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Friday, September 30, 2011

Review of "Telling Lies" by Cathi Stoler

Imagine being on vacation in another country, and suddenly catching sight of a man who died several years ago. In Cathy Stoler's mystery novel, Telling Lies, that is exactly what happens to a woman named Laurel. While on vacation with her boyfriend, a police detective, she encounters the husband of a close friend. A man who died during the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and left behind a grieving wife. A man who was not, obviously, really dead. Laurel promptly enlists the help of another close friend, who also happens to be a private detective. While her boyfriend Aaron returns to New York to begin working on finding out the truth, Laurel stays in Italy to investigate there. What follows is a often confusing web of intrigue that puts Laurel and her family and friends in danger. Jeff Sargasso, the undead dead man, was an art dealer who was in the middle of a huge deal when the attacks occurred. There are dangerous people in the New York art world, and they all want the artwork and the money that was exchanged for it. Since Laurel is investigating, they are all now after her. The book is honestly a bit confusing and hard to get excited about in the beginning, but it definitely improves as it goes on. I found it an interesting read, and since the ending is somewhat vague and open ended, I am hoping there is a second book in the works!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fire Men

As the wife of a volunteer firefighter, I've heard more than my fair share of stories and gained first hand knowledge of the ruined plans and sleepless nights that are a big part of being a volunteer. But while reading Fire Men: Stories From Three Generations of a Firefighting Family, written by Gary R. Ryman, I gained more insight into the life of a firefighter.

Gary R. Ryam is, in his own words, the creme filling in the middle of an oreo cookie of firefighters. His father started the family tradition and his son followed in his footsteps to make the third generation of firefighters. Mr. Ryman has a way with words, pulling you so far in to the scene of a structure fire that you can almost feel the heat of the flames on your face. The book starts with action on the first page, not leading up in to it like so many authors do. This grabs your attention from the start, and it will keep your attention until you get to the very last page.

While Mr. Ryman does omit any overly gory details, you get the gist of every situation that he writes about as you follow him through life, starting with childhood memories of dreaming of following in his fathers footsteps. The book chronicles calls from his fathers day all the way up to his sons time and it is fascinating to note how procedures and equipment changed over the years.

I highly recommend this book to anyone, but if you have a firefighter in your life, it is a must read. Follow Mr. Ryman on Facebook or on his website.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mountain Bikers

Thanks for the guest post by Jonathan Curtis

My husband has gotten really into mountain biking and he’d been nagging me to do it with him for years. I simply wasn’t interested in such a dirty, dangerous sport but sometime last summer he convinced me to come up with him on one of the easy trails and now I’m completely hooked! I got my own bike and now we spend our weekends out and about finding new places to ride and new people to do it with. I got us HTTP://WWW.securitychoice.com for the house since we’re gone for big stretches of time and since we’re doing a lot more camping lately, too. I love being so athletic and I’ve never been this active before. Thanks, honey for making me get off my butt and come out there with you! I had no idea mountain biking would be so easy or so fun or I would have come out there and ridden along a very, very long time ago! Now if I can just get the mosquito problem under control I’ll be good…

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review of Stories From A Lifetime

Stories From A Lifetime by Hugh Aaron is a collection of short stories the author wrote over a period of 30 years. All of the stories are based at least loosely on a real event in Hugh Aaron's life and is, in the authors own words, "a disguised autobiography spanning eight decades."

I often find it difficult to read a chapter of any book in one sitting due to the hectic schedule of balancing work, family, home and everything else life throws my way, but this book eliminated that problem. The stories are quite short, often only two pages long and very well written so as to grab your interest quickly. There is a hidden lesson in most of the stories, much like the morals in old fairy tales. Many of the stories taught such a clear lesson in dealing with life that I shared them with my older children so that they could learn from them.

All in all, this book is excellent, and I highly recommend you add it to your list of must read books!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review of Johnny Eye-One

I recently read the book Johnny One-Eye by Jerome Charyn and could not wait to review it to share with everyone else. Historical fiction is not generally my preferred reading material, but this book had me hooked from the first chapter and would not release me until I read the last sentence.

The book is set in 1776 during the Revolutionary war where the main character, John Stocking, flits between the two sides of the war with both amusing and enticing antics. Believing himself to be the illegitimate son of George Washington himself and the madam of a local brothel, he spends his free time mooning over a prostitute.

This book is history like you have never read it before. The mixture of fact and fiction along with the authors knack for overly descriptive writing will leave you feeling like you are standing there in person rather than reading words on the page.

