Tag Archives: freelance writers

Creating Memorable Characters

25 Feb

003Good morning to you all!  I am very happy that someone took me up on my offer to guest blog.  Let me introduce you to Jennifer Arnett, who was so kind to do my work for me. J  The following is from Jennifer.  Oh, and Jennifer….you didn’t leave me a link…give me one and I’ll post it here so others can follow you.


“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”  Winston Churchill


Do you ever think about the evil people of the world and what they were like as children?  Hitler was once a little two year old who needed a diaper change.   He probably shared his toys with the neighborhood kids.  He probably cried when he skinned his knee.  How then do you think he became the man he was?  What process corrupts the soul to a point of no return?  How does a boy turn into a monster?


As a writer you will be tempted to project yourself into your characters.  This can be positive, in that it creates an emotional bond between you and the character.  However, putting too much of yourself into the story can corner your character and dissuade growth.

When creating a character, you define everything about them; their hopes, dreams, moral code, beliefs, relationships, fears, flaws, and tastes.  Great writing comes out of the desire to understand the human condition.  To create extraordinary characters, you must learn to see the world through opposing lenses.

Here is the challenge:  Craft a character that is exactly the opposite of who you are.  If you are a patient person, create the character to be impatient.  If you believe in a higher power, create a character that does not.  If you believe in a system of justice, create a character that is unjust and lawless.

This will not only help you to create interesting villains, but you will come to realize, that once you figure out what a character is not, you can chip away at who they are.



Again, thank you so much Jennifer.  The offer is open to any of you.  If you choose not to follow this format that is fine.  Whatever makes you comfortable. I would just like to see an exchange of ideas among writers, and this is one platform upon which we can do that.

Have a great week of writing.

Oh, one other thing….Sha gave me a heads up about a new offer from Amtrak…they will begin offering free writers’ residencies….ride free and write….sounds like a cool gig…here is an article on it.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Censorship and Writing

10 Dec

003Welcome back my friends. I hope you find something in today’s post that interests you and maybe even helps you along your writing journey.

I have so many topics I want to write about today. I was going to write about reaching out and helping another writer, mainly because I am still blown away by the number of writers who have blogs and yet do not highlight other writers on those blogs.  Hello!!!!!  We are each other’s support groups.  Anybody listening????

But I don’t want to write about that today. Instead I want to write about censorship.

But first, a quote.


The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.
Tommy Smothers

How cool is that? I found a quote by Tommy Smothers. LOL

This subject came up yesterday when I was downloading a new article onto HubPages. Immediately a notice was posted telling me that automatic filters determined that the article was in violation of whatever and that advertising would be disabled.

Shucky darn!

I have six articles that have had advertising disabled. Five are on child abuse and then this new one about suicide.

What’s up with that?  Is HubPages telling me that nobody in the world wants to read about those two subjects, or are they telling me that the subject matter is too intense for most people and the advertisers don’t want to be associated with anything that causes people to, oh, I don’t know….THINK!

It makes no difference to me, but I do think it is a bit idiotic.  If they really want to make money at HubPages, they will publish controversial material.  Places like Reddit thrive on controversy.  People in general love controversy.  If you really want readership wouldn’t you want to give the readers what they obviously want?

Anyway, censorship…..something to keep in mind.  If you are a writer and you are discouraged from writing something because someone finds it distasteful, then shame on you.  We have this thing called Freedom of Speech in this country, and as long as you do not do harm to others then you are free to speak, or write, your mind.

Remember that!


A shout out to a friend of mine….Susan….and she has this thing going about random acts of kindness. A subject that is near and dear to my heart, so check her out here and give her some support.


The Crime Writers Association has a contest going on right now for unpublished novels in that genre. You can read all about it here.


winter in my little slice of heaven 014

Hopefully this picture will stir something inside of you and be the genesis of a new article.


GrubStreet is offering forty scholarships of $200 each to writers to use for any class they want to take. Find out about it here.


I’ve got things to do, places to go and people to see, and I’m sure you do as well, so let’s get busy. Until Thursday, have fun writing.  It is supposed to be enjoyable you know.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.” 

