Stories about life.
In other words, all stories all the time.
The stories may be about me, freelancing, fiction, something interesting that I saw, heard or know about, stories of inspiration, everyday foibles, funny stories, sad stories, silly stories. Well…I guess you get the idea.
My goal is to entertain you, give you something to think about and help you in any way I can. After all, a person is only as valuable as they serve others.
Feel free to look around, read something and let me know what you think.
May all your days be filled with wonderful stories.
Imagine this, you are a lowly little freelancer who wants desperately to be an affluent well-paid freelancer. You subscribe to all the right blogs and read them religiously. You download all the online marketing books and read them in one sitting.
You sign up for all the free mini-courses you can get your hands on and do all the lessons like a star pupil.
You sign up and attend all the webinars that promise to tell you all the secrets of freelancer-dom recognition and riches. You take copious notes and then transcribe them afterwards.
Then you put all the tips, tricks, secrets and methods into place. And. Then. Nothing happens. Absolutely nothing works.
Your head feels like it’s going to explode
You start to sweat. You wake in the middle of the night and wrack your brain for where you went wrong. It worked for them.
- They all have tribes who adore them.
- They all get to command top dollar.
- They all get scads of clients by offering their free info products and mini courses.
- They all have hundreds of daily hits on their blogs.
- They all have thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook likes.
What the hell?
Yeah, me too. In fact, I practically had a meltdown after the last webinar I did. I was totally overwhelmed, had no idea what to do and thought, “I am so screwed.”
So what’s a freelancer to do?
I think the short answer is you have to choose.
If you’ve been doing what I’ve described above, you’re probably feeling all flooped out. Feeling overwhelmed and worse, doubting yourself. Maybe you’ve even decided that you just aren’t cut out for freelancing.
But here’s the secret that they don’t tell you – a lot of these so-called experts are just regular people. They became experts only because they succeeded in convincing enough people that their methods were the methods to use.
Now, I’m not saying they’re wrong or that they’re not good at what they do. Obviously they’re good at what they do. But, it doesn’t mean you should do what they do or what they tell you to do.
And here’s another secret – most Internet experts are simply selling you on the method they discovered that worked for them. They went through a lot of trial and error and they finally hit on a method that worked for them.
Why it may not be working for you
Like the old saying goes, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ so may it be that one man’s marketing method is another man’s failure. It doesn’t mean that the method is wrong or that you’re wrong. It’s more a matter of it not being the right method for you. Look, if one method worked for everyone then there’d only be one method, right?
So the real trick, the real mother-load is finding the method that works for you.
Go with your strengths
While there is no silver bullet in marketing there are ways to narrow things down so you can find a place to start. Try this:
- Make a list of your strengths
- Looking at your strengths decide the easiest marketing approach for you
- Seek out marketing programs, consultants or marketeers that can help you learn or use that approach.
- Apply, rinse, repeat.
For example, if writing is a struggle for you, then marketing that requires a lot of writing probably won’t work for you. But if you’re good at talking to people, webinars might be the way to go. If you’re shy and break out into hives at the thought of getting up in front of a room full of people, then public speaking, face to face networking, etc. won’t work well for you either.
The experts are only as useful as their methods are workable
The truth is, there are a million ways you can promote your services or products. Maybe even one of your own creation – just choose one that you can do, plays to your strengths and doesn’t keep you up at night.
No, I’m not talking about fiction here (although that could be a topic for another day). I’m talking about you. Your life, your business, your deal, your story.
The reason I’m asking is because I’ve noticed that there is so much hero worship going on these days. You know? Movie stars, singers, computer geniuses, marketing gurus, TV doctors, judges and lawyers…
In fact, this story claims that we worship Tom Hanks the most. Really? Tom Hanks? Like what does Tom Hanks have to do with our day to day lives? Bupkis, if you ask me.
Most people I know are busting their humps to get through day. Work, kids, school, business, family obligations, rush hour traffic, grocery shopping – if you ask me it takes a true hero to face that stuff.
