Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Friday, July 31, 2015

Writing Mills

I have been writing as a freelancer for over twenty years, and I'm still surprised when I run across a request like the following on one of the sites where I still bid for jobs occasionally.

 I need 50 recipes with 50 words each totaling 2500 words each.
 must pass copyscape!
 Im paying $10 for all 50 recipes totaling 2,500 words
 no pictures in the recipes just the title and the recipe
 easy work!
 need in 2-3 days!

Just makes you want to jump right in their and bid on this job, doesn't it?

These sites are called writing mills, and, yes, I know that respected, well-known freelancers bombard these sites with unadulterated disdain. So, why do I still bid on jobs on a site like this?

The bidding process keeps me on my marketing game. Is a fun aside at times. Is quick turnaround. Is good money if bidding responsibly.

Submitting a proposal for a job answers questions that make you think about your writing expertise and improve your ability to query magazines with proposals. Many of the sites offer online, free exams to test your writing skills. And I like a challenge, so I take many of them.

Do  you really know the difference between alliteration and parallelism? Think you are an expert at sentence structure? Take a few tests to evaluate yourself as an editor and see. It's a quick way to brush up on what you "think you know." It's a free course in Marketing 101 and beyond...

  • What do I bring to the table that will get this job done?
  • What have I done that is similar and will assist me to do this job?
  • What samples of my work can I share to show what I can do?
  • How do I word a proposal?
  • How do I assess a job to assess the client's reliability?
  • How do I dissect a job for hidden clues and determine what the client is requesting?
Let me state unequivocally that I would never submit a proposal on a job like the example. Even when I was a newbie, I knew an insult when I read it. Not all jobs on the sites are like this, but sadly, most are. Everybody wants a lot for a little - hum, reminds me of the debates over minimum wage and employee benefits, but back to being a freelancer.

I have secured many, many jobs on these sites, met many professional, reliable clients, have repeat business that fills in the financial gaps that anyone who freelances faces from time to time experiences - the same is true for real estate brokers, graphic designers, models, etc.

It's the luxury of not having a 9 to 5 job with 30 minutes for lunch.

If you are considering checking out the writing mills, here are a few hints on how to assess a job:

 I need 50 recipes with 50 words each totaling 2500 words each. Veggies, Cakes, Meats?
 must pass copyscape! So rewriting others' recipes is acceptable.
 Im paying $10 for all 50 recipes totaling 2,500 words .004 cents a word?
 no pictures in the recipes just the title and the recipe That saves time
 easy work! Compared to a thesis. HARD in terms of time spent and creative word spinning.
 need in 2-3 days! fine if you have no family or other jobs, don't eat or sleep

Would this one be a way to get on the board with “a clip?” Sure, but so would an article of 2,500 words in a magazine or website, which could pay up to a $1.00 a word.

It’s all about choices. Do you hear your mother calling?

Have you worked for a writing mill? Did you hate it? Love it? Learn from it? Let’s talk.

Write like you mean it ~ Mahala

Friday, July 24, 2015

Ten Best Books - Art of Writing

Editors and writers are often asked about our favorite resources. It is a subject that always comes up in my writing classes, so I thought I would share a few of mine and why I find them useful.

The Emotion Thesaurus (Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi) 75 emotions succinctly describe what a character is feeling. One of my new favorites.

Writing the Breakout Novel (Donald Maass)            Inspiring, practical, information from the respected author of seventeen novels, an extremely successful literary agent

20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them (Ron Tobias) Indepth look at plotting with checklists

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author (Janet Evanovich) Fun, easy to understand basics to from bestselling author on how to create a book.

Editor-Proof Your Writing (Don McNair) 21 steps to clear prose that work! Query & other good information.

Creating Fiction (Julie Checkoway) Easy to understand info: elements of fiction

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Einstein
Becoming A Writer (Dorothea Brande) My favorite book on writing—the who, why, what, how, and when to write.  I get inspired and learn something new every time I read it.

On Writing (Stephen King) Memoir and guide to writing filled with inspiration and practical advice.

Stein on Writing (Sol Stein) Master editor of successful writers spills the secrets of writing

Writing Fiction (Janet Burroway) Touchstone for literary writers. Used in MFA programs.

Warning! Don’t read them all at once! Take your time and absorb the information and keep them handy for easy reference.

Write like you mean it ~ Mahala

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An ARC goes to . . .

cj sez:
In my last post, I promised to send a reader an unedited Advance Review Copy of CHOOSING CARTER, but I can’t send just “one.” So, I’m going to send one to Kaye George, one to Deborah O’Neill Cordes, and one to Vickie Fee. Watch for it, ladies, and thanks for stopping by. ’Preciate it. Hope you enjoy the read.

I checked the Crimson Romance website last week and discovered they’ve scheduled the e-book launch of CHOOSING CARTER for August 17. Now I know why I’ve been under so many short deadlines. The last one was the galley corrections. I got the galley from the publisher on July 18, and they needed everything back on July 20. (That’s why this blog post slipped to Tuesday.)

I thought, okay, that’s three days. I can do this. Then Mother Nature stepped in. For the last three days, my part of the Gulf Coast has been the target of amazing electrical storms. The power at my house kept going on and off like a light switch with a short circuit. And when there was a lull and I tried to turn the computer on, Internet Explorer would quit working and restart (which it just did again now).

Do I sound like I’m whining? No, I’m bragging . . . I completed the task despite all those hurdles. Yessss. Take that, weather and internet bugs.

Now, I can relax, take something for my hellacious headache, and get ready for a day trip to “The Magic of Books” writers conference in Long Beach, MS, this weekend.

