My Portfolio

Welcome to my portfolio, where you can view samples of my writing work in all its various forms.  I am a very versatile writer, and enjoy exploring all manner of voices.  My favourite is second person perspective voice that is active and personal to the reader, like an advice column.

If you don’t see a sample that matches what you’re looking for, please feel free to contact me and request one.  A contact form can be located at the bottom of this page.

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Samples Directory

Advice Column

Blog Post Sample #1

Blog Post Sample #2

Blog Post Sample #3

Blog Post Sample #4

Blog Post Sample #5

Blog Post Sample #6

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Advice Column Sample

Topic:  How To Stay Connected With Work While Travelling Abroad
Word Count:  969
Style:  Friendly, Informal, Second Person.

When you’re travelling to an unfamiliar country, it’s important to be prepared.  How will you keep in touch with the office while you’re away?  What about your friends and family?  It’s not a good idea to simply rely on your mobile phone.  Most providers will charge you roaming fees from the moment that you leave your local airspace, and those fees can sometimes cost you a lot more than you budgeted on – sometimes even more than your airfares and hotel combined!

If you take a couple of minutes to research where you’re going before you leave, it can save you a small fortune in the long run.  Plus, it eliminates a lot of the stress of travelling, because you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into.

Tip #1:  Swap Your SIM To Take Advantage Of Local Rates

The first thing to do before you leave is to check whether your destination country has prepaid SIM cards readily available.  You’ll need to check with your current provider that your phone is unlocked, but if it is then switching to a foreign SIM card is a quick, low-cost alternative to data roaming charges.  It is quite common for large suppliers to have a shop inside the international terminal, just to cater to savvy travelers like you.

The quickest way to find out is to simply check the websites of the local providers.  They want you to find them, so the information you need is usually easy to find.

Tip #2:  Travelling To More Than One Country?  Pick Up A Travel SIM!

In our modern, globalized world, it has become common for people to travel to more than one country in a single trip.  To make the most of this trend, retailers have begun to pop up selling specialized SIM cards designed for travelers.  They provide fairly standardized rates around the world, without the need to swap SIMs every time you cross a border.

On the down side, they do usually charge higher rates than the local providers.  Check their websites and work out whether the extra cost makes up for the inconvenience of swapping SIMs.  Also check their data rates; data adds up quickly, and if you’re being charged per megabyte then it may swiftly become a very expensive problem.

Travel SIMs are available from a number of different providers, so take your time, compare the rates, and work out what’s best for you.

Tip #3:  Hotel Wi-Fi?  No Thank You!

If there’s one thing any experienced traveler knows, it’s that hotels charge an arm and a leg for access to Wi-Fi.  Plus, the quality and stability of the connection can be unreliable at best.  There are several low-cost alternatives that put you back in control of your data usage, with just a little bit of forethought.

The most obvious option is to simply go to an internet café.  Most countries have them now, and their rates are often quite reasonable.  However, they are not always secure, or convenient.  Providing your own Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot can be a handy alternative.

Many modern smartphones can be used as a Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot.  After the initial learning curve, they’re easy to use, secure, stable, and readily available.  You’ll be carrying your phone with you anyway, so that means you don’t have to find room for another piece of equipment in your luggage.  All you have to do is make sure that you buy a decent amount of mobile data when you’re purchasing your local SIM.  A gigabyte is usually enough for sending and receiving emails, uploading a couple of pictures, and checking the opening hours of the local restaurants.

The down side is that you’re limited by your bandwidth cap, and the battery life of your phone.  If you need more juice, it may be worthwhile for you to rent a dedicated Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot device instead.

Tip #4:  Open Up Your World With An XCom Global Wi-Fi Hotspot

Renting one of XCom’s devices isn’t cheap, but it is efficient.  For $14.95 per day, you get unlimited access to a secure Wi-Fi connection wherever you go.  The device itself is about the size of a small coin purse; it fits right in your pocket, and it has an active battery life of up to four hours.  You can connect up to five devices simultaneously, which offers a great deal of flexibility and value for money.

If you’re internet savvy, then renting a Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot device may be just what you need.  You can make calls from your mobile or laptop using the Skype apps, and it gives you the freedom to upload as many photos and send as many emails as you need.  You can even connect your phone to the Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot while you’re still in transit, to access handy travelling Apps like Google Maps, Translate or Goggles.  That can be a lifesaver if you’re lost in a country where you don’t speak the language!

Tip #5:  Buy Power Plug Adaptors

Last but not least, check the mains power standards in the countries you’re going to, and buy adaptors.  A lot of people don’t realize that there are 13 different types of power sockets around the world, and four different voltages.  Some hotels do include adaptors, but it’s better to carry one of your own, just in case.

