A Decade of Magic and the Written Word

Back in 2008, a small company was started. It was started to meet a very specific need, namely to keep food on my family’s table, and a roof over our head. I had been laid off, yet again, and with mortgages, skyrocketing bills, and no prospects in sight, I knew that something had to change.

I had to change.

So The Writers Thread, in all its glory (trust me, there wasn’t much glory) was born. I used my love and passion for writing and editing and slowly built a valued business that not only helped to sustain my family and me through some rough economic times but also gave us the chance to rediscover the idea of “what if” once again.

Over the next ten years, I worked with some great clients, some I probably should have stayed away from in the long run, and grew in both my sense of business and my sense of self. It got to the point that in 2017 I knew that if I didn’t expand my horizons and take on new challenges, and new help that I would be stuck where I was.

And there was no way that I would let that happen.

Three Surprising Reasons Regular Website Maintenance is Essential

Modern businesses need a functional website to remain competitive. Unfortunately, most business owners don’t fully understand that regular website maintenance, management and upkeep are as important as its functionality and design.

Websites, just like cars, houses and electronic gadgets, aren’t just set and forgotten. They need TLC to remain effective, efficient and engaging. They look and function impeccably at arrival but soon lose their “sex appeal” if not refurbished and eventually fall into disrepair. Websites don’t work flawlessly forever; they break down when something in their environment changes. Love your website and change it to adapt and remain functional!

John Vorhaus

The Inspiration Behind A White Belt in Art by John Vorhaus

John Vorhaus

John Vorhaus

In the spring of 2016, I had come to the end of a certain road.

After forty years of a productive and reasonably successful writing life, I had to admit that my enduring passion for writing books was not being matched in any meaningful way by the market’s passion for buying them. Having just released my latest work to no particular acclaim, I faced the daunting prospect of spending a year or more writing another book that too few people would read.

I couldn’t get psyched for that.

Worse, I’d lost my writing mojo. I didn’t feel like I had much of anything new to say on the page, nor was I particularly thrilled with most of what made its way there. I was unmoved. And unmoving.

At first, this didn’t concern me, for in my long career as a writer I had lost and found my mojo many times. Being sick of your own work for a while but then falling in love with it again is a writer’s stock in trade. But this was different. This was burnout.

I just didn’t want to write anymore.

The Inspiration Behind Dead Deal by W.J. Evans

“What inspired your latest WIP or work?”

wj eveans dead deal

The financial crash of 2008 not only affected those in the financial sector, it was exponential on so many levels. I experienced first hand, the destruction of so many businesses in the real estate world. When the banks failed, and others refused to lend out of fear, every industry related to development suffered the consequences. Developers, attorneys, architects, engineers, real estate brokers, construction, consultants, intermediaries, landscapers, flooring, carpet, lumber, concrete and steel manufacturers all saw their business come to a screeching halt. Most of us were wondering when the market would return to normal and knew it would be years to recovery. Then there were some us, unfortunately, who couldn’t deal with the prospects of losing everything, the stress and starting over. I personally knew more than a few who committed suicide. I had projects fail, had plenty of those extremely stress filled days and sleepless nights. So I lived it and experienced much of it like Frank McCormick in Dead Deal.

Jacey Novacon

The Inspirations Behind Psi-Tech: An Interview with Jacey Bedford

Question #1:  What (or possibly who, if any) inspired the character of Ben Benjamin in your Psi-Tech Universe?

Psi-Tech trilogy: EMPIRE OF DUST / CROSSWAYS / NIMBUS

Psi-Tech trilogy: EMPIRE OF DUST / CROSSWAYS / NIMBUS

There are three books in the Psi-Tech trilogy: EMPIRE OF DUST / CROSSWAYS / NIMBUS. With the release of NIMBUS on 3rd October 2017, the trilogy is complete.

Reska (Ben) Benjamin is one of two main characters. He’s a psi-tech – implanted with telepath technology – and he specialises in navigating foldspace. Where the character came from is a complicated question. I don’t think he’s derived from any one person or source. He evolved over the course of writing the first book (a process that took many years and went through many revisions before getting to the publication stage). He’s been a cop – a space cop – which means he’s tough. Tough but fair; strong but kind. He’ll never let his team down or leave anyone behind. He’ll defend his ‘tribe’ to the end. But just because he’ll be charming to your granny doesn’t mean he’s weak.

It’s difficult to write a nice/noble/good character unless you give him some flaws, however, so Ben has flaws a-plenty, though depending on your perspective some of his flaws are actually strengths. He won’t start a fight, but he’s single-minded when it comes to finishing one – perhaps too single-minded, too stubborn, too dogged on occasions. He believes in justice even if achieving it means breaking the law. He has White Knight syndrome. He’ll be the first to try to help someone in trouble which means that he takes on too much, and trusts too easily. He’s not completely naive, but he does tend to believe the best of people. Of course, this sometimes brings out the best in them, too, Jake Lowenbrun for instance, who turns out to be one of the good guys partly because Ben believes he can be. On the other hand, there’s Kitty…

An incident that happens in CROSSWAYS leaves Ben with a form of PTSD, which carries through to the new novel, NIMBUS. Sometimes when you look into foldspace, foldspace looks back, and there are things there that don’t exist…except when they do. It leads to a love-hate relationship with flying the Folds. It’s his passion, but he’s afraid of it. He’s seen things in foldspace that have broken weaker men, but he’s survived, and through sheer determination, he’s still flying.

