Entry #9: Ever Wondered if Ghostwriting was for You?

December 2, 2017

Holy smokes. November was complete insanity people. Complete insanity. I had two contracts on Upwork that were both due at the same time. I received the jobs within the first two days of the month and committed to having them BOTH finished by November 30th. Book number one was a fun one to write and was 50,000 (50K) words. The second was a bit larger and was the first full on erotica novel I’ve ever written. So it was a bit of an experience for me, and it rang in at a whopping 70K words. So in 30 days I wrote 120K words.

Errmmm. What the FUCK.

Needless to say my brain feels like mush now and I have the white imprint of a word document burnt into my eyelids. I can’t believe I managed to get it all done. It was a shit ton of work. But you know what was really rewarding about it? No? Well sit tight, Imma tell you. Maybe go grab a coffee or something. Then we can pretend we’re two people sitting with each other and I’m letting you in my ghostwriting secrets. Okay, they’re not ‘secrets’, but I just want to share my experience over my first year as a ghostwriter. Maybe it will help some of you figure out if this is something you want to have a go at.

Today, November 30th 2018, is the exact one year mark since I quit my day job. In other words, one year ago today I walked out of a place that was sucking the life out of me while many of my family and friends fretted that I was making a terrible decision. I was probably only a few weeks to a month away from a decent promotion at the job I left. That promotion would have led to other promotions. I wasn’t bad at my job. In fact, I was a leader within my region, and I had a reputation. I was well respected and my name had only positive associations. I’m not tooting my own horn here, I’m just trying to explain to you that just because everyone else thinks it’s a right fit doesn’t mean it is. I hated it. It was destroying me.

So I quit. It was the best thing I ever did. Now, 365 days later, I am closing out the month having earned more money in a month than I ever have. Yes. I am making more money now writing from home for my clients than I was in my telecommunications salary/commission based sales job.

I remember when I landed my first contract on Upwork. I had sent out tons of proposals to different jobs and didn’t have high hopes of landing anything. I kept my spirits up by referring to my bible: Pinterest. I’m sorry, but I get everything I need from there. Advice, guidance, recipes, decorating tips, character names, plot ideas, exercise plans I don’t use, sex tips, etc. I’m just saying. Sorry for the TMI (no I’m not). Anywho I didn’t have extremely high hopes that Upwork would work for me. But Pinterest articles assured me that it took time to really get going on freelancing sites. I kept this in mind as I waited, and waited, and waited.

[p]Then, a few days later, someone took a bite and offered me a Skype interview. I almost peed my pants right then and there. He had read the sample I wrote and LIKED it. How crazy. I was a basket case of nerves in the hours leading up to the Skype call. It went really well. He offered me the gig, and four days later I was writing my first novella. It was a small project, only 15K words. It was a genre I was unfamiliar with and I had nothing on my profile to show that I was a competent writer. So I charged him barely anything. For writing 15K he paid me $50. Upwork takes a 20% cut. So, as you can see, I wasn’t making much money. But I made sure the work I delivered was excellent, thoroughly edited, and what he was looking for. I offered to edit and revise anything he wasn’t happy with. This is still something I do with all my clients whenever I submit something. Very important. They’re paying you for a service. Take it seriously. Make sure you’re giving them exactly what they want.

So this client wrote me a glowing review because he was so pleased with the content I wrote for him. In my future proposals I started offering to do jobs at half the cost of the client’s proposed budget. I explained that I understood that they were taking a risk on a new writer with no reviews or history of work to prove that I knew what I was doing. This strategy was well received. I landed more and more jobs. I kept my rates low. Lots of people told me I was doing myself a disservice. I didn’t care what they said. This was my business, and I was going to build it how I wanted.

What were my rates, you ask? PENNIES, YO. I charged $0.003/word. But you know what? Every client tipped me. Each and every one. So have faith in people. If they think you deserve more than what they are paying you they will more often than not step up to the plate and pay it forward. If they do not consider the fact that maybe you have some room to improve. Acknowledging this and seizing the opportunity to be a better writer is something all good writers do. Take the feedback. Chew it. Swallow it. Use it.

I worked over the course of a year with dozens of clients from all over the world. I learned new things from each person and improved my writing as I went. Seriously peeps, even though I’m writing for other people it still serves me. I’m honing my craft and getting paid to do it. You don’t get better at writing unless you write. Plain and simple. And in 2017 I wrote 17 full sized novels (all averaging between 50K-80K words). Toss in some short stories and outlines for other clients, and you have yourself a very busy schedule.

If you can balance it all and motivate yourself- this is important- then ghostwriting might be for you. I have the freedom to make my own schedule, but I also run into issues where I’m behind on a deadline and I have to miss out on things I was looking forward to. It’s part of life. Luckily I’m at a point where the people I surround myself with get it. They want me to write because they know my business is taking off. They support me. Find yourself those people and never let them go… no matter how much they struggle ;)

Now, a year later, my rate is much higher than when I started on Upwork. I’m not going to discuss it, because I think that’s tacky, but I also want to say this: what you are earning is an ever changing rate. I know it’s cliche, but if this is something you really want, you’ll make money at it. It’s not easy, I can tell you that (120K words in a month is not a walk in the park), but it’s satisfying because I’m making a living doing what I love. Your sheer will and drive to be successful is what will earn you money. Watching Netflix doesn’t pay good. Trust me. I hit some roadblocks and binge watched a lot of shows. It only ended with me being angry at myself for not taking my work seriously. Cue vicious cycle of guilt here.