You can either buy an adaptor online before you leave, or if you don’t have time you can usually find what you need in the travel supply stores at the airport.  If your electronics were purchased in North America, you may also wish to invest in a voltage converter; many countries outside North America use 240 volt mains power, not 110 volt.

 Without an adaptor, you can accidentally damage your equipment – and these tips aren’t much use if your phone is dead, right?

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Blog Post Sample #1

Topic:  Tips For Buying Your First Car
Word Count: 
281
Style: 
Advisory, Informal, Second Person

So, you’ve made the big decision: you’re going to buy your very first car.  It can be a time-consuming and stressful endeavour, but there are a few simple tips that can help you buy with confidence.

The first thing you should do is spend some time window shopping.  Look at different types of cars on the internet.  Borrow a friend’s car and take it for a spin.  Write a list of the specific makes and models that interest you.  Think about which features your car must have, and which you’d like to have but can live without.

Do you need an automatic transmission, or can you drive stick?  What about your engine size?  Do you want a car that’s small and fuel-efficient, or large and powerful?  Do you want air-conditioning?  A good stereo?  An immobilizer?

Once you have a list of your wants and needs, then it’s time to start window shopping in earnest.  Head down to your local car dealer, and take a few cars for a test drive.  You may find that once you’re behind the wheel, the car isn’t quite what you imagined.

It’s also critical to know your budget, and stick to it.  If you can avoid going into debt, that will be the best for your finances in the long run.  Don’t forget to factor in the on-road costs, like the registration, pre-purchase inspections and insurance.

 Your car is one of the biggest investments of your life, but if you choose wisely then it can also become one of your greatest assets.  The most important thing is to let logic and common sense guide you, and be willing to ask for help when you need it.

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Blog Post Sample #2

Topic:  Tourist Destination: New Zealand
Word Count: 
329
Style:  
Travel Blog, Semi-Formal, Second Person

New Zealand is one of the most spectacularly countries in the world.  Despite her geographic isolation, the tiny island nation has been a tourist mecca for more than a hundred years.  It plays host to a massive range of activities, with something to interest everyone – and with just five million local residents, it has a laid-back vibe that can’t be beaten.

If the sun and sand is your thing, then Northland is the place for you.  Take a trip up the Twin Coast Highway and visit Goat Island, where the wild fish are so tame that they’ll come right up to you and eat frozen peas out of your hand.  Continue north to the Bay of Islands, where the dolphins play in the pristine blue-green water, just waiting for you to jump in and join them.

Head south then, and stop in to visit Auckland City.  There, the bright lights of a bustling metropolis blend with the relaxed Kiwi lifestyle to produce a special kind of atmosphere that needs to be felt to be believed.  Enjoy the shopping along Queen Street and in the Victoria Park markets, or wait until after dark to enjoy the fast-paced nightlife that the city has to offer. 

For a truly unique adventure, head even further south and make your way to the volcanic Central Plateau.  Explore the geothermal hot springs at Rotorua, take a dip at the hot water beach in Tauranga, or simply stare in awe at the vast, snow-capped peaks that flank the Desert Road.  Stop in at Lake Taupo, to dabble your toes in one of the largest volcanic crater lakes in the world, and marvel at the incredible power of nature, that could turn a great mountain into an idyllic lake in a single blast of pyroclastic fury.

Whatever your pleasure, there is something for everyone in this tiny island nation, but there’s one thing that every tourist agrees on: New Zealand is well and truly worth the trip.

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Blog Post Sample #3

Topic:  Three actionable Steps For Small Businesses To Jump Into Social Media
Word Count:  
298
Style:  
Business Advice Blog, Semi-Formal, Second Person

In the modern age, it has become critical for every small business to establish themselves in the online world as soon as possible.  Gone are the days when handing out flyers brought customers through the door.  Now, a business manager must be savvy in the ways of social media to succeed.

The most important step to establishing your online presence is to have a website.  Depending on the type of business that you run, this can be as simple as a single page with your location and opening hours, or as complicated as a full-blown virtual shopping mall.  Whichever way you go, you must have a website if you want to get ahead.

The second step is to establish yourself on at least one of the major social networking websites.  Facebook remains one of the most popular, but it can’t hurt to join Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or any number of the others as well.  The more sites you’re on, the more exposure you have and the more ways your potential customers can find you.

That leads into the third, and possibly the most crucial step: Interact with your customers.  They are your life blood.  If they ask you a question, then answer it.  The easiest way for you to lose a customer is to ignore them.  Social media is a two-way sword, because a customer who feels slighted can spread the bad word swiftly and to a lot of people.  The easiest way to avoid this negative publicity is just to acknowledge them.  Common courtesy goes a very long way.