So where did he come from? He’s Han Solo on the day he decides to be Luke’s wingman against the Death Star. He’s Picard when he faces the Borg again after he’s been Locutus. He’s the Ninth Doctor when he sees the Dalek imprisoned in the basement. He’s the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dam. He’s Kyle Carpenter on the day he threw himself onto a grenade to save his friend. He’s Yuri Gagarin, on that first space flight. He’s Toussaint Louverture trying to keep his people free.

Question #2: The Psi-tech world is pretty involved and detailed in this series.  Why did you want to create such an in-depth universe?

If you’re writing a short story you can get away without too much world-building, but once you head into novel territory, especially a novel that’s 171,000 words long your characters need a well-defined world/universe to play in. Every story has to have its own internal logic. Whatever you create at the beginning has to be sustainable not only for the first book but for the second and third, too. The internal logic has to support over half a million words. You have to think about not only technology but also about geology and economics. You need to build a history that forms a sensible backstory. Though it’s barely mentioned in the novels, I created a whole history of the five hundred years between now and when EMPIRE OF DUST starts. It includes the invention and development of the jump gate system and the subsequent growth of the megacorporations. After mankind established colonies the earth was devastated by an inbound meteor on a collision course. Though the meteor was broken up in space, three chunks of meteorite hit, causing sea levels to rise, and a ‘nuclear’ winter. It knocked the USA and China off the superpower map completely and enabled Africa and Europe to rise during the rebuilding phase. The future is not the expected American or Chinese one.

Out in the depths of space, there are jump gate hubs, owned by the megacorps. Crossways was one such until it fought for its independence a century ago and is now a refuge for career criminals, eccentrics and the flotsam and jetsam of the space-lanes. It becomes home to Ben Benjamin, Cara Carlinni, and the Free Company in the second novel, CROSSWAYS.

Pricing Out Your Freelance Work

How Expensive is your Needle? Pricing Out Your Freelance Work

Pricing Out Your Freelance WorkSo you’ve gotten started in the freelance world.  Great!  You’ve started to apply for jobs.  Wonderful!  You’ve decided on how much you will charge for your services.  Wait.  You haven’t?   Well, it’s time to fix that.

Many new freelancers operate under the assumption that what they get paid is dependent on what the customer is willing to pay, and whether or not the customer can find it somewhere else cheaper.  And while budget considerations should certainly be a factor to consider, there are other ones to consider as well — such as your time, your energy, and this little thing called being able to make a living as a freelancer.

When it comes to pricing, most new freelancers fall into a few different “traps”:

  1. Low Prices Make Me Competitive — Umm, perhaps, but not in the way that you want to be.  Content mills, sites like Fiver, or other websites that sell your work for cheap do you absolutely no favors.  Why?  Simple — when you deliver high-quality work for pennies on the dollar, your client will expect it, and you’ll have to take on more and more work just to make ends meet.  That leads to burn out.  Not good.  Plus, there are literally THOUSANDS of people out there perfectly willing to churn out work for little or no pay.  I’m not entirely sure why, but there are.  Do you really, really want to compete in that type of market?
  2. Only Veteran Freelancers Can Go for the “Big” Clients — Absolutely not.  Simply put, if you have the skills to get the job done, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t go after the big fish.  Just make sure you can deliver on what you promise!
  3. If I charge too much, I’ll price myself out of the market!  Well, that depends on which market you’re aiming for.  Sure, if you want to try competing with the low-paying content mills, or other such websites or companies, chances are if you charge a reasonable rate, you will.  However, if you want to compete on a different level, dare I say on the professional level, having a reasonable rate is not only expected, it is encouraged.

Finding the Needle How to Use Classified Ads and Aggregate Sites for Freelance Work

Finding the Needle: How to Use Classified Ads and Aggregate Sites for Freelance Work

Finding the Needle How to Use Classified Ads and Aggregate Sites for Freelance WorkWhen you first start looking for freelance work, it can be difficult to know exactly where to look.  There are quite a few options out there, and finding ones that fit your needs can be a hassle.  As I said in last week’s post, which you can find here, I do have a few favorites that have proven, at least for me to be quite fruitful.  One of them falls under the category of what I call “raw classifieds” — or those sources that simply list the job, with no filtration, and no fuss.

So how do I use Craig’s List to find freelance work?  It’s actually pretty simple, especially if you keep in mind the points I made in the earlier blog post:  preparation is key, be picky about your sources, and be picky about your jobs.

