African American · Self publishing · writing

A Note About “Street Fiction”

For the last week or so, I ventured into a category I thought I laid to rest in 2006.

Street Fiction, or Urban Fiction.

It is gritty. It is real. It can be…nasty, sexually explicit, I mean.

Today I want to briefly explain what Urban Fiction means to me and why I decided to read more of it lately as well as some pitfalls of the category that should be cleaned up by now(I do this with love for black writers and their craft).

Do I Purchase These Books Because I Am Black?

This is not a tough question. The answer is that I love the books because they are just so darn good and the bonus is that the authors and characters look like me and write from a place of understanding what we as African Americans go through- or at least those from low to middle income neighborhoods. I just finished Little Miami Girl, books 1 and 2 and even though I’ve never been to Miami, the reality of aunts hating their own flesh and blood, men who carry guns on the regular and even the reality of rape is so common in some or most of the impoverished black neighborhoods that you feel as if you are reading about someone you know or even yourself.

I read Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree in high school and more of his urban fiction that I could not stop reading. Later on after college I gobbled up Zane, Eric Jerome Dickey, and even Octavia E. Butler books because it interested me. All of this during a time I was falling in love with Amish fiction and medical thrillers.

Can Urban Fiction Be Defined as Real Literature?

A quick Googling will reveal the definition of literature meaning “a work of lasting merit”.

Who deems a book lasting or of merit?

Time.

Walter Dean Myers, Tanarive Due, Octavia Butler’s books will prove to have lasting quality in the future.

Then again, does that mean any good book can be considered literature?

I am a huge fan of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Patterson and most recently Julie Lessman. I believe whatever these writers write, at least half of their stories will become classic literature. But again, it depends on time, lots of it.

The “hood books” I read now are quick reads with drug abuse and sex as the main themes but there are also some which surprised me. A Dopegirl Needs Love Too and A Thug’s Love feature strong, sexy, smart women who make moves in their communities while making mistakes along the way.

But there are problems I see already with current Urban Fiction.

A Competitive, Popular Market

With self publishing being as simple as uploading your manuscript to Kindle or CreateSpace, or even Smashwords and Lulu, one can immediately send off their book.

One problem.

I have this problem too sometimes: self editing.

Many books and not just Urban Fiction included, requires heavy editing- some typos may escape and that is okay, but some Urban books I have been reading have so many hiccups in grammar, it can be trifling.  I am speaking as a bookworm though and not a grammarian.

Also, the pricing of Urban Fiction can be better. The ones I have downloaded cost Free or at least 99 cents with the highest being 3.99 but there are a couple I have seen where the Kindle version is ten bucks! I think that is way too high for a pricing model.

It burns me up badly when I enjoy a series and I find out that the final installment is ten dollars and the magic in all this is that people have paid the money and in their reviews they gripe about it, but they still paid.

All of this to say that street/urban stories has come a long way with more African American publishing companies and editors opening up their doors and the ease of buying them online is also a plus.

I will continue to read and promote these books because they are truly addicting if you can get past the language and “rawness” of the streets in these works. Their redeeming quality is that even though the bad stuff seem glorified, there are real consequences for the characters involved and the messages will be clear to any audience.

If you enjoyed this post, don’t be shy! Like it. Share it. Subscribe to this blog and share The Write Web 🙂

~Ericajean

 

 

 

4 Star reviews · book review · Creative Writing · New Adult · writing

D.K. Cassidy Writes About a Nation that Can No Longer Sleep

the sleepless
Image courtesy of Pluvio Press

 

I just reviewed The Sleepless(Insomnolence Book 1) over on Amazon, so check out the full review there! I’ve also written a neat haiku review over on Goodreads that quickly sums up my thoughts on the work.

The Sleepless was a very interesting story. What I learned from the author is the power of characterization and not being afraid to test premises.

In The Sleepless, the main character Kate has to navigate life not being able to sleep anymore, so she has to take on odd jobs like cleaning up dead bodies and the another horrible job she refuses: prostitution.