I highly recommend this book, and if historical reading isn't your thing either you may well change your mind after reading this!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Date Night! And Swagbucks :)

I couldn't for the life of me figure out what to blog about today. And I finally figured out it was because in a few short hours, my mother in law is coming to get the little ones and it is date night for the parents! I am to happy about that to think about anything else. :)

Date night is rare around here. For one thing, the hubby is back at work and once again only home on weekends. For another, I like my kids with me, and don't really care to ship them off to Nana or anyone else over night. But, with my stress level sky high, and with his new job a perfect reason to celebrate, it's past due. He won't be home until around 8 tonight though, so our choices are limited. But I know that whether it's a late movie, or just sitting around talking, it will be a wonderful night!

One thing I did think about today was Swagbucks. If you aren't already familiar with Swagbucks, it is a search engine with a twist. When you search something on the site, you can win points. These points can then be used to buy all sorts of things. My favorites are the Amazon gift cards, they came in quite handy last Christmas! And when you sign up, you get 30 Swagbucks! And, today is Mega Swagbucks day, which means the prizes are even bigger!

Ok, off to get ready for date night! If anyone has any suggestions for a good date later in the evening in a small town with nothing in it, let me know! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Work at Home Resources

Whether you have been working from home for a while, or you are a newcomer to the scene, it is important to know what resources you can trust. Other people who work from home are your best resource and can be found on forums and communities that are dedicated to freelance work. By networking with other freelancers, you not only find out about new job leads quickly, but you can also hear about others experiences with a company you might be interested in. Some good forums dedicated to working at home include:


WAH Clubhouse


WAHM

Work Place Like Home

Other sites are also valuable resources, posting job leads and reviews of work at home companies. Some of these sites include:


Work at Home Adventures


Rat Race Rebellion

Bizy Moms

I hope the resources help you in your job search! I have been babysitting two children recently, and watching their moms pain as her three year cries for her to stay home each morning reminds me of how truly blessed we are to be able to be at home for our children while still making a living!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pit Bulls as Nanny's?

I stumbles across this article this morning on a forum. Since the pit bull is hands down my favorite dog breed, it was heartwarming to read an article that wasn't focused on negativity.

I have a "nanny" pit bull who is a treasured member of our family. And before I get blasted by anyone, let me state that I never leave my children unsupervised with any animal. But our pit, Dixie, watches over the kids with as much care as I do. While they are playing, she is never more than a few feet away and she is super protective. She is no guard dog, preferring to greet any stranger with kisses and a wagging tail, but if she thinks you intend harm towards her babies you are in trouble. Visiting friends and relatives know that you must exercise caution when playing with the kids. My youngest is a rough and tumble little boy who loves to be picked up and thrown in the air, or to wrestle with anyone willing. Dixie will get right in the middle and push her baby away from the person who is playing with him. She isn't aggressive about it, she just wants your hands off her kid. :)

We are blessed to live in the country, outside of the city limits, since a nearby city has breed specific legislation. I don't understand these laws, since we have experienced bites from two different small breeds of dogs. No one has outlawed chihuahuas, and they bite too! To me, it's like saying that a certain race of people is evil. It just makes no sense! Our Dixie is an ambassador for her breed, we take her with us to many places and she has changed quite a few minds about pit bulls. With the exception of a serious case of separation anxiety, she is very well behaved, follows commands well, and loves everyone.

What are your feelings on pits and other breeds that are labeled as vicious? Feel free to debate, but do so nicely! :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Business School Graduate

Thanks to Olga Quinn

Business is one of those things I’ve always had a knack for. Even when I was a little boy I would set up “shop” in my bedroom and pretend to sell things to my stuffed animals! Once I graduated college I knew it was time for me to become an entrepreneur and I knew just how. I was going to sell myself as a business consultant to anyone who would have me! Drumming up new clients was hard at first, but once I did some research on www.domainnames.com and figured out how to create a website I felt less out of the loop. I was get! ting inquires for my services online and I had a new, professional forum for my clients to find out about me. I’m still learning exactly what it takes to be my own boss and I’m working 16 hours a day but I’ve never felt better. Putting that business degree to good use was the smartest decision I’ve ever made and I can’t wait to see where the next ten years takes me!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Still Alive :)

I'm still alive! Things have been super hectic around here, between regular work and training for a new non-writing client, blogging has been pushed to the background. Now I have some serious catching up to do! As always, I have a lot to say, but with only a few days left to say it, I don't think I will complete the challenges. :(

Easter was fun around here although I neglected to take more than a few pictures this year. We had way to many places to be and not enough time to be at all of them, so we chose to spend the day before with my husbands brother and mom. My brother in law is in the Army, and he is being deployed once again. :( He and his wife are expecting a baby any day now, and after his birth he will be sent back to Afghanistan. While I am very proud of him, and I do support our troops 100 percent, I am so saddened that he will miss so much of his son's life. It just doesn't seem right to me, is all this war and fighting more important than fathers being with their children? Or mothers, for that matter. Families should be together, especially during the first year of a child's life. My sister in law is a much stronger woman than I am, I don't think I could handle it.

