What's In A Pen Name? Choosing The 'Write' Pen Name For Your Writing

To pen name, or not to pen name? That is a decision every writer must make based on their marketing style and venue choice. Obviously you wouldn't use a 'handle' when writing the Great American Novel, so for all intents and purposes here, we're talking about an online presence.

When I chose alwritetea as my pen name, I wanted something that was clever, not too simple, yet easy to remember. Surprisingly few have commented on my pen name, so I take that as either; 1. No one gets it (alwritetea = think 'alrighty') combining my love of writing and for tea all in one shot. Or 2. I haven't produced enough content to warrant a response on something as trivial as the name I chose to write under. I realize a pen name is a very personal choice, and something you should give serious thought to.

Remember if you're planning on building a considerable online presence; you'll not only want to keep the same name for all platforms, you'll also want to make it easy on yourself when submitting profiles as it can be quite tedious and time consuming. Decide on a name that's on the shorter side, making it easy to type in on several sites, and easy for others to read and input without difficulty. Refrain from using names with offensive or immature connotations. Think ahead and ask yourself, 'will this embarrass me a few years from now'?

Don't forget, your pen name is an extension of yourself, a representation of who you are and the image you want to project. Project a positive image into the minds of your readers to encourage reader loyalty and create a following. People will only take you as seriously as your name and work suggest.

Happy writing!

Helpful Tips To Save Money On Household Bills & Lifestyle Costs

These days, it's become slightly chic to be thrifty--not annoyingly penny pinching--just smart and efficient when it comes to spending money. My newest article, Clever Ways To Save Money (That You May Not Already Know) offers helpful tips to help you save a little extra money on household bills, utilities and lifestyle costs. Particularly now with the holidays upon us, it's always nice to save money wherever possible, stretching the 'almighty' dollar as far as we can.

Being an independent retailer (that means I sell stuff online), I have been caught up in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales just as much as the next person, if not more. It's interesting, and exciting to learn that online sales are up 24% so far this holiday season, and I'm very curious to see what December will bring. What are your online shopping habits? Do you look for coupon codes, sales and discounts on a regular basis? I would love to hear from you. I am always looking for creative ways to bring good deals to my customers, and if you have a favorite method, please don't be shy!

Also, if you have your own clever ways of saving money, I invite you to share them here. We could all use a little help these days, and after all, knowledge is power. It's free charity too. : )

A Mini Milestone: Challenging Myself FTW!

Yesterday marked a mini milestone in my writing/freelance career; I accepted an article requiring up to 1200 words, researched the topic and wrote it, submitted it and received acceptance and payment within 2 hours! This is a first. Not only was the payment in the double digits (also for the first time), I had never before written an article of that length, proving to myself that I could do it. 'Damn, it feels good to be a gangster...'

My latest article, Little Successes: The Rewards of Challenging Yourself talks about the necessary steps to take to challenge yourself and reap the rewards of an accomplishment well done. Even though a 1200 word article may not be a lot for some people, it was a lot for me. But I am so glad I challenged myself and took it on, instead of allowing another writer to choose the assignment. There was a time not so long ago, that I shied away from 500 word articles. I had never been confident about pulling so many words out of my hat on a subject I may not know much about. But I have safely surpassed that obstacle, and find that now my articles easily average between 550-650 words without racking my brain too hard.

My sincere hope is that this article will help you to challenge yourself within your writing, and accomplish things you may never have dared to dream about before. If I can help even one person achieve this, my job has been done. Choose, Challenge, Celebrate and Carry on...Happy writing!

Summary of the First 90 Days As A Freelance Writer

So what have I learned in the last 90 days of being a freelance writer? A LOT. But where to begin? I suppose at the beginning...

The first thing I did (after deciding to begin a career as a writer) was to sign up at content mill sites, and write articles based on SEO and keyword searches. Fortunately, I did my research and found one of the higher paying sites (which isn't saying a whole lot...but) and got my rusty writing wheels turning on an everyday basis. Then I signed up at article writing sites that offer revenue sharing for ads placed on your articles' pages, and found one that I thought was going to be a good fit for me. I began writing informational as well as entertaining articles on a variety of subjects, submitting them as often as I could, while continuing on with the content mills and other article writing sites that offer a pay-on-performance earning method.

Next I started my blogs, which I find to be a surprisingly enriching experience. As I've said before, I resisted the blog bandwagon for as long as possible, wanting to avoid the feeling of baring my soul to the world. Well, the (sort of) good news is, 'the whole world aint reading your blog, honey!' and it has become a very cathartic process as well as a satisfying one for me. During my lifetime, I have learned this much about myself; I want to help people in some way, give them something that will make their journey better or easier. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I was a waitress for 18 years....

