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earn cash by writing

7 Ways to Turn Your Writing Into Cash

Want to earn cash just writing?

Yes, you can earn cash from an old poem in your notebook. You can be paid by posting a comment on social media. Instead of writing a fan fiction on some fan fic site, why not turn your writing to earn cash?

Many of us love writing but can’t imagine turning this talent into a source of additional income, or worse, are afraid to try.

Thanks to the Internet, writing as a job has become much easier. Here are just some of the ways other writers like me earn cash.

BY BLOGGING

hands typing on a laptop

Some blogs earn revenue through advertisements. There are many companies that shell out money for pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements out there because they that want their ads to be seen. If your blog caters or is related to their market, search engines may decide to place the ads in your blog. You’ll earn from the clicks of web visitors or from the number of impressions the ad made on your blog site.

Another way blogging can earn income is through affiliate marketing. Some websites offer affiliate marketing links when you subscribe to them. Just place those links strategically in one of your blogs and allow your readers to click on the link. If they purchase the product using the link you provided, you’ll get a percentage of income depending on the website’s terms and conditions for affiliates.

Another way I earned cash by writing was providing a link back to someone’s website. Recently, a reputable website asked me to add their link to my blog article for a fee.

However, for a blog to become a good source of income, you have to establish yourself as a blogger. Write regularly and be noticed. Who knows? Your blog site or brand can get lucky that you’ll stick to blogging as a career.

BY WRITING AS A LAY JOURNALIST

Some online newspapers and magazines rely on contributors to fill their pages. Research what kind of news and features they are interested in and pitch your idea to the editor. If you’re lucky, they’ll ask you to write for a regular column.

Sometime in 2003, I wrote to the editor-in-chief of a new tabloid newspaper and pitched my idea. After a week, my idea became my daily column which ran for a year until I gave birth to my daughter.

Not everyone can make a first-rate living as a writer, but a writer who is serious and responsible about his work, and life, will probably find a way to earn a decent living, if he or she writes well.Bernard Malamud

BY FREELANCING

There are many freelancing sites online like UpWork (the merged oDesk and Elance), OnlineJobs PHOutsourcely, etc. Their sites have more than thousands of writing jobs available ranging from creative writing to academic writing, from copywriting to social media posting, from ghostwriting to SEO, etc. Just select which writing jobs suit you best and apply. my remote work office

Recently, I received an email from Rhick Ano and he proposed another freelancing site called Airtasker. It is an Australian-based site with a wide selection of freelance jobs: from simple to complicated tasks —home cleaning, handyman jobs, admin work, photography, graphic design or even web development. I haven’t tried this yet but their site seems reputable and sound.

There are many online job sites that you can choose from. I’m already subscribed to many of those.

Since I started freelancing in 2012, I got more jobs freelancing jobs via the defunct oDesk. However, the highest paying writing jobs I got came from PeoplePerHour and OnlineJobs PH.

When applying or bidding for a writing job, use the law of averages: the more you apply, the more likely you’ll be interviewed sooner and get the job. Also, be realistic with your bids with regards to the number of hours you’ll commit and deadline.

BY SELF-PUBLISHING

With the advent of print on demand publications and e-book distribution sites, self-publishing is now easy.

I never thought that publishing my novel in Free-eBooks.net would get a foreign publisher interested in translating it. I will be earning from the translation rights plus royalties IF it pushed through.

There are other online e-book publishing sites that I’ve tried and one of them is Dreame.com. Earlier this year, they offered me both exclusive and non-exclusive contracts for my novels.

You can even convert your blogs into e-books and earn from self-publishing them. And I’m planning to do this soon.

Buy my e-book on Amazon

BY JOINING CONTESTS

Winning in writing contests could produce two things: a cash prize and bragging rights. Be alert on available contests that you could possibly join. Look into websites like Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers, and others for contests they organize or sponsor. Just follow their rules and submission guidelines to the letter.

The screenplay writing contest I joined in 1999 launched my writing career in 2000. And in 2013, I entered my first English e-book in a contest. I may  not have won, but I got a good praise from one of the judges.

BY ANSWERING SURVEYS

Philip Horton from OnlineMoneyPage pointed out to me that there’s another way to earn from writing: answering online surveys. Market research has evolved to include online surveys into their methods.

Maybe, the days of the focus group discussions — where marketing companies pay those who attend by trying out their products and commenting on it — are already numbered.

Online surveys will only take a few minutes of your time and you’ll earn a few dollars from it. That is, if you like answering online surveys most of the time.

I have answered a few surveys myself but I haven’t experienced being paid for doing so.

If you’re interested in answering surveys and other ways to earn cash, visit OnlineMoneyPage and Philip will help you.

BY WRITING A REVIEW

Writing a product or book review can be fun. Not only will you enjoy the product or reading the book, you get the chance to earn from it.

I got to know a few sites that offer monetary token in exchange for a product review. I’ve written a few last year.

Also, I’ve been invited by publishers to review a few of their books. The book itself was the actual payment but there are sites that pay once you’ve reached a status. If you would like me to do a book review, just contact me through my Contact page.

Although recently, paid reviews are getting a bad reputation. So be careful in selecting review sites to write for.

I myself write my own reviews on books, film, etc. Visit my other blog named Star Stack to view my reviews.

Visit Star Stack

Here you have seven ways of earning cash by simply writing.This requires patience and hard work. You cannot just sit back and relax; opportunities do not come that way. Be willing to put your time and effort in getting your byline out there. Once submitted and while waiting for the paycheck to come, write and earn cash again.

 

journal writing

Different Journal Writing Methods I Use

I’m not going to differentiate a journal from a diary here . For me, they are the same. It is not that I ignore their difference, it is just that I embrace their similarities and meld them into what I do most: writing.

In this blog, I’m sharing with you my own journal writing experience and methods that you can get inspiration from. 

My Journal Writing Journey 

Circa 1980. Writing on a diary fascinated me in grade school that I literally made one for myself. I used the “Dear Diary” format and started to write how my day was back then. By the middle of February, I stopped writing because I felt bored of writing the same daily routine. Events in our family were too few spread over a year. Since then, I don’t write diaries. So if you’re one of those who can’t continue a year-long journal writing, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, too.

But I had another notebook that contained jokes I copied from Reader’s Digest and other sources. That was the beginning of my “collections” (This term is also mentioned in the Bullet Journal which I’ll tell later). In high school, I had separate notebooks for song lyrics and quotable quotes.