We spent Easter day with the other side of my husbands family and had a great time hunting eggs and just enjoying the day, I adore my in laws on this side of the family, they are such laid back, easy to love people. There is always plenty of joking around and good cooking, and we always leave full of food and exhausted! It was a truly wonderful day.

I will be trying to post several times a day from now on. It won't help me to complete the challenges, but it will give me an outlet for all these ideas floating around in my head! That is if the storms that have hit us today will calm down a bit, my internet service is in and out which is making doing anything difficult!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

J is for Just Keep Going!!



That's right....Just keep going! This clip from the movie Facing the Giants has always inspired me and this week I particularly needed to watch it again. It doesn't matter if what you are facing has to do with your freelance career or your personal life. You just keep going. No matter what life throws at you, no matter what stumbling blocks get thrown in your path, you persevere and keep driving right through it.

If you want something badly enough, and you let a set back or road block stop you from achieving it, you will be left with nothing but regret and broken dreams. But if you just keep on going, no matter how tired you are, or how many things get in your way, you WILL achieve your goals. So, just keep going!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Updates on Life as I Know It :)

I often feel that I share to much of my personal life and opinions on this blog and that I am risking boring my readers. But after reading one of my favorite blogs, The Self Employed Writer, today I have decided to continue sharing what is going on in my life as well as pertinent information for freelancing parents.

First of all, the dogs at animal control that I posted about on Tuesday. I brought two dogs home with me that day. One of them is a little brindle boy who is just terrified of everything! I don't know what his past was like, or why he is like this, but the slightest movement or noise spooks him. I was told he was a bad bet by the guy who followed me around the place, that no one could get close to him. But he was on the list to be put down and I knew no one else would take him home since he was so skittish and because he has a prolapsed gland in his eye. It took time to catch him in his little, dirty pen but with the help of a friend we got him. Now we are slowly showing him that he is safe and can trust us. My four year old son is my secret weapon in this quest, he has a natural affinity with any animal and his smaller size makes him less of a threat. Bracken will come to him when he will run from the rest of us.

Our second rescue was a little cutie pie who had no name, the same four year old has named him Boxer. He is a friendly guy with helicopter ears that make him look like he is going to launch into space at any moment! His ribs are sticking out and he has worms, but he is a happy guy now. Food twice a day instead of a few times a week and a good worm medication will have him ready for a new home in no time.

The other major thing going on around here is the blog challenges, and as of this post I am three days behind. But, I will catch up and I will complete both challenges.

I am struggling with making the changes to this blog that I want to, because I cannot find a way to do it with blogger. The other sections of this blog are just crappy, to put it politely. I want the information I put in these sections to be separated by date like these blog posts are, but instead they post as one long post and I cannot figure out how to change that! It is frustrating but I don't want to change hosts at this point in time. If anyone has any advice, I would love to hear it!

Independence of Freelancing

One of the things I love the most about freelancing is the independence it allows me. If there is a party at school, I can be there. If one of my babies is sick, I don't have to scramble around trying to take a day off and worry about my job. I just get them settled in on the couch and work while taking care of them. Or, like yesterday, I can just say the heck with it and go sit beside a pond with a fishing pole and enjoy the pure joy on my youngest child's face when he pulls in a fish. :)

Independence can also be a bad thing for a freelancer. It is to easy to say you will do it later, or catch up tomorrow because you would rather do something else. Then you end up behind on deadlines or not making your financial goal for the week because other things got in the way. Speaking for myself, not making what I need to make for the week frustrates me and makes it even harder for me to buckle down and get it done.

Setting goals is helpful for some, while other freelancers set strict office hours and do not do anything but work during those hours. Software such as Focus Booster helps to keep track of the time you work, and holds you accountable for the amount of time you are working.

How to you keep yourself motivated to get everything done despite the independence of your work? This seems to be what most freelancers see as their biggest problem, so sharing advice might help someone else! :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Help These Pups!

I realize that this blog is about freelancing and parenting, but today it is about dogs. Because these dogs are the reason I have not posted in a few days, and are weighing heavy on my heart.

The so called Animal Control in Lyons,GA recently euthanized 77 dogs at one time. The entire shelter full of animals was murdered. Half of the animals that were killed that day were scheduled to be picked up the very next morning by SOAPS, a local rescue group. The dogs were not sick, they were not aggressive and they would have been in loving homes in less than 24 hours if they had not been senselessly murdered! Many people in the area have said they heard gunshots the day this happened but the government officials refuse to exhume the mass grave that was dug to investigate.