Interaction is the key to social media, and it does take effort to get there.  That effort will pay dividends in the end, though – so long as you’re willing to put in the hard yards to get there. 

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Blog Post Sample #4

Topic:  The Effect Of Print On Demand On The Publishing Industry
Word Count:  
324
Style:  
Business Commentary Blog, Formal, Third Person

The advent of modern print on demand techniques has turned the entire publishing industry on its head.  No longer is a prospective author shackled by the chains imposed by the big publishing companies, nor does she even need an agent if she has enough time and determination to succeed on her own. 

However, the ready accessibility of print on demand and e-book technology has also had a negative impact on its own industry.   There are no safeguards in place to ensure the quality of the work that is being produced.  Once, a book had to pass by at least one editor before it saw print, but now it doesn’t even need to be proofread.

There has been a pervasive trend in recent years of unpolished works being unleashed before their time, which has in turn created a sense amongst budding authors that they don’t need to employ the talents of an editor anymore.  These writers have evolved in a world where works like Fifty Shades of Grey have become a roaring success, with very little editing in the early days.

Many new authors have come to believe that they, too, can achieve that kind of success without putting in the hard effort and money required to produce a polished manuscript.  Unfortunately for both the authors and their audiences, this is very rarely the case.  Most writers who forgo the editing process find themselves the recipient of much more negative publicity than positive, which in turn casts a negative light on the entire industry as a whole.

This has created an environment where the independent authors who still follow the traditional method of hiring a freelance editor have an extra leg up.  The simple fact that they have an editor named on their work gives them credibility, which many readers consider puts them a cut above the rest. 

Will this eventually lead to another industry-wide shift, back to the old ways?  Only time will tell.

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Blog Post Sample #5

Topic:  Is Fan-Fiction Real Literature?
Word Count:  
293
Style: 
Opinion Piece, Semi-Formal, Third Person

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of published literary works that began their lifespan as fan-fiction of another book.  The most obvious example is, of course, Fifty Shades of Grey, which began its life as a fan-fiction of Twilight.

But the question on everyone’s lips is whether or not a work that began as fan-fiction can be considered a book in its own right.  Yes, the characters have been renamed, but surely beneath that cosmetic change they’re still the same characters that were created by the original author – aren’t they?

Not necessarily, no.  When an author begins telling a story, he or she has a picture in her mind of what those characters are like, and no two people can ever have the exact same portrait.  A fan-fiction writer cannot fully understand everything the original author thought and felt about their characters, but that also works in reverse.

As soon as that new writer puts pen to paper, those characters have become something new, something that the first writer never envisioned.  It doesn’t matter what their names are, or what their circumstances are.  Some part of them now belongs to the new writer.

That said, it can be an extremely traumatising experience for the original author to watch her characters being corrupted by another writer’s touch.  It takes a special kind of strength to truly embrace fan-fiction – and also a special kind of insanity, as well.

Regardless, the industry-wide assumption that fan-fiction is not real writing could not be further from the truth.  Any time a character is brought to life by the written word, that writing becomes real to both the author and the reader – and that is the most important part of any body of literature.

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Blog Post Sample #6

Topic:  How Can A New Writer Handle Conflicting Advice
Word Count:  
305
Style:  
Writer’s Advice Blog, Semi-Formal, First Person

For many aspiring writers, the first thing that they do is hit the internet and start researching the art of writing itself.  Unfortunately, the internet is a land of many vast and varied opinions on every topic that you can imagine, and writing is no different.  I often have young would-be authors come to me confused and upset, asking what they should do when they receive conflicting advice.

 

My answer is almost universally, “Don’t stress about it!”

That’s not to say that a new writer should not take advice from anyone.  Far from it.  In my opinion, the most valuable skill that any writer can ever learn is how to filter through all the different information that’s coming at them, and learn to pick out the diamonds from the zircons.

Take each piece of advice with a big pinch of salt.  Every established writer has different methods and techniques, and so too will any young aspirant.  Do you want to be an author?  If so, the most important thing that you can ever learn is how to be yourself.  You are the one that will sell your books, not that random guy on the internet or your know-it-all auntie down the street.  You are the one that has to sit down and put in all that work to get your book to print, and you are the one that must feel good about it at the end of the day.

The truth is that everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks that they’re right.  It’s a hard lesson to learn when you really just want a set of basic rules to follow while you’re learning your craft, but it’s the truth.  Regard everyone’s advice with scepticism – even mine – because at the end of the day, no one can tell you how to write your own book except for you.

Well, you and your editor, of course.

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