Monday, June 30, 2008

Writing Prompt #752

Okay, here's a writing prompt that will help kick-start your writing day.

Finish this sentence: "Honestly, I don't know who she is. I got home from work, threw my coat on the chair and went to the kitchen to fix myself a sandwich when....."

Have fun with it and have a great day of writing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion

Do you ever find that marketing and promoting get a bad rap? When you hear market your product do you cringe?

Marketing, blech, who wants to do that? Don't people automatically know that my stuff is there?

Maybe you see marketing as begging for someone to buy your stuff.

One time, my sister (who is a singer) scoffed at the fact that Cindy Lauper was on American Idol as a judge clearly promoting her new CD.
Well, yeah. What a great way to get your CD out there. I'd do it if I had a CD.

That's what you want, right? For people to buy your stuff so they can read it.

If writing is your life-line and puts food in the bellies of your children, then you want to get your work out there. If you have a 'job' to go to but prefer a full time career as a writer, of course you should market yourself.

As writers, we tend not to get into promoting ourselves. We are all about the writing. Can't someone else promote our work for us? Come on. Anyone? Anyone at all?

The promotion is up to us. That being said, if you have a book that you want to promote and present to the masses, I will put it in a blog entry for you. You can't have too much free publicity.
Of course, it has to be in good taste, not vulgar or racist or anything that has a negative feel surrounding it. I don't want anything disturbing the chi of my blog.

Oh, and keep it brief.

Of course, there has to be balanced reciprocity in life, so I'm asking that, in return, I do some of my own Shameless Self Promoting on your blog.

To kick things off, I will do my own Shameless Self-Promotion:

My name is Tamara Hanson and I have 12 years of writing experience. I do scads of freelance writing, especially home builder brochures and ads, plus editing and ghost writing.

I have written 4 books in total. 2 are currently self published:
Dream Weavers
Description: 'Jenny Harris could sense it nearby—an evil so hungry it wanted to devour her. It hovered, close—too close. Her body tingled. Her skin ached. It moved around her, through her, taking over her body; its energy flowed in and out of every part of her—like some creepy dance. Her choppy breath struggled for air; the lungs fighting, gasping. It’s just a dream. Just a dream, she repeated to herself. But yet it was so real.' Jenny Harris and Matt Carlson are ready for summer vacation to begin. Everything seems to go as planned until Jenny starts to have terrifying and cryptic dreams. Not only that, Matt is also having the same dreams—dreams that reveal a past filled with deception, heartache, and an evil so hungry that it won’t let go until it devours what it’s thirsty for. Together they must unlock the secrets of the past before the entity that haunts them consumes their very lives.

Unleash Your Writing Muse
Description: Take your writing to the next level and become the creative writer that you've always wanted to be! Maybe you have an idea for a book but aren't sure how to get it started. Maybe you're already working on a writing project but are stuck. Unleash Your Writing Muse will help push you past any blocks, give you the inspiration you need and help you to stay passionate about your writing.

I am currently completing another book called Dear Money, a book on how to become friends with money. I think it'll take how we feel about money to the next level.

My websites are: and

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Writing Critic

We all have that judgmental voice in our heads telling us what to do, where to go, and how to do it.
How fair is that? How can we work under these conditions?

Basically, what we know about this voice is that Critic=Ego. That's right. It's just your ego talking. We all have one. Some of us are ruled by it more than others. The ego, when you get to the bare bones of it, doesn't make us feel good. When ego comes out to play, we are indecisive, wishy-washy and full of doubt.

When we are writing, our ego/critic is analyzing everything that is being put onto paper. "You can't say that." "Oh, that's stupid." "Look how you spelled that word." "I guess your fifth grade English teacher was right."

This isn't fair to your creative muse. The muse wants to get past the critic and come out to play. The muse wants to give you all those great ideas, but can't because the critic blocks the door to the imagination.

So how can you squash the critic? It won't happen over night nor will it happen completely. The critic will still hang around; you just won't hear the voice as loudly. With a little diligence, eventually your muse will come through the loudest of them all. Or, at least, you will be able to tell the critic to step aside and let the muse through.

Here are some things to remember when you are dealing with the critic.
1) When writing, keep writing, no matter what. Regardless of what is going on inside, just keep writing. Don't look up; just keep going till you are done.
2) If you can, resist the temptation to read your work right away. This is a good idea if your critic is especially loud. If you go back too soon, you will scrap everything and become discouraged.
3) Read your stuff when you feel really good. Give it a couple of days to see things with fresh eyes. You'll be amazed at how good your work is when you let it flow.

Last but not least, have fun. If you can't have fun, then why do it?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Article Writing Sites....Not for the Faint of Heart

Have you ever considered writing articles for those 'quasi-paying' article writing websites?

You know, the ones where they want to hire writers to churn out 3 or more articles per month? For instance, and both hire writers to write articles for their websites, usually paying by the click.

The question is, should you write for these websites when you know the pay is minimal?
Well, the best answer to that question is a question: What is your intention when signing up?

1) Is it the money? Writing articles for these sites will not bring great fortune. It not only takes many articles to keep money streaming in, but it also takes the 'right articles'. The big money articles are those that are considered hot topics. Examples: Money, sex, dating, marriage and anything seasonal (holidays, etc).
2)Is it the experience? Maybe you'll find the writing experience to be beneficial or maybe it's all about the writing and fulfilling a need. If this is the case, then more power to you.
3)Is it about the marketing? These sites are a form of advertising. Someone sees your work and wants to hire you. (I'm not sure how often this happens, though.)
4)Is it about the glory? I'm not sure how much glory or fame you'll experience through these websites, but it is kinda cool to see your name attached to a piece of work that you really worked at.