Thank God she has Decker, a dear friend(who could be more than a friend at this point) who does the clean up duties for her. He is actually a sleeper. One of the ones unaffected by whatever event happened a decade back. What I like most about him is that he is an artist and never had much liking for Smartphones and social media. He prefers touch and face to face communication.

D.K. Cassidy’s fearless approach to tell a story about a nation who can’t fall asleep makes the book appealing and to be honest gave me pause. I feel this nation is heading to that point now. Think about it: I can barely sleep because I am always scrolling on my phone trying to find the next Tweet, or next comedic Facebook post and when not doing that, I am reading an eBook.

By time I have to go to work, I am still up- no choice now.

When I come home, I hop on my laptop. I do real work on there, but social media takes up 80% of that time.

D.K. Cassidy is currently working on Book 2: The Dreamers. If you have not already, please subscribe to this blog and check out D.K. Cassidy’s amazing books! 🙂

~The Write Web

 

writing · Writing gigs

My One Week Experience With Blogmutt

Source: Photo by Caio

Geesh. I never ever learn, do I?

A few months ago, I wrote a pretty detailed post of my experience with Fiverr and how it stacks up to creating your own  writing career freedom, away from these “gig sites and content mills”.

Well, a little over a week ago I began to have the “writer’s itch”. I wanted to create content for the web like I did with Examiner and Helium(both sites have since moved or changed completely!)

I spotted a site called Blogmutt.

Blogmutt allows you to write content, submit it and you get paid $8 for 250+ words. More words could have you earning $72 per post- if the customer buys your article.

This all sounds good right? I was amped and ready to go. Before I could officially become a Blogmutt writer though, I had to go through the rituals.

  • Take the grammar exam. Passed.
  • Writing and Plagiarism test. Passed.
  • Gave blogmutt my personal info for the W-9 form.

After all this, I received an email that read, “Congratualtions! You passed the exams! Now you have to write your first post. If your first post  is not accepted, you will be denied access to Blogmutt and can never write for us again.”

I wish I was exaggerating here, folks.

I wrote a pretty good article about Spanish language jobs and uploaded it to the site. I spent days on it, perfecting it, making sure it sounded just right.

Well, yesterday I go onto my Blogmutt dashboard and it reads, “ATTENTION: Your account has been suspended. We will not answer emails regarding the reasons.”

The creator must get off knowing he is an a%#@hole. The language spoken is unprofessional and the rules are not professional at all, and yet there are people, supposedly earning from this site.

This is what I mean by staying away from content mills. They take your work and then ban you for no apparent reason.

The only one I can blame is myself and maybe businesses.

If businesses want content for their sites, there are so many great writers out there and me making $8 per article is great if I write enough articles, but not enough to do the writing and then get banned.

I am not sure what tips I can offer here besides marketing yourself online and offline. Let people know you provide great web content services.

Until next time, keep writing! 🙂

writing

The Write Web Evolution- It Had to Happen

 

graffiti
Source: Unsplash.com

Yes, I am evolving and this blog will evolve right along with me LOL!

My first priority and job is as an author(actually my first is loving my amazing man, but you didn’t ask for all of that, did you?)

I am always revamping something on this blog.

I will continue to review books.

However, as an author, I have to think about my platform and what my readers expect from me.

Some new content I will be introducing soon, is a brand new way to review books  that I am sure everyone will adore! This new, fun method will be helpful in many ways for writers and readers.

Secondly, I will try to reduce posting a lot. I understand many people add me to their WordPress Readers or on Twitter which is good. For those of you subscribed to my email, I hope I have not been placing too much in your inboxes(truly sorry!)

Third, I am working on some amazing writing projects and I welcome- no- URGE you to participate in upcoming polls and discussions. In order for me to know what you’d like to see on this blog and how you feel about my books, I need feedback because, well, I do care about what your eyes consume.

Fourth- More notification about my novels, what I am working on, submission contests and more.

