Friday, September 05, 2014

The Worst Client Ever

I've been freelance writing for several years, slowly building a client base and increasing my pay as I went. During this time, I've been lucky to have worked with some amazing people. Clients who know how to treat a writer.

Let's face it--that isn't an easy thing. Writers need lots of this:

Or, at the very least, not this:

99.99999% of all clients seem to realize that when you yell at a creative person, you tend to block the very creativity you need. But there's always that tiny percentage who love making people miserable. They're like the mean newspaper editor in a movie.

My worst client ever was like that. When I started working with him (for him, in his case), I was genuinely excited. The per-article rate was extremely high and he didn't seem to have very many writers, despite his many ads searching for them.

I noticed right away that his tone was quite a bit harsher than usual. But I'm a Southern girl. We're a bit...sensitive to that.

It only got worse. He'd fire hateful, threatening group emails out over small things. He'd reject countless articles, calling them, "a mess." Finally, it occurred to me that his cruel rejections were causing me to lock up at the keyboard. With every sentence, I'd hear his mean voice in my head, telling me I suck. Then it started seeping into my other writing, including my fiction. That was when it was ON!

As writers, we will be forced to deal with criticism. We'll grow from it. But when we find ourselves dealing with a toxic critic...and that critic harms our creative's time to walk away.

Or, if you're Mary Poppins, open your umbrella and fly away.

Have you ever dealt with a toxic critic?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

How Do You Name Your Characters?

Parents and pet owners usually only have to face the dilemma a few times in a lifetime. But authors deal with it on a regular basis--sometimes even every few months. The dilemma? Coming up with names for fictional characters.

While you may spend much more time anguishing over what to name your new baby, you'll be faced with coming up with unique, original names on a regular basis as an author of fiction. As if it weren't hard enough, you then hear statements like this:

A name doesn't always just pop into your head when you think of a character. Your characters aren't pets. You can't just name them based on a physical trait.

In the old days, authors turned to the Yellow Pages or a baby naming book to find inspiration. I even used to keep a list in a notebook of unique names I heard. When it was time to name a character, I then went down the list, trying out names to see if anything fit.

Now there are websites that help you come up with first and last names. If you're looking for a popular first name, you just choose a name from the year the character was born. However, those lists aren't the best at hitting you with original names. For that, you could use a name generator...

But will that necessarily give you the best name? You could spend all day generating names and still not find one that fits.

How do you name your characters? Do you keep a list of cool names or do you use the internet?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Genius Bar: An Otherworldly Experience

I've always been a Microsoft Windows person, mostly because it's my comfort zone. But I love my iPhone and Windows 8 has me thinking about making the switch.

My husband has all Apple devices for work, though. And that meant he had to pay a visit to a place I'd only heard about. A place of legend. The Apple Store.

Even the store looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Inside are all the devices your friends tell you that you should have.

One thing that stood out to me was the number of employees. Even on a busy Saturday morning, there were more workers than customers.

Compare that to the AT&T store, where you take a number and hope someone gets around to you...

Or Best Buy, where you have to beg for help from someone who really doesn't know all that much about anything but the computer he owns...

And the Apple Store is definitely a better experience. These people know everything about Apple. They even have a Genius Bar.

It's a tad more impressive than the Geek Squad's setup.

Have you ever been inside an Apple Store?