, or convince them to pay for anything they can’t afford. I have done both those things for past employers.

If I can sacrifice a bit of my leisure time I can get Levelling Up written. I can use the money from selling it to keep me afloat while I write what I really want to write. The Hermes-Branchpoint series. Speaking of which, I think Hermes 911 will explore the legal system of the N•Viron centric society of earth, not follow around futuristic cops in the Alpha Prime colony.

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I’ve written some of Hermes 360 and some more of Hermes 925 too, I just haven’t published it digitally yet. I’m going to try and get that done this week. I’m also going to try and avoid feeling guilty if I end up doing something else. I haven’t spoken to my co-admin William about our Games and Geekery blog for weeks. It’s in dire need of new articles and a little TLC.

Anyway, I think I’ve been talking about writing long enough. I need to get it done. Or go to bed, because it’s midnight and I have to do another 11am-9pm shift tomorrow. I get an hour off from 4-5pm, but I probably won’t actually get to leave until after 10pm. It gets to be a long day.

 

Coming Along

I got some more actual writing done today. Not just this blog article, but also the next part of my Hermes925 story, Discon in Distress. Obviously it’s a little silly to get excited about being able to keep up with my writing goals for just 2 days in a row, but I’m choosing to feel good about myself anyway.

I think the journaling format works. Though I wonder if I should include some kind of date system. Having dates would clearly indicate how long it’s been since the last entry, but there are inherent problems with setting sci-fi in a particular year. I want the year vague to try an make the story somewhat timeless, and make the story relevant for as long as possible. However the technology itself is going to date the story before too long. Perhaps I could use a day and month, with no year? I might be able to get away with that. I could even use a two digit year I suppose, leaving the century uncertain.

There is another possibility of course. It could be an alternate timeline. The current Hermes925 story arc already combines 3 older story ideas into one narrative. I could bring in another. The working title had been ‘time-chain’, and the core idea came to me in a dream once. In the dream I had been walking through an American town in the fifties. In a used car lot next to a diner, among the beautiful vehicles you’d expect to see in the 1950’s, was a modern Chrysler 300.

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I kept walking and entered a small hardware and homewares store. Again, most of the items in there where fairly typical of the time, but there’s a pegboard display that’s a little out of place. Hanging from the hooks are little plastic baggies containing electronics components. Resistors, diodes, transistors and chips. This is what I had been looking for, to complete the time machine, the plans arrived on my kitchen table that morning along with a list of parts I would need to purchase.

It occurred to me upon waking that if you could build a machine that could send things back in time, you could send them the means to build another time-machine, along with instructions to do the same. The time-line would be drastically altered as people send back car-parts, components, computers, and even literature. I abandoned the idea, because I couldn’t imagine the chaos the world would be thrown into.

I’m fairly certain I’m not going to try an incorporate this into Hermes 925. It would completely confuse the current plot. If you don’t want to know what the plan is then skip this bit until you get to the paragraph starting ‘It’s safe now’.  The plan is to have Jaime jump at the chance of joining the Hermes project after his relationship with Tanisha goes spectacularly wrong. The project involves using a set of quantum entangled ‘doorways’ to allow people to be astronauts from 9-5. When your shift is over, you just walk through the doorway and go home.

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Of course something goes wrong, leaving Jaime, a female bio-technician, and the ship’s AI Hermes, stranded in space, unable to communicate with earth. Cut off from the N•Viron system. The bio-technician goes crazy first and kills herself. Jaime gets depressed and neglects his duties, resulting in an overpopulation of the ship’s lab rats.The rats and plants from the hydroponics bay spread throughout the ship. Hermes itself narrates the story from here.

Decades, perhaps even a century or two passes, before Hermes flight-path brings it back to earth to find the connection it was seeking long gone. There is no N•Viron, nor any recognisable civilisation at all. Hermes crash lands allowing the savage rat-folk on board to spill out. This leads to a fight for dominance against post-civilised humans (or whatever new species has taken their place), and a new narrator for the last part of the story. Adding the time-chain plot could make nonsense of all of this. Unless the time-chaining is actually directly responsible for the fall of civilised humanity? I may need to think on this some more.

It’s safe now. I hope you like what I’ve posted so far, and that you’re looking forward to another Hermes925 entry tomorrow. If you have any comments, concerns, suggestions, or words of encouragement, I’d love to hear from you. I have a new e-mail address AntonyM.Copeland@gmail.com, or you can use the comments section below, contact me via the Contact/Commissions page, or track me down on Facebook.

Have a great day.

