Build A Retirement Nest Egg From Writing

Today’s state pension is hardly enough to manage on as it is. And the current state of the economy means we’re all going to have to work longer and get even less in return. So the more we can do to help ourselves in retirement the better.

You might be surprised to hear that part time  writing  can help you build a retirement nest egg. But it can. All for absolutely no extra effort on your part and no cost whatsoever!

There are actually not just one but TWO different ways to be quids in….

The first is PLR or public lending right.

Public Lending Right (PLR) is the right for authors to receive payment under PLR legislation for the loans of their books by public libraries. The UK Government makes a sum of money available every year to pay PLR. Even though it is going to be reduced slightly due to the cuts, there will still be a fund of almost £7 million a year for authors to share in…. and that could be you!

What happens is that the PLR office surveys public libraries to find out how often books are borrowed. Then shares out this money to all the authors in the proportion that their books have been borrowed. Actually, it’s slightly rigged…. so that small authors get more money in proportion to borrowings than the J.K. Rowlings and so on!

You can register for PLR payments as soon as your first book is published, no matter how small. You can get more details here:

The second type of ‘free money’ you can claim as a writer are payments from the ALCS. ALCS – or the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society Limited to give it its proper name – is an organisation which collects money due to members for secondary uses of their work. These include such things as photocopying, cable retransmission in the UK and overseas, digital reproduction, educational recording and repeat use via the Internet. This sort of income is typically made up of small transactions that are difficult for individual writers to monitor but which are tracked by ALCS using a sophisticated database.

Put it simple terms ALCS collects a fee from organisations who photocopy and otherwise reproduce articles in magazines and newspapers. It then distributes a share of these fees to all article writers whose work is copied in this way. For example, schools, colleges and businesses often photocopy articles and use them for research, study or training.

To receive a share of these fees you need to register your personal details and details of articles you have publish with ALCS. Their website is here: The website also provides details of how the scheme works. Membership of ALCS does cost £25 (for a lifetime). But you don’t have to pay anything up front – they deduct it from any payments that are due to you.

You can register with ALCS as soon as you have had your first article published…. no matter how short or trivial it seems. As you sell more just update ALCS with the details using their website and they’ll pay out anything you’re owed automatically…. you don’t even have to ask for it.

So OK, you might not get a massive amount from these payments. But there aren’t many pensioners around who would say no to an extra £2,000, £3,000 or £5,000 each and every year from these rights?

Writing Haunted House Stories – Building Atmosphere Through Setting

Atmosphere strikes your character with unease. Consider the houses that might be in your neighborhood. You know the one: It’s the house that pedestrians cross the street to avoid. It’s the house that high school students dare to spend a night, beyond the creaking doors to warily explore the strange whimpers within its indefinable shadows. Even though nothing tangible has actually occurred, your characters are afraid. This fear comes from the atmosphere: The setting that surrounds your house and your characters. Atmosphere is the mood, and that mood should haunt your readers long after the story is over.

So where do you begin? Creating a haunted house story is a frightening and daunting task. To make things easier on yourself, establish the date and time from the beginning of your story. If you write a prologue, begin the story with your date and time or, at the very least, give hints to the decade. Perhaps your character is listening to Disco Inferno just before a psychopath sets the house on fire. Perhaps your character is trembling in the shadows, her bonnet is drenched with perspiration and she’s praying for her lantern to stay lit long enough to be rescued. This not only establishes your setting, but also gives you a chance to add a bit of dimension and foreshadowing to your story.

Haunt Your Readers Using the Correct Word

Using the right word can also establish the setting in your haunted house story. Consider this sentence:

Beverly Harris walked into the house.

Not very creative at all. There’s barely a setting and the action is not very descriptive at all. Lets try another set of words:

Beverly, overwhelmed with incipient danger, crept through the doorway.

Better. Crept is a stronger description than the word walked. This is an acceptable description that readers would more likely enjoy. But couldn’t we write this sentence in fewer and more ominous words? I think we can:

The house consumed her.

Ominous, descriptive and simple. This causes the reader to feel discomforted; therefore, empathetic which should be your goal as a writer. To make your readers feel what your characters are feeling.

Location, Location, Location

Your haunted house is a character just like the rest of your cast. It should have a personality. It should draw your characters into it, much like a protagonist is hunting for a villain. It should have a personality and a history. Your protagonist wants something and your house wants something too. So what kind of personality does your house have? Consider the location. It could be a bayou mansion decorated in a French-Creole, or maybe it’s a simple two-story cabin in Washington State like in Stephen King’s Alan Wake. Perhaps it’s even more classical such as a fortified castle located on top of a sheer cliff above a sleepy village. Each of these houses should reflect its geographical location, and its personality should be revealed through the protagonist’s perspective. If your house could speak, would it have an accent? How would you show that? The décor? The architecture? The location of your haunted house defines its personality. Let it speak. Let it lure your protagonist back into its swampy tendrils.

Other ways to give your house a personality through the setting is by re-establishing the environment according to how people speak in their geographical region. People in the Deep South speak differently to each other in Miami and people in Miami speak differently than people in Montana. People gossip about each other and every person has a different perspective on life. Apply that to your haunted house. No matter the geographical location, your house has a back-story and people will gossip about it. What they say and how they say it can reveal more of your house’s personality. Each time your character hears a story, his or her perspective will change. For example, The Infinite written by Douglas Clegg, some of the characters that stay in the Nightmare House see it as just an ordinary house at first. Once they begin to hear the strange stories, the paranoia begins to take over and pretty soon the house takes on a more sinister appearance. No, it doesn’t physically change. What changes is the character’s perception of the house. Your house is another character that deserves to be gossiped about. Everyone has secrets; your haunted house does too.