So here goes — this is how I typically find the jobs I want to apply for on Craig’s List.  By the way, this process also works well for aggregator sites like problogger.com or freelancewriting.com as well.

Step 1:  Decisions, Decisions.

Before you even open up your browser, think about what type of jobs you’re going to apply for.  Set some criteria for what is acceptable.  Here are a few things to consider:

  • How many hours a week are you willing to devote to one project?
  • What is the minimum hourly or per word/flat fee you’re willing to accept
  • Is there any type of work that you consider taboo?  Something you simply will not do?
  • What is the max number of projects that you can work on right now?

Once you have this information determined, open up your browser and go to Craig’s List.  Since Craig’s List is regional, your “home” Craig’s List may be a different location, but the basic layout is the same:

 

There are two areas you want to focus on — the “Gigs” category in the lower right-hand corner, and the location menu on the right-hand side:


Finding the Needle: A Freelance Guide to Finding and Landing the Job

Finding the Needle: A Freelance Guide to Finding and Landing the Job

So you’ve decided to take the plunge, huh?

Well then, welcome to freelancing!  It’s a wild, sometimes frustrating, always competitive, and occasionally nerve-wracking, but if you’re anything like me, the idea of going back to the 9-5 job won’t be considered.  This life isn’t for everyone, but if it’s for you, you’ll know pretty quickly- say in about six months or so.

As a freelancer, you’ll no longer have the luxury of a regular paycheck, of having your employer deal with taxes, the employee provided insurance, or even paid time off.  Gone are the days of two-week paid vacations, regular hours, and camaraderie around the water cooler.  Say hello to 10 to 12 hour days at a time, multiple demanding bosses also known as clients, sometimes laughably low wages, and most of all the looming uncertainty of how to pay the next bill.

Still with me?  Stil want to be a part of this game?  If so, good — the world needs more people like you.

Five Things I Wish I Had Known About Marketing Before I Published My First Book

Five Things I Wish I Had Known About Marketing Before I Published My First Book

By Andrea Hintz

Through every process in life, we all have those, “I wish I had known” moments. We wish we had known how to do things better and how to be more effective. For this series, I chose the topic of five things I wished I had known about marketing before I published my first book. I would like to share my experiences in the hopes of helping new writers as they go through this exciting and inspiring journey. I will go ahead and dig straight into these five topics:

1. I wish I would have marketed more before the book was published.

This is hard to do when you are just learning about the world of writing and publishing books. The more you market in advance, the more promised readers you will have. It can be disappointing when you have been dreaming about getting your book published for such a long time, thinking about how the moment your book is available for sale, the sales will suddenly begin flooding in. But most of the time, this does not happen unless you put in a little pre-work with marketing before the book is published. I remember someone once saying that writing the book is only about half the work. The longer I experience the world of sales, the more and more I find this true. In fact, right now, writing the book only feels like about 20% of the work. So your next question might be, “How do I market my book before publishing it???” No worries. I got you covered. Read on my curious writer…

2. I wish I would have built up some book reviews before posting the book for sale.

If you have the ability to get some book reviews before you publish your book, that will help to build your status as a writer and make your books more desirable. Now, before I continue this article, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU COPYRIGHT YOUR BOOK FIRST! These steps will require getting your book out there before you can publish the book, and you want to make sure that your precious talent is protected. Go on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and ask your friends if they would accept a free PDF version of your book in exchange for an honest review. You can post the offer on your timeline, message individual friends, or both. I would recommend adding a watermark in Word, saying something like, “Copyright, 2017, Author Name.” Then change the Word document into a PDF so that it cannot be changed. Do this before distributing the book to strangers. Don’t know that many people who would be willing to give you a book review? Don’t worry. I got you covered for that too in my next topic.

Five Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started To Write (Crime) Fiction

Five Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started To Write (Crime) Fiction

Five Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started To Write (Crime) FictionBy Tony Knighton

1. You don’t need to ask permission.

I’ve always been a reader. I thought about writing something of my own, most often while reading stories or books that were poorly written, but for decades I didn’t. Once I got around to it, I realized I’d been waiting for someone or something to tell me that I was allowed to try. I didn’t need to wait.

2. Writing is hard.

A piece of published writing is one-way communication – the reader can’t ask follow-up questions. You have to do more than come up with a cool story and put it on paper. Good writing will make that story just as clear and fun for the reader as it is for the writer. The fun will be missing if the writing is weak.

3. Don’t worry if it’s bad at first.

Like any other activity worth pursuing, writing is a skill that needs to be developed. It takes practice. When we start, we may know what it is we want to achieve, but our skills aren’t up to it, yet. You should keep going – keep reading, keep writing. Revise. Don’t be discouraged. Find people nearby who write and talk to them about it. Read their stuff. When you’re ready, ask them to look at yours. Keep writing. Revise. Take some courses. Get into a writer’s group. Keep writing. Revise. Your stuff will get better.

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