The Lord Highwayman

This is a story I first came up with nearly 13 years ago. I was raising the money to come to America, so I got a job in a candle factory. It paid better than the barwork I had been doing. I didn’t really care it was nights. All I had to do every day, until I hurt my back doing it and had to quit, was trim wicks all day. The conveyor belt was a little too tall for me, causing me to slightly over-extend for reach the far side of the belt. Don’t worry, my next job selling massage cushions fixed it right up.

The nice part was I was on my own. There was no inane chatter from co-workers to distract me. I could do the work on autopilot and let my mind wander. One day I was working there and got the song “Stand and Deliver”by Adam and the Ants stuck in my head. In particular I got to thinking about the line “Your money or your life!”, and thought it would be funny if the Aristocrat in the carriage volunteered his life willingly.

Just to clarify, he doesn’t want to die. The Lord has simply grown bored with high society and has been longing for some excitement. He’s already tried all the acceptable games, and even tried introducing some of the unacceptable ones. The crude games of chance and deception played by the lower classes. The suggestion was met with disdain by his guests. He sees this as an opportunity.

It surprises the bandit when the Lord’s eye’s light up and he begin’s yelling excited “Oh, my life? My Life! Yes, My life! I hate it so, it’s so boring and dull, but you! You are exciting! You live this wonderful adventurous life! Come now, don’t stand about in the rain, step into my carriage. I’ll take you back to my house and I’ll show you!”

Gun still raised, the would-be robber moves cautiously into the carriage. “Oh, no need for that, I won’t turn you in, this will be so much more fun! Driver” he knocks on the carriage wall behind his head. “Continue homeward!”. The Lord then goes on to explain his proposal as it comes to him. He would teach the ruffian how to pass for a noble, and would want for nothing. Rich clothes, rich food, rich lifestyle. They’d be introduced at parties and other social gathering as a cousin of some sort, having returned from many years travelling the world.

In exchange the Lord would teach their new protege the life of a rogue. The Lord already knew how to duel as a gentleman would, but he wanted to learn the rough fighting of the streets. He also wanted to learn the skills he assumed that all poor people had. Lockpicking, pickpocketing, sleight of hand and con-artistry.  It turns out that the Lord was more talented with a sword and pistol than the thief, and so the aristocrat happily pays for lessons in fencing and shooting. He also provides powder and ammunition that they didn’t have before.

However, the rogue has spent time at sea, and gotten to know all kinds of bad people. The Lord is soon introduced, in his new disguise as a scruffy old crook, to the criminal element of his city. He makes contact with people who, in exchange for the dirtiest coins they could find in his coffers, offer to teach him some of the skills he wishes to learn.

I was thinking of having the Highwayman find themselves well suited to the high-society lifestyle. Fitting in well with the gossips and showing a talent for talking while saying nothing. In the meantime the Lord finds the life of a petty criminal exhilarating. Unfortunately he doesn’t take any of it seriously and soon finds himself in a pickle. I’m thinking perhaps he steals from the wrong person.

Word takes too long to reach the former-bandit, and the Lord is killed. The story ends with the surviving character’s future uncertain. At the time I didn’t think much of it. It seemed to Prince and the Pauper meets Aladdin to me. I was also worried that I don’t know history well enough to make the time period authentic and believable. I could just set in a fantasy realm of course, but it seems like an easy out.

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I had originally assumed that the highway robber was male when I came up with the idea. As I was mentioning this story idea to my room-mate, he suggested that making her female would be more interesting. He also thought though that actual romance between the characters would be unnecessary. If the story is good enough, readers will still imagine them together anyway. They may even write fan-fiction far more graphically detailed than my naive mind could think of.

He suggested I even leave the genders vague. I like this idea. After all, people might still ‘ship’ the characters even if they’re the same gender, or different species even! He could be a dwarven Lord, from a bloodline that rival’s the King’s. She could be a wood elf! Of course, that could make the ‘cousins’ thing difficult to sell. I could even make them Vampires. I kinda like that last one!

So here’s what I need to know:

  1. Is this a book-worthy idea?
  2. Is it better than “War on Magic“?
  3. Should it be our world’s history, or a fantasy world? Would you prefer a sci-fi?
  4. Should the character’s gender matter? Do we make it clear or vague?
  5. What about race/species?

Should we crowdsource the whole damned story? I could write a new post showing you what I’ve written so far, and ask you questions like this about what happens next. If I have no follow up questions I could then write the next part of the story based on my favorite answers. That would be so much fun!

Should it be Vampires? The monsters, not the shiny models.

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What do you think? You don’t have to answer the questions I asked, if there is some other suggestion, inquiry or insult on your mind, please tell me :). Either in the comments below or via one of the other ways to contact me.

And please sign up for emails, it makes my numbers look good! 😉