Revolutionary Growth As Writers

29 Nov

003I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday….and Happy Friday to you all!  The weekend is upon us…the blessed weekend.  What are you going to do?  Resting sounds good to me right now.

I’m writing this on Wednesday, and as soon as I finish this post I’m going to get busy on my new novel. I don’t know what the name of it is yet; my working title is “The Coffee Shop Quixote” but I’m sure that will change in time.

Today I’m doing something I rarely do and that is go back and do some fill in.  I usually write the novel first and then go back on the 2nd write and fill in character descriptions and scenes, but I’ve got a wild hair this morning about one part of the book, and I’m not going to be happy until I go back and fix that section up a bit….I have a vision of a scene and I need to write it while I still have it, if that makes any sense.


I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.
Steve Jobs

Too bad he died. I think it would have been cool to sit down and have a chat with Jobs and pick his brain. Some of his quotes really move and inspire me. This quote for example; I love how it fits in with writing.  I can see it in my own writing. I will make incremental improvements based on accepted writing theory, and then I’ll say “to hell with it” and head off in an illogical direction and just see what happens.

And yes, there will be those who tell me that I failed and I’ll be honest, it hurts when I hear those words….but I am secure enough in my talent to know those folks are a minority and that I actually do “have game” with regards to writing.

So the message of the day is always keep improving.  Improve in small ways and take a chance in big ways….and, like my father used to say, always keep moving forward.


Say hello to my friend Suzette and her blog. You can find it here.  I’ve known Suzette on HubPages for quite some time. She is a former teacher who is quite knowledgeable about authors and the classics.  I’m sure you will find her interesting and informative….and loyal.



Enjoy it ….feel it….use it to practice with….write one paragraph describing it….and above all have fun.


Have a great weekend and thank you for being here.  Do something special for yourselves this weekend.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Making Money As A Writer

22 Oct

003Welcome back to our next installment on Artistry With Words. I hope your weekend was restful, and you are now chomping at the bit to get out there and gallop with your words.

Today let’s talk about making money.  How’s that for a subject all writers are interested in?


All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.
Spike Milligan

Oh man I love that quote.  I would love to tell you that making money isn’t important to me, but that would be a bald-faced lie.  Of course I want to make money.  I get tired of mac-n-cheese just like everyone else. I’d love to have the money to take Bev out for a nice dinner at a restaurant or, heaven forbid, actually go on a real vacation like the ones I read about online.  I don’t need to be rich but damn, it sure would be nice to be secure. J

If I had to name the number one complaint I see from writers it would be related to making money….especially those who make money from online endeavors…blogging, writer’s sites like HubPages or Bubblews, content mills….everyone is looking for a bigger piece of the pie and I understand that.

Here’s what I think:


What has worked for you in the past? Where have you had success, no matter how limited?  Figure that out and then replicate it.  As my dad was fond of saying, beating a dead horse does no good at all.  If something you are doing is not working then quit doing it.  Duh!  If something is working then keep on doing it.  Duh!


Contact other writers who are finding success and brainstorm with them.  Ask for their advice.  Quit bouncing around your writing studio talking to yourself and seek the counsel of others who have had success.  I have found writers to be very generous with advice when asked, but of course I only hang with giving people. J


Write a business plan for yourself. All businesses have them, and if you are writing for money then writing is a business.summer of 2010 015


Work harder!  I don’t see any reason to expound on this one.


Help each other.  Combined you can become a force; alone you can become a lost wanderer with barely enough money to buy a Big Mac.

Here, I’ll give you an example.  One of my favorite young writers, and a genuinely good person, is Marissa.  You can find her blog, Tiny Pilgrim, here, and I encourage you all to give her some support and spread the love.


No contests, no nothing other than the above-mentioned tips.  You know where to find me if you want to chat about making money.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

A Writer’s Self-Image

17 Oct

003And a very happy Thursday to you all!  What’s happening in your literary world right now?

I have a rather self-reflective and serious question for you today.  I can hear you all groaning from here but that won’t deflect my purpose.  Are you ready?

How do you see yourself as a writer?  In other words, what is your writing self-image?

