Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Playing the Client Shuffle – Happy New Year!

Economy of American SamoaImage via WikipediaWhile many view New Year’s as a time to make resolutions and make changes, in the life of a freelance writer, every month can be a time of making changes. Projects end, clients come and go, pay rates abruptly change, and work opportunities are like hot dates – they come in cycles of feast and famine. It can be difficult to formulate a concrete work plan when so much can be up in the air – especially considering the U.S. economy as of late.

Something I do while playing the client shuffle is reassess where I am at in my writing career and what I want to accomplish. I want to work fewer hours for more pay. For me, that plan has been in progress for the past year and while it has not progressed as quickly as I would have liked, it has indeed progressed.

Another aspect of my plan is to only take the work I want and enjoy. No more tedium and endless articles on b-o-r-i-n-g topics that numb my brain while my eyes glaze over and I begin to drool. (Seriously – it is not pretty!)

I have had some ‘lucky breaks’ along the way, but I have also worked hard to increase my skills, pad my resume, and learn from the masters. I no longer feel like I need to take low paying gigs or tedious work in order to pay the bills. I have my financial house in order and I have worked my way up to much better pay than what I got when I started. I still have plenty of room for growth and improvement, but I have the time and the drive to get there.

When it comes to your freelance plan for the new year, what do you hope to accomplish?

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Oprah and Others Deceived by Author: What Does this Mean for You?

Nazi-German annoucement of death penalty for J...Image via WikipediaIn the news is a story about an author who included very intentionally falsified facts in his upcoming book, which was to be published in February, and even touted by Oprah. Now that the secret is out, more than a few are upset with him.

What does this mean for writers? I hope that it will mean more careful checks across the board in the publishing world, though I doubt that will be the result. For the most part, it is now, and perhaps will always be, up to writers to check their facts thoroughly and to write with the highest standards of journalistic integrity in mind.

The other side of this is that as readers, we should approach any ‘news’ or ‘biography’ and the like with skepticism, realizing that many have not gone through any type of serious fact-checking, and some ‘fact’ is more ‘opinion and spin’ than actual factual accounting.


News of Fabricated Holocaust Memoir Sparks Anger, Sadness Press. Monday, December 29, 2008.,2933,473445,00.html

False Memoir of Holocaust is Canceled
Motoko Rich and Joseph Berger. New York Times (online). December 28, 2009

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Monday, December 22, 2008

The Freelance National Anthem - Everybody Sing Along

I'd like to give special thanks to Deb Ng at Freelance Writing Jobs for posting this great video. The song is played twice, with the second time accompanied by lyrics so all may sing along.

Please join me in singing The Freelance National Anthem:

Today's Question:
What do YOU love best about Freelancing?

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

What Happens to Your Writing Work When You Die?

Seal of the United States Copyright Office, in...Image via Wikipedia

A writer I adore posed the question in a forum, and the answer is important to know.

When it comes to copyrights, if you own the rights to your work, you own them for the duration of your life plus 70 years if it was created after January 1, 1978. You may will those rights to your heirs.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, "For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation,whichever is shorter."

When you assign the right to your work to someone else – when they buy, outright, the rights to your work, in perpetuity, they keep those rights forever. All other cases of purchase or transfer of rights may vary, so be sure to have an attorney go over the legalese with you as you draft your will.

It is a little trickier when it comes to residuals, so on those it is best to consult with those who are paying the residuals and a lawyer. In some cases, however, even if someone else owns the rights to your work, if they are paying you some type of residual income for that, you may be entitled by law to will those residuals to your heirs, in perpetuity.

It is a good idea to create printed information for your heirs in regards to the work you own the rights to and the work you are paid residuals on even though you do not own the rights to it.

Information in regards to any other revenue programs, affiliate links, and the like will also need to be spelled out in writing to your heirs.

Remember to give as much information as you can so that your heirs can easily locate and access your work and your willed residuals – including magazine & book names, web site addresses, addresses, company names, writing work titles, log-in information, and account numbers.

You do not need to register your work with the copyright office, but it helps if you do. When you do so, you do not have to register each one separately. There is a fee involved, and you are allowed to register groupings of your work all at the same time so you only pay once for that entire group of work.

For more information, please refer to the U.S. Copyright Office or the office of the entity in your country that handles such matters.

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U.K. English vs. American English

Sometimes in research and in editing, you may come across spellings you are not familiar with of relatively common words. Before you use ‘Spellcheck’ to correct them, you need to consider if they are correct in U.K. or American English, and if it is more appropriate to leave the spelling as is rather than to alter it.