Circa 1987. I started using a small diary, so small that it can fit into my pocket. In there, I wrote down my assignments, scheduled tests, tasks, and events. This became my re-introduction to diaries.  

journal filler with tabs
journal fillers with tabs which I still have

As the years passed, I was already working then, the small diary became bigger and transformed into a journal and organizer. It came to a point that I bought a small binder and customized the fillers and tabs to satisfy my needs. 

And when I became a writer, aside from the journal-organizer, I have separate notebooks for writing ideas, a personal diary, and a clearbook where I keep my goals, calendars, etc. My practice of journal writing continued.

“I always say, keep a diary and someday it will keep you.” — Mae West

The Bullet Journal

Fast forward to circa 2013-2015. I can’t really pinpoint the month and year but I am definitely sure it was during the early months or years of the Bullet Journal . It was from Tim Ferris’ newsletter that I got this information. I watched the introductory video and I liked how the Bullet Journal method works.

In fact, I used the Bullet Journal’s tagline “The Analog Method for the Digital Age” as my title the first time I created one for myself. However, as other creatives do, I made some iterations to suit my methods and style.

current Bullet Journal
a blank page from my current Bullet Journal

I use a small square to indicate a task (the BuJo, as the Bullet Journal’s nickname, uses a dot instead), a circle for an event, a hyphen for notes, a greater than mark (>) for sub-item, and a few other symbols more. I ditched the index because I felt that I don’t need it.

At one time, I even applied the Kanban method in one of the pages of my Bullet Journal. Imagine a Bullet Journal with a Trello board. Those neon sticky notes and colored ballpens nailed it.

Bullet Journal prototype
my Bullet Journal prototype

Fast forward to 2019. As I was watching YouTube videos, I stumbled upon vloggers who showcase their own Bullet Journal. Most of them went way too far from the original concept because of the creative liberties they’ve incorporated. It became more of showcasing their calligraphy skills rather than the Bullet Journal itself. A few offer ideas on how to track habits and writing projects which I find useful since I’m a writer who has issues on staying on track.

However, as I am thinking of how the Bullet Journal will work for me this time, I created one from scratch. I folded a few letter-size bond papers, bound them with a thread using the Kettle Stitch method, used an old Kraft folder as cover, and wrote using colored ballpens and pencil. I called it a prototype because I’m willing to do lots of iterations as I go along.

clearbook
my clearbook journal and organizer

I spent some time on Canva and MS Publisher designing specific pages for my Bullet Journal. The one I designed on Canva measures half a letter-size bond paper which I intend to use as a hand-carry journal once printed and bound. The one I designed on MS Publisher measures letter size which I intend to use on my clearbook. The clearbook journal stays on my desk as it is a combination of a journal and a personal life workbook and organizer.

Aside from that, I still have separate notebooks for writing ideas, book project plans, notes from all over (readings, blogs, webinars, lectures, etc.), and my daily pages. Once I have a book project ongoing, I have another separate notebook for that particular novel where I write my thoughts, outlines, and draft.

Why Analog?

But why do I still keep a notebook when everything now is digital?

I have an Evernote app on my computer but not on my cellphone. Although I have “notebooks” and “notes” on Evernote, I seldom open it unlike my Bullet Journal.

journal writing on Evernote
a page from my Evernote

I also have the classic version of Penzu, an online diary, where I also write down my thoughts and drafts whenever I feel like typing rather than writing by hand.

But there is something in writing by hand that I don’t get with typing on a computer or typing with my fingers on a touchscreen phone. One of them is tapping the subconscious.

Whenever I do free writing, I’ve noticed that either I made a misspelling when I thought I did not. Or I have written something out of the blue or something off-track. I might have transported myself into the zone. These incidences are proof that I touched the subconscious and allowed it to kick in.

Why Write on a Journal?

There are reasons why I prefer writing on a journal or diary. Below are three reasons that I could think of:

Penzu classic
my classic Penzu online diary

Catharsis

For one, writing my thoughts and emotions on paper is cathartic in itself. There are things that I can’t express with words that I’d rather write on paper. It’s more private and I’d better keep it that way.

Declutter

Writing on my journal also serves as my way of decluttering my mind. Listing down reminders and things to do clears my mind. Although it may seem to be overwhelming after looking at the long list of brain dump, the process helps me to see the bigger picture and sort out these things in order of priority.

Mental Gymnastics

Also, I consider my journal writing as my mental and word exercise. As a writer, I need to polish my grammar and vocabulary as well as my writing style and tone. And the only way I could do this is through my journal.

Exercise on Mindfulness

Journal writing also helps me to be mindful of what I’m doing in the “here and now”. And while I put my goals and future plans on my journal, it is still the “here and now” what matters most. This way, I am mindful to do things that are aligned to my goals and future plans. 

Methods of Journal Writing

Back in the ’90s, I got hold of an old book entitled, “The New Diary: How to Use a Journal for Self-Guidance and Expanded Creativity” by Tristine Rainer. Its foreword was written by the famous diarist Anaïs Nin. This book provided me insights on how to use a journal. At this point, I started to remove the difference between a diary and journal and instead, use the term interchangeably as if they’re one and the same. 

The book shows different methods to use in journal writing and I’m here to share with you what I remembered. But before I do, let me mention one rule: Write fast, write everything, accept whatever comes.

Cathartic Writing

This aims for emotional release. Those pent up anger, fears, and guilt can be diminished once written down on paper. My journals are private and rarely do other people read my entries. And if ever they do, they have a hard time deciphering my cursive handwriting. Therefore, I can write cuss words instead of hiding them through symbols and characters (you know, those f*#$@%!).

Stream of Consciousness

I always mention the term “freewrite”. This is what stream of consciousness writing means. I may do any of these two:

The first is what I call, “timed freewrite”. I set a timer for 15 to 30 minutes and begin writing whatever comes into my mind, literally. So when I get distracted, I’ll write “I got distracted by…” and continue writing until the time is up. 

The second one is what I call “prompted freewrite”. I use this method whenever I don’t know how to start or what to write about. I rely on a writing prompt to push me into writing. One of the easiest writing prompt that I use is, “Right now, I’m doing…” and I just have to continue the sentence. If the “timed freewrite’s” limit is 30 minutes, I give myself one to three pages on this freewrite.

Descriptive Writing

Describing the situations, the people, the places, and the circumstances in our lives are what journals are mostly about. 

Show and tell. That’s what writers do with their writing. This method exercises the way I describe everything. It allows me to be observant of the things most people take for granted or ignore.

Reflective Writing

Journal writing is also a way of thinking about my own life in a mature, open way. It is a way of taking stock, a way of introspection, evaluation, and deep thinking. This method makes journal writing serious yet an eye-opener. 