Well, even though I have only been at this for roughly 90 days, the one true thing I have learned is that so many people are willing to do so much for so little. Now don't misunderstand me, I have spent most of my life doing a LOT for very little. Perhaps it's because I have realized my true calling so 'late' in life, that I am unwilling to waste a lot of time with things which don't provide a valuable return in some form or other (hopefully that return includes a financial gain of some measure).

The biggest decision I face at the moment is whether to continue placing my best work on one of the article writing sites I'm currently writing for. This particular site has generated zero revenue for me as of yet, but it can't all be about the almighty (not!) dollar. It's important to me that I don't make every facet of writing about money (or the lack of it), because I am trying to see the bigger picture here. It's more about what opportunities could come from any one of my pieces of writing, in addition to the potential help my articles are giving to those who read them. All while giving myself the sense of accomplishment and experience of building a writing portfolio that someday I can be very proud of.

Horror Movie Of The Month: Snow White - A Tale Of Terror

As you all may know, I am a huge horror fanatic. It's Halloween time all year round at our house, as hubby and I watch horror movies almost every night. I have begun a Horror Movie of the Month article and coinciding blog post for each one. This month's entry is Snow White - A Tale Of Terror, a fantastically dark and accurate portrayal of The Grimm Brothers' famous fairy tale. This is no Disney offering. You will not find seven little people dressed in clean, matching dwarf garb, dancing gaily around Snow White while she sings, dances and twirls around on dainty little feet. No, this is dirty, realistic, scary and expertly executed.

Starring the incredibly talented Sigourney Weaver as the wicked stepmother; Sam Neill as her pawn of a husband and Monica Keena as Snow White, or Lilliana in this adaptation. The cast includes several other well known and capable actors, giving even more credibility to an already credible film. Beautifully shot in the Czech Republic with an impressive backdrop of vast forests, castles and all things medieval, this was obviously a well-thought-out effort from screenplay to art direction. The costumes alone are enough to transport us back in time effortlessly, and willingly.

I hope you'll give Snow White - A Tale Of Terror a try. It's certainly no 'chick flick', and not for very young children either. But it will do nicely for all fellow horror fanatics out there who may have missed it, or overlooked it purposely, thinking it was all fluff and nonsense. Au contraire, mon amies, au contraire.

Like this? Then please check out last month's Horror Movie of the Month premiere entry; Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. Definitely not to be missed.

Overcoming Adversity with the (Hand) Written Word

After recovering from the initial stress of finding myself without an internet connection, (ain't being broke a blast?) I then decided I wasn't going to let it get the better of me and got out some paper and a pen. After all, how many centuries have we been putting ink to paper to form our words? Check out my article on the Power of the (Hand) Written Word on HubPages!

I liken the hand written word to collecting and listening to records (as you may know by now I'm an advocate of both), as it's something everyone used to do. Both are considered to be 'old fashioned' and in danger of becoming extinct, unless we keep the love of them alive and kicking. Both are considered a craft; DJ's are highly respected on and off the dancefloor, and scribes were highly regarded in their day, centuries ago. It was a precious thing, to know how to write in the physical sense as well as the mental one.

The internet is a mind boggling, amazing invention. It allows me to 'make a living' from the comfort of my own home, while connecting me to people all over the world. But let's face it, it's also an insidious distraction. I know that when I sit down at my desk in the morning to begin my writing projects for the day, two hours will have unwittingly slipped by me before one single word is written on any virtual page. From email accounts (and I have 5 of them), daily news, social networking, to searching freelancing sites. While all of these activities are necessary in my line of work, they also keep me from doing the one thing I have set out to do: write.

Perhaps it's a matter of prioritizing. Self discipline (No, you may not check your email before you have written a 500 word blog post!) whatever the case, it just may be that I have found a solution to the not-enough-hours-in-the-day syndrome: write by hand. Somehow the words flow effortlessly when you're not staring at a blank screen , empty editing box or cold, pretentious keyboard.

So what have we learned today? Well, I for one have learned not to let anything stand in my way of my passion for writing (this post was written and submitted by my iPhone), especially not a little thing like a disabled internet connection. We have gotten along without it for basically our entire existance. Besides, I've had the most wonderful day; sipping cups of tea with the iPod on shuffle, watching the rain outside for inspiration and hand-writing today's post within a 3-D skull notebook in vibrant purple ink. In fact, may just do this more often...