A few examples of such words are as follows:

U.K. English*****American English
shoppe************shop (a store, not the activity)

If you are directly quoting a source, it is proper to use the spelling used in that source. If the word is part of a proper name, double-check it to be sure the correct spelling is used in your writing. Sometimes in America, businesses choose U.K. spellings. ‘theatre’ and ‘shoppe’ are two examples of words with which this occurs most commonly.

Spelling is not the only way in which U.K. English and American English differ. Many common items have very different names in each country. A few examples are as follows:

U.K. English*****American English
chips**************french fries
crisps*************potato chips

Generally, companies you write for will prefer one version of English to another. If you are unsure, ask.

One last thing to consider is that some words are pronounced differently in the U.K. and the U.S.A. When involved in a verbal interview, this may be confusing unless you are familiar with this fact. The words are spelled the same in both countries – they are just pronounced differently.

A few common examples are the words laboratory, schedule and renaissance.

For more information on U.K. English vs. American English, please refer to the following sources:

Enquire vs Inquire at

American vs British English from University of Tampere

Additional Resources from

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Best Sources for Finding Writing Work – Perpetual List

Last Update: January 5, 2009

Whether it is for magazines, newspapers, or other enterprises, there are some places where good job offerings for writers are compiled and listed on a daily or otherwise frequent basis.

This list will be updated as I collect more great sources of job listings. A permanent link to this list is in the sidebar for your convenience.

1-Freelance Writing Jobs

Daily listings of work each weekday, plus “Monday Markets” listing of magazine writing opportunities. During the week, Deb and the others on her team post information related to freelance writing and blogging, as well.

2-Accentuate Services

Frequently updated list of paid writing gigs, primarily magazines. Site wide challenges, contests, and forums. Michy is a published author, and also writes a blog for writers: Editing & Proofreading Hints & Tips.

3-All Freelance Writing Jobs

Regularly updated list of job leads, with a key to help you discern if its right for you or not. Also on the site are great articles by Jennifer, who has recently published a very helpful ebook for web writers.
NOTE: I got to preview the book, and it is fabulous! I am very picky when it comes to spending money on books, and I would buy this one. As a pre-viewer I got a free copy, though I forgot about that and was ready to buy one until I was reminded of that fact! *laugh*

4- Freelance Writing at
Guide Allena Tapia complied a 5 part listing of places to look for freelance writing work. Her section on may be subscribed to and is a fabulous resource for freelance writers. Here are her job listing links:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

For 2009, she added more leads (non-repetitive) that she will add to the others. For now, here are her new leads:

5-Online Writing Jobs

Robert is a freelance writer who is providing this free review service for other freelance writers. He reviews places that buy content and posts the reviews on his site. Other great information is available there as well, including how to make $300 in one day with writing. He later posted proof of those payments.

If you know of any more top-notch writing gigs boards, blogs, or websites, please let me know so they may be included in this list.

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Two Quotes for Writers

Yesterday, I got a message from a fellow writer who is participating in NaNoWriMo. It really struck a chord with me in general, but especially as a writer.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” ~Mark Twain. (Thank you, Michy!)
The other is part of a song I love. I think anyone who writes will be able to relate to the sentiment. I've included the music video so, as she sings in the song, you can 'sing it if you understand'.

“2 a.m. and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to.
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
‘Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to.”
~Breathe (2 a.m.) by Anna Nalick

The message of both is that you have to grow a thick skin to be a writer because there will always be naysayers and critics around you trying to belittle you and twist your words around.

The hope in both is that you can adopt an attitude that will allow you to withstand all of that, and succeed in your dream of writing.

And, like the song says, remember along the way to "BREATHE".

Hang in there. You can do it!

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Friday, October 31, 2008

5 Ways to Monetize Your Blog or Website

Photo © Chance Agrella
There are various ways to earn a little extra money from your writing. One such method is to monetize your blog or website. You can do this in a number of ways.
1. Google Adsense

One of the most commonly used and popular methods, Google Adsense allows you to place advertising on your blog or website. You get paid every time someone clicks on the ads. Please note they take ‘cheating’ seriously – do not click on your own ads and do not recruit others to give you multiple clicks.

In addition to the traditional ads, Google Adsense also offers videos and search bars for revenue.

2. Affiliate Links

There are multiple sources of affiliate linkage. If you are adding an affiliate link to your blog or website, the most honorable way to do so (which will elicit reader trust and confidence in you – and perhaps garner more clicks for you) is to be honest about the affiliation and to actually have familiarity with the product.