I have a page that focuses on my own SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Every year, I evaluate myself using the SWOT method.

Dialogues

Writing in dialogues can be cathartic. But what makes it different from cathartic writing is that you focus on the verbal exchange between me and someone or something. It’s like arguing with someone about an issue but in writing. Also, it is an exercise of writing dialogues for stories. 

Lists

The Bullet Journal encourages rapid logging. This is the easiest way of writing on a journal. Listing down my thoughts, my needs, my tasks, and other worries of daily living helps in decluttering the mind and organizing my life. 

Portraits

As the name implies, portraits can be a drawing of or descriptive text about a person, place, or event. This is much intimate than the usual descriptive writing because the subject is up close and personal. 

You don’t need to be artistic to create portraits on your journal. I usually doodle and make my drawings small, and use colored ballpens so I allow myself to make mistakes and not feel guilty or critical about it.

The Unsent Letter

Aside from writing in the “Dear Diary” format, sending an unsent letter to someone — whether living or dead, or whether fictional or factual — helps sort out the emotions and thoughts I have. It is writing a long letter intended to that person if ever I’ll send one. 

Maps of Consciousness

Considered as the drawing equivalent of stream of consciousness writing, this method is good for brainstorming and dream interpretation. Mapping out thoughts in circles connected with lines also help in decluttering my mind.

map of consciousness
dream interpretation using the map of consciousness method

Altered Point of View

This method is another way of writing down thoughts on paper. Instead of using the pronoun “I”, I write on the third person by using “she” and “her”. This way, my mind will not censor itself especially when the writing is striking close to home and my inner critic starts to edit some things out.

Guided Imagery

This method is basically writing out a daydream. Yes, writing down my daydreams is a better way to preserve the memory. Years from now, I could be laughing about what these daydreams were.

Or better yet, this is a good practice to apply the principles of Law of Attraction by writing down the things I imagine what I want to be.

I hope that by reading this, you’ll get inspired to start (or continue) your own journal (or diary) writing and make it a daily habit. Write on!

Idea Is Not Just a 4-Letter Word

Have you ever thought how authors come up with their ideas for their novels?

You may have browsed writing books and magazines and have been told that an idea comes from an endless list of sources. But how do authors come up with a novel from an idea?

In this article, let us see how it works by spelling idea itself.

I – IOTA OF TRUTH

Always remember, for every idea, absurd or otherwise, there is an iota of truth behind it.

Take for example the idea of Superman. Clark Kent may be an alien who grew up on Earth, but there is a scientific truth behind clairvoyance, intuition, and other extrasensory human powers that were magnified in the Superman story.

They say that truth is relative, so what may be truth for you may not be an acceptable truth to others. Do not fret. You do not need to please everybody with your writing. Just believe that your idea has somehow an iota of truth in it.

So have that idea ready and let’s move on to…

D – DEVELOPMENT

Of course, we have entertained so many ideas in mind that we do not know which to choose. They say that there are only eight stories in the world. If that’s the case, then try the mix-and-match method and see if an idea or a mixture of two or more ideas work.

The Bestseller by Lila Ramsey plus The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie plus the nursery rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star produced a story about a mad serial killer who wants his victim to guess who will be his next kill.

If you look at stories, books, and movies, you would notice that most of them combined an idea or two from some old stories, books, and movies, too.

So now that you have developed an embryo, let’s try to…

E – EXPERIMENT

How are you going to express the idea?

The format — be it prose or poetry, novel or screenplay, full-length or short feature, — depends on your choice. Experiment on how you would present the idea. Some stories are better on film, some on print, and some made well in both.

Trust your gut feel when experimenting. Not only on the format but also on the way it is presented. Would you go linear — beginning, middle, end? Or would you go a la Quentin Tarantino style — middle, end, beginning, middle? Would you present it in the first person point of view or the third person point of view? Do not be afraid to experiment.

And now we go to the…

A – APPLICATION

At last, you have decided on what you plan to do with the idea. The last step is to apply the idea by writing. Once you see the words appear on paper, you will see and feel how the ideas take shape into a good yarn of a story. Write everything down at first. Revisions and editing would come later.

Be a sculptor by starting with a large chunk of wood and slowly carve out the unnecessary parts to form the best literary art — your novel.

Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.Louis L’Amour

So if you have a story idea that you would like to write, go ahead. If you think there’s a truth in it, and you can develop it, don’t be afraid to experiment and express it in writing. Good luck!

retrogaming

I’m a Retrogaming Mom

I’m retrogaming.

I admit, I’m from Generation X whose gaming life is what you would say old-school. I’ve seen games evolved from the small hand-held Nintendo Game & Watch to today’s PlayStation 4. So I’ve played a few games from and in between.

Retrogaming or classic gaming is a term to describe playing old video games in these contemporary times.

Game & Watch

I was in Grade 6 then when I first encountered the Nintendo Game & Watch. It was a small, hand-held gaming console that doubles as an alarm clock. It required 2 small button-size batteries and had a small LCD screen at the center. There were one or two buttons on each side of the screen, depending on the game. It only contained one game per unit but you have choices of Game A and B. Game A is much easier than Game B.

The first games I played on the Game & Watch were Fire, Helmet, Manhole, Popeye, Chef, and Octopus — all of them had one button on each side of the screen for left and right. Mickey Mouse and Egg were the same, but these were the first Game & Watch units I saw that used two buttons on each side of the screen for up and down, left and right.

I got my own Nintendo Game & Watch when an aunt gave me Snoopy Tennis as a gift. It was newly-released then. The lavander unit was so cool. It also had two buttons on the right side to move up and down, but one button on the left to hit the ball.

The games were pretty much easy, just go left or right, up or down to move. You have 3 lives until game is over. But what was cool back then was when you reach the score of 200 (some at 250 or 300), 500, and 750 (some at 800), you earn 1 life as a bonus. When you reach the score of 999 it goes back to 0.

Then Donkey Kong came with two screens, a cross-shaped button — up, down, left, and right — on the left side, and one button on the right. This might have been the precursor of the Nintendo DS which came many years later.

Arcade Games

It was also during the ’80s when I saw Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Lode Runner, and Crazy Climber.  These were classic arcade games that you could play in carnivals or malls. There was even a song called “Pac-Man Fever”.

However, during that time, miniature versions of these arcade games were also available. I had the chance to play a miniature version Crazy Climber at home because my cousin had his own unit. It was a table top unit that resembled an arcade gaming machine and it required four size C batteries.

Family Computer

However, when I went to college, I didn’t have the time to play computer games. I was focused on my studies that when the games evolved to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) a.k.a. Family Computer, I became ignorant of games like Super Mario, Battle City, Contra Wars, etc.