Let’s start with a quote and then we’ll discuss this more.


The person we believe ourselves to be will always act in a manner consistent with our self-image.
Brian Tracy

I love that quote and it is oh, so true.

So back to the question: what is your self-image regarding your writing abilities?  This is a bit tricky, isn’t it?  If we say we are incredible then maybe our self-image is a bit inflated, and that isn’t good…if we say we are horrible then obviously we have some work to do with that regard.

Do you have a trusted friend who will be honest with you about your abilities?  Family member?  Do you belong to a writers’ group where you can get objective opinions about your writing?  Hell, do you even want to know?  LOL

Think about it.  We must believe in ourselves because let’s face it, our fan club is rather small on the best of days….but…..our image must be realistic as well so that we can move forward and affect improvement.


street fair Aug 2012 013

Yes, you know what I want you to do….write 200 words describing this picture, but put it in fiction form today.


The Colorado Prize For Poetry is accepting submissions. Entry fee is $25 and first prize is a $2000 honorarium.  This is for poetry books, or collections of poetry.  You can read about it here.


Go find the best thing you have ever written.  We all have a favorite piece so don’t tell me that you don’t have one.  Now, read it and then ask yourself what it is about that piece that makes it your favorite. Once you have answered that question, then replicate the strength of that piece the next time you write something.  Build on your victories…they are your strengths….they are what make you a good writer.


Time to go; I have a novel that is demanding my attention.  Have a great day writing!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Writers Struggle and Writers Succeed

15 Oct

003I just mentioned on Facebook that I’m growing my hair long. I figure if I’m going to be a struggling writer I might as well look like one. LOL  It’s all part of the five year plan my friends.

Welcome back to Artistry With Words, the blog by writers, for writers and about writers and writing.  No fees or dues here; just discussions, observations and helpful tips.

And today we are going to talk about struggles….but first, a quote.


All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.
Pope Paul VI

I hear often from new writers on HubPages who grow impatient because they are not receiving the number of views they expected.  And my response is always the same:  be patient and keep working on your craft and your plan.

You do have a plan, don’t you?  I have mentioned before that I have a five-year plan in writing.  Now five years may seem like a long time to some, and probably, since I’m now sixty-five and beginning Year Three of my plan, it should seem long to me as well, but…..Steinbeck went something like seven years before selling his first short story to a magazine….so I’m not feeling real bad about Year Three.  The way I see it, I’m four years ahead of Steinbeck.  LOL

If you are a person who simply wants to make some online passive income, then go to Bubblews and click away.  If you are a writer who has a grander vision, then keep working and be patient.


Write out a business plan for your writing endeavors.  It will give you focus and a blueprint of success to follow.  Otherwise you will be like so many writers first starting out, wandering aimlessly hoping to find success by osmosis.  Is that really what you want to be doing?


J.F. Powers Prize For Short Fiction, taking submissions of up to 8,000 words through November….NO ENTRY FEE!  Did I mention there is no entry fee? First prize is $500 and national recognition.  You can check out the submission guidelines here.


Would you like a residency in Portugal for a few months? Check it out here.


odds and ends in Feb 2012 007

I’m still on the five senses kick. Write 200 words about this picture and appeal to all five senses.  Great drill to help you relate to readers in a way they all can understand.


Hey you recipe writers and food writers…Louisiana Cookin’ accepts queries and is a nationally recognized food magazine.  Check them out here.


I’m actually late and I apologize. I forgot to write this Monday so here I am at 9:03 PDT putting the finishing touches on it. I hope you found it useful.  I’ll see you again on Thursday provided I remember.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

You Can’t Fake Quality

8 Oct

003Welcome back to a new week of writing discussions. I trust your weekend was rewarding and restful.  Now let’s get to work.


There are as many opinions as there are experts.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

And you know what they say about opinions, don’t you?  It’s a bit gross so I won’t repeat it here. J


The point is this:  simply stating that you are an expert in the writing business is practically worthless.  That statement and a couple bucks will get you a small coffee.  You had better be able to back up your claim.