The dogs in Lyon's Animal Control are not properly cared for. The so called shelter is not staffed, there is no one there on a daily basis. The dogs are not even fed on a daily basis. Pens are not properly cleaned, the area behind the pens is regularly filled with feces that has been sprayed out of the pens. SOAPS tries to help by going to the shelter to clean the pens and feed the animals, and pulls as many as possible. But the shelter will not cooperate with them at all. They have stopped them from coming in to help anymore, and dogs that they have scheduled to pull have mysteriously disappeared. They will not adopt out any dogs that are believed to be pits or pit mixes, just putting them down because of their breed, not taking in to account their temperament or health.

We managed to get one dog out yesterday. The family who took him was going for a different dog who is scheduled to be euthanized Thursday, but were told he had a hold on him. They were not told why a hold was in place. When they brought the dog they did adopt to me, he had a big sore on his head that had not been treated and he has worms. The poor guy was starving, emptying his food bowl in a few quick gulps. I treated the sore on his head, and provided more medication for them to keep treating it. He will be going to the vet today as well.

I will be going myself later today to pull as many dogs as I can hold. Unfortunately, the most I will be able to hold is three. Two is a more likely number. That still leaves many that will be killed Thursday. I am asking all of you to help, in any way you can. Even if you can't take a dog, you can write an email or make a phone call to let people know that this has to stop! Here are some people who need to hear about it:

Mr. Doug Eaves, County Manager
P.O. Box 112
Lyons, Georgia 30436-0112
Phone: 912-526-3311
deaves.toombsco@bellsouth.net

Magistrate Court of Toombs County
Chief Magistrate John “Chip” Matheson
147 Jerry Avenue
Lyons, GA, 30436
Phone: 912 -526- 8984
Fax: 912-526-8985
Email: chipmatheson@yahoo.com

Lyons City Mayor’s Office

257 North State Street
Lyons, GA 30436-1364
Phone: (912) 526-8606 ‎

If you think you can help one of the dogs, SOAPS is excellent at finding transports to just about anywhere. The dogs can be viewed at Petfinder or on my Facebook page. You can reach Holly from SOAPS at 912-539-9840.

Now, I am off to catch up on some of the writing and blogging I have missed in the last few days before I go to bring more furbabies home. :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Goals

Without goals, we wouldn't accomplish anything. Or at least I wouldn't! :)

I have plenty of them, some related to this blog, others related to writing or my personal life. Since being held accountable is a huge help in helping force myself to do what needs to be done, I thought I would share some of my goals today.

For this blog, I want to achieve a decent following and make improvements such as a domain name and larger recipe, craft and book review sections. There are quite a few changes that I want to make in the design of it, but first I have to figure out how! Anyone know a good blogger tutorial?

For my writing, I want to expand my career so that I am doing more work for private clients as opposed to content companies. I want to write more about the things that are important to me. And I want to see my name in print.

As for my personal goals, I want to develop a more positive attitude. People see me as an upbeat person, and I am. But I am also my own worst enemy, always finding fault in my appearance, writing and everything else about myself. I also want to continue the home improvements we started several months ago, and finish our extra bedroom.

Now, you know what I hope to achieve in the future so tell me about your goals. What do you want to achieve? How to you plan to make it happen?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Education

My grandmother, who raised me for the majority of my childhood, considered education the most important thing. I think she began teaching me the moment I emerged from the womb! :) When I was three, she delighted in telling her friends that I could read and proving them wrong when they denied that it was possible. Teaching me to read at such a young age often backfired on her though, since we had to drive daily down Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando. The area abounds with adult businesses and I was determined to read every sign we passed!

As I grew older, she continued to push me when it came to my education. When I began misbehaving in school, she determined that I was bored and placed me in a small private school that allowed me to work at my pace rather than the pace my grade determined. I know she had to struggle to pay the tuition, but it was important to her. And to me, because I flourished in the new environment! The school was very laid back, teachers were called by their first names and each class had no more than five students. I would often finish my work before lunch and spend the rest of the day in the small library, reading everything in sight.

Because of her influence, education is one of the few things I am very strict about with my own children. I am a laid back parent, but school is one area where there is little leniency. Recently, my six year old son began acting up in class, not paying attention and playing instead of doing his work. His teachers rave about how smart he is, so I immediately starting thinking of ways to challenge him at school to battle the behavior problems. Apparently his main teacher was thinking along the same lines, because I received a letter from the school telling me that he has been nominated for the gifted education program for academic and creative excellence!

Yes, I am bragging. Sorry, but I can't resist! :) I am so proud of my little man! Bragging is a right that we gain with motherhood, right?

How important is education to you? What lengths are you willing to go to in order to ensure your children receive the best education possible?