And another perk is being able to tell people who thought I was going to fail that I’m doing better than ever. Petty? Definitely. But still satisfying as fuck.

I hope some of this helped you. I know it was a bit of a ramble and maybe didn’t hold any of the ‘juicy secrets’ you were hoping for. But that’s just it. There aren’t any secrets. If you want to try your hand at ghostwriting head on over to Upwork (or other freelancing sites, whatever suits your fancy), and create a profile. Apply to jobs. Take yourself seriously. BE PROFESSIONAL. You are representing your brand with every single thing you do on that platform. Be professional even when you don’t want to be. This is critical people. If you think you can do it give it a shot. I’m with you. It’s so worth it.

Much Love my writing friends!! Talk soon! XOXO - Rebecca

Entry #8: The Struggle Happens Behind Closed Doors

November 2, 2017

Choosing to be a full time writer as my career was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is also a decision that has brought a lot of self doubt to the foreground. I remember back when I started this journey how unsure I was. How worried I was that I was going to fail. I also know that I am not where I thought I would be- but that's okay. I'm where I should be. This post is for those of you who are about to take a leap and do something scary. I hope this helps you in some way!

I handed in my notice at my previous job exactly 11 months ago. I worked for a massive telecommunications company selling cell phones and tablets out of a storefront. It was a high pressure job with concrete expectations: hit your sales target (non negotiable), upsell, cross sell, ask for referrals, deliver the best customer service so that competing companies couldn’t steal your client. I hated every second of it. Except for the people I worked with. My team was incredible. We were a tight knit little family (give or take a couple lemons, as per usual) and I still see them as often as I can.

Anyways. That was 11 months ago. I remember driving into work one day feeling like the weight of the world was crushing me (pardon the cliche). I cried the whole way there- it was a thirty minute drive, folks. I knew I couldn’t keep going there. I knew I needed to make a change. But change is scary, especially when you’re barely making ends meet financially as it is. I also didn’t want to let down my husband, or any of my co workers or my manager, all of whom had become very close friends of mine.

I put off telling my manager until the very end of the day. She had packed up her bag and was about to head home for the day. I think she knew something was wrong, but she’s always understood that I’m a very private person, so she didn’t pry. When I asked if I could talk to her, she didn’t hesitate. We went to the back room and I unloaded how shitty I was feeling and how much the job was killing me. She said she had seen it all coming, and she was excited for me- she had been a major supporter of my writing dream. (Shout out to her, right here. She was a very bright light for me during a very dark time)

And, just like that, I had a final day of work: November 30th, 2016.

I had grand plans. I was going to commit all of my time to finishing my novel. I was going to work my ass off. I was going to pull this off. But it wasn’t that easy. There were some barriers on the way, and this is what the journey ended up looking like:

1. I felt instantly like a burden on my husband, Cody. He was working full time hours at a job that he wasn’t crazy about either. He had things he wanted to do but couldn’t because I wasn’t contributing financially the same way that I used to. His support was overwhelming. I didn’t (and still can’t) understand how he never resented me for my choice. He stood by me and told everyone he could that I was a writer. An author in the making. He had more faith in me than I could imagine. But it didn’t erase the guilt. I needed to make money. I needed to help out somehow. So, I got a job working for a friend who ran her own residential cleaning company. She let me jump in with little notice, and before I knew it, I was one of the girls. We cleaned Mondays-Thursdays (sometimes only 2 or 3 days a week, it depended on a lot of variables). I am so grateful to her that she let me work for her. It helped ease my conscience and let me sort out all the other things that I hadn’t yet dealt with. Which leads me to my next point…

2. I realized pretty quickly that earning money cleaning people’s houses was not for me. It’s tough work- I knew that going into it. I hadn’t, however, considered the fact that I hate people. No joke. Me and the general public are not sympatico. I can slap on a convincing smile at the drop of a hat and provide INSANE customer service (not to toot my own horn, but for real, my service can’t be beat), but once I’m fed up with you, you’d better watch yourself. I have a temper, and if I think you’re a shitty person, I’m going to make sure you know it. So, low and behold, the cleaning job made me bitter. We cleaned houses for people who took advantage of us. Let me just give you an idea, because you’re probably thinking, ”but Rebecca, that’s what a cleaning service is for, DUH,”. And you would be right. But here are some of the things I had to do that ARE NOT, and I repeat, ARE NOT, the responsibility of your house cleaner: cleaning one week old vomit out of your toilet bowl, picking up dog shit from every room in your house, doing your laundry (I’m not kidding, peeps), making your bed to find it decorated in vibrators and dildos (clean ones, you ask? Of course not!), peeling cat feces from a shag rug (good times)- I could go on forever. So, let’s just say when you combine having to do gross stuff like that with the fact that the people you’re doing it for are ungrateful assholes, you get a very, very miserable Rebecca. So I needed to quit. But I needed to find a way to make money another way before I did that.

3. I found Upwork- an online freelance site. I signed up for it on the spot, created my profile, took a bunch of tests to boost the score on my profile, and started applying to job postings. Within three days I had landed 2 ghost writing contracts. One was a novella and the other was a full sized novel. I started working, started earning, and quit the cleaning job. Praise all that is good. I suddenly found myself doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. I was working full time from home, and, more importantly, I was writing.

