Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My Top Five Editing Tips

In my e-book, Writing for Publication, I list my top five editing tips. If you have not read the book and you want to earn money writing, read the book today. It's available on Amazon, here, and on Fiverr, here.

Editing is vital to writing success, but I do understand that not everyone can afford to hire an editor; some have to edit their own work. I never recommend this, but I know finances require it at times.

Here are my top five editing tips:

Get rid of "that" whenever you can

Use both "very" and "really" in a very limited way. Really.

Be careful of repetition. Don't repeat yourself repeatedly.

Keep your tense consistent. 
Don't start a sentence or paragraph in past tense, 
then time travel to the present tense by the end.

Do not write the same way you talk.

These tips will help you a great deal. Memorize them and learn to mentally use them as you write or as you review your writing. I tend to edit myself while I write, but I always edit twice before submitting anything I write to anyone, whether it's a blog post, a social media update or an email.

Write often.
Write well.
Just write.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Do you Say "No" Often Enough?

I used to think, as a freelancer, that I could not "afford" to turn jobs down, so I took everything that came my way. Lately, though, I've learned it's better to sometimes say a resounding, "No" to potential jobs.

Fiverr has taught me this recently. I have turned down a good number of jobs on Fiverr and have no regrets. I wanted to show you a glimpse of the jobs I've turned down and tell you why I turned them down.

  • I turned down a gig worth $120.00 because the client wanted me to edit a 12,000 word document in two days, over the weekend. Nope. I've had to nearly always put myself on "vacation" mode for weekends in order to spend time with my family. I was not going to compromise an entire weekend for one job, even if it did pay well.
  • I turned down a job that paid $130.00 because the client was sarcastic, rude and didn't follow the rules laid out in the gig. They wanted exceptions at every turn. I'm very specific about my gigs for good reason. I offer what I offer and nothing more and this is well thought-out.
  • I turned down two different jobs because they would have required me to cooperate with plagiarism. I know if I go down that road, I am compromising on the first step and I simply won't do it. Both clients argued with me saying it was "rewriting" not plagiarism. Taking someone else's work and rewriting it IS plagiarism! These clients didn't understand that.
  • I turned down a $600 gig because the client wanted their 60,000 word dissertation done in three days. I didn't want the stress of having to do a good job in such a short period of time. Also, I felt it was irresponsible for them to wait so long to finish the paper and cause others to rush at the end like that. Their poor planning was not going to become my problem.
So, yes, I say "no" more and more and will continue to as needed. I've learned it's part of owning my business and providing the best to the clients I say yes to.

Do you say no often enough?
Write well.
Write often.
Just write.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Book Review! Upstairs at the White House

I just finished reading Upstairs at the White House My Life with the First Ladies by J.B. West and I loved it! For snippets of history you won't get anywhere else, this book is a must-read. Find out what every day life is like for our presidents and their families.

From Eleanor Roosevelt sending her staff home early on Sundays to spend time with their families and doing their work herself, to Jackie Kennedy's refusal to comb her hair, letting it all over her face when she was home, you will learn many intricate details of our first families' lives.

J.B.West spent nearly 3 decades serving our first families, ultimately becoming Head Usher, which meant he literally ran the White House, had access to the president's most intimate living spaces and got to plan renovations, decorating, parties and even weddings with the first ladies.

This is not a new book. I think it was first published in 1973, but it was new to me as I hadn't read it. I highly recommend this book. It will change the way you view our first families. You'll see how staff responded to each new first lady as she moved in. You'll see the graciousness of Lady Bird Johnson toward Jackie Kennedy after the assassination of JFK. You'll see how Caroline was able to keep her school room in the White House even after they'd moved out. Every detail of daily life in the White House is brilliantly penned in this amazing work.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Is Plagiarism the Accepted Way?

I recently started a discussion about plagiarism on Fiverr's online forum. This discussion was very educational to me.

The back story is simply that I've received a number of recent requests via Fiverr to rewrite existing information to make it look like another person's original work. I have declined each request because it looks like plagiarism to me. I even had to modify my gig descriptions to state that I do not work with plagiarized information, nor do I rewrite or, as some call it, "spin" articles.

I started the discussion because I was shocked at the number of people requesting this and also shocked at their lack of shame at taking someone else's work and wanting to make it their own (or, rather, have me make it their own). Not one of them sent me work they said was their own; they all said it was work they'd taken off the internet and some even sent me links to the work instead of copying and pasting it into a document.

Merriam-Webster defines plagiarism as, ":  to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own :  use (another's production) without crediting the source" and ":  to commit literary theft :  present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source"

The comments on the discussion were varied. Some felt that taking someone else's work and modifying it was perfectly acceptable and others felt it wasn't. A couple people compared it to using a template to write with, like those used in writing romance or mystery novels, citing that every Angela Lansbury mystery starts out and ends up the same, just some details are changed.

I think using a writing template is far different than taking someone's original work and passing it off as your own.

One person commented that creating original content seems to be a dying art. I agree.

One person said, "Today, plagiarism is a common thing."