For example, if the affiliate link is for a publisher or book, be sure you know the publisher and have faith in them, or have read the book and find it to be worth the money. Add your own review of the product, book, publisher, etc to add credibility and draw in more viewership.

3. Sell Advertising

There are ways to sell advertising spots on your blog or website. You can directly solicit advertisers, advertise that you have space for sale on your site or blog, and you can use a feature such as Scratchback.

4. Tip Jar/Take Donations

It can be a lot of work to write, maintain, and market a blog or website. Many set up a ‘tip jar’ or ‘donation button’ in order to draw in funding. One easy way to set up a tip jar or donation button is through PayPal. Remember: unless you are a specific type of registered charity, ‘donations’ to your site or blog will not be tax deductible for the donor.

5. Sell Your Blog or Website

With the right topic, name or popularity, your blog or website could sell for big bucks. Though you will no longer own it once sold, this is another way to earn money via your blog or website.

Some great information about how to sell or ‘flip’ blogs and websites is available at

Additional ideas (not written by me) may be found at

Bear in mind that too much advertising can be a turn off, and some people have an ‘ad-block’ feature that will block your ads from their view of your blog or website.

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Perpetual Firefox and Helpful Firefox Add-ons for Writers List

The following is a listing of Firefox and Firefox add-ons that can be very helpful to writers. This list will be updated from time to time. A link to this list is available in the sidebar for easy access and future reference.

* Free Firefox Browser
* Dictionary and Language Packs (Addons)
* Feeds, News, and Blogging (Addons)
* Photos, Music, and Videos
* Search Tools (Addons)
* Toolbars (Addons)
* Webpage Translation Tool (Addon)

If you know of any other great Firefox add-ons for writers, please submit them to me for addition to this list.

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Perpetual Reference and Research Resources List

The following is a listing of various free online reference and research resources. This list will be updated from time to time. A link to this list is available in the sidebar for easy access and future reference.

* Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Thesaurus, Spanish - English, Medical
* Dictionary.Com Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia
* Word Reference.Com Free Translation Dictionary (multiple languages)

If you know of any other free online reference and research resources, please submit them to me for addition to this list.

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Perpetual Style Guides List

The following is a list of free Style Guides (in part or in full). Please note that generally a fee will need to be paid to buy the book or to subscribe to the online version of the complete guide. Partial free sources address the most common questions in relation to the various style guides.

This list will be updated from time to time. A link to this list is available in the sidebar for easy access and future reference.

* AP Style Book (order print or online version)
* Utah State University Guide to AP Style
* Free AP Style Editing Course (Open Enrollment - 2 Hours)

* Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
* University of Georgia Libraries CMS Style Guide
* Ohio State University Libraries CMS Citation Guide

* MLA Style Website (Official)
* Purdue OWL MLA Style Guide
* Lonestar College - Kingwood Library MLA Style Guide

* APA Style Guide Website (Official)
* Purdue OWL APA Style Guide
* University of Southern Mississippi Libraries APA Style Guide

* The Gregg Reference Manual (Style guide - buy online or in print)

If you know of any other sources of free style guides, please submit them to me for addition to this list.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

NaNoWriMo – Annual November Writing Challenge

National Novel Writing Month is an annual challenge designed to motivate fiction writers to get a book written. The challenge begins on November 1 and ends on November 30. The rules are simple: the book must be written during that time – not before and not after. In thirty days, each participant is challenged to come up with a 50,000 word rough draft of a fictional novel from scratch.

Awards are given to all those who complete the challenge, and some NaNoWriMo novels have actually been published later on. The biggest benefit of the challenge is getting the motivation to just write. The challenge is not about writing a perfect novel or even to upload perfect copy at the end. The point is to write.

There is no fee to participate, though donations to the cause are always appreciated. To find out more, check out the home page for NaNoWriMo, the What is NaNoWriMo page, the How it Works page, and the FAQs page. Please note that in the official word count process, your work is not retained in any way. You just have to temporarily input it in order to register your word count with the site. Instructions for how to ‘scramble’ your temporary input will be forthcoming (from the site – to those who register to participate).

I participated last year, but did not get much done as I found about it after it had begun. This year I have been waiting for the start and will be scheduling in time for the challenge each day. I have a lot of fictional novel ideas floating around in my head, and its high time I put some of them to paper.