Fatigue

To say I am tired would be putting it lightly. Due to my unbelievably crappy internet provider, I have been battling to stay online. Not being able to stay online makes it difficult to blog, work or even check my bank balance! It also results in my losing what little sleep I get because I spend that time trying to catch up.

I gave in today, and decided to just take a day off and relax. I even took a short nap earlier, but not long enough to make me feel truly rested. Now it is 2 AM and my baby boy is wide awake, which of course means I am too. And in just 3 short hours and a few measly minutes it will be time to wake up and start the day. I am thinking I will continue to be fatigued for quite a while!

I am also two days behind with the Ultimate Blog Challenge, so I will be posting again later today to begin catching up! Hopefully by the time I hit all my article deadlines and catch up on blogging, I can get at least one full nights sleep!

What are your tips for dealing with fatigue? I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Expectations

All freelancers have different expectations for their business. Some just want extra income in order to provide extras for their family or themselves. Others want, or need, to have the ability to support themselves with the income completely. Sometimes, expectations change because your life changes.

When I first began freelancing, it was for extra income to help with the bills and take care of the extra things such as school clothes and holiday shopping. Then the economy went to hell and my hubby no longer had any work for his electrical business. Thankfully, I was able to step it up and keep everything paid for a year while he searched for work and finally went back to school to change careers. Now that he is again out of work because of the wreck, I am able to again keep everything going until his income is back. It is a real blessing to have that ability, while still being right here when my kids need me, make it to school functions, and serve a good meal every night.

I write because I have to, even if I wasn't doing it for a living I would still write. I have written for as long as I can remember! But I freelance because it allows me to adjust my work schedule around my family and put their needs first. I worked 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week outside of the home when my older children were young. I never want to do that again!

What are your expectations for your business? And what do you intend to do to make sure those expectations happen?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dependability

If a pipe burst in your home and the plumber you called to fix it promised to be there by 6, you would be pretty upset if you were still waiting around at 7. Clients feel the same way about the work you do for them. If they expect articles to be delivered by 9 pm on Friday and you send them in at 8 am on Saturday, they will most likely find another writer for their needs.

Being dependable is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Just as you do not want to use a business that you can't depend on, clients will not want to use your talents if they aren't assured work will be done on time. And since word of mouth is an important part of advertising, people will start hearing bad things about your business and be less likely to choose you.

Being well organized is one way to ensure you meet deadlines on time. Knowing what work you have to do and when it needs to be done will enable you to get work done in the correct order to get it turned in on time.

Time management is another important factor in dependability. It is also one that I struggle with regularly. A fellow blogger has been doing a series on time management that I have found inspiring. You can find her at The Self Employed Writer. Her posts have inspired me and helped with managing my own time. It is well worth the read.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Content Companies

Having multiple places to write content for is very important, since work is sometimes scarce. With multiple eggs, you aren't completely dependent on one company to provide your income. I have done a list of content companies before, but things have changed, with companies closing or changing and new companies starting. So it is time for a new, updated list.

Break Studios places articles on sites such as Mademan.com. Articles pay $8 each and payment is made through paypal on the 1st and the 15th of every month.

Bright Hub ranges in pay from revenue share to $10 per article.

Demand Studios pays from $7.50 to $25 for articles, depending on the site you are writing for. Pay is twice a week and is made through paypal.

Emerging Cast
has an average pay of $2 per article and pays once a month through paypal or bank transfer.

Internet Brands pays from $4 to $10 per article and payment is made once a month through paypal.

Need An Article pays weekly through paypal and articles start at $5.

Textbroker pays twice a month through paypal. Article rates vary widely according to the level of the writer and the word count.

Writer Access also varies according to levels and word count. Pay is once a month by paypal.

Word Gigs pays between $1 and $4 for articles and pays once a month through paypal.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is For Blogging ;)

Yes, blogging. My newest obsession! I was suffering this morning, because instead of being able to grab my coffee and sit down to blog, we had to make the long drive to get the stuff out of hubby's truck. Seeing that truck in person, rather than in pics, did not make my morning. It did make me want to hug that man of mine a little tighter though!

I started this blog originally because there are many people out there who have a talent and want to use it to make a living from home. And the majority of people like this are parents as well. Not to mention, my children and my freelancing career are my two biggest loves and I have a lot to say about them both!

I have big dreams for this blog, starting with getting a real domain name and expanding the site to have larger and searchable craft and recipe sections. The blog will remain the main focus, but the rest of it will be a great resource for both freelancers and parents alike. And a section for book reviews as well, since reading is another love of mine. Of course, none of this is going to happen immediately. It will take hard work and time. But if a dream isn't worth hard work, it isn't much of a dream! Until then, I will keep on blogging. :)

What I want to know is, why do you blog? What made you start your blog originally and what keeps you blogging now? I can't wait to hear everyone's responses!

