A Confession and One Reason For Writers to Smile

True bloggers are incredibly dedicated people who consistently deliver real-life insight to us online. They can’t possibly be paid enough for that, but some good companies do pay them and that is great.

I am a writer with a sort of blog-thing: inconsistent, mostly about where to find my writing, and whatever else happens to be on my mind. I don’t get paid for this so it isn’t my focus, but I do try to maintain it as a place where you can check out my words.

Not sure it deserves to be called a blog … BUT at least it isn’t phony. Yeah, I said it, PHONY.

I was contacted the other day by a freelance client. A company I had not queried, but had they had found my CV and some articles online and liked my voice. They wanted me to blog for them. When we started discussing terms, they wanted to contract a lot of articles up front. They wanted a certain number of keywords in each, things I had no problem with doing that were related to the subject.

But then they wanted links to their other websites in the blog posts. Unrelated websites. They wanted me to slip in their other brand’s phrasing to articles unrelated to that brand. And the blog would not be carrying a clear statement that it was related to those sites. What they truly wanted was advertising copy disguised as original content. Actually, they wanted it disguised as a personal blog.

Thanks, but I am not that writer. And I’m tired of turning down green money for not being PHONY so perhaps I’ll reference this post on my CV.

This freelancer can write sales copy that closes, website copy that turns visitors into customers, and original articles that readers remember. I won’t be phony for a buck.

In the long run, I think customers appreciate that. So I guess if you’re looking for return business, you might want someone like me.
How many “blogs”/websites have you read in the past week and forgotten in five minutes? The headlines grabbed your attention but the content was lame, soulless, often nothing more than links to other sites’ content connected by sentences.

Have you noticed that this is even common on “news” sites? Try reading around some of the free culture or news sites like Huffington Post or Slate for a while and see how long it takes before you end up on another site. Not by clicking on an ad, mind you, but by reading what appears to be an article.

What does it mean? If you are a writer like me, celebrate. Smile a little bit every time you end up switching websites.

Because nobody sends you away from their own site if they have enough relevant, engaging, content to support a profit. Everyone needs good content. They just might not know it yet. As long as sites keep trying to sell more advertising to support advertising-laden content, or content from other sites, their readers are leaving. They are curators as much as publishers.

Sure, we have room for some good curating sites, and even really good sites like Slate and the New York Times will sometimes send their huge audiences to another site, but EVERYONE is curating now. Fewer and fewer sites create unique content.

What everyone needs is unique content to curate. And good writers to write it. Don’t sell your skills short.

It takes time but you can find clients. The key is in putting out a few really well-matched queries, not a lot of random ones. At least that’s what’s working for me. I am not getting rich here but in less than a year have developed three regular clients and been published in several other publications. I have a fourth possible regular gig in development … maybe. Not bad for a part-timer who took a few months off for brain surgery.

Plus, I’m making a confession. I am not a blogger, but a writer who blogs now and then to tell my readers what I’m up to. So at the top, it will soon no longer say blog at all. I would never want to be phony, not even by accident.

My First Book Buzz

Pages 43-45

Pages 43-45

This one is just fun. My debut as a book columnist. Thanks to Malena Lott for recommending that I try it. I’m open to book recommendations from the Big Five, small presses and indies—as long as they are on the shelf in Oklahoma City. (Even if it’s just in one indie bookshop.) And I’m especially partial to Oklahoma publishers like Buzz Books USA and OU Press, or Oklahoma authors.


pp. 43-45

pp. 43-45


In the Company of Forever

I’m so happy to share that my short memoir, “In the Company of Forever” has just been published by Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine. It’s the story of my spring break in Shetland Islands while I was studying at the U of H campus in London. The trip to Shetland was life-changing.

Click to read it at Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine

Click to read it at Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine

And check out the other stories and wonderful editor’s note on the main page for issue 17. Very uplifting. I’m honored to be in their zine.

Writing Art: Working with Light


For Wayback Wednesday:

Originally posted on reverse perspective:

When creating visual art, the artist utilizes light from around him, from within the painting or sculpture, and as a part of the void where his medium is not. The lighting becomes an integral piece of the final statement and smart artists spend hours ensuring that their work is displayed in the best possible light.
For my research on noir fiction, I watched many “B” movies that practically bashed me in the head with the conscious manipulation of light. Shadows through doorways, light through vertical blinds or screens, and the headshot with light coming from behind were the most cliche. I’m always searching for fresh ways to use light in writing. Throughout my books, I describe light in fresh ways such as the cottonwood tree that’s “a random symphony of strobe lights.”

Yet most often when I bring up this aspect f my work, I’m told that most mystery authors…

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Writing Art: Arsenic Gold

For Wayback Wednesday:

I am not an artist but in my Adele Proust mysteries, I have to make the readers feel like they are painting. I use rhythm, action, colors and feelings, but also the legends within oil painting, especially the pigments. Embedding legend into my modern story, sort of connects my tale to history, adding depth. And for crime writing, a pigment made from arsenic provides both mystery and intrigue.

Orpiment image from Wikipedia, formerly from the US Geological Survey’s “Minerals of the World” and is in the public domain

Orpiment has been treasured by artists for centuries.  A most beautiful golden color, it’s created by grinding crystals of arsenic sulfide–highly toxic.  Once believed by alchemists to be an important ingredient in their quest to create gold, orpiment is said to have the healing effect of creating clarity in thinking,  It’s toxic effects may have actually helped to drive those alchemists insane.

Modern healers believe orpiment to be filled with innocence, purity, goodness, and emotional intimacy. That contrasts quite severely with the human lust for gold through the centuries.

Using orpiment in a painting scene allowed me to bring all that history and conflict into the moment.  By explaining some tidbits about the pigment in an earlier scene, I was able to weave the use of arsenic, the lust for gold—and just plain beauty—into Adele’s simple brush strokes.  It happens fairly late in the story so I won’t post that scene here, but I hope when you read it later, you’ll come back and let me know if I did the pigment justice.

My next book will feature another ancient pigment, mummy brown.

Staying focused

Rest, it’s a great thing. When your mind feels overwhelmed, a little bit of sleep can be priceless. When you’re recovering from a brain tumor it can also be debilitating.

A body in motion tends to stay in motion.
A body at rest tends to stay at rest.

So I get up every day and do as much as I can. If I start spinning or aching, I take a small rest, but the key for me is to keep getting up, to keep pushing my limits. Today’s victory was walking to the neighborhood hill with my boys. About 3/4 mile with just minor dizziness. The sunshine lifted my spirits.

No matter how big your challenges, keep getting up.

No matter how small your victories, celebrate them.

Interview with Artist Andy Fish


Really cool artwork, Peggy and Andy. Good luck with the book.

Originally posted on Peggy Chambers "Views from the Hammock" site:

Andy Fish     From the blog “Fish Wrap” by Andy Fish http://andyfishwrap.blogspot.com/:

Andy Fish is a comic book artist, writer, painter, pop culture archaeologist and film historian.  He has written and drawn numerous How to Art Books, Graphic Novels, Screenplays and Comic Books.

He lectures on art related subjects and even has a painting in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington DC.

This blog will attempt to focus on all manner of art film and pop culture, but don’t hold much hope that it will stay focused.

He lives 40 miles outside of Boston, MA with his artist wife Veronica Lane Fish.”

I’m once again interviewing an artist that has made my book look wonderful. Andy Fish illustrated the cover of The Apocalypse Sucks and I had a few questions for him. He was kind enough to take the time from his busy schedule to answer.


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