Saturday, November 29, 2008

Live blogging our last NaNoWriMo write-in

I am blogging from Tattered Cover (a local independent bookstore) at our last NaNoWriMo write-in. Probably because it is Thanksgiving weekend, there are only four of us here.

When I arrived — about 20 minutes late — I couldn't find anyone, and a couple of old ladies were sitting in the meeting area we had reserved. After wandering around for a little while, I found one other writer I recognized; we claimed a table, I posted a new thread on the NaNoWriMo forums, and before long we had two other writers. Now we're back in our usual spot, which should make it easier to find us if anyone else comes — but I'm thinking it'll be just us.

Actually, though, I haven't worked on my novel yet this write-in. In fact, I haven't worked on it now for about two weeks, I think. I was hoping the write-in would be good inspiration for me, but so far all I've done is worked on my blogs!

I've been doing a lot of non-writing things since meeting my deadlines, just in time for Thanksgiving. Michael gave me a new display cabinet as an early Christmas present, so I have been busy getting dolls out of storage and arranging them, not to mention working on doll and clothing repairs that have been on my to-do list for a very long time, in some cases several years. I've also been having fun photographing my dolls and working on my doll stringing blog. I even sewed a little quilt for a doll bed I have — something I've been meaning to do since I got the bed last spring!

Despite all my apparent procrastinating, I actually am warming up to working on my novel again. Hustling to meet those deadlines took a lot out of me, and I think I needed some time to "play" with my dolls and destress before working on writing — any writing — again.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Back to noveling... albeit a little too late

Today I finished all of my marketing writing work for one of my biggest clients. As usual, the last week of the month was extremely busy as I worked toward the deadlines, and as a result I haven't had a chance to work on my novel since I last added to my word count.

I have resigned myself to not making 50,000 words this November, but I am going to keep on with my novel. This particular plot is one I've had in mind for several years, and now that I have finally started on it, I want to be sure I finish — even if it's not in a month!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beware of work-at-home scams!

WritersWeekly.com ran an article today by Cee Gee, warning readers about a text editing scam she ran across once. The scam wasn't to get free work, but to use writers to launder money by building up their trust and then ask them to become an "agent" for the supposed text editing business.

It's a good reminder that freelance writers should always be suspicious of work-at-home writing and editing jobs that don't make sense or that sound too good to be true. Because of the nature of our work, and because so many newbies join our ranks every year not knowing much about what to expect, writers are much more susceptible to online scams than the average person — and therefore we need to be extra cautious when looking for and accepting work!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

13,957 words

Although I haven't technically got caught up in my work to the point that I can take the day or two to work on my novel that I wanted, I was able to add more than 2,500 words to my word count tonight (Saturday night). My goal for the weekend is 6,000 words, so happily I've accomplished almost half of that. If I can find the time to work on client projects tomorrow and write another 3,500 words of my novel, I'll be a very happy little writer!

And now... I'm so tired that I'm nearly seeing double. Hard to believe that two and a half hours ago, I was telling myself I was too tired to work much on my novel. Now I'm downright exhausted — but happy to have proven myself wrong!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Falling further behind on NaNoWriMo

As you will have noticed if you've been paying attention to my word count, I haven't been doing so well making time for novel-writing lately. I have had a whole slew of distractions, the primary one being car problems.

My goal right now is to keep up with my regular work as much as possible. Once my car is fixed (I have a part special-ordered that is supposed to arrive Saturday) and I'm a little bit ahead on my billable work, I am going to reserve a day or two solely for noveling, and see if that can help me recover the ground I've lost!

FreelanceHomeWriters.com: Just another Freelance Work Exchange?

I've written a lot of posts over the years about Freelance Work Exchange and GoFreelance.com, both of which are membership sites where you pay to access ads for freelance writing gigs. In general, most professional writers agree that this is a scam to make you pay for job leads — something you should never pay for because you can easily find them for free, on sites like Deb Ng's Freelance Writing Jobs.

(Not to mention there are many reports of members finding it difficult or downright impossible to cancel their membership, which seems like a really dishonest ploy to get at least one full month's charge out of people who try the $2.95 trial and then want to cancel before the full memberhsip kicks in.)

This morning a friend and colleague sent me a link for a site she found advertised on Craigslist. Although the name is different, FreelanceHomeWriters.com (I'm not linking to them because I don't want them to benefit from my link!) sounds exactly like Freelance Work Exchange and GoFreelance.com. They have the exact same premise (you pay a membership fee for access to job leads), a very similar hard sell ("The jobs come to you!"), and even the same 7-day trial membership for $2.95.

What do you want to bet that people who sign up for Freelance Home Writers' trial membership will have the same difficulties canceling as FWE and GoFreelance members have reported? Even if that doesn't happen, though, it angers me to see how FreelanceHomeWriters.com belittles real writers.

For instance, one of the headings on the sales page proclaims,

These Companies Don't Care Who You Are, Where You Live, Or Your Level Of Education
The writing tasks you'll be doing will be so easy an 8-year-old child could do them...