As for the blog challenges, this is only day two but things are going great. And I have found many new blogs to follow written by awesome writers! I am actually considering having a guest blogger or two for this blog. What do you think?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Accountability

I don't know about the rest of you, but I need accountability to accomplish everything I need to do in a day! Being held accountable for bills and having extra money to make sure my little munchkins enjoy their childhood keeps me writing everyday.

This month, I have joined two different blog challenges in order to help myself stay accountable for blogging each day. The first one, Ultimate Blog Challenge, requires me to post 30 times in the month of April. I can choose to do it by posting once per day, or do several posts in one day. I have done this challenge before, but fell slightly short of the quota.

The second challenge, A to Z Challenge, requires 26 posts. That is one post for each letter of the alphabet, hence today's post which is brought to you by the letter A. Excuse the Sesame Street flashbacks, I do have five children! ;)

I am hoping for two things from both of these challenges. My main priority is to develop a habit of posting daily that will stick with me after the challenge is over. I have a lot to say, I just don't always find the time to sit down and say it!

My second goal is to bring more readers to this blog, since there is little sense in saying what I have to say if no one is listening! And in the process, I will find many other blogs to feed my daily reading addiction. My favorite part of blogging is definitely checking out the blogs that my readers have!

Hopefully, by the end of the month I will have spectacular results to report. And if not, I will have fun trying! Anyone care to join me?






Thursday, March 31, 2011

Terror and Gratitude

Sometimes life will give you a huge shove, knock you right on your butt and remind you to focus on what really matters. I got one of those shoves yesterday, and experienced emotions ranging from complete terror to utter thankfulness over an hour long period.

It all started with a phone call from my husband. He calls me several times a day when he is on the road, but this time I could not hear him. His signal was awful and I thought he was saying check the text. Since he had not sent me a text, I was understandably confused! After he lost his signal completely, I sent him a text telling him I couldn't understand him. The answering text simply said "I flipped the truck" and then nothing. No answer to my text asking if he was ok. My heart just stopped beating. Rationally, I knew that if he could text me he was relatively uninjured, but emotionally I was falling apart.

20 minutes later, he managed to borrow a phone and even with the awful reception I could understand him to say he was ok. Almost an hour after the first call, he finally called me from a paramedics phone to let me know he was being taken to the hospital because he had pain from the seat belt cutting into him. Heavy rains moved mud onto the road and he hit it and slid, losing control in the process.

A few hours ago, he finally got home to us. All in one piece, really sore and most likely unemployed since his company has a zero tolerance policy for wrecks. And I don't care. Jobs, trucks and everything else can be replaced. Husbands and dads cannot be and as long as he is ok, everything else will work out in the end. If I have my way, he will never drive over the road again. I have my work, and if coming home every night means less pay, so be it. I will remember that moment of terror every time I trip over the boots he leaves in the middle of the floor, or clean up the huge mess he always makes cooking, because he is here to do those little things that annoy me. The alternative is to horrible to imagine.

If you are sensitive to car accidents, or have lost a loved one to an accident, please don't look at the pictures below. Even knowing he was ok, viewing them caused another bout of tears and anxiety.





Monday, March 28, 2011

Scheduling Your Days

Some people may envision life as a freelancer as lazy days spent in pajamas, working here and there when you want to. It's a nice vision, but any freelancer knows that it is far from the truth.

In order to be a successful freelancer, you must be disciplined and extremely self motivated. Working from home means that you have double the distractions compared to someone who works in a traditional office environment. When working from home, a schedule is a must have. Not every schedule will work for every freelancer though.

Some people manage well with a simple to do list. Simply listing everything that they must accomplish on any given day gives them the ability to buckle down and get it done. Others need a more formal schedule, listing each hour of the day and what needs to be done during that time.

If one way of scheduling your day doesn't work, try an alternative and keep on trying different ways until you find the one that works. Staying well organized will make the difference between succeeding or failing as a freelancer.

What do you do to stay on track?


Friday, March 25, 2011

Family bowling night

Guest post from: Kent Lara



My family and I started a family bowling night about a year ago to try and get out of the house and have some quality family time. I am in the Army so we like to go the bowling alley on post because we know that it will be affordable and a safe friendly environment.

We try and go every Tuesday but life does not always allow for that to happen. My daughter started off on the bumper bowling lanes but is now trying to move up to the regular lanes. She's quite the little trooper and always has such a blast.

Usually right after I get home from work my wife and I load up with our daughter, pack our bag, set the house alarm (http://www.BESTHOMESECURITY.com) and we are off for a wonder evening together. I would recommend that any family looking for a way to bond give family bowling night a shot. I think that it has really been a great experience that has also brought our family closer together. Definitely a better choice than sitting in front of the television every single night I think.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Time To Plant!