That is it for now. In the next coming weeks, I will be shifting and rearranging things on here. Good luck to you all and have a great day 🙂

book review · Creative Writing · Five Star Review · writing

The Art and Craft of the Short Story( a book review)

art and craft of short stories
Book cover courtesy of Open Road Distribution(October 2016)

The Art and Craft of the Short Story by Rick DeMarinis

Originally published by Story Press(2008)

ISBN: 978-15040-3685-6

If you’ve ever wanted to take that Master’s course in creative short fiction writing, I recommend none higher than DeMarinis’ The Art and Craft of the Short Story. This is no short book with quick, easy clichés to get you writing better. On the contrary, you will learn the anatomy of the short story and how to tell the difference between a good one and bad one.

What makes this book so good?

  • It is straight to the point with explanations of the tools of creative writing.
  • Lots of exercises.
  • Examples of amazing short stories written and published.

As someone who loves reading poetry and short stories, I had to pick this one up. I needed a book from an expert who will not only tell, but show me what good writing looks like.

DeMarinis breaks down beginnings, endings, plots, imagery, theme and more.

You realize he is speaking to you as a gentle instructor, showing you what you already realize as a reader: that a story has to grab your attention from the get go.

Here is just a few of the sage advice you’ll find:

  • “If there is a thematic point in a story to be made, it would have to emerge organically-not forced”(pg.59) meaning as you are writing, you may not want to focus on theme, just tell the story. Readers will have their own thoughts on what the theme truly is.
  • The contemporary short story is mostly character driven.
  • Shifting points of view may bring the story into sharper focus.
  • Closing a short story is similar to closing a poem(really loved this topic!)
  • The weird yet glamorous world of meta-fiction writing.

I think the biggest take away from this book is the breakdown of stories. As DeMarinis puts it:

“In fiction, every sentence is innovation.”(pg. 135) Stories are made up of Narrative(voice that tells the story), narrative summary(moves story forward), and scenes(place characters on stage).

Seeing it condensed like that after reading his book, really nailed it.

So if you are interested in writing short stories and getting them recognized and/or published, you will be doing yourself a favor by picking it up either on loan from Freading.com or clicking its title above to purchase from Amazon.

I wish I could spill all the information from beginning to end on this book, but writing is your journey and yours alone.

Would you pick up this book to improve your own writing or to learn about short fiction?

What are some books you have read on short story writing? Share here!

Sincerely,

-The Write Web

Creative Writing · writing · Writing gigs

The Power of Shorts

shorts
Photo Image by Josh Willink and blog design by Ericajean using Canva

I’m not talking about the tiny things people will be wearing on their legs this summer.

I’m talking about the incredible short fiction that is actually selling well on the Kindle and Smashwords.

Don’t believe me? Check this out:

“I know of one writer who sells collections of short pieces of erotica. She tells me she makes $15,000 a month, and expects to make more, as she releases more collections… So short stories are goldmines, these days.”[ http://www.fabfreelancewriting.com/blog/2013/06/25/writing-kindle-ficion-make-money-with-short-stories/]

Let’s Talk Short Pieces and Long Money

Just from those pieces of information, I know two things: One, short fiction is back.

Two: Writing in the popular categories(a.k.a. romance) will earn you more money as a writer.

Do I know this from personal experience?

Yes and…no.

I’ve written a story less than 150 pages for Smashwords and Barnes and Noble and it amassed about $23.00  at 0.99 per book.

Why the low sales?

Actually I received thousands of downloads when it was free. When I experimented and set it to 0.99 for a short while, it earned $23 buckaroos. Not much.

But I did not lose hope.

I began sifting through articles to find real writers who are earning an income and they are totally making a living out of this short fiction thing.

But, I don’t think it is as easy as it may seem.

Picking the Piece That Fits You

What if you don’t like writing romance? What if you are into mystery and thrillers or nonfiction?

Well, the stats are in the favor of these top four categories:

Lucky for me, I enjoy all four of these categories and regularly read the books within them. But I’ll be honest. Romance is my #1 fav hands down.

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of reading D.K. Cassidy’s Room #42 and last year enjoyed Trish Marie Dawson’s The Station Series.

These books are fantastic and are not chunky page-wise.