I liken it to building a house.  If you use sub-standard materials you are most likely going to have a pile of sticks the first time a good wind blows, or you’ll have a small pond in your living room the first time a cloud burst arrives.

Building a writing platform and establishing credibility takes time.  You can only fool an editor once.  You can send the greatest query letter in the world, and an editor will bite, but if the promised work is sub-standard you will never hear from that editor again.

The same can be said for those customers who want you to write for them, be it a newsletter or a blog or whatever.  If you promise quality writing you damn well better be able to deliver quality writing.  You might be able to fake your marketing campaign but you’ll never be able to fake good writing.

Work on your craft!


Check out Janine at J9 Designs if you want help setting up a profitable blog. I have known Janine for over a year now and I can tell you without hesitation that this lady knows her stuff.   She is a perfect example of claiming to be an expert and having the platform to prove it.  You can find her company here.


winter in my little slice of heaven 009

Remember the five senses.  Do a little writing exercise and write a couple paragraphs, based on this picture, that appeal to all five senses.


Writer’s Village has an international short story contest going on now. Cash prizes and feedback from professionals about the quality of your short story. Deadline is November 30th and work max is 3000 words.  You can find them here.


If you want a successful and professional platform then work at building it.  No shortcuts.  Learn as much as you can about freelance writing or just writing in general.  Read the classics.  Join a writer’s group.  Look for feedback.  Try different genres.  This is how it’s been done for decades and it is a proven path for success.


I need to get back to work so that’s it for today.  I’ll see you in two days with more thoughts on writing.  You can find me on my other blog, A Moment With Bill, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”



Marketing and Writing: An Uneasy Partnership

10 Sep

003And a very Happy Tuesday to you all.  I hope you had a great weekend or at the very least a restful one.  Shall we once again tackle the subject of writing?

I had a very sobering conversation with Bev yesterday.  I read her a new article that I posted today, and I told her how much I enjoyed that type of writing….the social conscious stuff…the inspirational stuff…but I also said I don’t know how to make money doing it.  I’m an essayist if I had to narrow down my niche…I’m kind of a Henry David Thoreau without his talent. J   Or put it another way, I’m one of those coffee house poets of the 1950’s and early 60’s….I have important things to say but don’t have a clue how to translate my passion into money.

Well, I do have a plan, but whether it works or not is another question….but back to the point. Bev listened to me and then told me that I needed to call on my first college degree and start marketing my work.

Of course I started to get defensive and tell her that I do market my work, but then the truth smacked me in the face…..I don’t even come close to doing the marketing that is necessary to become known in this business.  I need to get out of my comfort zone and start hawking my wares….and God how I hate doing that.  Truth be told I just want to sit in my writing studio and write, and I want millions to knock on my door and buy my stuff.

It just doesn’t work that way.


Don’t blame the marketing department. The buck stops with the chief executive.
John D. Rockefeller 

 Unfortunately for us writers, the marketing department and the chief executive are the same person….us.



I don’t know why I chose this picture.  Just look at it and see if you get any vibes from it.


UCross Foundation Residencies in Wyoming.  A quiet place to work on your craft…room, board and stipend. Deadline is October 1st and you can find the application here.


The Dogwood Multi-Genre Contest with a $15 entry fee and a submission deadline of October 15th. Submission guidelines can be found here.


Do one thing each day to market yourself.  If you need some ideas I wrote a couple articles on marketing writing and you can find them on HubPages…..and I think I better read them again because I need to pick up my game.


Maybe you have no desire to sell your writings. If that is the case then ignore 75% of this blog.  If, however, you would one day like to be paid what you think you are worth J  then you need to start marketing.  How else will the world discover just how talented you are?

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Writing With Randomness

15 Aug

003Welcome back and Happy Thursday!

I love this time of year; the days are noticeably shorter and there is a slight chill in the air in the evening, and quite frankly I find it much easier to write when the temperature is comfortable.

I’m all over the place today trying to decide what to write about, and yes, that is the topic for today…randomness.


I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.
Robert Frost

Thank you Robert Frost.  I thought I was the only one who wrote like that.

