Speedlancer Reviews Anyone? by Christine Duncan

I am still trying to find a way to make a little more money with my writing.  So I was more than a little interested when I got an email inviting me to apply at Speedlancer.  I had never heard of them before.

From what I’ve read on the net, Speedlancer launched in 2014. They set the terms for the writing (or data entry or logo/banner design,) promising the client the work will be complete in four hours   So its a win-win situation–no messy bidding for writers looking for projects and quick turnover for people who need work finished.  It sounds great.

All I want is to find some writers who work for them to review Speedlancers.  It is after all, new.  Have there been any glitches? Anyone?

Where To Get A Plot

If you’re searching for a plot, or characters, or just a bit of inspiration, can I suggest old newspapers?

My local library (and probably yours too) has a computer archive of all sorts of old newspapers, including The Times going back centuries. I’ve often used them for research purposes. But what I have found is that although I start just searching for one or two things, I get sidetracked. Last time I got caught up in a fascinating court case and ended up reading all the reports. I find myself reading accounts of murders and frauds and disappearances. I read the actual words of people who died a hundred years ago, but their anger and fear and passion are still there, right on the page.

I’ve found some real life affairs I can adapt for the next book. I also found some real life people doing acts I thought I’d have to invent people to do. Not only have I discovered quite a lot I didn’t know about Victorian London, I’ve been given some brilliant ideas.

And the best thing about trawling old newspapers for ideas is that it’s all true. If someone says to you ‘that’s ridiculous, that couldn’t happen’ or ‘that character is unbelievable’ you can say ‘ah ha, but it is true!’. It’s amazing what really happens, and ends up in the newspaper.

Websites VS Blogs by Christine Duncan

I’ve been doing some reading on SEO (search engine optimization) in an attempt to widen my saleable writing skill set.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that much that comes under the title of SEO is stuff I’ve been doing for years in relation to  web sites.  Spending time on Meta keywords,, making sure pages load quickly, having links from other sites and being listed in the search engines were basics my husband and I did when we set the sites up. Although we could use site maps, I suppose.  Still I had allowed myself to complicate SEO into something magical. People discuss SEO as though it is a guarantee of hits, and thus sales. And they make it sound much more complicated than having the courage and patience to wait to see if your meta tags are giving you decent SERP (search engine result page) ranking before tinkering with them, or submitting your site for links with other sides.

Which isn’t to say that re-examining your website on a regular basis (something I am trying to do) is a bad thing.  As a matter of fact, I have already left it way too long.  Which leaves me to the point of this post.  Do authors need websites anymore?

Many writers I know seem only to do a blog, and blogs, to quote a WordPress blog, depend more on regular interesting content, rather than SEO.

I like blogs.  I feel as though they let me do what I want to do anyway–write–whereas maintaining a web page feels artificial and a bit more on the advertising/promo side .  Don’t ask me why. But is the reason my personal webpage is way behind on  its need for an update.  So authors, help please.  What do you think? Is a web page necessary anymore?

Just A Fireside Chat

I’ve been reading Anthony Trollope, and I don’t know why I took such a long time to come round to him, because I’m really enjoying his books.

I’ve read how authors disapproved of his habit of talking to his reader directly, and not in a preaching sort of way, but I feel it’s like he’s having a good chat with us.

For example, he’ll stop to assure us that the heroine isn’t going to marry either of these awful men. Or he’ll say personally, he never liked that boy. It’s as if he moved amongst his characters (although he never names himself as a character) as if they were real people, and then is coming to our home and telling us about them.

I love the moment in one of his books when he says his publisher assures him he has to write another 50 pages to fill the volume, but he has no idea how to finish the story. It makes him a very real person, and I can’t help feeling Anthony Trollope would have been great fun to talk to.

Usually the author is silent. They might comment, or point out a moral, but they rarely chat, and they rarely pass judgement on their characters. This usually works, and personally, I prefer to let my characters do the talking. There is normally a barrier between the author and the reader, which lets us pass our own judgement on the characters, regardless of the author’s feelings. But it is such fun to find an author who treats the whole thing like a delicious fireside chat.

Writing for Money by Christine Duncan

I think that my biggest problem with writing for places like Amazon Turk is that so many people are giving it away.  I think as writers we need to decide what our time and our craft is worth and stick to that.

On  Turker websites where workers discuss what they should be paid, there are two distinct groups.  One group is adamant that writers should not work for less than a penny per word.  The other group takes the stand that since they are working from home, without the wardrobe, transportation or other requirements of a “real” job , that this is really found money like the quarter you pick up from the sidewalk on your way to the car. Their idea is that as long as you have the freedom to work on whatever they want on Turk, then whatever they are paid is fine. Requesters then see no need to pay a decent amount as they can get workers without doing so.

It’s  not a new debate to the writing community. I remember being told that in order to get clips, I should be willing to work for free. I thought then, as I do now, that this is wrong. Our work is real and should be adequately compensated–and people who think of it any other way are making it harder for the rest of us.

End of rant.  Sigh.

What We Must Do

Three years ago, writing was only one of the things I did. I also acted with the local theatre, I danced with a belly dancing class, and other classes, I visited castles and palaces and cathedrals and museums, I went on long walks, I did evening classes, I went to the theatre and cinema.

Then I got ulcerative colitis. Amongst other symptoms, I was totally and utterly exhausted. Everything had to stop. I had to give up the acting, and dancing and walks and visits. I had to cut my life down to what was important to me. I had to keep my day job to live. But I found I could not give up the writing.

It’s not because writing is easy. You and I both know that writing can be emotionally and physically exhausting. It was a real effort to write even for just an hour a day. But I could not give it up. My illness had showed me what was really important in my life.

I’m not suggesting that getting a chronic incurable disease is the only way to know you’re a writer, come what may. Any big life change could show you that. Come to think of it, any little life change could make you realise it. You could be sitting at the kitchen table drinking a coffee and suddenly realise, out of nowhere ‘I’m a writer, that’s what I am’. But I think we all have to go through that moment, whether as a child or an adult, whether in our 20s or 70s, when we realise that writing is what we do, what we must do, that we will do, no matter what.

NaNoWriMo by Christine Duncan

Camp NaNoWriMo started April 1st. Somehow I missed the date–again. I don’t know what it is about these spring ones that make it hard for me to track. But the good news, if you’re like me and missed it, you can do it in July.
For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel writing month and it is free. All you do is sign up, and plan to write 50,000 words in a month. It used to be in November only, but now, they have several sessions a year. The spring and summer ones have a camp theme. You can start a cabin of writers like you to give you encouragement or you can sign up by yourself. Or you can wait until November and do it then. I’ve known several people who have raved about it over the years, so it seems like a great jump start for those who are in stuck mode. Read more about it here