When I graduated from college, I visited my cousins one day and saw them playing on the NES. One of them, a six-year old boy, offered his joystick and asked me to play Super Mario.  I told him that I don’t know the game because I haven’t played on NES. Guess what? A six-year old boy taught a then 21 year old college graduate how to play Super Mario on NES.

Game Boy

It was during the mid-’90s when the Nintendo Game Boy came out. I was already working then and I decided to buy myself a Game Boy. I bought a unit, the transparent one, together with a game cartridge pack that had 32 games in it. It included those classic games like Super Mario, Klax, Lode Runner, Battle City, etc. I was also able to play Donkey Kong Land, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, and Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 in this platform.

Computer Games

It was also during the ’90s when computer games became popular. These games were either installed or required a disk to run. I remember playing Chessmaster 2000 using two 5.25-inch floppy disks — one for booting and one for playing and saving the game.

Then some games came in CD-ROM and I played SkyRoads, Terminal Velocity, Klotski, Bubble BobbleWolfenstein, and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? That was also the time when Microsoft have included games like Solitaire and Minesweeper in their Microsoft Office package.

Play Station

I admit, I haven’t played a game using Play Station. When I met Voltaire, I’ve learned that he also play video games like the Final Fantasy franchise. One day, on a date, we went to a mall and tried playing on a Play Station for me to experience it. So we played Angel Wings, a racing game. Out of 5 games, I won 3. Beginner’s luck? Don’t remind him of that, he’ll get pissed off.

Emulators

It was also Voltaire who introduced me to emulators. With emulators, we could play video games that we weren’t able to play before. Games like Final Fantasy 4 to 6, Chrono Trigger, Secrets of Mana, Dr. Mario, Pokemon (Yellow, Red, and Blue), Bomberman, Duke NukemGalaga, Advance Wars, etc.

He also installed in our old computer War Craft 1 and 2, Age of Empires, and Diablo II for me to play.

Unfinished Games

Sadly, there are games that I haven’t finished playing because I got busy with work and motherhood. I haven’t finished War Craft 3 when DOTA became famous. And I’m not into MMORPG, I prefer playing alone on my own pace. Thus, I haven’t tried playing Ragnarok, Counter Strike, DOTA, DOTA 2, and League of Legends. Although I have Left for Dead 2 installed in my old computer, I only played it once or twice but never finished the whole game. Also, I tried playing Crystal Saga online, but I stopped at level 25.  Still, I have other games I want to play like Final Fantasy 7 and 8 and will probably play them using emulators.

Now, I have Plants vs. Zombies, and Bookworm installed in my laptop aside from the games included in my Windows 7. These games provide downtime at the end of a busy day.

Recently, someone asked me to write a game review. I used to write game reviews a few years ago. How fun is it to write something you love doing!

How about you, what games have you played? Are you also into retrogaming?

quote on plot and suspense

7 Ways of Suspense

Readers should keep turning the pages and will not put the book down. That’s what novelists have to create: novels that are natural page-turners that critics will rave.

Writing a novel requires constant forward movement to get the readers excited to move on the next page. In order to sustain that forward movement, writers need to create suspense. But in order to make a novel suspenseful, we have to use strategies that inspire curiosity. If curiosity can kill a cat, these tips could be worth practicing.

1. Keep secrets

Secrets make us wonder who, what, and why? Hiding something within the chapters can solicit intrigue. If the secret is fairly minor, you may withhold it for the time required to turn the page. But if it’s intriguing though, you can hide it for several chapters, taking advantage of the forward movement created by the readers’ curiosity. This way, you can keep the wonder flowing by occasionally referring back to the mystery. If you introduce a secret in a prominent position, make sure the question the readers will form inside their head is thematically relevant. The question should not be a mere device to prod readers forward. Remember, we want to manipulate the readers without making them feel manipulated.

2. Make plans

A character’s plans are future-oriented and inherently suspenseful. When you force your character to announce what he wants, you guide the readers’ attention to his motives and how he plans to achieve it. Readers will keep asking if the character will succeed or not.

3. Announce arrivals

New characters create complications. When you introduce them at the chapter’s end, you give the character a big entrance, followed by a detailed introduction on the next chapter. This indicates his importance and contributes to the forward movement of the story.

4. Schedule departures

Just as arrivals predict change, so do departures. When something leaves or ends, life changes, too. Emphasizing ends and conclusions compels us to think about the possible consequences in the following chapters. Often, some stories start with something leaving, closure, or ending. Not only because it introduces a change in the character’s life, but also because it opens an opportunity for conflict.

Plots may be simple or complex, but suspense, and climactic progress from one incident to another, are essential.H.P. Lovecraft

5. Reverse expectations

When characters fail to behave as we expect, they surprise us and the readers, too. Having said that there are only a few basic stories to tell, we begin to expect possible endings as well. Plot twists are great, but when you reverse expectations, take care to maintain credibility.

6. Ask a question

Usually these questions are implied, but they don’t have to be in your story. You as the narrator should pose a powerful question by phrasing it as an interrogative statement. Readers don’t have the answer yet but you are forcing them to respond inquisitively.

7. Introduce a new problem

Creating fiction requires giving characters goals and flinging obstacles at them. New problems stimulate forward movement. You want readers to take heed, to anticipate the conflict this problem is bound to cause. One of my mentors told us in our scriptwriting workshop to push the character in one corner until he or she couldn’t do anything but to fight back.

There you have it, seven ways to keep your novel suspenseful. But take note, there will be times that you need to slow down, too. Vary your movements. Good books require both fast pace and slow moments.

 

quote on grammar

Common Grammar & Writing Mistakes Even College Graduates (and Authors) Commit

As a writer, I’ve been keen in observing correct spelling and usage of the English language, or even Filipino for that matter. Not only it shows how educated a person is, but also how someone respects the language or dialect.

However, even educated men and women, those who have earned college degrees commit mistakes on spelling and grammar. For some it could be an honest mistake, but for the others, it could be annoying, especially if done repeatedly.

I see three usual reasons why people commit these mistakes:

  1. Homophones;
  2. Getting confused with contractions; and
  3. Reliance on auto-correct tools

Homophones

Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings. It’s easy to commit mistakes with homophones because we say the words as it is more often than writing it down.

I was reading an e-book recently and found some misspellings in it. I thought it was just be a case of typographical error. But when I saw the misspelled word more than twice, I felt uneasy. I began to think that the author failed to consult an editor for her e-book and published it online immediately.