My point is, we can work around life's little obstacles with a bit of ingenuity and perseverence. And overcoming any obstacle should be treated as a victory, no matter how small.

Happy (hand) writing!

Writing Quality Content: You Get What You Give

Forgive my absence of the last few days, I have been busy at work promoting my other blog about all things vinyl, learning the intricacies of internet marketing and writing my newest article: Tips For Writing Quality Content.There just aren't enough hours in the day! There is so much to be learned, tried and explored in the freelance writing and internet marketing world. It can be a little overwhelming at times, but so far I am managing to keep the ball rolling.

Here's a few things I have learned so far about getting yourself out there and promoting your writing (cuz no one else is gonna do it for you unless you're paying them, in which case you're probably vacationing on the French Riviera, not reading how-to tips from a newbie freelance writer like me!).

-Write, write, write, then write some more. This seems to be the thing of first and foremost importance. Which makes sense because we're writers, right? Not only does it build your writing portfolio, it gets you in the habit of writing EVERYDAY which is a recommendation you will always receive from the likes of Stephen King or any successful writer.

-Diversify. Don't put all your writing eggs in one basket. When writing for content sites like Infobarrel.com, Associated Content (Yahoo), or a whole slew of others which are out there, it's really important to choose the right content for the right vehicle which can optimize your potential earnings from Ad Sense, Pay On Performance and other forms to generate a passive income.

-Research, research, research. There are definitely enough resources out there to make an educated decision about which sites are worth your time, and which ones should be avoided. It also will help you to decide which direction you want to go with your writing if you don't have a clear vision of that already. Don't get discouraged if you try one and it doesn't work for you. Part of being a freelancer means tailoring your work to suit your strengths, so try a few and move on from whichever doesn't feel right or gel with your style.

-Start a blog. Previously, I shied away from blogging from the very beginning. As I've stated before, I am not interested in plastering my personal life all over the internet. However, what I have discovered is that I really enjoy documenting my writing experiences, and feel a sense of accomplishment by offering my perspective in the form of helpful information as I go along. Now that I am beginning to market my writing and promote my articles and blogs, I realize the benefit of having a place to sort out all this information and hopefully give others some helpful insights for their own freelance writing journey.

Recently, I applied for my first real freelance writing gig and have passed the initial process. Of course I am very anxious to see if I get the job, but will not give up on trying for other freelance jobs in the meantime. (diversify, remember?) I will keep you posted. So for now, I hope you'll take a look at my latest article: Tips For Writing Quality Content and find it useful. As always, please feel free to post comments or suggestions of your own, which may be of help to others as well. Have a look at the list of my favorite websites and blogs which all offer valuable information on blogging and writing, located in the sidebar along the right side of this page. Happy writing!

November 1st: A New Year, New Beginnings and the Day of the Dead Part 1

For some people, November 1st marks the beginning of a new calender year. Belonging to no particular  religion, this day has always been a marker for me; a time to let go of misfortunes that may have happened in the last 365 days; a day to start anew with a fresh outlook and attitude complete with resolutions. What's that you say? How do I manage this with the 'biggest holidays of the year' approaching faster than you can say 'Merry...'? Easy. I gave up doing things just because the calendar and society says so.

Every year, we hear more grumblings about how the holidays have become so commercialized, so far from their original meanings and history. It's no wonder that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's are not happy holidays for a lot of people, and increasingly so. For a lot of people it means undue stress, sadness, loneliness <----- just look at all those 'esses', no one would look forward to that. But perhaps some people just don't know how not to feel these things because they've never found any answers that strike a chord within them. Well, if I can get even one person to make a change in their life, then I've done my job.

Most people are a 'slave' to the calendar, and by that I mean deadlines, work schedules, school schedules and the like. Try to focus on implementing the things you can control, while focusing less on the things you can't control. Do not allow the uncontrollable to control you. My Dad always used to say, "can't lives on won't street", but it took me many years to understand what he meant by that. Of course, we all understand what that means now, but perhaps the wise words of Yoda can better express what I am trying to get across here; 'Do or do not. There is no try.' Exactly.

Since much of these upcoming holidays revolve around family, take the time to consider this; does making the long haul to Aunt Viv's house only to be subjected to embarrassment and a possible family feud really sound like a valuable way to spend your time? Do you allow yourself to go overboard when it comes to gift giving, only to be disappointed by the after effects of bills, less-than-appreciative friends, family or acquaintences? Why? Because the calender and society tells you to? Perhaps this year you should try something different. Try pleasing yourself, because by pleasing yourself, it becomes very easy to please others.

To be continued....