For those involved with Michy’s Accentuate Services (free writer site with job leads, tips, and more), Accentuate has begun a fund-raising drive for NaNoWriMo. If you would like to donate via Accentuate’s drive, or if you would like to help spread the word, please check out the information page at Accentuate.

By the way, if 50,000 words sounds overwhelming think of it in these terms:

A typical web writing assignment is 500 words. 100 such articles (a little over 3 a day) equals 50,000 words. When writing your own story with your own words and knowledge, 1,500 – 2,000 words a day flies by.

Earlier this year I was hired to write one chapter of a book. The word count the publisher gave me for one chapter: 10,000 words. 50,000 words is approximately 175 pages or 5 chapters. That is not very long. If you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself that you are not writing War and Peace or one of the Harry Potter books. *grin*

If you use Microsoft Word to write, be sure to turn on the ‘Spell check’ and ‘Grammar Check’ features in order to quickly proofread your work.

To check your own word count more easily in Microsoft Word, check out my How-to for adding a word count button on your MS Word toolbar.

Life happens. For some, setting aside the same amount of time every day, at the same time of day is the way to be most committed and effective for completing the challenge. For others, the most effective and least discouraging way is to just write as much as they can whenever they can. Do what works for you. It is not a competition against anyone but yourself. Undertaking this challenge – whatever the results – will be a rewarding experience in many ways for anyone who dreams of writing a fictional book.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Google Chrome Browser and Your Rights to Your Work

Screenshot by DaniellaNicole under Fair Use

Some reports and comments have been published regarding the fine print associated with the new Google Chrome Browser. These reports may be troubling to writers, photographers, artists, and other freelancers who use the internet for the submission of their work.

Fox News – September 4, 2008

(which led me to:)

CNET news – September 2, 2008

The wording being reported is, “By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services.”

This wording certainly does imply Google Chrome usage while submitting or creating your written works, photographs, music, art, and more gives Google a right to such works.

HOWEVER, when I checked the Google Chrome Privacy Policy and Terms of Service (on September 11, 2008), I did not find such wording, but did find clear wording that your rights to your work are yours and in no way belong to or are claimed by Google/Google Chrome.

Google Chrome Terms of Service (see sections 9 and 11) – not dated

Google Chrome Privacy Policy
– Dated September 3, 2008

In all fairness, Google may have changed the wording (terms of use) for Chrome since the reports came out. I am assuming they did. Regardless, this is clear evidence as to the importance of verifying facts before reporting or putting information into print. Had I relied upon those two reports (which were probably correct at the time of print) rather than checking and reading the current version of the fine print for myself, I would have been reporting and printing false information.

The second lesson
to be learned from this is the importance of reading all of the fine print before you sign or agree to anything. I have been involved in contract negotiations in which the other side slipped in last minute changes that were discovered on the day of signing, and I have refused to sign other contracts which were completely one-sided - giving me no rights or protection.

There are many honest employers and contractors out there, and there are others who will only protect their interests. Reading the fine print will help you discern between the two.

Back to the theme of this post, if you are interested in checking out or downloading Google Chrome, you may do so here:

Google Chrome

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Book Review Templates

Photo © Sarah Sturtevant Whether by assignment or choice, writing book reviews can be a fun way to earn some income as a freelance writer. The site or company you are writing for may have their own template or format for your review. If so, their template trumps any other you may be using.

If there is no template, or if you are writing a book review you will try to sell, there are places that offer free book review template advice.

It is important to note that a book review is very different from a book report. Though I have read some reviews of books and other media that contain spoilers and give away endings, unless requested or noted in the beginning of the review, it is best to avoid giving away the ending or revealing the entire plot line in a book review.

Below I have linked to a few places with templates and advice for writing book reviews. Please review them and use the one you like best, or create your own from the information you find:
Writing with Writers offers a step-by-step approach from an experienced book reviewer.
Tips for writing a book review - From Los Angeles Valley College Library
Book review structure guide from University of Washington at Tacoma
The OWL at Purdue guide for writing a book review
Quick Tips from for how to write a book review
Suggested elements to be included in a book review
10 Step Process for Writing a Book Review Classic Literature Guide's steps for writing a literary review
Writing a book review with SEO in mind

For more information and ideas, read some book reviews online and in print. Use the ones you like best as your template for how to format a review and what to cover.