For one, I do have respect for authors who diligently check their grammar and have editors to check it again before publishing. But then again, the e-book I was reading came from a free e-book site where most authors are amateurs in the publishing business.

For another, this is a good case of getting confused with homophones and other grammar rules. Here are some common homophones that confuse many.

 Lose and Loose

“Lose” is a verb that means to fail, to suffer, to be deprived of.

“Loose” is an adjective that means too comfortable, not restrained.

  • I think I need to lose weight. This pair of pants used to be loose on me before. (I need to shed a few pounds because the pants don’t fit me anymore.)

Advice and Advise

Both terms are related in giving a comment or suggestion. “Advice” with the “c” is a noun. It is the actual comment or suggestion.

Advise” with the “s” is a verb. It is the act of giving a comment or suggestion.

  • Please advise me on what to do; I need your advice(Remember: c is for the noun; s is for the verb.)

Breath and Breathe

Actually, they don’t sound the same. It just happens that this pair is also confusing to some.

“Breath” (pronounced as \’breth\) is a noun that means the air that we inhale and exhale.

“Breathe” (pronounced as  \’brēt͟h\) is a verb that means the act of ingesting air.

  • I couldn’t breathe because I could smell your bad breath.

Complement and Compliment

“Complement” is a noun that means to complete or make perfect.

“Compliment” is also a noun but it means an expression of admiration or recognition. But when used with “of” as in “compliments of” it introduces a donor of a free gift.

  • That belt looks great, it complements with your outfit. (The belt completes the look.)
  • “You look gorgeous,” the man said. “Thank you,” the woman answered, “I’ll take that as a compliment.” (There was an expression of admiration there.)
  • We had a wonderful time at the resort, all compliments of Mrs. Lim. (Mrs. Lim gave a free stay at the resort.)

Ensure and Insure (plus two more)

The homophones in this set are “ensure” and “insure”. But I’m going to add “assure” and “secure” because they almost mean almost the same thing. They all make a thing or a person sure or certain. They could even be interchangeable to some extent but the distinction lies on how we use it in context.

“Assure” denotes removal of a doubt from a person’s mind.

“Ensure” denotes a virtual guarantee.

“Insure” implies necessary measures beforehand.

“Secure” implies action to guard against attack or loss.

  • I assure you that nothing will go wrong with this plan.
  • The government ensures all its employees of benefits.
  • The dancer had insured both her legs and feet for two million dollars.
  • The military has secured the place against future terrorist attacks.

Grammar is the difference between feeling your nuts and feeling you’re nuts.anonymous

People Get Confused with Contractions

Contractions shorten spoken forms of word groups by omitting internal letters or sounds. They are formed from words that appear together in sequence such as “you are” and “do not”. Languages (not only English) have a number of contractions that use an apostrophe (‘) to show an omission of a letter, usually a vowel. These contractions are common in speech and informal writing.

Knowing how to differentiate these contractions and the words they’re often mistaken for, it will be easy for you to remember and not to commit the same mistakes again.

Your and You’re

I typed “thanks” to a friend via chat and he replied “your welcome” when it should have been “you’re”.

“Your” is a possessive adjective that is usually found before a noun or a pronoun to denote that something belongs to you.

On the other hand, “You’re” is a contraction of “you are” and that’s all, there’s no other use for it.

  • Thank you for your patronage. (It means your act of support is appreciated. So “your” is used as a possessive adjective.) 
  • You’re the matron of honor. (The speaker is recognizing who you are, thus “you’re” is used.)

There, Their, and They’re

Another common mistake is to interchange these three.

To distinguish, “There” is an adverb that indicates location or what we commonly call “adverb of place”. It has two uses: (1) to denote a place and (2) to indicate that something exists.

“Their” is a possessive adjective that usually precedes a noun or a pronoun and indicates possession or ownership. “Our” can replace “their” in the sentence. Try replacing “their” with “our” and if it still makes sense, then you are using “their” correctly.

“They’re” is a contraction of “they are” and again, there’s no other use for it.

  • I left my bag over there. (The speaker indicates a certain location.)
  • There is something missing in my bag. (The speaker indicates that a thing that exists is missing.)
  • The guards will have to check their belongings. (“Their” is used to indicate possession of more than one person. )
  • They’re after me. (The speaker is referring to more than one person coming after him/her. The expanded form is “They are”.)

It’s and Its

Another common mistake is to interchange these two, and the reason is obvious: it’s confusing.

To distinguish, “It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has”. There is no other use for it.

“Its” is a possessive pronoun that shows ownership.

  • It’s been too hot for a week and now, it’s starting to rain.  (The first means “it has” and the second means “it is”. The sentence doesn’t show any possession or ownership so use the apostrophe.)
  • The wolf chases its prey through the woods(You can’t say “The wolf chases “it is” or “it has” prey…” so you don’t need an apostrophe. Think about it, the “prey” belongs to the “wolf”.)

There are other confusing words and phrases to mention which I will discuss next time. Also, I’ll have another article about auto-correct soon. If you have other suggestions, let me know.

bookshelf

Being Paid to Read a Book and Write a Review

I’ve been reading books since grade school but I’ve started doing book reviews in 2012.

I remember when I revived my old Webs.com account and started a blog category I named “My Bookshelf”. The original plan was to write a review on each book that I have on my bookshelf literally.

However, technology has introduced us to e-books. Scrolling on a tablet or cellphone made reading much easier for me. And I enjoyed reading both printed and electronic book formats since then.

2012 was also a time of social media frenzy.  Out came the social media platforms for book lovers.

BookLikes and Goodreads

I’m not sure which I got first: BookLikes or Goodreads. But I’m sure, it was during around this time I created an account on each platform. The good thing is, they both work in sync. So whatever book I rated on the one platform, it will appear on the other. And if I posted a book review on my blog, I would just provide a link on these platforms that will lead the readers to my website.

However, there are web visitors who prefer staying on one site rather than being led to another with a click on a link. I tried to provide a written review but the fear of doing a duplicate content prevented me from doing so.

Being Paid to Read

Recently, I got the opportunity to be paid or rewarded to read a book and write a review on a website. The pay could be the book itself (which is also available on Amazon for a price) or it could be a minimal amount (in US dollars) depending on one’s reviewer score. I just started out and have posted a few reviews already. Those reviews I’ve submitted will stay on their website and if ever I’ll share it here, it would be just a link to that page or I’ll tell about it.

I’m Open to Any Book Suggestions

Also, as I’ve mentioned in one of my pages, I accept requests for book reviews. And last month, I received an email from a publishing company to review one of their publications. I’m so honored.