Whatever the reason, make sure you go into it with your eyes wide open and no expectations.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

When an Ad Tagline Goes Wrong

Why is it so important to get Ad Tag Lines, or even Ad Copy, right? Here's an example:

Today I saw a Sherwin Williams van driving down the street. As you may know, Sherwin Williams is a large company who specializes in paint. The logo on the side of the van had a can of red paint being dumped on top of the earth with these words: Cover the Earth.

I can understand what these people had in mind when they thought of this logo...they wanted to show that they are covering the earth with colour...which is great.

But it looks really bad. Why? Because it looks like paint is making our earth toxic because it's being smothered in it. This is sending the wrong message, especially with the growing sensitivity to keeping the earth clean and minimizing our carbon footprints.

The solution here is to effectively show what you want to say and do it in a way that people are going to be enticed by it. Why not a picture of the earth with a swirl of colours and the words "Bringing Colour to the World" or "Colouring the World".

When writing copy or tag lines, the reader needs to be enticed to buy the product. They also have to understand what your intention is. Right from the start, there needs to be emotion in the copy. Once people feel that emotion, you've hit the right spot and have drawn them in.

I recently wrote a brochure for a home builder who was including a 'spa-like' bathroom in their homes. Those looking at the brochure needed to be pulled in by the essence of what was being said. The goal here is for the customer to want that spa bathroom and the relaxation that comes with it. And that's what I directed my copy towards. The feeling of peace, relaxation, stillness and oneness.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We'll Be Back

This blog will be back when I return from my writer's retreat on June 15!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What to Pay a Freelancer

Some of you out there may be struggling with how much you should be paid as a freelance writer. Some of you who are new to the business may not feel 'right' asking for a certain amount and decide to go lower than what you would normally charge.

Of course, experience is everything and a strong portfolio will certainly help you win bigger and better gigs. Sometimes you have to take the smaller writing jobs just to get more experience.

This is all par for the course. As long as you are getting paid and as long as this isn't slave labour, then focus on building that that portfolio. Once you start stalk-piling writing projects, you will find more and more writing gigs coming in.

Eventually you'll discover that it's easier to tell clients how much you charge without even blinking or twitching a muscle.

Below are a couple of websites that will give you an idea what you should be charging as a freelance writer.

Remember, freelance writing is a profession, and as such, you should be paid like a professional.

What to Pay a Writer, Professional Writers Association of Canada:

Setting Your Fees as a Writer:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Little Help Here?

This is a message from Claudia's blog "On a Limb with Claudia". I've reposted it here because maybe someone out there (published/self-published) might be able to help her out.

Claudia writes:

After posting about some interesting movements in the music industry, Colleen at Loose Leaf Notes asked me to look into book publishing.

Inspired, I set out to answer her question.

At little background first. Book publicity has changed drastically in the last seven years. When we started the Open Grove in January, 2001:
In-house publicists from hundreds of publishers sent dozens of copies of books. I received 12+ books a day. I heard that Oprah received over 50 books a day. Yikes!

Almost every author went on some form of a multi-city book tour.
I received telephone calls, letters, and a few emails (2001) from publicists hungry to get their clients on the Open Grove.

Within two years:
publishers began to merge into multinational conglomerates,
the tide of books became a trickle, (Thank God)
authors financed their own book tours,
some savvy best selling authors began publishing their own books, and
small book presses were growing.

By 2007:
many of the major book publishers had closed their publicity departments,
authors whispered that they spent their entire advance on a publicist - some where helpful, most were not, and the publishing industry lost 17%! Book publishers closed left and right.
Walt Whitman sold his book door to door.

What’s an author in 2008 supposed to do to sell his or her book??
What works?
What doesn’t work?
What are people doing to promote themselves?
What was the data? Which marketing endeavors increased sales?
What had no effect at all?
Self publishing? Big New York Publisher? No advance publishing? E-book publishing?

I asked my favorite Marketing forum and came up with some good ideas, but no data. I sat through ridiculous seminars run by sharks and charlatans. (No, Janet, I didn’t kill them, I only WANTED to kill them.)

What sells books in 2008?

No one knows.

I mean, I have some ideas? But I’ve already written about them.

Unsure of what to do, I did nothing. Then I noticed a little project of Brad Feld’s (Liz, he’s the venture capitalist I was talking about). I decided to steal his idea.

I’m sending out an SOS.
Let’s collect our information and experience. We don’t have to toil alone. Together, we can create a resource for authors. With information, we wrestle our creative efforts from the mouth’s of sharks.

(100% of these proceeds will go to Wounded Warriors. )

What I’m looking for:
Direct experience marketing a book, selling a book or even getting a book published.
What is working for you?
What hasn’t worked for you?
What do you believe is the single most important factor in selling your book?
You book can be a self-published book, an e-book, a New York publisher.
Did your book tour work?
How much publicity help did you get from your publisher?
What sells your book?
I’m thinking a short (100 - 300 words) this worked, this didn’t.

In return for participating, you will receive a free copy of the book. I’m hoping to collect 100 authors to participate in this project. If you are interested, please send me an email at: or leave a comment at On a Limb with Claudia. If you know a published author, please let them know about this project.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Awhile back, as I was struggling to figure out my writing life, I became enlightened to what writing means to me. I asked myself this question: If someone said to me, "Look, I'll give you a million dollars right here and now, but the only thing you have to do is never write again," would I take it? I immediately knew the answer...'No'. I wouldn't take the money (aside from extreme circumstances involving family, of course).

To live a life without writing would tear me apart. At that very moment I knew that writing was my life purpose and there was no way I could back down from it.

I think this is an excellent way to determine what we are all passionate about. What would we give up to ensure we live out our passions and our dreams?