See you-all next time. In the meantime, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.



PS:  The toon is from my Facebook page. I warned 'em I'd share it.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


cj Sez:  I don't have an exact date yet, but publisher Crimson Romance keeps telling me they will launch the e-book version of "Choosing Carter" later this summer. Paperback to come out in the fall. Wow! I am definitely doing the happy dance (not something you want to witness, however).

Here's the cover: (If you click on it, you should be able to see a larger version...I hope.)

Here's a blurb: Protagonist Bryn McKay is a freelance marketing consultant living in Colorado who tries desperately to save her brother from his risky choices. Her first attempts end in a near-tragic truck accident that lands him in prison where he becomes a jailhouse convert to Islam, escapes, and vows revenge on the people who put him there, including his sister. Bryn is in hot pursuit of naturalist and outdoor guide, Carter Danielson, but Carter is a recovering alcoholic who shies away from relationships. They are on an idyllic rafting trip she hopes will turn romantic when they encounter her brother who’s joined a terrorist sleeper cell. Bryn must confront the changing face of terror that never seemed so horrible as it does when the face she sees is that of her brother. Her dream of realizing happily-ever-after with the man she loves turns into a nightmarish mélange of anger, hatred and terror—Bryn’s fear is that someone she loves will die.

And here's an excerpt from the Advance Review Copy they sent me:


Bryn McKay’s body ricocheted off the passenger door as the pickup, engine roaring, veered from one side of the Colorado mountain road to the other. She snugged down her seat belt another notch and glared at her brother.

Robbie’s narrow shoulders moved to the rhythm of his hands as they twisted the steering wheel.

 The thought crossed her mind that she didn’t know who he was anymore. Robbie had changed from a solitary man into a defiant malcontent living a me-versus-them life. A cavernous disconnect had developed between the sour brother who sat beside her and the happy cutup she used to know.

 “You believe in God?” he yelled, his words slurred. He took a swipe at her shoulder with a grimy hand, his fingernails and knuckles rimmed with black from his last grease job at the gas station. “I said, you believe in God?”

 She dodged too late and screamed, “Yes!”

 “That mean you ain’t afraid to die?”

 His alcohol-thickened tongue rolled the words around in his mouth until they tumbled out, stinking of beer and trailing spit. She turned away from his rancid breath.

 “We’re both going to die if you don’t slow down. I wouldn’t have gotten into the pickup if I’d known you were so stupid drunk, or are you high on something, too?”

 Robbie snickered, and the truck picked up speed. “Riding around with your drunk, half-breed lover don’t seem to bother you none.”

 “Just because I date Carter doesn’t make him my lover, and he doesn’t drink anymore,” she said. “You know that.”

 Bryn fingered the AA card in her pocket. She’d hoped to catch Robbie while he was still sober, get him to agree to go to a meeting with Carter, but Robbie had cashed his paycheck earlier than she expected. She tightened the elastic band around her ponytail then pinched her lips together between thumb and forefinger to keep from yelling at him. She watched the tops of pine trees race past the side window and wondered if he could see the road through his half-lidded eyes. Unable to keep silent any longer, she turned back.

“You’re just plain nuts. You need help.”

“Got any other great insights to share?”

He looked at her too long, his hazel eyes bright with a crazed light, and the pickup drifted toward the shoulder.

She reached over and steered the truck left.
“Keep it on the road,” she said.

Robbie jerked the wheel back, and the right-side tires, both the front and the dualies in the rear, rolled off the asphalt and lost traction on the gravel shoulder.

Fear washed an icy calm over Bryn, and she uttered his name like a warning in a
hoarse, quiet voice. “Robbie.”

He muscled the wheel around, stomped his boot on the brake pedal, and discovered it was the wrong thing to do. The left-side tires stuttered on the asphalt and screamed in protest as they laid down rubber. The truck slewed into a skid, and momentum took over.

The cab and the bed twisted in opposite directions. The sheet metal screeched painfully. The pickup careened out of control as it left the blacktop and headed for the ravine.

Robbie no longer sounded drunk when he yelled, “Jump!”

Bryn jerked up on the door handle. The lock refused to yield. She levered it like a pump and slammed her shoulder against the door.

“It won’t ... I can’t...”

She saw Robbie’s door swing open. He stepped out into space and disappeared from view as the driver’s side of the truck ripped through the steel guardrail and curled back the corrugated metal strip like a banana peel. The jolt popped Bryn’s jammed door lock. Inertia yanked the seat belt tight against her chest. The door whipped open and dragged the handle out of her grip, but the seat belt held. She screamed and clawed at the buckle.

A squat chunk of oaken guardrail post pleated the truck’s sheet metal like an accordion against the windshield, and the rear wheels lifted off the ground. Bryn’s belt buckle released. She slid off the seat and out the open door, slamming to the ground and into the winter-dead scrub brush at the edge of the drop-off

The pickup tipped into a headstand on the rim then flipped bumper over bumper and landed upside down, the roof compacted to seat height. It scraped two hundred yards down the side of the escarpment, leaving barren ground in its wake, and shuddered to a halt in the shallow creek at the bottom of the ravine.

Rocks and dirt tumbled after it. Minutes later, the small rockslide rattled to a stop, the wheels spun to a halt, and the violence disappeared into a silence disturbed only by the sound of water rushing around the wreckage.


Okay, that's all for the teaser. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to the do same . . . and please, let me know what you think. 

Tell you what, send me an email with your comments, and next week, I'll randomly choose a reviewer to receive an unedited PDF version of the complete ARC.

DEADLY STAR (Publisher: Crimson Romance)   (B&  (