If you would like to send me books for me to read, send it to: Marissa N. Uycoco-Bacsa Professional Services, McArthur Highway, Poblacion 1, Moncada, Tarlac 2803 Philippines or if e-books, send it to: info@issabacsa.com (for PDF and e-pub formats) or creativemixedmediafreelancing@gmail.com  (for Kindle format).

Just so you know, I read both fiction and non-fiction. For fiction, I prefer mystery, crime, suspense thrillers. Although I also read romance, historical fiction, comedy, fantasy, and sci-fi.

For non-fiction, I prefer biographies, autobiographies, self-help, psychology, health, true crime. Although I also read about food and travel. It seems that I can read almost anything except fan fiction.

8 basic plots

Did You Know That There Are Only 8 Basic Stories in the World?

I’ve mentioned this before, I attended a screenplay writing workshop in 1999. A few months or a year after, I bought a book Teach Yourself Screenwriting by Raymond G. Frensham. Unfortunately, someone borrowed the book and never returned it to me.

Anyway, I remember the first part of that book. It mentioned about the eight basic stories. Frensham said that there are only eight stories in the world in which other plots — be it film, TV, books, and even games — were based upon.

When I first read about it, I said, “What?!” And then, I thought it made sense because I kept on seeing films and TV shows that have similar plot lines.

In this book, Frensham listed down the eight stories as follows:

ACHILLES

One of the stories in Greek mythology, the plot depicts Achilles as a strong hero but with a flaw which is also the cause of his own downfall. Thus, the phrase “Achilles’ heel” connotes a weak spot. This only proves that nobody’s perfect and almighty. There will always be something that could go wrong which leads to a failure or even death. Examples of this story include Superman (the kryptonite), Samson and Delilah (when his hair was cut), and the Titanic (they said it was unsinkable).

CANDIDE

The character is based on Voltaire’s 1759 novella, Candide, ou l’Optimisme.  The plot depicts Candide as a good and innocent hero that could never be put down. His optimism kept him rising up despite the challenges around him. Examples of this plot include Forrest Gump, Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Mr. Bean.

CINDERELLA

Who doesn’t know the Cinderella story? Based on an old folk tale, the plot depicts a persecuted heroine and the typical rags-to-riches or dream-come-true story. The protagonist started as someone common, unrecognized, and unfortunate, finds true happiness, fulfillment, or reward in the end after many ups and downs. Examples of this kind of plot include Pretty Woman and Rocky.

CIRCE

In Greek mythology, Circe is an enchantress who uses her knowledge of potions and her magic to transform her enemies into animals. The plot depicts a cunning character who seduces a naive character into a trap as a form of revenge. This type of plot could either show the chase, the innocent and the victim, the spider and the fly, or the hunter and the hunted scenarios. Examples of this plot include Othello and Dangerous Liaisons.

FAUST

Faust is the protagonist of a classic German tale who made a pact with the devil in exchange of unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. The plot depicts a theme of the debt that must be paid when fate finally catches up with the protagonist. Examples of this kind of plot include The Devil’s Advocate and Bedazzled.

ORPHEUS

Orpheus is a poet and musician in Greek myths and legends. When his wife Eurydice died, he grieved and went to the underworld. His music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone that his wish was granted with one condition: Orpheus and Eurydice should walk back to the upper world with Orpheus going ahead of Eurydice. He should not look back until both of them reach the upper world. However, when Orpheus reached the surface he looked back and saw Eurydice fade away. The plot depicts a protagonist who has everything and everything is taken away at an instant forever. Examples of this story include Dr. Zhivago and Rain Man.

ROMEO AND JULIET

Based on Shakespeare’s play of the same title, the plot depicts the tragic love story. It follows a formula: boy meets girl, both belong from opposing sides, boy loses girl, then boy finds girl again. Examples of this plot include West Side Story and When Harry Met Sally.

TRISTAN

Based on an Arthurian story, the plot depicts the typical love triangle. Tristan was one of the Knights of the Round Table and was assigned to fetch Isolde whom was about to marry Mark, the King of  Cornwall. Examples of this kind of plot include Fatal Attraction, The Graduate, and The Wedding Planner.

In 2004, a book from Christopher Booker entitled The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories discussed nine archetypal plots, but only approves of the first seven. However, three of those nine are considered genres (comedy, tragedy, and mystery) and not plots.

I believe that it is good for writers to be familiar with these basic stories. A good mix and match would do the trick in coming up with a new story to tell because come to think of it, even if these were already told, there are still unique ways on how to tell them.

Do you agree with this list?

 

quote on reading

Read and Discover 6 Benefits

If I ask you when was the last time you read a book, chances are you’ll answer last weekend, at the least, or a month or a year ago, at the most. But if I ask you when was the last time you read something online (a tweet or a Facebook update), you’ll probably answer just a few minutes ago. Correct?

In this era of on-screen and mobile technology, we have changed the way we consume information. Teenagers and young adults have glued their eyes to their smartphones. They often read snippets, excerpts, articles (or parts of it),  messages, pieces of information from everywhere. Most of them even prefer videos over text-based content.

It’s sad that even one of the well-known social media influencers admit on her own platform that she doesn’t read much or hates reading. And to think that most of the young people today follow her on that particular social media platform adds to the “problem” of lesser reading.

These days, reading is not much as it used to years ago. But, with new technologies around us, reading a book has become a struggle for some people because:

  • They don’t have much time or they’re too busy
  • They prefer watching TV or films rather than read the novel
  • They find it hard to read or can’t even read

Digital culture has enveloped us more quickly than we ever imagined. We, as adults, are also overwhelmed by this change. And we shrug off the problem. After all, reading trends have changed in the past; television altered our consciousness and social patterns years before we were born. We and our kids survived and became adults. Literature (and reading) will survive, too, somehow.

Too many books, too little time

An article I’ve read a year ago stated that 67% of 2000 British adults said they would like to read more but 48% admitted they’re too busy to read. Work and everyday chores are factors that contribute to less reading.

Even I myself admit that I have still have books gathering dust on my bookshelf waiting to be read. Yet, I try my very best to read before going to sleep. Another trick I found much better is reading on my cellphone. An e-book reading app has a text reader and even animates the turning of the page. I was able to read a few novels on my cellphone which if I would read it using a hard copy would take me much more time to finish.

Then, There’s the TV or Movie Versions

Most films get their materials from books. The Godfather, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With the Wind, etc. have become films. Until today, films and TV shows came from bestselling novels. Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, are just some of them.

I admit, there are films and TV shows that I didn’t realize were books at first. But as much as possible, I prefer reading the book first before watching the movie.

