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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The Haunted Story Continues!

 The Haunted Story: Dead Letter is my first work of fiction on Amazon. If you’re into horror, ghost stories and gore, then this book is perfect for you. Especially if you’re just looking for a quick read, and it’s only 99p!

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I’m currently writing the story of Janet Burrows. The homicide detective that’s been assigned to this case. I’ve been writing a little more each day, even when I don’t feel like it or it’s been a hard shift at the night-job, or I’ve been dealing with drama in the Creative Writers group (it’s inevitable with a Facebook Group this big)!

I want to get Janet’s story up quickly. It’s a full story, not just a letter. It will show you, the reader, what Mark Anderson can do now that he’s dead! Originally I was going to try to write the story in journal entries and case notes written by Detective Burrows, but that’s not the way it’s coming out.

Book 2 is written in the third person perspective, which allows the reader to be able to see the big picture and see what the characters don’t. First person might have made it feel more personal and immediate, but based on the way the story is taking shape, I think people are going to still be reading the book while under a blanket, clutching a pillow and yelling, “No! Don’t do that!” at the book!

I’m not sure what to call book 2 yet. I may just call it ‘The Haunted Story’ and leave subtitles for the supplements (like Dead Letter). However, I’m also planning to write a sequel following a journalist/ blogger that’s determined to get the details of the case for an article. Maybe I should name each book for its main character?

This would make the story I’m writing now ‘Detective Burrows’ or just ‘Burrows’. This sounds good, but that would also mean changing ‘Dead Letter’ to ‘Anderson’. This sounded ridiculous in my head, but now that I’ve written it, I think I like it.

I had intended to begin publishing Hermes925, but apparently, Janet really wanted to tell her story! I also found out that the ‘Diversions from Drudgery’ magazine project is still a go! I already agreed to publish the story through them, a few entries at a time. The revisions I was planning to make can wait. If I make any changes now, it will confuse readers that have already started reading the current version.

I’m also pleased to see that the ‘UbiquiCity’ project is making progress too. The  Sci-Fi RPG sourcebook, which includes a short story written by me, should soon be available on RPGnow.com. I’m sure I’ll end up writing an article about it, and another for the first issue of DfD, as soon as they both become available.

‘The War on Magic’ and ‘Timechain’ stories have both been put back on hold, for now, though I’m sure I’ll dip back into them if and when the mood strikes me. For now, ‘The Haunted Story: Burrows’ is my priority.

I have, however, also been trying to update my social media presence. Both LinkedIn and GoodReads have been recommended to me by fellow writers. LinkedIn to expand my professional connections including fellow writers, editors, games designers and movie-producers. GoodReads to find and interact with my audience, and also to cross-promote with other writers.

Updating my LinkedIn profile already allowed me to notice an opportunity I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise. A writing job working for the company that designed my favourite game system. It’s been on my ‘dream jobs’ list for quite some time. I haven’t heard anything back yet, but it’s only been four days since the deadline. If I don’t get it, I’ll keep networking and writing, and try again the next time a similar opportunity arises.

I’m still playing with GoodReads. In fact, this blog post is motivated by the fact I just linked my WordPress blog feed with my GoodReads author page. If you’re a fellow GoodReads Author reading this, and you know how to update the cover image for my book (it’s already changed on Amazon, but hasn’t updated on GoodReads yet) please talk me through the process as I have yet to figure it out myself.

If anyone has any more tips on using GoodReads and LinkedIn, or recommended cross-promotion groups, I’d love to hear them. I am, of course, still on Facebook and Twitter.

Have a great day 🙂

 

Watch out for Dragons!

Yesterday’s article received some flak from some of my buddies. I also got some very supportive messages too. Today I’m going to avoid controversy by talking about something I like to do every Sunday.

The City of Gate.

Not the City of Gate: Chronicles, but the Facebook group that started it all. I have done one article on this already, but it’s my blog and I can write what I want! 😛

For those that haven’t read the previous article on the subject, “The City of Gate” is a game. A turn based narrative role-playing game. An interactive story. As the storyteller, I post a new update every Sunday telling the players what happens next. Then each player has until the following Saturday to tell me how their character reacts. Currently we have one group member playing a dragon, flying above the ruins of the city. There’s some humans in the city trying to help two different factions rebuild. A couple of vampire characters are trying to avoid the city. 3 other players are walking around far to the North. There are even a couple of players far beneath the city.

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The story is often led by the decisions made by player controlled characters. Sometimes it can get quite difficult to remember what is supposed to happening in the story I already set in motion as the potential heroes all go off on their own little agendas. For example, I wrote a backstory for one of the non-player characters called Myche (pronounced Mike, but with a softer ‘k’). His story is still unfolding as the game continues, despite the fact that he’s now a vampire due to the actions of the players. Every so often I write in little clues that refer back to earlier parts of the story, and bring in a relevant non-player character.

I do this mostly for myself. I doubt the players consciously notice the layers and details I add, but I’d like to think that it still feels like the story has depth and complexity. Whether the players spot these easter eggs or not. H’vannah is one of my favourite non-player characters in the game. By now I’m sure most of the players know that H’vannah is, or was, a man rather than just a place. I’m not sure they really know who or what he was, or what he’s doing behind that fortified gate. So far no player character has passed through the gate and returned to tell about it.

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The players themselves are from all over. Some are based in the UK, some in the States, and we may have a few members from more exotic locations. The game actually has a lot more members that are just there to read the posts and comments than active players. You’re more than welcome to join, either as a passive member or an active player. You don’t have to have any experience with role-playing games. In fact, if you’re a veteran of D&D or Pathfinder, you may find yourself so concerned with stats and dice rolls that you’ll get confused by a narrative driven game. There are no stats. There are no dice. We don’t even really worry too much about alignment. We’re just telling a story and having fun making it up (more or less) as we go.

The City of Gate: Chronicles started out as a collection of short background stories for the non-player characters posted on the Facebook group under ‘files‘. They’re still there. My hope is to pad out these fluff pieces with rewritten parts of the game, and a little bit of original writing, to tie it all together in one cohesive narrative. Eventually. For now though I’d rather focus on the current timeframe. The one we’re currently playing in. Maybe I’ll come back to the Chronicles once I have Hermes925 finished.

If you’d like to join the City of Gate group, you can follow this link. If you prefer you can post a comment here with a link to your Facebook page, then I’ll send you an invite to the group, and our out-of-character chat in Facebook messenger. The messenger chat itself is a lot of fun and allows the players to get to know each other and talk about whatever they want, as well as discussing the game itself.

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As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to be involved in the story, you can just read the posts and enjoy them. However, it’s a lot of fun to play. You can be anything you want. A fairy, a witch, a time-travelling cyborg, a half-troll-half-mermaid, anything! Hope to see you there.

In the meantime, click every link in this blog to find some treasures! Articles written by me and some of my favourite bloggers. Follow any that you don’t already! Happy reading and 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! 😉