In fact, Trish Marie Dawson’s The Station Series’ books, are less than 200 pages each and still I craved them enough to spend  3.99 on each book. Her first book is free.

Hopefully, knowing this is making it easier to consider writing short fiction. If not, here is more to persuade you…

I just bought D.K. Cassidy’s Sleepless book because her short read, Room 42 had me hooked to her writing.

The Key to Serving Up Your Stories

I notice a trend in pricing models too. For example, series seem to do extremely well online- especially if the first book is free.

If you want people to gobble down your books, serve them up a free appetizer and you will see your audience grow(of course this all depends on factors such as cover design, selecting the right categories for your book and great writing skills).

As a bookworm and writer I see the benefits from both ends. For one, as a reader I need to know where your stories are going and your tone in the books before I make any kind of extra purchase within the series.

C’mon even movies have trailers.

Secondly, as a writer, posting up free reads is a genius plan to get people hyped about the following books.

I heard of Kindle Singles and Kindle Worlds as well for writers to place their short stories. I am unfamiliar with these tools so please help me out if you know anything, comment below!

Want to strengthen you short story skills? Try out these powerful resources below:

The Art and Craft of the Short Story by Rick D.eMarinis

Jerz’s Literary Blog

The Seven Key Elements of Fiction

How to Write Short Stories That Sell

How to Make Real Money Selling Short Fiction

 

 

Creative Writing · Essays · writing · Writing gigs

Is Fiverr a Good Site for Writers?

I decided to do a little post on my experience using Fiverr as my side hustle for money.

I was paid to post legit comments on reputable blogs and articles, and made quite a bit of money writing up promotional material for authors.

Many of you who write are probably interested in making a little extra cash and to put something on your resume, but I am telling you now, be careful with many of these sites.

Writing online can be fun and rewarding, but being careful and trying to build your own platform and brand is key here.

Okay, so let’s talk about it…

Why Did I Start Using Fiverr?

I began using Fiverr because people were talking about it.

I also wanted to make money. Simple as that.

What did I do on Fiverr?

I started out just helping people get traction for their blogs by posting well thought out comments that were keyword dense. Eventually I realized that my love of reading could be marketable too, so I would promote author’s books on my social media after reviewing it in full or in part.

Do you have to be an expert?

It is preferable.

If you are passionate and relatively good and what you do. Go for it. In my opinion we should always look into perfecting our craft and professionalism should always be high.

What can a person do on Fiverr or what makes the most money?

You can offer ANY gig on Fiverr(within legal limits of course!). From my research, the most popular gig offers are for making promotional videos. If an individual or company wants you to try their product and review it in a video, that is what seems to be selling like hot cakes on Fiverr.

And it is super easy to do and make tons of money too.

Another popular gig is writing and designing. You will have to figure out your niche.

Is the pay good?

I will say this. I charged only five dollars for my gigs and once Fiverr took their cut and then Paypal took their cut, I was left with earnings of $3.92. No lie! But it added up quickly. I made probably $50 bucks or so off of my gigs when I was serious about it.

Why did I leave?

Here is the straw that is breaking the camel’s back. Poor camel!

I left because one bad review can take your popularity down a notch. I had just made top seller and one- just ONE of my customers was upset because she/he did not read my gig right.

Also, Fiverr took down one my writing gigs because it failed Terms of Service…? They did not give me details of how that happened and it was very shady how they did it too.

This does not mean Fiverr is a scam, but it made me rethink my business model.

My Journey to Freelance Writing Freedom

I don’t have all the knowledge yet on my new writing venture, but I do know this. I am tired of writing for companies that twist your money and work any kind of way just so you could earn pennies.

It is disgusting.

I now spend my days studying and honing my craft even more, submitting to literary journals and other places and getting my name out there.

If you are serious about becoming a writer-preneur then the first step is perfecting your craft and hosting it on your OWN website. I don’t have a domain yet but I will soon.

I am interested in how many of you are living your life free to write. Comment below or give this post a like!

Sincerely,

Ericajean 🙂