4. There was only one downside to the whole Upwork thing: I was putting my own novel on the back burner. I became obsessed with writing novels for other people. It wasn’t a bad thing, because I was making money and I was still doing what I loved, but I wasn’t working on anything that helped me long term. Everything was very temporary. So I signed up for the Surrey International Writer’s Conference. At this conference I would have the chance to pitch my novel to a publisher. This gave me something to work towards. It was a concrete event that I couldn’t back out of that I had to prepare for. It worked. I managed to split my time wisely between my Upwork contracts and my own novel.

So what about now? Now I’m still spending half of my time on contracts, and half on my work. So far I’m happy with the way everything is going. I’m not filled with guilt over not making money. I’m doing the one thing that I’ve always wanted to do. Things are good. I suppose the message I’m trying to send here is this: sometimes, to get to where we want to be, we need to make sacrifices. We need to choose what is worth struggling through. For me, selling phones and cleaning toilets wasn’t worth the money to support my brand new writing career. But, writing for other people so that I can write for myself was. If you’re in a similar situation, and you’re wanting to quit your day job, just consider the time it will take you to get to the place that you want to be. You may have to make some compromises and do some things that don’t necessarily fall into this ‘dream’ of yours. Just find what you are willing to struggle through for your passion. Once you do that, it’s all uphill. I swear.

PS. This is all coming from someone who’s not even remotely close to their personal finish line. No one ever sees the battle. They just see the version of you that comes out all shiny and sparkly after fighting the good fight for who the hell knows how long. Remember that. Don’t compare your third year to someone else’s fifteenth. It serves nobody.

Much love, Rebecca

Entry #7: Surviving your First Writer's Conference

October 26, 2017

Hello lovely human! Thank you for taking a moment to read this blog post. I hope it is helpful to you in some way in the future. If you have a writing conference or big event that you are attending for writing, this article is for you. So grab a cup of coffee, get comfy, and let’s get into it.

I attended SiWC this past weekend (Surrey International Writer’s Conference). It was the first conference I have ever been to, and I went completely solo. As someone with anxiety, this was a rather intimidating feat for me. The conference was three days long and consisted of back to back workshops each day. It covered topics such as: Self Publishing, Worldbuilding, Crafting Believable Villains, Identifying Tropes *and inverting them- guys, this was by far my favourite workshop*, Author Branding, and much more. During the conference each attendee had two appointments scheduled. 1. A pitch appointment, which was a one on one ten minute appointment where I had the opportunity to pitch my novel to an agent, and 2. A blue pencil session, which was another ten minute appointment, but this time with an author who read and critiqued the first ten pages of my novel. So, needless to say, it was a jam packed and stressful weekend.

But it was magnificent. I soaked in as much information as I could, and, low and behold, connected with some really awesome people. Us writers are usually introverts, so when thrown into a forced social setting surrounded by like minded people pursuing the same goal, I took the opportunity to reach out and make friends. (I feel a bit like Hermione Granger here in ‘the Goblet of Fire’ when she says, “the whole point of the tournament is international magical cooperation. To make friends!”). I now have someone who is going to help me with my manuscript if I run into any roadblocks. Not only that, but she will also be a source of encouragement and a good confidant when the writing world gets… overwhelming… as it often does.

I wanted to share with you what I learned in terms of how to actually survive a conference like this. There were many things I wish I had done differently, and things I was well prepared for. Let’s begin, shall we?

  1. H20, peeps. Stay hydrated. The conference was well organized and had water stations outside each workshop room, but that meant I had to stop in between workshops to get water. I wanted to make sure I made it to each session early so I could grab a good seat, so I brought my own water bottle and refilled it during down time. The conference was hosted at the Sheraton Guilford Hotel, which was a fabulous location, but you spend ten hours indoors breathing recirculated air all day. Make sure you have water. Trust me.
  2. Aspirin!!! Or some form of painkiller. I got a headache all three days before noon like clockwork. This seemed to be a common thing for most people I talked to. The air in the hotel combined with early starts, stress, and a copious amount of information made for a very intense day, and headaches plagued almost everyone I talked to. No joke. So prepare for that, because trying to focus while your eyeballs feel like they’re trying to pop out of your skull is a real downer.
  3. Make friends. Seriously. Had I not made an instant connection with another writer at the conference my experience would have been much different. So, insert shout out to Kelly right here- you rock! She was so supportive when I started freaking out about my pitch appointment with an agent. I was terrified, and all that writerly self doubt (you know what I’m talking about) was threatening to suffocate me. I told Kelly how stressed I was, and she assured me that I wouldn’t regret going to the appointment. She was so kind, and had it not been for her I am 100% I would have cancelled my appointment. Which would have been a real shame, because guess what? The agent I pitched to wants me to submit a query. And it wasn’t scary once I was sitting down in front of him. The nerves vanished and I channelled all the love I have for the story I want to tell with Jack: Rise of Faerie. So again, thank you Kelly <3
  4. Be prepared. Bring notebook(s). Bring pens/pencils/highlighters. Make sure you bring more than one. I can’t believe how many people were trying to bum pens off of others in the bathrooms. It was quite funny, really, to see all these writers, dressed in knee high socks and knit cardigans bargaining for pens in the bathroom- it was like a really sweet, friendly drug deal between workshop breaks. Don’t get caught like that, you need to take notes. You are bombarded with so much information that you won’t retain ANY of it. I mean it. Bring a lot of pens. Write down everything you can. You will thank me for it later.
  5. Try to slip outside when you can. I didn’t do this at all on my first day, and when it was time to go home I felt lethargic and drained. My headache wasn’t helping. On day two I made a point to go outside whenever I had the chance. The fresh air definitely helped keep me energized and alert. It was also nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the conference for a brief five minutes once every couple hours.
  6. Participate, if you can. I know it’s hard because like me, you’re probably an introvert. But you have no idea how important it is. Ask the questions you need to ask. You paid money to be at this conference (I’m assuming), and you deserve to get as much as you can out of it. The presenters/authors/agents all want you to ask your questions. That’s why they’re there! And, you never know who you could meet by participating.
  7. Try not to stress too much. This is probably the most crucial piece of advice I could possibly give you. I worked myself into such a state of anxiety about my pitch session and it turned out to be the highlight of my time at the conference. If you’re stressed about meeting people remember this: they are in the exact same position as you are. Writers are usually (and by usually I mean almost always introverts. All the nervousness you feel about having to meet people and socialize and talk about your book (God forbid) is felt by almost everyone else attending the conference. But for realz, my loves, be brave! Make friends! Talk about your book or your project every chance you get, because that is the whole point of a conference!
  8. Take pictures. I know this is a bit weird, but I didn’t take any. Kelly took a couple and posted them online, and I wish I had taken more. Presenters and authors and agents were more than willing to pause to snap a photo with people. I missed a good opportunity there to create some awesome memories from my first conference. Don’t make the same mistake.
  9. Snacks. Bring snacks. ‘Nuff said.
  10. If you can, try to take the day off immediately after the conference. I’m lucky to be a freelance writer who works from home, and therefore I do have the luxury of making my own schedule. I arranged everything in advance to have my Monday off, and I spent nearly the entire day on my couch watching Netflix. I am still watching The Office and crushing HARD on Jim Halpert. Please send help!I think I drank three cups of tea and all three of my meals were comfort food: bagel and cream cheese, red pepper and tomato soup, and then tacos. Yup. That’s the dream right there. In all seriousness though, you will appreciate the day to recharge and not use your brain at all. I definitely did.