It's my favorite time of the year, when everything is turning green and the sun is warm and bright. It's time to dig in the dirt and make things grow.

So far we have planted flowers, bachelors buttons and a few others, as well as some herbs. Later this week we will plant several varieties of tomatoes and peppers. I am trying to decide what else to plant, the more we plant the better since we have plenty of room and love to eat veggies!

We don't have the best dirt for growing, since we live in an area that is predominately sand, but with a lot of TLC we can produce some impressive plants. Hopefully I will be able to post some plant pictures before to long!

What are your plans for gardening this year?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Educator.com Review

I was given a month trial to Educator.com by using the program at Bzzagent. I thought it would be an excellent resource to have on hand to help with homework or extra studying when needed. And since the Bzzagent site is intended to get the word out about products and services, I thought I would review the site here.

I have to admit, I was not overly thrilled with it. The monthly price was a bit of a shocker at $35 for one month. I am sure that is comparably inexpensive compared to hiring a tutor, but there are so many free resources on the net that help with the same things. The lessons were very well done, and showed how to do the work by breaking it down in to small steps, which I thought was wonderful. However, there were no worksheets or practice tests to ensure that you grasped the concept. Personally, I have found that my children learn best by doing things hands on, and that is not possible with no practice work available.

I would not pay that amount each month to use the program, but feel free to check it out for yourself. Use the code BUZZFA626 to check out www.educator.com for free!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marketing Yourself, Continued

Essentially, you are a business. You may be only one person in a small office set up in a corner of your home, but you are still a business. Businesses need to be advertised in order to get their name out their for people to see.

This means different things for different freelancers. For me, at the moment, this blog is my main focus. Which is why I am putting the facebook and twitter associated with it to better use. Being more active on both will put this blog in front of people. On that note, feel free to follow me on both facebook and twitter. ;)

To other freelancers, this may mean gaining more private clients by advertising in newspapers, trade publications or online. This will enable them to broaden their horizons and keep a steady amount of work coming in at all times.

Word of mouth is also very important to any business. Websites such as Freelance Writing and Freelance Writing Gigs are a great place to find potential clients. If these clients are happy with your work, they will tell other clients and bring you more work.

So what are your goals for the business that you are? How do you plan to accomplish these goals?



Friday, March 18, 2011

What Do You Struggle With?

One of the hardest parts of being a freelance writer, for me anyways, is the need to market myself in order to make money. I am a shy person in general, and a very shy writer. I went years without showing anyone anything that I wrote. One day, in a fit of temper because my husbands volunteer fire department needed equipment they couldn't afford because of the lack of community support, I wrote a short piece about volunteer firefighters. I made the mistake of letting him read it and the next thing I know, every person in his department had read it and it kept spreading. I got emails from other departments asking permission to use it. People stopped me in the grocery store to tell me how good it was. My confidence in my writing ability soared, and my writing career began at that point.

But even now, I still have lapses of confidence in my writing. I don't let friends or family members read my blog, except for few exceptions. I swear every time I send a writing sample to a potential client that it is the worst thing I have ever written. I am my own worst critic, so I don't like to take the risk of putting myself out there for others to criticize.

But, if I don't market myself I won't have much of a career, will I? So I do it anyway despite my fears. Because writing is what I do. It's all I want to do. No other career would fulfill me like writing does.

What is your biggest struggle in your freelancing career?


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meals For Lazy Evenings

I enjoy cooking for my family, and rarely ever buy pre-made convenience foods since I would rather know exactly what I am feeding them. But some nights I would love to have a frozen pizza or lasagna in the freezer so that I can take a break from the cooking and the kitchen clean up that comes after! Over the years, I have managed to come up with a few meals that I can throw together with a minimum of mess and preparation so that I can use the time saved to hang out with the kids.

Spaghetti is one, of course. It's versatile since I can add all my own veggies or make my own sauce if I want to, or I can just throw in some ground beef and canned sauce and call it a meal. I always make a huge pot either way, so lunch is taken care of the next day too.

Our own version of black bean tacos always feels like a break from cooking to me, but to the kids it's a treat since they absolutely love them. All I do is throw two or three cans of black beans, with juice, into a pot and add a can of corn. Stir in a pack of what ever taco seasoning I have on hand and let it all simmer. Once the juice has all simmered away, I put the mixture in soft taco shells and top with cheese, sour cream, guacamole....just what ever we have on hand.

Macaroni and cheese is another big favorite around here and throwing in some kind of meat makes it a meal. Tuna, leftover chicken, pork or hamburger can be mixed into the macaroni after you add the cheese. Veggies can be mixed in as well, or served on the side. My kids particularly love apple sauce along side the mac and cheese. We almost always have a box of macaroni and some shredded cheese, so it's an easy thing to throw together.

