Friday, February 22, 2013

My Yahoo! Contributor Network Highlights

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I'm a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network and make a few extra dollars every month when people read the articles I've written... As an independent writer, I look for any (and all) opportunities to write, and being a member of YCN has allowed me to have a place to put some structured, non-fiction articles.  For this entry I'm going to highlight a few of my more popular articles.

An Essay on Media Violence:  I wrote this as an essay during college, and converted it into an article for YCN.  Although it's around a decade old it has aged pretty well.  The article recently spiked in popularity, probably due to the recent media focus on gun violence.  I would like to make clear, because the content of this article is so old, that I do support the second amendment.  Maybe I'll write something political later, but mostly I just wanted to share this article because of its recurring relevance.

A Guide to Halloween Movies (Parts 1 and 2... but mostly 2):  I know Halloween has been over for a while (or is still a long way off, depending on how you look at it), but I enjoy the horror genre enough to shamelessly promote this article to other horror fans.  For some reason, most people skipped the first article I posted, and went right to second article.  Maybe they were looking for the best of the best, but all ten of the movies (or series of movies) are worth checking out if you haven't seen them.  I had to break this review into two articles because I went in to too much detail, and Yahoo! told me that either the word count would have to come down or I would have to find a way to create two articles instead of one.  Making two articles from one is relatively easy when you're dealing with a list, so that's what I did.  I also have an article about making Halloween inspired drinks (and one about what to expect from bartending school while I'm on the subject), but that list wasn't as popular as the movie reviews.

My Skyrim Articles:  The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim, probably one of my favorite games of all time, did extremely well.  I have two reviews; one about the game, and the other about a piece of downloadable content called Dawnguard.  If you want to read an article where I gush over how great this game is, try one of these articles.  I wasn't sure how popular the articles would be, and was actually surprised to see how many people were interested in reading about the game.

First Person, Like It or Not, We're a Government Funded Family:  This is my one and only featured article for YCN, and the one I received the most amount of comments from.  I don't think I really understood the implications of writing an article like this, and the vast amount of different responses I would get.  I forget the specifics of the assignment, but I qualified and excepted the job.  If I remember correctly, the assignment was to talk about the economy, government assistance, and was targeted more towards people who were actually experiencing "hardships."  The article had to be very specific as far as answering certain questions, but I think I was able to get across my point.  I would like to make a note, though, that I don't feel like I'm living with extreme hardship.  Me and my family do rely on food stamps, and probably wouldn't be very happy without them, but I neither feel like someone who is "milking the system" or someone that has "fallen on hard times."  This is just a side note to my life, it's an experience, and I wanted to share it with an interested audience.

First Person, My Experience Selling Plasma For Money:  This article is the most popular out of my collection.  I'm sure the economy has a lot to do with the success of the article, which is kind of sad.  I wish nothing but the best for my readers, and hope they are making enough money to afford whatever they need.  That being said, if you need some extra money you can read my article about selling plasma to earn extra money.  There is a certain stigma about selling plasma, but I've tried to take away the mystery of participating in this activity by writing about my own experiences.  I talk about the first day, what to expect, how much you might be able to earn, health concerns, and the actual procedure.

There are a few more articles available on my page (link given below), but these are the most popular, and happen to be my favorite.  They are original articles, written by me, and I receive performance payments for the traffic I generate.  The amount of money I generate from these articles might be enough to buy a burger at the end of the month, but I wrote them because I love to write and share my experiences and thoughts with others.  Enjoy them.

To get to my Yahoo! Contributor page, click HERE!
Or enter the following web address into your browser:

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Importance of Independent Writing (and Other Independent Art)

Burning books, removing them, or commercializing them all have something in common:  They all suppress speech.  Let's imagine for a minute that all works of art were created using the techniques of a modern day assembly line.  There would be no more great paintings, because they would have to be simple for mass production.  The same would go for architecture.  Economics and efficiency would be at the forefront of creation.  All symphonies, plays, sculptures, and books would have to fit the generality of human interests to ensure those humans would consume.  In a world like that an artist couldn't afford to take risks, because they might not sell their work...

Now, enter into the real world, which is still too similar to our imagined scenario where works of art are commercialized.  There is a difference, though.  In the past few years independent artwork has become more popular.  Online videos have popularized regular people who display their unique personalities, local bands are trendy, and self-publishing isn't a joke anymore.  People are learning to value small voices with original content, and that's good for everyone involved.

I've spoke out against the infamous "slush piles" of the past, but for anyone who still doesn't know, a "slush pile" is a stack of manuscripts, most likely sitting on a desk, or in a box next to desk, at a publishing company that gets more and more manuscripts every day.  Now, imagine for a second that your novel is in that stack somewhere, waiting on John Doe to come read it.  If he likes it, you're set.  If he gets bored with it, or thinks it lacks a certain something, he's going to put it down before getting through the first few pages.  It's his judgment call, so you better just go ahead and cater to his interests if you want your novel published.  Of course, you don't know the man personally, and even if you did you'd still want the freedom to write your novel the way YOU want to write it.