So what about after the conference? Well, I am still coming down from the high of it all, and it’s been three days. I feel refreshed and inspired, and I think this conference gave me the push I needed to finish my novel. I’m hoping to have it done within a month… that might be a little too optimistic, but we shall see.

I’m also already thinking about next year. I will definitely be attending again, probably annually. If you want to attend SiWC 2018, please let me know! I can be your buddy if you don’t know anyone who is going to be there. If you have any questions, reach out, and I will try to help as best I can. For now, I’m going to be staring at the ‘SWAG’ I have from the conference (which I have placed all around my workspace because it gives me good feels): my conference ID badge, my attendance confirmation, and the quill I bought myself to commemorate the epic self accomplishment of pitching my book (and winning the interest of an agent).

Final thoughts on this massive entry: if you have the opportunity to attend a conference, take it. You will not be disappointed.

Until next time my loves, XOXO, Rebecca

I want to hear from you! Send me a message on my contact me page. You don’t have to subscribe in order for us to connect! <3

Entry #6: An Interview with Jack O’Connor

October 18, 2017

Hey, hello, sup, thanks for reading past the title. Jack O’Connor is the protagonist in my (WIP) debut novel, Jack:Rise of Faerie. He’s a somewhat twisted, sarcastic, lonely guy with an uncanny ability of always finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s tough, he’s mean, and he has no idea what level of shit storm is about to rain down upon him. I assure you, when he finally makes his debut, he will prove himself to be a character you won’t forget.

So, why should you care?

Well, I’ll tell you. My novel is all about learning to stand on your own- but with and for your friends. Jack is isolated and without companions when his story begins. This is for two main reasons: 1. Jack has done some pretty hellish things in his past that serve as a giant red beacon warning people to stay as far away from him as possible- even people he grew up with. 2. Jack pushes them away even if they manage to get over their fear of him. He doesn’t want to get close to people again, because every time he does, they end up dead, and their blood is more often than not on his hands.

Jack realizes that he’s in over his head when he starts caring about people again. It happens in the middle of a bloody, painful battle, and it paralyzes him for a critical moment when his back is against the wall and he’s about to meet a messy end. With this new fear realized Jack has stirrings of panic that used to plague him as a teenager- feelings he managed to extinguish by living alone and separate from everyone he used to know. Now that he’s back in the fray he is remembering why he cared for these people in the first place, and this brings him back fighting. He was dangerous before, but now that there are people worth fighting for, he is an even more formidable foe.

With this little preamble out of the way, I wanted to answer some fun questions about Jack in an interview sort of style. The answers are written as Jack O’Connor’s answers. I hope you enjoy!

1. “If a six year old kid came up to you on the middle of the street and asked you if Santa was real, what would you say?” I’d definitely lie my ass off and promise that Santa was real. Of course, an opportunity like this doesn’t come around very often, so I’d be a fool not to mess with the pipsqueak a little bit, right? I’d probably tell them that Santa is real, but he’s not the jolly old fat bastard that everyone thinks he is. Santa is actually a demon and the red velvet suit- is it made out of velvet? I have no freaking clue- anyways, the suit is a perfect disguise. Sugar helps him look human, which is why kids have always been told to leave cookies out. I don’t know. I could go on forever with this shit.

2. “If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only bring 3 things, what would they be?” What a predictable question. Probably a knife, mouthwash… and hard liquor. Any kind would do. I could figure out the rest on my own.