Secondly, the site clearly is going to provide primarily low-paying writing work, judging by their idea of how to calculate your earning potential as a writer:

FreelanceHomeWriter.com advocates low-paying writing work

I don't know which makes me angrier, deriding our work as something even an 8-year-old could do, or suggesting that $10 an article is good pay!

Judging by everything I've pointed out here, it seems to me that Freelance Home Writers is yet another ploy to take advantage of newbie writers who don't yet understand the way the industry works.

I think all of my regular readers probably agree with me hands-down that paying a membership fee for job listings is totally unnecessary ‐ not to mention that the sites are quite possibly a scam. However, my past blog posts about Freelance Work Exchange and GoFreelance have also been quite successful at capturing new visitors via search engine traffic, and warning off the folks savvy enough to research a service before signing up. I hope this post will do the same for Freelance Home Writers!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NaNoWriMo novel info and excerpt updated

I finally updated my Novel Info tab on my NaNoWriMo profile with a synopsis (of sorts) and an excerpt. If you read it please feel free to leave feedback in the comments here on my blog!

Monday, November 10, 2008

11,320 words

As I expected, I didn't reach 15,000 words tonight, which is roughly where I ought to be right now. However, I am quite happy with adding another 1,800 words or so to my total word count.

According to my NaNoWriMo progress report, I need to write about 1,900 words a day in order to make it to 50,000 words by the end of the month. Obviously I am still falling short of that, but I am steadily increasing my writing time and amounts every day, so I have hope that I will get up there and maybe even get caught up this week!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

9,500 words: Making progress!

I have a lot of catching up to do to reach the roughly 15,000 words I should be at by the end of the weekend, but I'm making some serious progress: Tonight I added another 1,608 words to my novel, bringing my total up again to exactly 9,500 words.

I suppose 5,000 words tomorrow is probably not feasible, as I have too much else to do: I want to ride Panama, change the coolant in my car, and get some billable work done for my biggest client. However, I'm feeling pretty good about catching up sometime in the next couple of days!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

7,562 words and my first write-in

Today I attended about an hour and a half of a write-in for NaNoWriMo — my first write-in ever. I got a lot of good writing done there — 1,631 words, which brings my word count up to 7,562.

I never went to any write-ins for NaNoWriMo 2006, only the weekly social meetings. And I never wrote a single word for NaNoWriMo 2007, so I only made it to one of the social meetings last year.

All that to say that I didn't really know what to expect at the write-in tonight. I'd heard that people actually got writing done at write-ins (rather than the crazy fun we have at the social meet-ups), but boy was I impressed when I arrived and saw about half a dozen people, sitting in armchairs and on sofas pulled up to form a small circle, WRITING.

After I'd been there for about an hour, one of the other NaNo-ers suggested a word count race. The idea was to see who could write the most words in nine minutes. (I don't know why it was only nine...) I wrote 428 words, about 100 words behind the "winner."

In any case, the write-in was a success for me, as I added more than fifteen hundred words to my word county. I still have a lot of catching up to do, though!

Friday, November 07, 2008

5,931 words: Time to start catching up

After several days of not working on my novel, tonight I finally added another 1,281 words, for a grand total of 5,931. That still puts me significantly behind, since I should have over 10,000 words by now!

Of course, the calendar widget seems to be having some problems right now, so please go by my reported word count and NOT what the calendar says — at least not until it starts working again!

I am anticipating having some extra time to work on my novel tomorrow evening, and on Saturday I'm attending a NaNoWriMo write-in for my area, so hopefully by the end of the weekend I'll have gotten caught up. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Goodbye, Michael Crichton

I was saddened to see a headline today on NPR that the well known author Michael Crichton died of cancer. I haven't ever read any of his books, but I've enjoyed many movies he had a hand in writing — apparently, more than I thought, as I had no idea that he wrote some of these screenplays (such as Twister). You can see the full list here.

Even though I haven't read any of Michael Crichton's books, hearing that he'd passed away was a shock. The article says he's a "tower of a man," but I would have said that he is a towering figure in modern literature. It'll be strange to know that he is gone.

Perhaps now would be a good time to finally read one of his books — my own way of honoring his life and work!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Archiving emails in Outlook

I want to share something I learned over the weekend about archiving emails in Outlook.

On Thursday, I decided to archive my emails in Outlook — something I haven't really done before. I let it run all day before finally canceling it so that I could turn off my computer.

On Friday, I discovered to my horror that emails were missing from my Outlook! That's how I discovered that archived emails are no longer actually available in Outlook 2000. (I don't know if it's different in newer versions of Outlook; it may very well be.)

Friday night, I used Mozy (thank heavens for online backup!) to restore my Outlook files, which thankfully hadn't been backed up since the day before I rashly decided to archive my old emails. Saturday I spent organizing my Outlook, filing emails (something I hadn't done in a while), and archiving individually the email folders that I don't use anymore.