Also, psychologists have justified that there are certain types of people who prefer watching than reading. These are the so-called “visuals”. Most of the young people today are “visuals” who would like to see things move before their eyes in order for them to absorb the information fast.

Stop illiteracy

But the much serious problem is that some people find it hard to read because of their inability to read. Until now, issues on illiteracy continues especially among the poor. With the increasing prices on education, the poor can’t afford to send their children to school.

The key to literacy is reading. One has to progress his skills from the ability to recognize letters, to understand spoken words and decode written words, and to the understanding of the text.

Do not read as children do to enjoy themselves, or, as the ambitious do to educated themselves. No, read to live.Gustave Flaubert

Benefits of Reading

If you’re one of the countless people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out these benefits:

  • Mind stimulation – Recent studies suggest that reading slows the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Like eating right and exercising to maintain physical health, reading strengthens the muscles in your brain and can help you improve skills like memory retention and focus. It also helps sharpen the mind to be more of a critical thinker.
  • Knowledge – Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. Reading broadens our knowledge of the world.
  • Vocabulary expansion – The more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and they’ll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary.
  • Better writing skills – This goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of your vocabulary: Exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on ones’ own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work.
  • Reduce stress – No matter how much stress you are going through at work, in your personal life, or anywhere else, reading a good story can help you take your mind off these difficult situations.
  • Entertainment – Reading is also a form of entertainment. We find stories inspiring and sometimes help escape reality and begin to explore other realities.

What can we do?

  • Start them young. Parents should encourage their kids to read starting with age appropriate books. We are a family of book readers. My husband and I grew up reading books. So when my daughter was still a toddler, I started showing her books for her to read and play with.
  • Also, encourage kids to visit libraries and bookstores. With the Internet, it’s easy to get get e-books online. This trend has affected libraries and bookstores. My husband and I still visit bookstores and we tag along our daughter. Now, my daughter tries her hand in writing.
  • Read while waiting. Falling in line and doing nothing? Take this opportunity to read. I bring along my cellphone and read e-books while waiting in the bank, while commuting, or whatever that will put me on hold. That takes away the boredom of waiting.
  • Give away books to read. The idea of sharing books to someone is another way to encourage people to read. Let me take this opportunity to share with you my works for you to read. Not only they’re entertaining, they’re also FREE.
  • Start a reading habit. Try a few suggested tricks on how to develop a writing habit now and up to 21 days. They say that a habit can easily formed within 21 days if done regularly. I read a book before sleeping. I try to read one book a week but I haven’t achieved reading 52 books a year. I have a list of the 100 books and I tick off those that I’ve read so far.

Do you have any other suggestions? What book are you reading today?

article vs blog

Article vs. Blog – The Very Thin Line Between Them

How are you going to define an article or a blog without differentiating the two? A few years ago, the distinction between them were clear. It was so clear back then that we could list the differences down and arrange them in a table.

Nowadays, there exist a very thin line between an article and a blog. Even freelance writers are getting confused as to which is which.

However, if we just go deeper into their own definition and qualities, we would be able to distinguish the two. More importantly, prefer to write articles than blogs.

Articles

When we hear the word “article”, the first thing that comes into our mind is the printed item on a newspaper or a magazine. It is usually non-fiction, factual, well-researched, straightforward, and non-opinionated. The writing style, spelling, and grammar are impeccable which we assume that an editor had cleaned it up before publishing. There is a journalistic feel to it.

For a freelance writer, articles pay from $0.10 to $1.00 per word or even much higher. Some pay $10.00 per 500 words, others pay $75.00 per piece or much higher depending on the complexity of the topic, the hours it will take to research and write, the target audience, etc.

Blogs

The word “blog” came from “web log”, a term that describes discussion or informational posts on websites. It first became an online diary, more personal, opinionated, and casual in character. There are no strict rules on spelling and grammar because it is personal; the writer publishes it on his/her own. If ever the writer would reference some facts or sources, a hyperlink is used.

For a freelance writer, blogging is something personal. But if he/she would write a blog, the pay would go from $5.00 to $20.00 a piece, or $5.00 per 250 words. Generally, blogging pays lesser than writing articles. That was until the Internet environment have changed.

Habits like blogging often and regularly, writing down the way you think, being clear about what you think are effective tactics, ignoring the burbling crowd and not eating bacon. All of these are useful habits.Seth Godin

The Line Started to Blur

For the past few years, the difference between an article and a blog started to disappear. There are several factors that contribute to this:

Many Websites Crowd the Internet

By the turn of the new millenium, there was a rise in the number of websites. Blogging started during the mid-’90s and by the year 2011, there were more than 156 million public blogs online and counting. These blogs allow readers to comment which made blogging engaging and social.

Newspapers and Magazines Went Online

Just like other businesses, major publications took advantage of the Internet technology. They published a digital version of their publication for the tech-savvy crowd. Soon, news and features become readily available across the globe not only through their website but also through social media.

Competition for Web Traffic

With the popularity of search engines, getting on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP) had become the goal of every website. Thus, search engine optimization (SEO) had become a must in order to get ahead of the competition for web traffic.

But because of Google’s updates on SEO, “rules” on blogging have changed. Blogs became more informational, lengthy, well-researched just like an article.

Clients/Business Owners Don’t Know the Difference

Business owners appreciate the benefits of a blog. Almost all websites found online contain a blog. However, there are some business owners who become clients of freelance writers, don’t know the difference between an article and a blog. Most of the time, they want the authoritative tone of an article but will pay for the price of a blog.

It’s the writer’s call

At this point, the writer should be clear with the client as to what the writing task should be. Is it an article or is it a blog? Readers prefer informational and authoritative pieces of writing whether from an article or a blog, no question about that. But as freelance writers, prefer writing articles for professional purposes. Not only will it provide writing samples into your portfolio, but also it pays more than blog posts (generally speaking). However, if the task is to write a blog, it would be better to bring the blog into a higher level — informational, lengthy, well-researched just like an article yet conversational like how the website owner speaks.

If you have any comments about this blog, let me know.

how much will you charge

How Much Will You Charge?

The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.Robert Benchley

You might have read the quote above by American comedian and writer Robert Benchley. How much should a freelance writer charge is one of the frequent questions asked among writers. A freelance writer can charge whatever he or she wants as long as it makes sense for him or her, for the client, and for the market. As long as the freelance writer feels that it’s fair, there is nothing to worry about.

However, there are people who charge way too much and get those high rates because they’ve built their reputation and their business up and have earned it. On the other end of the scale are the other writers who charge way below what they should, unknowingly or deliberately, thus affecting other freelance writers and the market in general.