3. “What is your occupation?” Erm. I’m a Warden. I work at night, usually right around midnight to sunrise. I keep to the more deserted parts around Vancouver. That’s where I can find the trouble, you see. The Unseelie. The things that are waiting in the shadows in hopes that some poor soul might cross their path and give them a nice warm, gooey meal. TMI? Sorry.

4. “Where did you go to school? Did you enjoy it?” I went to The Academy. You wouldn’t have heard of it. It wasn’t a good time. It’s probably not appropriate for me to talk about here.

5. “Did you have any role models growing up?” Yes. Her name was Geneva. She was a badass. She taught me everything I know. She kept me alive while I was at The Academy. I owe her my life a thousand times over.

6. “Where is Geneva now?” Dead. Very dead.

7. “Let’s switch gears a bit here… what is the most evil thing you have ever done?” I can only pick one? ”Yes.” Right. I let a friend die for me. I’ve let a lot of friends die for me.

8. “Do you trust anyone enough to protect you?” No. I used to, but not anymore.

9. “Name 3 things you consider yourself to be very good at, and 3 things you’re terrible at.” That counts as a question? Okay. Three things I’m good at are killing Unseelie, killing anything other than Unseelie, and teaching my Defensive Classes at The Academy. Three things I’m not so good at… listening to authority, staying out of trouble, and keeping my mouth shut.

10. “Last question Jack. What is the one thing you would most likely be remembered for after your death?” Murdering seven Wardens when I was seventeen, probably. It’s the first thing people think when they see me now. They don’t understand, they probably never will. But fuck them. Those assholes deserved what they got, and I wouldn’t change it if I could. Does that answer make you uncomfortable?

Well, this was a fun little writing project! My intentions were to shed a bit of light on Jack’s personality- he’s kind of an asshole, but there’s more to him than the moody brooding, trust me. Check out Chapter One posted under Excerpts on my site if you want to get a little closer to Jack O’Connor!

Until next time, XOXO, Rebecca

Entry #5: All Hallows Write

October 13, 2017

Rules: 1. Give a brief description of your novel before proceeding 2. Do not use the same character for more than 2 answers

Description of my novel, Jack:Rise of Faerie Jack is a young Warden; a man trained by The Academy to destroy Unseelie. The menacing, dangerous creatures are roaming the city streets of Vancouver, and they have deviated from their normal routine of sifting through dumpsters or stalking people with the intent of devouring them. Now the Unseelie are hunting Wardens, and the body count is rising.

Rivers, the old headmaster of The Academy, suspects a snitch in the school. Someone is trading information with the Unseelie. The Headmaster recruits Jack to return to his old school to help them find the traitor. When Jack finds himself walking the same halls he did as a teenager, he realizes things behind closed doors at the school are just as bad, if not worse, as they were during his own studies. It soon becomes obvious that things are not quite as they seem.

As the bodies start piling up, and people Jack thought he had stopped caring about need his help, he must decide if he is willing to put his life on the line. He is the most formidable Warden The Academy has ever trained. Even though he never graduated, he is a force to be reckoned with, and he alone is the only one powerful enough to put a stop to this whole charade- but it might cost him more than his life. It might cost him everything he thought he knew, and then some.

1. It’s Halloween night, what is your protagonist dressed up as? Jack is an isolated (lonely, really), sarcastic, too-cool-for-school kind of guy. Convincing him to dress up for Halloween would be like pulling teeth. If he was forced (in other words, if the girl he has had a thing for over the last couple years- Jenny- pleaded with him enough) he would probably do something simple and irritatingly witty. Like slapping a name tag on his chest that said ‘Bob’. He would parade around pointing at his chest and declaring himself as ‘Robert’ for the night strictly to irritate his date. Poor Jenny.

2. Who in your cast refuses to dress up and shows up at the Halloween party without a costume? This one goes to Veronica, also known as Vee. She’s a badass Warden, just like Jack, but she takes everything very seriously. While Jack would eventually be able to make a joke out of the evening, Veronica would arrive in her classic long sleeve black V-neck, black leggings, black boots, and black jacket. Her lips and nails would be red, and she would stand in the corner with a glass of wine quietly judging all the other guests for their costumes. They’re all adults, after all. And parties are so childish. Especially with people dying every other week. Fools.

3. Which character wears the most outrageous costume, and what would it be? Definitely Maurelle. She’s a sassy, beautiful Fae from the Queen’s Seelie Court. She also has a thing for Jack, despite how confusing she finds him to be. She would probably arrive dressed as her enemy, one of those of the Unseelie Court. She would find it hilarious, but all other attendees at the party would be put off by her poorly timed humour. The Unseelie have been killing everyone’s friends, after all. Jack would probably pull her aside to quietly tell her that her costume was his favourite- regardless of the fact that it was in poor taste.

4. On Halloween, werewolves, zombies, and vampires are on the prowl. Which of your characters gets caught in their clutches, and which creature do they subsequently turn into? That would have to be Nate. He’s a goofy seventeen year old kid who is in his final year of studies at The Academy. He’s a bit naive and believes in people a little too much, so he would easily be tricked by a seductive female vampire. All she would have to do is smile and wink at him, and he’d follow her into the bathroom, or dark alley, firmly believing that he was about to get lucky. Four minutes later he’d have her fangs in his neck and be well on his way to becoming a vamp himself.

5. Who wins the contest for best costume? Nate would probably take the cake for this one too. He would throw on a pair of dark jeans, dark boots, a black T-shirt, and an old leather jacket. He would walk around the party with his hair an untamed mess and his forehead permanently creased in a scowl, and people wouldn’t even have to ask what his costume was: he would dress up as Jack. And Jack wouldn’t find it funny at all.