Here’s a look inside my writing process.  I see something….here something….think of something….and I’ll think huh, that would make a good article.  I then write a working title down and save it.  Eventually I go back to that working title and the article starts writing itself.  I have no clue how it is going to end, and it always manages to come to some point without too much of my help.

I love that process.  As Frost points out, it is a process of discovery and I find it exciting as hell.


“Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Yep, Frost again, and that, my friends, is writing at its finest.  If I even approach that kind of writing….if I ever get within a sniff of that quality of writing…I will be a very satisfied writer indeed!


July drive in Olympia 033

You don’t need me to tell you what to do with this….the road less traveled.


The Miami University Press Novella Contest is back and the deadline for a previously unpublished novella is October 14th.   You can find the submission guidelines here.


Throw nothing away.  Delete nothing.  Every single piece of writing you have done is valuable and who knows when you will find inspiration and need that short story you wrote ten years ago.

When I was a teen, records used to come out and the singles would have an A side and a B side. The A side was the big “hit,” the one the radio stations would be pushing, and the B side was supposed to be a nice tune but not of the quality of the A side tune.

I can’t tell you the number of times the B side tune became a huge hit while the A side tune sank into obscurity.

Throw nothing away!


Bubblews is the talk of the writing community right now, supposedly a site where passive income is made much faster than on sites like HubPages.  Give it a look here and see for yourself.


So much to do and so little time…welcome to my world, and your world, and yours, and yours…..

May you find all the time you need to chase your dreams.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Do You Compromise Quality For Quantity As A Writer?

24 Jun

003Welcome back this Monday, June 24, 2013.  I hope you had a great weekend, and I hope you are refreshed and ready to dazzle the world today.

And that is what this post is all about….dazzling the world.

I write SEO content articles each morning for a handful of customers. I don’t write for one of those content mills, but the result is the same. Plug in keywords and try to make the article sound like a semi-intelligent human being wrote it.  I mention that only because in writing those articles for pay I figure I have sacrificed enough quality for the remainder of the day.  When I am finished with them it is time to turn on the creative juices and let them flow, and I refuse to insult the great writers of the past by doing less than my best on my own articles.

So the question for you today is this:  Do you sacrifice quality at times, or do you give each piece the time and effort that it deserves?


Maybe that’s just what happens; you start out wanting to change the world through language, and end up thinking it’s enough to tell a few jokes.


David NichollsOne Day, 2010


What an interesting quote.  This is one of those that can mean a variety of things to different people, but the first thing I thought of was compromising quality for quantity, or becoming a parody of yourself after a certain amount of time.  In other words, we must always seek the best we have at that moment.

I have read some authors whose work declined in quality over the years, and I found that sad.  The first one that comes to mind is Robert Parker, the author of the “Spenser” series.  When I first started reading him thirty years ago his books were witty and well-crafted.  As the years went on, however, it appeared that he was simply going through the motions to meet a contract deadline.  James Patterson strikes me the same way today.

I hope that doesn’t happen to me. I hope I don’t become a punch line in an old joke, or a writer who finally just gave up quality in favor of sheer numbers.  Know what I mean?


Modifiers should only be used when the noun that they describe is not strong enough to stand alone.

In other words, keep your writing simple unless it is absolutely necessary to give strength to it.  Read “The Old Man and the Sea” if you want to see brilliance in simplicity.

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.”
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

You can use thousands of adjectives, but if the story is weak then no amount of adjectives will save it.



Love this picture. Hope you do too.  Take a moment and let it flow….is there a story in it?


From Shaw Guides comes this online site that details many writing workshops across the country.  If you have ever given thought to getting away for a few days and being among other writers, then maybe you will find a workshop here that you can attend.


Sign up for Winning Writers, a monthly online newsletter that will keep you informed of the latest writing contests.  I like this site because it is relatively small and it maintains a personal feel about it. Find it here.


Yes, probably more tomorrow. I don’t like this every-other-day format. I feel better writing this blog every weekday, so back to that I will go.  Constantly adjusting according to my inner voice. J

Thanks for stopping by.  Again, if you would like to be a guest blogger just let me know in your comment and I’ll get in touch with you.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”