What are your go to recipes on the nights when cooking is the last thing you want to do?


Monday, March 14, 2011

My Newest Addiction.....Swagbucks!

As a writer, I do a ton of research everyday so of course I use a search engine a lot! I signed up for Swagbucks quite awhile ago but just started using it on a regular basis. Searching allows you to win points that can be used to get merchandise or gift cards. I love Amazon.com so of course those are the gift cards I am going for!

Searching isn't the only way to earn points though. You can watch videos on SBTV, play games or complete simple tasks to bring up your points balance, and they add up pretty quickly. You also get points for referring friends! I am thinking I can just keep racking up gift cards until December and do some painless Christmas shopping right here at my desk. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's Friday!!

Finally! And to make it even better, I don't have to wait patiently for the man of the house to show up sometime today and give me a hand since he surprised me by showing up around 1 am this morning. I even got to sleep in this morning, waking up only long enough to get the kids clothes together and going straight back to bed.

Posting about my mother's stories yesterday got me thinking about my love of books and words and how I have been surrounded by them for as long as I remember. Would I have been such an avid reader if I had grown up in a different environment? my grandmother tells tales of a tiny me who know one would believe could read until she would pull out a book and prove it. Or of having to drive daily down a certain road in Orlando where strip clubs abounded with me trying to read every sign in sight. A certain club, called Circus Circus, caused many a tantrum because I wanted to go see the circus and could not understand why it was only for adults. As proud as she was that I was reading at such a young age, she wished for me to stop many times.

On the other hand, I do know several people who enjoy reading when no one else in their family is interested in it. But none of them are really as bad as I am about it. I am miserable if I don't have anything to read and there are books in every room of our home, much to the dismay of the man of the house. My grandmother is the same way and every time I go home to visit, she sends me home with boxes of books to make room for new ones on her shelves.

Do you think environment has a lot to do with a love of reading? Are your kids avid readers or writers because you are? I would love to hear your opinions on this!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fiction Writing

Do you have a book inside of you? You are not alone, if you do! Many freelance writers never even consider writing a work of fiction, while others dream of seeing their novel on the shelf at their favorite bookstore. I definitely belong to the second group.

I have written many short stories over the years, the first one when I was in the fourth grade. My teacher raved about it, and encouraged me to write more. After that, I was hooked! I can remember a story my mother wrote when I was a child, it was about toys that came to life when no people were around. This was way before the days of the Toy Story movies and every time I see Woody or Buzz, I think about that story. I write stories for my kids all the time, although many of them are made up on the spot to help them stay calm while waiting and never actually make it to paper.

Of course, I am writing a book too. How could I not? The darn story entered my mind one day and stayed in there developing until I finally applied fingers to keyboard and let it out. But it is now stalled, not even half way finished, because there are only so many hours in a day and so many of them are full! But it's all still right here in my head, developing...simmering, I guess. I know what is going to happen, I know what comes next and what comes at the end. One day, I will find the time to get it all out of my head and hopefully someone out there will think it is good enough to publish.

What about you? Do you have a book inside you begging to get out? How do you find time to write it while also making a living and taking care of the other responsibilities in your life?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Google's Attack on Content Mills

For many freelance writers, so called content mills are the way the bills get paid. Although writing website content generally pays less than writing for print publications, it is easier to break into and easier to do when you are balancing parenthood and your writing career. Google's recent changes have seriously hurt many websites and that is causing panic among content writers. Many Ehow.com writers received an email today notifying them that some revenue share articles were removed. This may mean a significant loss of revenue for some writers.

What are you going to do to prevent this from having to much of an impact on your income? After getting frustrated and kind of down in the dumps about it, I have decided on my own battle plan to ensure that I do not give up my dream of making a living with my writing.

1. Blogging I am going to begin blogging regularly again, since a blog is mine and cannot be controlled by other people. I may even start other blogs, there are a few ideas floating around in my head. :) And a well maintained blog is a great place to send potential clients so that they can get a general idea of your writing style. Which leads me to the next step in my plan.....

2. More Private Clients Just an hour a day spent sending out resumes and writing samples to prospective clients could net big returns. Submitting to print publications is also a good idea!

3. Revenue Share Not all rev share sites have been hit by this google disaster. Some of them are still going strong, and are a great place to place quality articles to build a passive income.

4. Just Keep Writing! Until content sites such as Demand Studios or Internet Brands start refusing to pay me for articles, I will continue to write them. Why stop now, when the money is still flowing in? Granted, the editors are becoming harder to please, and the choices of titles to write is narrower, but I can still write!