6. Who hands out toothbrushes to the trick or treaters? Old man Rivers, the Headmaster at The Academy. He’s a sour guy who doesn’t condone fun. He would put toothbrushes in kid’s baskets/bags/pillowcases/etc just to be an ass. And to remind them that he owns them. You know, because he’s a nice guy.

7. Which two of your characters decide to pair up and do an Angel & Devil costume together? Marx and Stevens. They are some of Jack’s oldest friends from when they were all kids at The Academy, and in the ten years since they graduated, they have been inseparable. Marx is a grumpy guy who isn’t too keen on Jack being back at the school, and makes his feelings known, while his boyfriend Stevens is eager about the idea of the three of them becoming friends again. Stevens would be the mastermind behind the costume, and only after days (or weeks) of sucking up and begging, would Marx ever agree to go to a party dressed as a devil. But, eventually he would concede and Stevens would be victorious. And, at the party, Jack would constantly remind Marx how stupid he looks. He would also probably stand between them all the time and make endless jokes about having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on another. No one would laugh except for Stevens (and Veronica when no one was looking).

8. Someone is too scared to even attend the Halloween party. Who is it? This would be Jesse, also known in the book as ‘Small-Bladder’ (a name bestowed upon her by Jack himself. If you want to know why, you have to read it when it comes out!). She is a permanent stress case who is intimidated by the littlest of things, and attending a Halloween party seems like she would just be asking for trouble. Instead, she would stay in her room at The Academy and relish in the solitude of not having her roommates around. She would probably spend the time studying. She takes herself very seriously.

9. Who overdoses on Halloween candy and ends up sick? Reggie. He’s another Warden at The Academy. He’s a kiss ass to old man Rivers and he’s terrified of Jack. He would probably be deliberately avoiding Jack the whole time by hanging out at the snack table and stress eating.

10. Which character would most likely place a curse or a hex on someone… and who would they curse? Maurelle would most definitely rise to the occasion of placing a hex on someone. She is Seelie, after all, and games and tricks are her favourite pastime. She would struggle with choosing only one person to hex. She would want to hex Jack more than anyone, but they are on thin ice and she wouldn’t want to damage their ‘friendship’ any more than she already has. So she would probably pick someone she knew Jack didn’t like, like old man Rivers. She would hex him into doing something embarrassing all night long- like singing Halloween songs in place of the band, which he would dismiss impatiently with the wave of his hand. She would make sure Jack knew that the whole thing was her doing, and since he’s so ‘mature’, she would win brownie points for it. Jack would probably pull up a chair front row and throw popcorn/candy bars/whatever was on hand at the old man while he sang.

That was so much fun! I haven’t done a writing tag before, and doing one that was Halloween themed seemed so fitting for right now. Each answer is very true to what each of my characters are like. If you choose to do this tag, please send it to me somehow! You can go to the contact me page to send it to me via email, or you can tag me in Instagram or Twitter! I would love to read them!

Instagram: author_rmj Twitter: author_rm

Until next time, XOXO Rebecca

Entry #4: Gratitude is Key

October 7, 2017

This post is a bit of a reverse of my previous blog entry, ‘Let the Haters Hate’. It’s true that there are always going to be Negative Nancy’s (and Nathan’s for the sake of inclusivity) sitting in the corner chewing on their nails just waiting for the opportunity to tear you down. But, there will also be those people right by your side, cheering you on with a big smile and more belief in you than you have in your big toe. Are you picturing that person(s)in your life right now? Good. Keep them in mind as you keep reading.

Those people are your rock. They are your squad, team, possy, family, crew- whatever name you find most fitting. For me, those people are my husband, my family, and some close friends. I am lucky to have a pretty big support system. I know how rare this is. Trust me. Any time I have ever expressed doubt, or worry, or self deprecating behaviours (which is basically all the time, let’s be real, I’m a writer for fuck sakes) those people are there to remind me that these thoughts are not stronger than me. They ground me when I feel lost. They are also there to offer positive words even when things are going really well- which is great, because they are forthcoming with their love even when they may feel like I don’t really need it. They offer support and love because they want to, not because they think they need to. There is a big difference, and this defines your ride or die squad. For real.

These people express genuine interest in what I do and ask me questions all the time. This sort of curiosity makes me feel good, just like it makes them feel good when I turn the tables and ask them about their work: what are their struggles? What are they enjoying most at work right now? Is that same asshole employee still stealing their lunch in the break room? Has their boss started wearing a bra to work yet, or are the girls still free to rest all dilly dally over the keyboard when she invites you in for a meeting in her office? Real scenario, my friends. No fiction here.

Asking questions is important. Asking questions is the best way to show someone that you care about them and their happiness. Don’t believe me? You may want to take a hard look at how you’ve been treating the people you care about.

So, with that stated, let me get to my main point for this post: be grateful for the people around you who do support you. Be openly grateful. Tell them you are thankful for their interest and their support. Your gratitude will make them feel good, and they deserve at least that, don’t they? Furthermore, make sure it’s a two way street. Make sure you aren’t only on the receiving end. Show them the same love and support that they show you. Ask questions and LISTEN, GOD DAMN IT. Sorry for the passion and the caps, but poor listeners are the absolute WORST kind of people. Listen, digest, and store for later. Ask follow up questions the next time you see them. Don’t just be this passive presence sucking up all of their energy. That’s called selfishness, and it’s a shitty quality to have. But not unfixable. Express love, and kindness, and you might find that more support will begin flowing your way. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. Not everyone can be a cheerleader. Take it as it is and move on. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to change someone, or expecting something from someone that they aren’t capable of giving. That’s not fair to anyone involved, and it’s just going to leave you feeling drained and disappointed.

