jumpstart your writing dreams!

In my spare time here in Cambodia, I’ve been devouring a book about writing on my Kindle on loan from the library (I love the internet!). My two favorite genres are travel memoirs & books about writing. (What are your favorites?)

Reading this book has inspired me to 1.) write my brains out and 2.) help others get moving on their writing dreams. (I know so many of you have writing dreams and yet you feel scared, stuck, afraid to take a first step in a writerly direction.)

And this idea just came to me OUT OF THE BLUE.

Except not, because I’ve had it before. I reeeeally encourage you to go back and read this post I wrote a year ago (and it’s the last time I specifically wrote a post on writing), because I love it (and a lot of other people did too).

So, here we are in Cambodia. In a nutshell, we are praying about what God would have us do here. We know it (most likely) has something to do with Gabe using his web design/photography skills to teach/train/mentor/disciple others who have the desire & talent but lack resources.

We are raising financial support (like missionaries do). Ultimately, we’ll need around $3000/month to live, eat, & work here. Right now, we have about 20% of that promised to us (thank you thank you thank you, amazing friends!). We’re supplementing that with our own income right now. Or rather, Gabe’s own income.

I’ve been feeling burdened lately to contribute to our family’s finances. In the past, I have (writing, speaking, editing other people’s writing, ghostwriting, and selling all our earthly belongings on Facebook). At the moment, I make $2 for every e-book I sell (which averages about one every two days), and I get a small royalty check every six months for my one book that’s still in print.

Gabe and his talents are much more in demand here in Cambodia than me and mine. He has meetings of some sort every day (and sometimes 2-3/day). He is meeting/helping people for free in addition to bringing in paying work.

And I’ve been asking God for ways I can help carry the load (besides feeding him yummy meals and scratching his back every night).


I’m offering a low-cost, low-commitment deal to a low number of people (5). In the past, people have paid me $50/hour to write/edit (and once upon a time, I had this amazing freelance job that paid me way more than that–sigh). For this special one-time deal, I’m charging $25/hour.

Here’s what you get:

You pick 1 ($25), 2 ($50), or 3 ($75) hours of my time. You send me some of your work (short story, a novel, your memoir, your all-over-the-place ideas), and tell me what you want me to do with it. Your choices: 1.) edit it (spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc.); 2.) revise it (actually make changes so it “sounds better”); 3.) insert comments throughout your piece, telling you what I think is weak, strong, ideas for improvement; and/or 4.) anything other kind of wisdom/advice you’d like (within reason).

Basically, you’re paying me an affordable rate (and if this isn’t affordable for you, I GET IT–maybe someday, friend!) for some insight & direction & a boost of confidence you need to CHASE YOUR WRITING DREAMS.

And here’s the win-win: you’re indirectly (actually pretty directly) helping us be the hands & feet of Jesus to the people of Cambodia.

Here’s how this will work:

If you’re seriously interested, send me an email ASAP. Tell me a little about your writing and what you’d like me to do with it (and if you’d like 1, 2, or 3 hours of my time). If I get more than 5 people who want to do it, I’ll pick the 5 that are most up my alley/area of expertise. If 5 or less email me, you’re all in. I’ll give it about 2 days, then email you confirmation (or maybe start a waiting list).

Oh, and maybe you want to know what makes me qualified to do this kind of thing for money.

–edited educational curriculum in college
–graded essays for a Bible prof in college
–graded high school writing projects in college
–wrote/edited educational curriculum for McGraw-Hill (the big bucks)
–wrote/edited for HarperCollins publisher (advertising copy)
–4 traditionally-published books
–5 self-published e-books
–got paid $50/hour by at least 10 individuals (off the top of my head) to write/edit in the past 5 years

(etc., etc., etc…) (Ha! That was a joke. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some stuff, but NEVER say etc, etc, etc to make yourself sound more exciting or accomplished. Consider that your writing tip for the day.)

Three More Things:

1. I may expand this little experiment if it goes well and I have time. I just don’t want to get in over my head, as I live in a foreign country now and start language school in a week (for 3.5 hours/day, 5 days a week, for a year, with lots of homework).

2. I’m going to post this around 9:00pm my time (9:00am if you’re in the EST). So, if you don’t hear back from me for awhile, it’s because I’ve gone to bed.

3. I’m really excited about this!! A tiny bit nervous it may flop but, if it does, no biggie! We’ll just carry on as usual!

Okay, One More!

4. I just had this great idea to offer ONE FREE HOUR to someone who doesn’t have the money right now to pay for my time. Just leave a comment pleading your sweet case, and I’ll choose one lucky winner this weekend. Sound good?

Any questions??

8 thoughts on “jumpstart your writing dreams!

  1. Elizabeth

    Hey Marla, I’ve caught up on January tonight! Loving getting a feel for where you guys are at now! So nice to know I have someone to ask for help with my memoir when I’m ready…and be helping to support you at the same time! Blessings!

  2. Chandra Cornwell

    Hey Marla, Since the Lord has called me to write a book, I’ve been praying for direction as I go forward. I have done an outline and now just waiting for Him to bring the words! So, I may very well need you in the near future. Blessings to you and the Fam! Love you!

  3. Sharon

    Marla!!!!! I’m not going to sign up right now, but do hope to do so in a while. I have always wanted to write a book and have one in particular that has been brewing for almost two years. It’s really been on my mind lately, but I just know that I won’t make time right now to work on it. So, maybe in the future???? So excited about this prospect. Praying you get at least 5 takers this time around.

    Love your creative money making ideas!

  4. Leigh Kramer

    Marla, what about help with query letters? I finished my novel a few years ago and I’m thinking it’s time to dust it off and start finding an agent but I’ve had such a hard time figuring out how to describe it in an agent-y appealing way. I’m on a super strict budget right now so I’m not sure if I can afford to pay for your services but wanted to see if this is something you could do first.

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      Hi, Leigh! I have very little experience with this, but I’d be willing to give it a shot. I have a habit of accepting jobs I’ve never tried before (like editing a thesis paper for a biomedical chemist who speaks English as a second language). 🙂 Maybe you’ll win the free hour, and we can see what I can do. xoxo

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