The Write Stuff

With the explosion of freelancing sites like Fiverr, Freelancer, ODesk and too many others to name here, writing for other people has become prolific, a phenomenon even. I (and I’m sure you, too) struggle to stand out among the gazillion freelance writers now available at our fingertips. The quality of said writing, however, has reduced drastically in the rush for people around the globe to become qualified, paid writers with access to the world. You can check a multitude of websites and you will find more grammatical errors  than you can shake a stick at, including articles on the venerated Associated Press site. Not to mention the poor English skills (reading, writing, and speaking), an issue not uncommon right here in the U.S.

My biggest pet peeve in this writing explosion is overuse of the word “thing.”In one AP article I read some years ago, I counted sixty-four uses of the word in ONE article. That’s discouraging, since AP is reputed to have excellent, intelligent journalists on staff. In a Constitutional Law class I took for my Criminal Justice program, our professor (then Democratic Speaker of the House or something like that) basically outlawed the use of this ubiquitous noun. He told us it represented an inability to properly express ourselves. Since then, I have made a conscious effort to use the word as little as possible. Instead, I opt to restructure my sentences with stronger noun-verb connections to better illuminate my messages.

So I ask again, how do I (you) make my (your) work stand out? For one, by sticking to my (your) principles. I refuse to dumb myself down to appease the masses. My fiction novel, Rescue on White Thunder, was once referred to as parochial (by a friend, if you can believe it). My immediate response to her was that since the literacy level in the U.S. is at the 6th grade level, my book had a wider target market. (snicker snicker)

I’m bombarded by LinkedIn discussions (via emails from my LinkedIn groups) by many so-called experts in book marketing/sales. Yet I’ve not heard of any of these people (not that I know many to begin with), and I certainly have not heard of any of their books. Everyone’s an expert these days (more like a marketing tool than an actual accomplishment, I believe). A professor in medical school (a different degree program) once jokingly told our class that he’s an expert – but only in his opinion. It was then I realized ALL experts are just that – someone who is accomplished in his/her field and publicly shares their interpretation of the information.  That’s it. You can pick any field, anywhere on the planet, and you won’t find a hoard of experts who will all agree to the same information. It’s all in the interpretation of data. Which takes me back to my original issue of being recognized for my work. At this point, all I can do is continue to write and publish my books and stick to my principles. That gets my name out there in various circles, since each book (so far) has been in a different genre. That’s the “write stuff” for me.



Be Careful What You Wish For…

In my last post, I spoke of enjoying my new, lighter schedule because it provided time to focus on particular projects or tasks that needed my attention. More and more I’ve been working my way towards freeing myself from a day-to-day soul-sucking J-O-B, only to find myself filling those usual 9-5 hours with other projects and commitments. I’m giving two presentations this week alone on my new book and have signed on for a holistic event next month to promote my book. After attending a Voice Overs 101 class, I now am joining a radio theater group and hope to have the opportunity to do characters in a radio show. And I’ve got a voice-over recording session coming up. I’ll record and have a voice over audition sample ready for any voice over gigs I find. There are other projects (like the Braddock sequel novel and another TCM book, this one on treating kids’ growth spurts with Chinese medicine – it’s a hoot) and commitments (more holistic events and nutrition workshops in the fall) as well, filling my calendar where once it was all blocked off for some office job that killed me slowly from the inside.

I am still enjoying this new-found freedom. Yet I find it keeps me busier and more on my toes – because I’m the one scheduling everything. I’ve had to become a bit more organized  – staying updated with my phone calendar (have to stay tech-savvy these days) and some new apps (I can now scan docs from my phone, how cool is that); and buying a chair for my “home office” (really just work space in my bedroom at this point). Occasionally I play musical chairs with my schedule, but so far it’s all worked out. All in all, though, I can’t complain. I truly feel I’m finally on the road to freedom from the work trenches. I don’t have a lot of money right now but I’m keeping my nose above water – that says a lot about my willingness to persevere. As should you. Don’t give up, keep at it…it will happen. Give it time.

Agida/Agita No More…For Now

Glad to have finally completed the publishing process of my latest work, The 5-Element Guide to Healing with Whole Foods. Being self-published is far more work than the traditional publishing route and the never-ending details (which I abhor and love to delegate) are enough to give one agita (or agida, whichever one you choose). I can’t remember anything in recent history that gave me so many stomach knots. It’s a learning process (albeit a painful and often exasperating one) but I feel I’ve made it over a huge learning hump. This is my third self-published book and my first non-fiction. It took a total of three months to iron out what I considered minor graphic design issues with the book cover and multiple  back-and-forths (18, to be exact) with the interior layout person over almost that same period of time. I was consumed by it. Luckily (looking back anyway), I was unemployed, leaving me with gobs of free time to plug away at getting my book out there to the world instead of looking for another J-O-B.

Which brings me to my next thought. I find I like having my schedule open for taking care of what needs tending, whenever it needs tending. I like not getting up to an alarm clock every morning, weary already of the day ahead. I have a few friends, who over the years, have been 1099-ing their way (funny how that’s become a verb, like ‘googled’) to happier lives. Granted, there are pros and cons to the situation (the major one being no job security – no work, no money). But I find the freedom of each day as it blooms new exhilarating. And I happen to be reading a wonderful book by Barbara Winter titled Making a Living Without a Job. Which is one of the reasons I write. That, and I write to get the swarms of thoughts and ideas running around in my head down on paper so they can make some sense. Her book is very similar to Timothy Ferris’ 4-Hour Work Week book, though I like Barbara’s approach better – for me, anyway.

Which brings me to next thought. Now that my agida is winding down (or so I thought until I decided to create this new blog), I’m thinking it’s a good idea to get moving on the sequel to my first Braddock novel that has been sitting in my computer for several years. I’ve touched it here and there but nary a word written since I jumped on the nonfiction bandwagon. So I’ve gone back to work on my second novel adventure and I find that since I have more freedom with it (fiction books are great, you can just make up shit to create a good story), I have less agida. At least until I begin, once again, the self-publishing process. At that point, I’m sure, I’ll have another good post about the stomach knots I’m sure to get.

In the meantime, I think I’ll enjoy my new-found lighter schedule.

Welcome to Mestengo Books

Welcome to Mestengo Books, a gathering place for my works of fiction and nonfiction. I wracked my brain for hours to come up with a good name to represent me and my books. With so many blogs/sites already out there, it’s difficult to come up with something original. The horse, for some reason, has been a totem animal in my life for, well, all of my life – since childhood. Mustangs, of course, are my favorite. They’re a hardy breed, borne of Spanish bloodlines, and have survived the wilds of the Americas for centuries. The name mustang itself (a popular one and obviously already taken for many blogs/sites) has a neat history. It comes originally from an old Spanish word mestengo (16th century, according to Wikipedia) that translates to wild, stray, ownerless. I knew the moment I saw the meaning I’d found the title I’d searched for all day. And anyone who knows me well enough can certainly attest to the fact that I am, without a doubt, una mestenga.

Powwow Pic of Me2

I do hope you enjoy reading, as I enjoy the writing. Stay in touch.