Online book reviews from
New York Times Book Reviews

Finally, I cannot remember or locate where I got the information or from what sources I compiled it, but the template I personally use is shown below.
Book Review Template Used by Daniella Nicole

Place Published:
Publication Date:
Special Features:


Body of the Review

Rating/impression and why

Author background


Have a template you prefer or would like to share? Please tell us about it in the comment section.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sensationalist Journalism

Location of the United StatesImage via Wikipedia Yet another sensationalist piece in the news prompted me to write this post. I am from the ‘old school’ journalism sect. I was taught to stick with facts that are carefully checked out. I was taught that truth was imperative, and any misleading or false statement would not only open the door for a lawsuit due to libel, but it would lead to a prompt dismissal.

Things have changed dramatically. With the inception of the internet came an onslaught of competitors to the world of print and broadcast media. Also with the internet came the increasingly difficult challenge to beat the competitors to the punch with headlines – leaving little or no time to check facts. The ‘be first’ fever spread, and now it is virtually impossible to find one news outlet of any kind that does not indulge in sensationalism.

Headlines that are misleading or downright false are the mainstay in American journalism. It is all about getting the clicks – getting the readers, with no regard for fact or truth. This is just one aspect of sensationalist journalism.

Another aspect of sensationalist journalism is including ‘dirt’ in stories that has no relevance to the main subject of the story. Again, the point is to get the clicks – to get the readers – to be ‘first’ to reveal some juicy tidbit, no matter how irrelevant or damaging to others.

There is no respect shown for anyone in America. No longer are celebrities and politicians the only ones subject to having reporters camped outside their home, being followed (i.e. stalked), being photographed at will, and having sensitive private information publicly revealed in print or broadcast online.

No longer is sensationalist journalism limited to tabloids - many once respectable news sources are now guilty of it as well. A BBC, Reuters,and Media Center sponsored 10-country poll taken in 2006 shows that the American public overwhelmingly does not trust the media. The lines between fictional creative writing and news reporting have become increasingly blurred.

Want to read more articles and polls about the distrust of the media? Try Mondo Times.

Enticing headlines and articles take real talent to create. However, they can be created without lowering oneself into the murky world of sensationalism. Fact checking and ethics in journalism are the true mark of a professional.

It is up to you which road you choose.

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Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment

19th century Photo of O. W. Holmes Jr.Image via Wikipedia As a writer, one of the first things I was taught in journalism was the First Amendment. Many people misunderstand it, but as a writer, your job, your credibility, and your finances depend upon knowing it well.

The First Amendment reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Though it is commonly known as the ‘free speech’ amendment, with great freedom comes great responsibility, and not all speech is equal. A very famous quote about free speech comes from US Supreme Court Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841 – 1935, pictured above), “ You are not free to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater.”

In accordance with this, several types of speech are NOT protected under the first amendment, and in my opinion, nor should they be. They include:

Libel (defamation of character in writing)
Slander (defamation of character orally)
Hate speech (defamation of a particular race, religion, group, etc)
The Heckler’s Veto (a ‘heckler’ drowning out the speech of someone with their heckling to the point of disrupting the meeting)
Fighting Words (speech that inflames listeners to violence)
Obscenity (the legal definition of obscenity is still a bit of a gray area that is hotly debated, but generally is understood to be ‘adult’ material that when taken as a whole has no redeeming social features)

*Please note I am not an attorney, nor a constitutional expert. I have explained these concepts and legalities as I understand them as a writer, and as brief research into my understanding of these issues has confirmed them to be true. I welcome any additions or clarifications from anyone with a more in-depth knowledge of these matters.

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Welcome Back to Beginning Write!

Photo © Chance Agrella

After a hiatus, Beginning Write is back with a new look and new information. I can't guarantee regular posts, but I promise to blog about and list the best information I can find to help freelance writers. I will share personal experiences, thoughts, and opinions related to my life as a freelance writer as well.

This blog is not a daily newsflash kind of blog. This is a reference source for writers kind of blog. The information in this blog will be evergreen as much as possible, and I will be updating information as needed.

A few things I will be adding to Beginning Write will be sources of additional great freelancing info, job lead sites, and a compilation of 'content mills' that are legit. I will also be adding information about SEO, how to set your rates, taxes, contracts, monetizing your sites/blogs, grammar, punctuation, style guides, spelling, writing tips, and much more.

So, please pour yourself a tasty beverage, kick back, and enjoy! Your comments, thoughts, opinions, and questions are always welcome - unless they are inappropriate, spam, rude, or otherwise deemed crap not fit for print. ;-)

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Copyright © 2008 - 2010 Daniella Nicole. All rights reserved.