Originality is Vital

There are already a number of haunted house movies and books that take place in all kinds of environments all over the world. There are literally hundreds if not thousands that take place in a haunted cabin in the middle of the woods. In order for your horror story to survive the cutthroat competition, it must be unique. It must bring something new to a concept that has been done over and over again. Being unique is vital for your story to survive. Creative writers must be flexible. Instead of a haunted cabin in the woodsy Canadian mountains, perhaps your story is about a haunted floating home in the Puget Sound. Or maybe consider moving your cliché southern plantation to the sunny beachfront tropics of Africa surrounded with palm trees, monkeys and deadly spiders as big as a coconut. Originality doesn’t have to be that extreme either. Perhaps your setting is in the Colonial American suburbs of Massachusetts but the architecture is ultra-modern.

One last thing to consider when choosing an original setting for your haunted house story is the lighting and ambience. Remember that the farther your house is to the equator, the more drastic your hours of day and night become. A haunted house located in lowest parts of South America, for example, will spend at least a full month in total darkness in the winter and a full month of total daylight in the summer.

Enter If You Dare

H.P. Lovecraft was a master at building atmosphere through setting. He used the description of the landscapes and neighborhoods to give the reader an ominous feeling long before his character even approaches the house. Take this example from The Picture in the House:

… They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles and falter down black-cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities… The haunted wood and the desolate mountains [are] shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths of uninhabited islands… But the true epicure in the terrible and unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England… Their strength, solitude, grotesqueness and ignorance combine to form the perfect portion of the hideous.

This paints a very sophisticated picture using carefully chosen adjectives and a forward approach. Although H.P. Lovecraft has surpassed the expectation of horror in its finest excellence, award winning author Joe Schreiber writes a more literal description of the Round House in one of his most bone-chilling haunted house stories: No Doors, No Windows:

… It was sparse and plain and narrow, with a curved concrete floor and smooth, almost circular black walls that didn’t look as though they’d been painted black but were somehow sculpted out of naturally black material-some substance that literally absorbed light. There were no doors and no windows. Although the passageway appeared to be straight, there was definitely some bend to it, some winding quality just outside the lighter’s glow.

Both of these excellent examples describe the haunted house using atmosphere and setting in different ways. They work well because of the strong word choice and vivid, unnatural descriptions that go beyond the details of how someone would usually describe a house. Joe Schreiber didn’t just blatantly say: “The room was round.” Instead, he painted a picture so vivid that the reader simply got a sense that this room was unnatural and no sane person would enter it -especially if he only possessed a lighter.

When is a haunted house not a haunted house?

A haunted house isn’t always necessarily a house. It can be an apartment or a condo on the beach. Sometimes it’s a cemetery where spirits of the dead live, work and haunt like in Neil Gaiman’s novel, The Graveyard Book. Haunted factories, sanitariums, junkyards, prisons, schools, caves and even sewers could all potentially be “haunted house” stories. All the same rules apply.

If you are serious about  writing  a haunted house story, then the best thing you can do for you and your story is to read. Read every haunted house story you can find. Dozens. Hundreds. Look how they establish the house’s personality. Notice how each writer takes a different approach. Pay special attention to the word choices and sentence fluidity. Read, read, read.

Some excellent recommendations are:

No Doors, No Windows by Joe Schreiber

Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft

Hell House by Richard Matheson

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The Nightmare House Series by Douglas Clegg

Make Money by Writing

If you are looking for a second income, and don’t want the expense or headache of opening your own business, why not make money by  writing ? If you love to write and have the talent, it can be a great way to make some extra income. You can write from the comfort of your own home, while contributing to your family’s income.

If you are a stay at home mom, you can write in the evening after the kids go to bed, or in the afternoon, while they are napping. You can make your own schedule and fit your  writing  in when it is convenient for you. You don’t have to check with a boss for time off, or constantly have someone look over your shoulder.

If you are a student, you can write in between classes, or on the weekends. It’s a great way to make some money for tuition and other college expenses, like books, food and rent.  Writing  offers you the flexibility to work when you want, without sacrificing your studies.

It has never been easier to become a freelance writer, and get paid for doing what you love. With the internet, there are hundreds of ways you can make money by  writing . You just have to decide what you like to write about, and how much time you have. This will dictate what types of jobs you seek, and how many clients to take on. Perhaps you prefer  writing  short stories and fiction, rather than article and website content  writing . It’s a good idea to write some pieces before applying, so you have samples to send.

You will need to stay organized as you acquire more clients and take on more work. Most of your clients have tight deadlines, and you will have to respect those. Don’t take on a lot of work if you know you have big exam coming up. Missing deadlines will hurt your reputation as a professional writer. Have a file on your computer with all of your upcoming deadlines, or keep a binder handy by your computer. Prioritize your  writing  so you will always be on time.

You may want to take a refresher course or buy a couple of books on proper grammar and  writing , so you can improve your craft. A good  writing  style will make the difference between you making $100 a month or making $500 a month. There are many books and webinars that you can find online that are very inexpensive.

You have unlimited income possibilities when you make money by  writing . You decide how much you want to work, and how many clients you take on. It can be a second income, or it can be a full-time income. You can write when it is convenient for you, not when your boss tells you to. You won’t have to beg for time off, vacations or call in when you’re sick. You have the independence and versatility of being your own boss and working on your own time.