So please, call up the people who have been by your side through your struggle. The people who never wavered. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Call. Text. Tell them in person- whatever floats your boat. The point is simple: just tell them.

Spread the good vibes.

On that note: thanks for reading this blog post! I am truly grateful that there are people out there who enjoy reading what I have to say. You are the best. If you want to reach out, head over to the contact me page and say hi! I would love to hear from you!

XOXO, Rebecca

To those of you who never blinked when I told you I was going to be a writer: thanks for having faith in me all this time.

Entry #3: Let the Haters Hate

September 22, 2017

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you’re reading this blog post because you are currently at a point where the people in your life aren’t exactly in your corner the way you thought they would be when you finally decided to take yourself and your passion for writing seriously. Never fear. I’ve been through the same thing. Let me tell you, it sucks. Seriously, it really fucking blows. But I thought that maybe I could offer you some reassuring words that might help you shift your perspective a little bit and, potentially, stop you from snapping one day when your cousin/aunt/nephew/general douche bag/uncle/etc asks you if you’re ‘still doing that writing thing’.

Now. Let’s start by acknowledging one very important thing here: if you are choosing to be a writer you are committing yourself to a non-traditional career path that not everyone will understand. And they don’t have to understand. I don’t understand why some people choose to get up at 5am so that they can commute for two hours out of their day to work in an office for a boss they hate, but hey, it’s their life, and if they like it, then I’ll cheer them on.

However, this path that you and I are on is one that people seemingly have a hard time wrapping their heads around. If someone has said at least one of the below things to you at some point or another, then you, my friend, are officially a writer. Congrats.

  1. “How long are you going to do this thing for before you… you know, get bored?”
  2. “Are you going to get a part time job at least?”
  3. “Do you have a lot of savings put aside or something so you can do this?”
  4. “So you want to be the next JK Rowling?”
  5. “You know books are kind of going out of style, right?”
  6. “My work is hiring right now, want me to put in a good word for you?”
And these are just some of the shitty things people have said to me. Never fear, I took mental note of their words and I intend to hold it against them forever. Immature? Definitely.

Here’s what I think you should take away from this: people are always going to be negative. It’s in their nature. It sucks when the people you thought would be excited for you are the ones who wear their doubt and skepticism on their sleeve, but you can’t control how they think. You can control how you think.

It took me a while to wrap my head around that. I always felt like I was a failure in the eyes of people I was really close to. But I realized that they couldn’t define what failure or success looked like on me. I was the only one who could do that. As long as I had support from the one person who mattered *insert shameless shout out to my kick ass husband here* I was able to persevere. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard, because it definitely was. But I was able to consciously drown out the negativity and focus instead on my excitement for writing. Writing is my passion. It always has been. And if you feel the same way, clear your ears out and hear this: You deserve to follow the things that set your soul on fire. Pursue it despite the naysayers. Pursue it despite the skeptics and the haters. Pursue it because doing anything else would be doing a huge disservice to yourself.

This is 2017, my fellow writer. Do what makes you happy. I implore you. I’d say do it with grace, but, sometimes, you just gotta throw both middle fingers in the air and proclaim ‘fuck the haters. Try it. It feels fantastic. I promise.

Until next time my loves, XOXO Rebecca

Entry #2: Simple Tips for Newbie Writers (to make things a little less… overwhelming)

September 13, 2017

So you wanna be a writer, do ya?

Let’s just be real with ourselves for a minute here: you are choosing a very difficult path, my friend. It’s a path littered with self doubt, self loathing, insecurity, pride, excitement, terror, confidence, fear- I could go on forever folks. The point I’m trying to make is that being a writer is an emotional roller coaster. It isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be fucking hard. But, in my opinion., it’s worth it.

In order to help new writers through their struggle, I decided to compile a list of things to do (and NOT do) that might make it a little easier while you navigate through life as a writer. I hope some of these help you.

  • Start referring to yourself as a writer. This sounds super basic, but trust me, it’s crucial. I didn’t start defining myself as a writer until I quit my full time job at a massive telecommunications company (that I was miserable at). I should have been calling myself a writer way before that to network and get traction. You never know who might be listening. Also, you will get used to using the label. At first it sounds and feels a bit odd, but you’ll get used to it and won’t internally cringe whenever you say it in public.
  • Be excited about your own writing projects. This is important. Let me give you a little example of a conversation I have heard newbie writers have numerous times:
    “Hey Rebecca, what do you do for work?”
    R: “I’m a writer.”
    “What? That’s sick. What do you write, like, books and stuff?”
    R: “Yep, you got it. Books and stuff. Mostly Urban Fiction novels. I work as a freelancer too when my schedule permits, and I’ll dabble in all genres to keep it interesting. But my content is almost always a bit… fantastical.”
    (So far, this is going well, in my opinion. But, keep reading, this is where the writer sells themselves short).
    “Are you writing a book right now?”
    R: “Yep.”
    “What’s it about?”
    R: “Uuuhhhh. Erm. A guy. Who kills Faeries. He’s kind of an ass. But he’s funny. And soft inside. And lonely. And um. Yeah.”
    “Oh. Cool.”