So how much is fair?

In the course of my freelance writing career, I’ve tried weighing four ways on how to charge a writing project: per word, per page, per project or per piece, and per hour. There are pros and cons for each but let me give you an idea how it works for me.

Per Word

When I got hold of my first copy of Writer’s Digest back in the mid-’80s, I read from the ads that writers charge between $0.05 USD to $0.25 USD per word. At that time, the conversion rate was Php 35.00=$1.00 USD. I was in high school then and all I could say was, “Wow!”

When I joined the Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines (FWGP) in 2012, we had agreed that no Filipino writer should charge below Php 2.00 per word. And yet, some writers accept projects that pay below Php 2.00 per word.

When charging a writing project per word, better ask the client for the required word count, for example, an article 1,200 words long. I usually use Arial font, 12 point size, and type single space. Therefore, so a page of text for me is around 475 to 550 words more or less.

If the client couldn’t tell the word count, I could set an approximate word count range with the client. For example, a 4-page report would mean an approximate of 1,800 to 2,000 words since I already have an idea of how many words a page could be. The trick here is for me to stick to the word count and let the client know what to expect and not to expect when charging on a per word basis.

Another way is to set a price per 100 words. This is much easier and acceptable to both client and to myself. According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine dated October 2013, writers may charge from $2.00 USD per 100 words for academic writing, $3.00 USD per 100 words for special reports, $5.00 USD per 250-399 words, and $10.00 USD for 400-500 words for article and content writing. That was almost five years ago. The rates have changed now.

However, if the client specified a project long enough that charging per word maybe too much, I go for the second option: per page.

Per Page

Recently, I finished an e-book project that paid me by the page. I’ve checked around and saw that prices per page vary from one writer to another. One source said, it’s $15.00 USD per page. That is around Php 780.00 if converted. The client may say it’s over his or her budget, so be ready with a counter-proposal to meet halfway.

However, because of images, charts, diagrams, etc., the text would have to move along adding more pages which could be both an advantage or disadvantage. The more pages I have, the more money I’ll get. However, the not so good thing about it is when I compute for the per word rate, chances are it would go way below than my usual per word rate. Realizing that would make me think twice, my next option is to charge it per project.

Per Project

This is something easy for the client because it’s a flat fee regardless of the project’s length. Also, I have an advantage to figure out how much I would like to get paid without the limitations of word or page count. I just have to factor in the hours and resources spent, in a way that it makes sense to both parties, and still have enough gain at the end.

The disadvantage of this method is if the project is more in-depth than I anticipated and I end up on the losing end. Most freelance writers suffer this kind of trauma — working on a project, being told to revise this and that, hoping to get paid but ends up not being paid due to some unfortunate circumstances.

One way to prevent this is to ask for a down payment to finance the project, and ask for the balance once the project is done. This is stated in my Statement of Work (SOW) along with the project’s details.

If ever the client decides not to continue the project, I usually state in my SOW that the down payment will serve as the “kill fee”. This way, I’m paid for the services rendered during the first days of the project.

If I can’t figure how much the whole project would cost me, then I try charging it per hour instead.

Per Hour

This method is tricky at the same time fair. I’ve scouted around and saw varied rates from $5.00 USD to $40.00 USD. (And I also found a few who charge much higher.) If you try to convert that into Philippine pesos you’ll exclaim, “Wow!”.

I use a timer and an invoicing tool so I could easily charge the client and show him or her how my time was spent in the project. That includes research, Skype calls, writing, and editing. I just have to be conscious of my time and motion and be honest in charging.

I bid for $11.00 USD per hour for two writing projects. The British client said, “I guess you’ll just be writing for thirty minutes per item, how’s that?” The Australian client said, “The US dollar rate is too much. How about if it’s in Australian dollars?” In short, I sealed both deals on 2015.

The advantage of being a Filipino is having this kind of opportunity to work with foreign clients and still get comfortable with the rates even if it’s below expectation. Both $5.50 USD and $11.00 AUD were fine with me because I was comfortable with that. Believe me, it was much more than the starting rate I had in freelance writing six years ago.

I have set a lowest rate where I could still be comfortable and resolve that I should not go lower than that. Also, I factored in other fees like the kill fee, time for research, meetings, and revisions. I check with the client what the project entails then decide which method to use.

To help me decide, I weigh in the pros and cons of each rate in relation to that project. I start proposing for the hourly rate, then go for the per project rate. For small projects, it’s simpler that I start proposing for a per project or per piece, or per per page rate. Then I sent my Statement of Work (SOW) which could also be my contract with the client once it’s signed. The rate will now be sealed.

How you’re going to charge the client depends on you. As long as it’s fair for both parties, as long as you’re comfortable with the cost, then it’s fine to charge per hour, per project, per page, or per word. But please, freelance writers, not perhaps.

the first trilogy

The First Trilogy (in Original Filipino Text)

Looking back from where I started, I couldn’t help but smile. It brought back memories and at the same time it showed me a pattern — either a pattern of growth or a pattern of style. In 2015, I decided to release in e-book format my first trilogy which I wrote in December 2001 to April 2002.

Publishing an e-book online gave me a big challenge: translation. I tried several times to translate the trilogy into English but I realized that it would be better for me to stick with the original Filipino text.

The first novel, Kȕng äng Txt i My CȕPdö (“,), was full of text messaging jargons and misspellings and translating these into English might diminish or worse, taken out of context the meaning and nuances of the “language” prevalent at that time.

By now, you can no longer see available copies of Kȕng äng Txt i My CȕPdö (“,) and Can I Use My Love Line? Also, the third novel, I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious, was never published because of its homosexual story. At that time, the romance genre and the Philippine pocketbook publishing industry were not comfortable in releasing romance stories about gays.

18 years have passed and many things have changed. I guess it’s about time to let my readers know about my first trilogy. You’ll read I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious for the first time.

This trilogy is also important to me in three ways: (1) it opened the door to the world of freelance writing, (2) it paved way for me to explore other writing formats, and (3) it only affirmed my resolve that everything comes in threes.

The first book was published in April and the second one in June 2002. Actually, I had no idea that I’ll be writing a trilogy.

Right after submitting Kȕng äng Txt i My CȕPdö (“,) that was the only time I thought of a “what if” situation which turned out to be the story for Can I Use My Love Line? And while writing the second novel, I thought of another “what if” situation and decided to unify them all. Thus I wrote I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious.

Reading this will bring back memories of Nokia 5110 and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? It also brought out a part of my character. Laugh and cry as you read along. So go ahead and download your FREE copy now.