So this is what I learned about archiving emails in Outlook. If it's something you use frequently, don't archive it. If it's not something you anticipate needing, archive it in smaller, identifiable files, rather than one big "archive.pst" file.

Example: I have a separate inbox folder for each of my clients. Each client gets their own archive file, so that they are smaller and more manageable, not to mention easy to locate. If I need to restore emails, I just have to deal with a few MB of information, rather than 1.5 GB.

I am also not archiving recent emails for ongoing clients (i.e. emails I might still need to reference). All of my old clients are getting archived; and with my bigger, more steady clients, everything except for the last six or 12 months of emails got archived.

This took a lot of time — half my weekend, actually — but now that my personal folder .pst file is cut almost in half, Outlook is behaving itself much better than before!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NaNoWriMo calendar widget is back -- and working!

As of this evening, the NaNoWriMo calendar widget is working, so I put it back on my blog. I also changed what the images link to: The participant badge links to my NaNoWriMo profile, and the calendar widget links to my NaNoWriMo progress report.

I was tired yesterday evening and I've had a busy day today, so I haven't written any more since I last updated at 4,650 words. However, since I was a little bit ahead, it's not a big deal — I'm only about 2,000 words behind right now, IF I don't write any more this evening.

Right now I'm heading out to a social meet-up for NaNoWriMo-ers in my area. I'll blog more about that — and report any progress — later!

Monday, November 03, 2008

New NaNoWriMo widget

I got tired of having a NaNoWriMo widget that didn't work, so I changed it for the time being. The new widget has a bar graph, my current (reported) word count, the percentage done (out of 50,000 words), and the number of days left of NaNoWriMo.

I still prefer the calendar widget, though, so if it starts working again I'll put it back in the sidebar.

How profitable is freelance writing?

The new issue of WHY Magazine is live, and according to a list they've rerun from Forbes.com, writing is the third most profitable home-based business!

How can this be, when writers have such a reputation in our society as starving artists? Surveys demonstrate that the vast majority of writers do not earn a living wage. However, since this list is based on profit margins (13 percent on average for writers), I'm guessing writers place high because we have some of the fewest expenses of any home-based business, meaning that more of our income is actually profit.

Of course, as I've said before, it annoys me how society supports low-paying writing jobs. Since your income is primarily profit, there is no reason why you can't make a living as a freelance writer — so long as you have the determination and are willing to devote the time.

'Novel' means 'new'

I am one hundred percent in love with my NaNo novel.

I'm serious. I can't stop thinking about it. I think I'm even going to work on it today and save my paying work for this evening. I had so many great ideas for it this morning that I was itching to get down on paper (well, on screen).

One of the reasons why I think I love it so much is because it's different: different from anything I've ever written, and different than almost anything I've ever read. Not we-can't-publish-that kind of different (I hope), but different enough to hopefully interest readers as much as it interests me.

That's the way it should be, though, I think. Novel the adjective means new, so a novel should be something new: a story or a point of view or a character the likes of which haven't been seen before in the world of fiction. Plots and characters and settings that are rehashed versions of other books are boring.

Are you writing a novel this November? Make sure it's something fresh and new — preferrably in a good way!

4,650 words: Off to a screaming start!

The NaNoWriMo moderators suggested that we get at least 3,000 words this weekend. So imagine my surprise tonight when I realized I had gone from around 2,800 words to 4,650 words in just two hours!

The novel is going far better than I had even dreamed it would. I was worried about getting into the narrator's voices (I'm writing in first person from a male point of view) but it doesn't seem to be a problem so far. And the story just keeps flowing!

Unfortunately, one thing is going to be different from when I did NaNoWriMo before: I can't stay up as late at night to write. In 2006 I stayed up until 3 or 4 am most nights writing, but I'm on an earlier schedule now, primarily out of necessity: I need to get up with Michael and take him to work on days when I need to borrow his car.

Have no fear, though. I am sure I will still find plenty of time to work on my novel!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaNoWriMo word count calendar widget not working

You may have noticed that my calendar word count widget in the sidebar reads 0 words. No, that's not my real word count! I wrote almost two thousand words last night and about 300 this afternoon, so my actual word count is currently around 2,800 (and I'm not done for the day yet).

It appears the calendar widget is not working, but the other word count widgets work fine. If the calendar widget doesn't start working properly in the next few days, I'll switch to one of the functional ones. I'm sure you are all dying to know how I am doing!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

557 words: A decent start!

It may only be 557 words, but it's 557 words more than I wrote last year!

Actually, I think it's a pretty good start for the very first couple of hourse — especially considering I was busy until about 1:30 am with computer issues. (Never archive emails in Outlook that you will want to access again — or trust me, you'll be sorry!)

I almost went to bed without writing anything tonight, but I decided I wanted to get started off on the right foot. My goal was to write the prologue, which I've done. Tomorrow I'll try to write the first chapter!

Wish me luck!


Popular Posts