Not people who have private security guards and a team of assistants to fulfill their every need. I mean wouldn’t you love to have Tom Hanks’ staff for a day so you could lounge by the pool or even read a book for two hours without being interrupted?
Maybe your hero is in the last place you look
We all love role models, people we want to aspire to be like, whether because of their smarts, their success or the great stuff they do. It’s understandable. Most people strive to learn and be better in some way. I think that’s great.
But and it’s a big but, I think in our desire to be a new, better and improved self we often overlook how pretty darn great we already are.
Now, I’m not suggesting that people should drown themselves in self-love, but I am suggesting that maybe we should give ourselves a break.
Just for the heck of it, sit down and try to write down all the things you do in the course of a day, or in the course of a week. I’d be willing to bet that you’d fill up a lot of pages. And when you’re done look it over. Now consider this: is that the work of an ordinary human or some super hero who can drive, put on mascara, make the kids lunch and do a conference call at once? Could a mere mortal juggle everyone’s schedule, hold down a job; take everybody to practice and school while managing to look like Julia Roberts? I think not.
So the next time you get all down on yourself about your shortcomings, throw on your super hero/heroine cape (a sheet will do if yours is at the cleaners), laugh you best bad guy thwarting laugh and sing out, “Here I am to save the day!”
I guarantee it will make you feel better just to be your own hero for the day.
So, what death defying task did you perform today? Tell me all about it in the comments.
Anybody who has written more than a grocery list knows that sometimes stories just bomb. There’s no getting around it – not every idea is destined to live in infamy – I mean live forever…
But we writers really hate to part with our darlings.
They are part of us after all, right?
We put our hearts and souls into them and they deserve to live. Right?
Well, not so much.
Hell, even James Patterson has a bad day, on occasion.
Don’t despair there are things you can do with these terminal cases and I have the list below:
- Take it out back and shoot it. Or burn it, run it through the shredder, hit the delete key. Forever erase it from your mind. This is a tough one though for writers who secretly hide boxes of old stories under their beds. But it’s like ripping a band aid off – it only hurts for a little while.
- Strip it for parts. Even terminal stories may have some redeeming qualities – and perhaps that’s why you want to hang onto it. If so, take what’s usable and get rid of the rest. For example, does the story have a great character, a great name, descriptive passage or some snappy dialogue? Then grab that and put it in a file for future use in a new story.
- Reverse roles. Sometimes a story isn’t necessarily dead but it’s not working. Try a little role reversal. Make your heroine the bad guy and change up your villian to a super anti-hero. Pick a different venue or change the pov (point of view) or narrator. It may be the pick up the story needs to find a second life.
- Submit it to a bad story contest. Truthfully, I’m not sure there is a bad story contest but there is one for bad poetry and they offer prizes and everything. Heck you could even sponsor a bad story contest yourself with a few of your writer friends and start a whole new trend.
- Decoupage it to your desk. You know what that is, right? You take all the pages, glue them to your desktop and then apply thousands of layers of varnish until it is permanently fused to the desk. Doing this can serve as a reminder of what you don’t want to write. Like if you ever forget, you can just look at your desk to see what a dead story is.
- Donate it to your mom’s theater group. Local theater and acting groups often want material. And if the group is truly amateur they may not know it’s a dead story and could be grateful for the donation. However, you may have to attend on opening night, so be prepared.
- Send it out to publishers and contests. As they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the same must be true for stories. In fact, I know it is because I see movies, read books and watch television shows all the time that are utterly awful. Like the old saying goes, there’s a lid for every pot, so I’m suggesting there’s an audience for every story. However, this may require lots of postage or emailing.
That’s my list – feel free to add to the list in the comments below.
We lost an amazing woman today in Margaret Thatcher. AKA the Iron Lady.
Whether you loved her or hated her, she was an historic figure, a pioneer for women in politics and a staunch and loyal friend to America.
I just finished reading this incredible speech, given by Lady Thatcher and thought you might enjoy reading it too.