    This makes my soul squirm. You are a writer. Be proud! Writing a book is no easy task. Creating a character is no easy task. Pitch your book like a bad ass, because you are one.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s okay to wake up one day feeling like shit and wanting nothing more than to eat a bag of Doritos and watch Netflix. Sometimes you gotta let your hair down. Your manuscript won’t burst into flames because you don’t touch it for a full twenty four hours. I’ve left mine for weeks at a time while focusing on other jobs because I needed to take a step back from it. It allows me to return with fresh eyes and that same excitement I had before.
  • Find something else to be passionate about- something that isn’t writing. It would be even better if you can find something that has a social element to it. Us writers like to shut ourselves away from the world. It’s like a base instinct. But I challenge you to cast away that introvert lifestyle, and throw caution to the wind! Ever since I started writing full time, I found that my favourite hobby suddenly became work. Not that I don’t like it- I LOVE it. But, I needed something to fill that ‘hobby’ time in my life. So I’ve started flipping furniture with my husband and another couple that we like to spend time with. It lets me be artsy while socializing, and it challenges me in a way writing does not. You never know what you might discover about yourself when you try new things! Not to mention, a lot of our inspiration comes from our experiences. You can’t have experiences if all you do is sit in front of your computer day in and day out. Youtube videos and skype chats do not count as experiences, FYI.
  • This is the biggest one that helped me when I was struggling: remind yourself to enjoy the little things. What is it that you love most about writing? Is it the stories you create and the characters you bring to life? Is it the incessant chattering of your keyboard as you pound out your favourite scenes? Is it the smell of your vanilla candle on your desk burning away while you edit? There are so many little things to be grateful for- we just need to be conscious of them.
  • Anywho, that’s all for now. If you found these tips helpful, reach out to me on my contact me page. I would love to hear from you and start a conversation!

    XOXO- Rebecca

    Entry #1: The Menacing P Word

    September 9, 2017

    Sup fellow writing Ninjas!

    Today I want to talk about the most evil thing in my life that I think holds me back more than anything else. Do you have any guesses as to what that is? It is, in my opinion, a writer’s Achilles Heel.

    Procrastination, my friends, the menacing P word.

    If I was to be Queen of anything, it would be putting things off (literally any of the things) for an obscene amount of time in favour of spending said time doing less important things. Today, for example, I took everything out from under my kitchen sink and performed a meticulous scrubbing of the cupboard. It now smells like bleach and cinnamon apple, which is great, but my manuscript was pushed aside to achieve the aroma.

    I am skilled at finding many other things to do instead of writing, such as:

    1. Netflix. Netflix is the devil. Fuck you Netflix. But not really. Because DareDevil, and Stranger Things, and Troll Hunters, and all the other wonderful shows you have given the world.
    2. Pinterest. ‘Nuff said.
    3. Journaling and all other activities related to using a pen and paper. I love making lists and organizing my calendar more than I like completing the items I write down.
    4. Youtube. I just… UGH. So many things to learn and watch and consume. Make-up tutorials, travel diaries, writer’s vlogs (shout out to Jenna Moreci who educated me through her vlogs more than one year at Simon Fraser University did), Comic Con panels… it’s just a vortex of joy that is so easy to get sucked into. You feel me?
    5. Cleaning in general. When I’m feeling overwhelmed about my writing I tend to fixate on making sure my house is spotless. Like, seriously, fucking spotless. I will magic eraser my walls and baseboards… I’m that kind of crazy.
    6. Did I say Pinterest already?
    7. Spending time with family and friends. This one is worth it to me. One luxury of being a writer and working from home full time is that I choose how
    8. I want to delegate the hours of my day. I can go out for lunch with a couple of girlfriends. I can go for a walk and grab a Starbucks coffee with my mom every Friday morning. I can spend half my day collaborating on other projects, like the ‘What’s Ur Fave?’ Podcast that was just released on Monday, September 4th. Check it out- my friend Kristi and I swap travel stories and I share one of my most embarrassing moments to date with her- for everyone to hear. It is available on Google Play! Stay tuned for our other segment ‘Hey, let’s Watch it’, coming Fall 2017! We discuss themes in film, fangirl over our favourite shows and movies, and swap opinions on plots, subplots, characters- you know, all that good shit!
    9. Don’t judge me… my cats. My cats are so damn cute I just can’t not cuddle them for a minimum of an hour a day. Wick and Nova. By the way, fun fact about me, I hate cats. Always have. How I ended up with two of them I have no fucking idea.
    10. My husband. You can’t blame me for this one. He is the one person I want to spend almost every minute of my time with. If I’m not writing, I want to talk to him about what projects I’m currently working on. If I can’t see my way out of a plot hole, I’ll talk to him and we will bounce ideas around together until we find a solution. He is bomb as hell and he will always come first for me. So technically, he shouldn’t fall under the procrastination column.
    11. Last, but definitely not least, sleeping. You know how it is. My bed is my happy place. I never want to leave it. Like, ever. Jenna Moreci mentioned this gold tip in one of her Youtube vlogs: write in bed, or where you’re most comfortable. After a little research I discovered that writing in bed can actually be really productive for people. I think I’ll give it a shot. On Monday. Because the weekend is here and I have 48 hours ahead of me to put off writing. Hehe.

    Thank you for reading you lovely humans! If you’re guilty of procrastinating, shoot me an email and let me know what you spend most of your time doing. I’d love to hear from you!

    PS. If you have any tips on productivity, send those my way too. Your girl will be grateful!

    © 2017 R.M. Jamieson