The “I still Lurve Ya Bebeh” Master Plot!

15 Dec

I have been slowly killing myself trying to write a romance novel. I will not go into why I decided to do such a thing as I’ve already explained my lunacy elsewhere, however needless to say it’s not been particularly easy. However, I have decided which master plot to adopt, and have been typing away furiously at it.

“And which master plot would that be?” I hear you ask. Well, I’m not talking about a formula, I’m talking about an archetypal master plot that has been around forever, before sliced bread, shrink wrap and mascara. It’s one of many that are as evident in Twilight as they are in Hansel and Gretel.

To find additional motivation, I’ve decided to take the Writer’s Challenge, requiring me to write 1000 words per, come hell or high water.

So what does my plot look like? I put together this sophisticated and very nice diagram to make it simpler for you:

Sexy Mustard Vests and Donuts

10 Dec

For my latest adventure in Wix Flash websites, I promised to make Alicia a website for her bakery in the Dominican Republic. We wanted something cute and vintage looking, but I couldn’t think of anything. I looked around online for logo ideas and nothing jumped out at me.

And then some yarn needles and knitting patterns meandered into my life, and finally I was inspired!

Mmmm mustard vests!

Here’s the landing page:

My next task is to link it to a yoga site, write the copy, and then figure out hosting and a domain. I’ll share the domain when it’s available. I want meringues now.

Email Isn’t Dead

8 Dec

Yay! Newsletters!

Subscribing to blogs. BLARGH…boring!

And email. It just feels so 1998.

I used to never bother subscribing to blogs unless they were from personal friends or superhumans. Then I started to take a hard look at internet marketing, and developed a better understanding of how people use the distribution of information to create income.

Most successful bloggers and writers do not earn residual income from advertising (you can read a great piece from copyblogger on this); they earn money from offering useful, meaningful information for free, and charging for additional, “premium” services. I would recommend any of the blogs and websites below for their free content and their premium content, but even if you don’t have the funds to subscribe to every premium writing resource on the web, reading their weekly newsletters is an excellent way to learn the ropes.

As I went on the rampage looking for good information, I began to subscribe to weekly newsletters, and I soon realized I’d built my own mini course that was delivered right to my inbox, bit by bit each day.

If you’re interested in becoming a freelance writer, you can learn a huge amount by subscribing to these websites (no referral links from me here; I’m simply sharing as I’ve found them incredibly valuable). To stay organized, I recommend either filtering them into a specific folder or opening a new email account just for newsletters.

What makes these newsletters useful?

  • They are not full of cheap advertizing gimmicks;
  • They contain valuable information to learn the ins and outs of becoming a freelance writer, developing a writing business and finding clients, and offer useful ideas and resources for marketing and organizing your freelance business;
  • They are not simply regurgitated factoids easily found elsewhere.

Here they are:

Copyblogger: this is an exceptional resource for anyone interested in writing and creating an online presence. Sign up for a free 20-part internet marketing course. The website itself is packed with very useful tutorials and information, free of ads.

Ghostwriter Dad: Sean Platt offers a 30-day free e-course to help new writers earn more and build their businesses. Also a very useful website and a great writer to learn from. New copywriters can earn a lot from studying his approach to writing on his website.

Wealthy Web Writer: lots of really useful information and free tutorials.

The Renegade Writer: Two very smart women run this website, and offer a mix of free and premium courses and materials – a great place to learn.

The Freelance Writing Blog: a talented copywriter runs this blog, and I’ve been really enjoying her email updates. Lots to learn from here.

Daily Writing Tips: lots of useful information on the nuts and bolts of good writing

There are many more out there, and this list is nowhere close to exhaustive, but they are all websites that I subscribe to and have learned from – good luck!

Teaching ‘La Passione, Il Flirt, e Lo Shopping’ in Rome

6 Dec

Soloprenuer Laura Downey launched her new website for  SoItalian! yesterday, and she’s already got students scheduled! Laura is a good friend of mine who spends half of her time in Rome and the other half in Ohio, as the director of an international exchange program for American students studying in Italy. Not a bad life by any means, and I always imagine her sipping cappuccino in streets cafes and gazing wistfully into fountains, but it turns out she’s actually been working rather hard on starting her own business.

I asked her to share her experience launching SoItalian! and share her advice on living as a freelancer in Rome, which she is just getting a taste for. Here’s a brief interview!

Lorna: What made you decide to start your business?

Continue reading

I Had to kill Doreen.

5 Dec

I had a really gross photo of Fabio here but it lowered the tone even more than necessary.

She’s dead. After a week of reading about writing romance novels, I realized Doreen had to go. The most annoying part of the whole episode is that I now understand that she can’t be replaced with a Dorris or a Petunia or Gladys; it’s got to come from me.

If I’m going to write a romance novel I’m going to have to fully embrace the genre, and temporarily forget a lot of things I’ve learned about writing, or at least I like to assume I’ve learned.

I killed Doreen when I understood that it’s not adopting a genre whose characteristics are dictated by a gargantamungus publishing conglomerate that makes writing romance novels a formulaic exercise – it’s the fact that it’s nothing more than contemporary folklore, which despite its sub-genres, is frustratingly rigid. No one dictates to us that writers have to adhere to the formula other than us, and it’s for the same reason that we won’t accept that Cinderella ditches Mr. Prince and moves to Iowa to become a veterinary technician because it seemed like a better career move. Great romance novels aren’t great because they are mind-blowingly original; they are great because they adhere to the genre perfectly and still feel fresh. Add vampires and tweenage sex fantasies you can retire.

And what happens when crap authors try to be innovative amidst this much rigidity? Diabolical splatterings of deeply embarrassing and hilarious prose that vomits all over itself or just implodes it its own inane crapness:

Continue reading

Another Amazing Project with an Italian Start-up

4 Dec

I’ve spent all weekend working in my pajamas, too transfixed with my own work to do anything but eat, sleep and work, with sleep being my last priority.  I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed doing work so much – I feel excited at the thought of working 12 hours a day and that’s still a new feeling for me after many years of feeling constant resentment that work was eating into my personal life.

I’ve been developing a Wix website for a new Italian start-up called LiveCounseling. They will be offering online counseling services using VOIP, and I’ve been working on an English site that will be localized into Italian as soon as we have the strategy for the copy fully figured out.

Continue reading

Latest Web Design Project: So Italian!

2 Dec

For the past few days I have been working with a new client – my good friend Laura Downey, who has begun teaching Italian in Rome. I plan to write a separate post about Laura’s business venture as it’s super-duper exciting, but she is still in the final stages of finalizing her offerings, so more to come on that.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on her website. Here’s what the landing page is going to look like:

Laura wanted a website that was simple but elegant and appealed to her client base, which she had identified as predominantly female, fairly new to language learning and mostly attracted to learning Italian to enjoy everything Italian…food, fashion, etc. She also wanted her students to have the option of booking classes online, and accessing a video and chat room for classes from her website.

Continue reading