Many people had an entirely different definition of plagiarism, one person even telling me that I don't understand the meaning of the word.

Do we just accept that and not strive for better?

Where do you stand on plagiarism?

Write well.
Write often.
Just write.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Successful Query Letter

I recently sold an article to a new-to-me magazine, The Christian Standard. I had not written for them before, nor had I pitched to them before. This was my first pitch, my first query, and it paid off big time. Not only are they publishing this first article from me, they pay well and have invited me to write more for them.

All this from one simple query.

I am not an expert query letter writer. I have rarely written them over the years and never like this one - out of the blue, unsolicited.

There's a back story. I have been a regular writer for one publication house for nearly 30 years and they recently recruited me to write on a specific topic. I gladly complied, signed the contract and wrote the article. However, even though they liked the article, before it could go to print, they changed their minds and decided not to print it. They said their needs had changed. The editor who had recruited me was no longer employed there.

But, I really like the article and was going to put it in my blog, but I felt it should see more of an audience than my blog offers. So, I searched around on the internet and decided to send a query letter to another publication.

My query was simple:

Good day to you,
My name is Tricia Johnson. I have written an article titled Critical Thinking in the Church, which challenges the "herd" mentality of so many Christian churches, schools and organizations. I would like to submit this article to you for consideration.

I have been a regular contributing writer for Regular Baptist Press for nearly 30 years. I have raised and home schooled eight children.
I have been married to my husband, who was a pastor for 31 years, for 37 years.

I am a regular blogger at
I have created a Bible study system through which I teach others how to make observations in Scripture and interpret according to the given context. This can be found at

If you are interested in reading the article, please let me know and I will send it quickly.

Thank you so much.

The reply was equally simple:

Hi, Tricia . . .
No guarantees, but we’d be glad to read this article.
Thanks for your interest in Christian Standard.

I replied and attached my article. That was on a Friday. On Tuesday of the following week, I got this:

Hi, Tricia . . .
I like this!
Yes, we’ll use this. It will probably fill a spot in our family-issues edition (May). 
We’ll send you a contract promising payment and process that payment request as soon as we’ve received the signed contract back from you.

Thanks so much for your interest in Christian Standard. We’d be pleased to hear from you anytime.

Best wishes,

It's sometimes that simple. 

I did not follow a template or any sort of pattern, I simply believed in this article, thought it should have a wider audience and pursued it with that in mind. I gave a brief description of my life and writing experience.

And I'm smiling all the way to the bank.
And I'm writing more articles for them.
You, too, can write a successful query letter.
All you have to do is do it.

Write often.
Write well.
Just write.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How My Crafting Helps My Writing

I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a writer. I am a crafter. My favorite craft is paper crafting. My second favorite is drawing. Even that involves paper. As does my writing.

When I craft, I think. 
When I think, I write. 
When I write, I get published. 
When I get published, I earn money. 

It nearly always starts with crafting for me. 

As I've taught my writing students, thinking is a huge part of writing. I've spent weeks thinking about things I've written before I finally sat down and wrote them. Funny thing is, when I spend so much time thinking about writing, before I even write, when it's time to write those thoughts down, they are usually written within 20 minutes and these are the ones most purchased by a publisher.

So, whenever I'm in my studio making pretty paper crafts, I'm actually working on a writing project.

Write often.
Write well.
Just write.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Overcoming Failure - Part 5

Failure is hard but it's part of the writing process. Once we accept failure as truly par for the course, we will fear it less and not allow it to define us. This applies to all life, not just writing.

In light of the recent election here in the US, I read this article in Forbes Magazine, Exclusive Interview: How Jared Kushner Won Trump the White House. This article ties in perfectly with today's thoughts on overcoming failure. In the quest for the White House, the article tells us that, behind the scenes, Jared Kushner tried many avenues and social media tactics to promote his father-in-law's presidential campaign, quickly halting what didn't work and putting more energy into what did work.

Did you read that? He quickly halted what didn't work. This means not everything he did worked. This means he failed along the way, but still saw success in the end. The one thing he did was constantly take risks. Some risks panned out and some didn't, but he took the risks.

That's today's tip: Take risks. 

On a clearly much smaller scale than a presidential election campaign, when I started my Writing for Publication classes in our local Community Education program, I did not get enough people signed up to hold even one class. The next semester, four people signed up, but only three showed up. But, I kept putting it out there. I kept offering the classes. After a few semesters of not getting enough interest to hold the classes, I suddenly had five students. Then six, then nine...then a dozen! Then other districts began calling, wanting the classes in their districts. That led me to branch out and offer more courses, including e-publishing. I saw success. I took a risk and it paid off, but it didn't pay off on day one. It took persistence and patience, not only on my part but on the part of the director of the Community Education program.I tweaked my class description in the school's newsletter, trying different ways to promote the class.

I believed in the class and knew people would benefit from it if I could get it in front of them. This paid off when my most famous student, Amanda Hocking, took the class and saw great success in e-publishing the following year.

So, take risks. Realize what works and what doesn't, then keep taking risks.
You won't know whether something works or not until you try.

Write often.
Write well.
Just write.