I for one, will miss her.
Look, let’s be honest – life can be a drag. Life can be hard. Life can be all work and no play. Things have been tough for a lot of people in the last couple of years—perhaps you’re one of those people. Maybe you’re working a job you hate just to pay the rent and feed yourself. Or you’re working two jobs because you can’t find full time work, or doing work on the side just to make ends meet. Believe me, I get it.
So, it can be hard to get inspired about anything – except maybe a large pizza with everything and an all weekend Lost marathon.
There’s an old adage that says, “The best things in life are free.” And maybe there is some wisdom in that statement. Have we become so accustomed to our super techie world that we’re unable to see the simple everyday miracles right under our noses? I think maybe we have.
So buck up maties and take a look at the following list to see if you can find inspiration in any of the following:
- Grow something from a seed. There is nothing more inspiring than growing something with your own hands. Seeds are very inexpensive, often you can find them in Dollar stores or discounted at the local nursery but even if you can’t afford that, you can harvest seeds from fruits and vegetables you already have. If you harvest your own seeds, make sure to dry them out before planting. It’s simple, just rinse them, dry them on a paper towel and set them in a warm dry spot for a week or so – then plant them. If you don’t have a yard, use a patio pot. If you don’t have a patio or porch, set up a pot on a table by a sunny window.
- Read a children’s book. Who can read The Cat in the Hat or Ham and Green Eggs and Ham, without smiling? Children’s books by their nature are meant to encourage, teach, and inspire. I dare you to read a Dr. Seuss book and not feel better.
- Make your own bread. There is something wonderful about the smell of fresh baked bread wafting through the air. This is a no fail recipe that enables anyone to make their own bread. And again if you’re on a tight budget, you can probably find all the supplies you need at the local dollar store.
- Make a little movie. This article discusses specifically making a book trailer but you can make any kind of movie you want. Maybe you want to make your own little inspirational movie. Have fun, it’s only for you so you can make it as bold or silly as you like. And play it whenever you want.
- Take a free course. Learning something new can open new worlds and ideas to you that maybe you didn’t even know were there. Free courses online abound everywhere. The ones offered here really inspired me.
- Volunteer. Nothing makes you feel better than helping someone else. It puts things in perspective and makes our own problems seem a little less daunting. There are hundreds of places to volunteer, hospitals, veteran centers, food banks, libraries, rest homes, etc. But even if you don’t want to commit to that you can learn about seniors in your neighborhood who could use some help, maybe a ride to church or the local grocery store, helping them weed their garden or walk their dog. If the will is there, you will find an opportunity.
- Take your grandparents or parents out to lunch. Your parents and grandparents are a wealth of information. They all have histories. They have all gone through hard times and survived. Why not take them out to lunch and ask them what life was like when they were their age. What challenges did they face? How did they overcome adversity. Learn your own family history – maybe you have some heroes in your family tree you never knew about from whom you could get inspiration.
- Mind map your brilliant ideas. This free software is a fun way to work out that idea you’ve had in the back of your mind for years or months. Why not work it out on paper to see if you could actually make it work?
- Personalize photos and make a collage. Everybody has photos – grab a bunch and head over to this free site. Spiff them up and make a collage and send it to your friends or post it on facebook or make it your computer wallpaper or screensaver. Or string a bunch of images together that creates a dream board. The possibilities are endless.
- Count your blessings. This is something none of us does enough. No matter how bad things may be in your life, they probably aren’t as bad as someone else. It’s so easy to focus on what is wrong with our lives while ignoring what is great. We often take the good things in our lives for granted rather than showing gratitude for them. I promise you if you just change this one thing you will see a real change in how you feel about yourself, your life, and other people.
The truth is, inspiration is really everywhere we turn. If we just open our eyes and look for it, we are sure to find it.
Are there things that inspire you? Tell me about them in the comments below.