Does that make John Doe, the publisher, a bad guy?  No, it doesn't.  He's just a guy that has to do a lot of reading, trying to find that special diamond in the rough, and he's not going to make any money if he reads every single manuscript all the way through, or publishes books just in case someone might like them.  He has to have strict guidelines, and he has to publish books that sell in order to make profit.  So, what can WE do?  Let's self-publish.

Self-publishing used to carry a certain stigma of unprofessional work.  Everyone wants their work to be validated, to know that a large audience cares about what they, the author, has written.  If that happens, congratulations, you fit the mold.  For others, there's probably an audience out there right now, looking for your unwritten book.  That audience might not be as big as the audience Stephen King has earned (probably isn't), but it's your audience and they want that book if you'd just go ahead and write it for them.  That's the beauty of self-publishing in the digital age.  What once was a tedious and costly process is now transferred easily through digital readers, and hard-copy books can be created "on demand."

How does everyone win?  The writer gets to do what they were made to do, and that's write!  They get to create worlds of make believe, unlikely scenarios that will keep you planted firmly in your favorite reading chair, or compile stacks of information into easy to read non-fiction books.  The readers have more choices, and more specific choices thanks to a more open market.  The low cost of writing Ebooks allows writers to earn a following and an income, and the low cost of creation translates to low book costs for consumers.  If there are any losers in this scenario, it's Mr. John Doe, the publisher, but he's probably already on selling his own Ebooks, and making a killing.  If you're a writer, you should try and do the same.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Indie Review: Dark Tales, by Angel Sharum

Angel Sharum has been a good friend and somewhat of a mentor for me as I try to learn more about online networking and how to promote my writing.  She's deserves credit for creating the cover to my short story "Disclosure," and already has several books under her belt...  This, is Dark Tales.

Who will like this book?  This book contains 25 short stories, many of them with twist endings.  More specifically, anyone who enjoys true-to-life horror stories will enjoy this book.  Most of these stories are scenarios that could actually take place, but Angel Sharum even throws in a couple of (what I consider to be) science fiction stories for your reading pleasure.

Personally, I like being shocked by the bold realistic content offered in most of the stories.  The book opens with "Loss of Innocence," a story that captured my imagination by putting me in the most unlikely of situations:  A young girl, trying to draw the attention of her abusive father away from her sister.  The twist?  It wouldn't be fair to give that away, but I wouldn't be surprised if you were able to get "Loss of Innocence," the first story in the compilation, entirely for free by downloading the sample of Dark Tales...

Angel Sharum doesn't restrict herself to writing about abusive daddies.  She displays a wide range of terrifying possibilities throughout the book, and I thought the variety of stories might have actually been the best part of owning the book.  I never knew what to expect, but could always count on twists and unique stories.

Find out more about Angel Sharum at her new author website, and her blog, Angel Sharum's Storyboard.

Download a free sample of Dark Tales, by Angel Sharum, on Amazon.

Support Angel Sharum and other independent writers.  Download samples, and buy the books that interest you.  Independent writers fill the gaps left by traditional publishers.  Although these books are usually high quality, they tend to be less expensive.  Buying books from independent writers help the author and the consumer by creating a demand for a wide variety of quality content.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Indie Review: Night Dreams, by Donna Thacker

This is the first book review I'll be doing, and I'm looking forward to promoting works by independent writers such as myself.  I'm not going to be critical, however, because I believe there is a book for everyone, and a reader for every book.

Who will enjoy this story?  Night Dreams is a short story at an inexpensive price, so don't be afraid to take a look.  Anyone who has loved and lost, in any way, shape, or form, will recognize the emotions evoked from this story.

Personally, I enjoyed the story because for the sense of loss.  Anyone who has broke up with (or has been broken up with) a boyfriend/girlfriend can relate to this story, but, and I want to stress this point, the story does not go into detail about why these emotions exist until the very end.

Without giving away the ending, I want to say that this short story is relatable, has a payoff, and was an enjoyable read.  The story is a quick read, and perfect lunch break entertainment.  Remember to dry your eyes.

You can find more information about Donna Thacker on her Facebook page:  Weaving Words Writer

For free samples, search for Night Dreams and Donna Thacker on Amazon.

Support Donna Thacker and other independent writers.  Download samples, and buy the books that interest you.  Independent writers fill the gaps left by traditional publishers.  Although these books are usually high quality, they tend to be less expensive.  Buying books from independent writers help the author and the consumer by creating a demand for a wide variety of quality content.  Thanks for reading.