How I find monikers for my characters
We fiction writers have our tips and tricks for how we do what we do. And sometimes we get stuck. Personally, I can get stuck on a character name for days. And I can’t go forward until I fight the right name. It has to look right. It has to feel right. It has to sound right. And it has to sound like a real name. Like somebody you’d meet in your daily life.
Let me count the ways
Over the years I had many ways that I’d try to find just the right name. Sometimes it came out of the blue. Sometimes I’d go through phone books or other directories to find one that grabbed me. I’d scan through the obits of newspapers. But usually I’d end up thumbing through several baby name books. Yes, I have several and they have proven the wealthiest source of character names for me.
Is there meaning in the meaning?
One of the things I love about my baby name books is that they not only have hundreds of names to choose from – but that they tell you what the name means. And this was my ‘aha!” moment with these resourceful little books. If I knew the characteristics and purpose of my characters I could find a way to match them to a name.
For example the main character in my book False Witness (insert link here) is Billy Frayne. William means ‘determined’ and Frayne means ‘stranger’. Put the two together and you get a determined stranger. This for me worked incredibly well because Billy goes off looking for a stranger to get to the truth he is determined to find. Another character in an upcoming novel is named Kennie. To ken is to know. This too is applicable to this character.
Exception to the rule
Now I don’t always use this method. Sometimes the name just comes to me. The universe just serves it up on a silver platter and I’m off to the races. But when I get stuck thumbing through my books looking for the meaning of names often does unearth just the right one for me. It’s not always easy and it’s not always quick but it does work for me. So, if you get stuck – give it a try.
How about you? What are you secrets for find the right character name? Let me know in the comments below.
Okay, I admit it – I am an information junkie. If somebody is offering a free webinar, audio file or eBook, I’m downloading it before I finish reading the promo. And while I love all this free stuff that people give out, I conveniently overlook the fact that rather than help me, it puts me in a state of information overload.
What’s wrong with free information?
Well in a word, nothing is wrong with free information. However, if you just gallop across the Internet downloading free stuff indiscriminately you can end up getting confused. For example, I’m always looking for new ideas on Internet marketing. God knows there are thousands of folks out there offering those services, products and advice. Unfortunately, not all of them really know what they are talking about. Or the information really is just a thinly disguised come-on to encourage you to sign up and pay for their products or services. The valuable stuff is great but it also requires you do stuff. You have to take action with the information in order to get any real usefulness out of it. But most of all, it seems everybody has a different approach, a different angle and a different attitude on the topic. So you have to decide which one is right. But there isn’t necessarily one right way to go about it. Dilemma.
The cacophony of methods and advice can be absolutely overwhelming and leave you utterly confused. And unfortunately can leave you in worse shape than you started out.
How do you make it work for you?
First things first. If you’re confused, overloaded and overwhelmed, you need to stop. Stop looking, stop downloading, and stop buying products and services. Then you need to take a breath. Several breaths actually. Maybe take a walk to look at some flowers, the sky or even other people (just to ensure you aren’t really the only person on planet Earth). Then go home and write down the answers to the following questions:
- What specific problem/issue am I trying to address?
- What information am I lacking in this specific problem/issue?
- What information do I have available to me that can help me take action right now to address the problem/issue?
Once you have those answers you can then go through all your free stuff and find any information that will specifically address your current needs. The rest of it you can choose to ignore or put away for another time or even delete it. Rest assured there will always be mountains of free stuff to choose from at a future date.
What if the problem is that I don’t know what the problem is?
Sometimes you’ll find that you are so immersed in your problem that you really can’t name it and that your thirst for information is more about just finding a starting place. In that case, choose. It doesn’t matter what you choose it matters more that you choose and then take action. Put everything else out of your mind and just apply the one method or piece of advice you’ve chosen and go for it.
Give yourself a break
Don’t feel bad about being buttered all over the place or reprimand yourself for your confusion. We’re hit with thousands of bits of data per minute, whether it is from the Internet, Social Media, television, movies or advertising. The sheer volume could stop a stampeding rhino. The value in information is in the value it gives to you.