Tag Archives: career

Seven (7) in (in) Five (5)


Seven in five.

September, 2016 to February, 2017.

That’s my timeline.

“For what?” you’re wondering.

I have seven books in the works and my plan is to have them all written and published by February, 2017.

“Seven books in five months? Are you nuts?” you might be asking.

Yes, it does seem daunting. A novel length book is a minimum of 50,000 words. Multiply that by 7 and you get 350,000 words. That’s a decent amount of words.

Unless you’re a writer. On average I write 5,000-15,000 words a week, not including Facebook posts, emails, blog posts or messages. That’s 20-60k words a month, mainly about stuff I really don’t care about. In five months, that’s 100k to 300k words.

But the good news is that I don’t have to actually write that many words. Three of the books are at various stages of completion (two over 50 percent completed). Two of the books are going to be more novella length (less than 50k but more than 25k). I guesstimate having to write around 235k words between now and late January, early February. Which is more than doable.

Well, don’t overwork yourself. Don’t burn out. Pace yourself. This has been the advice from many. I appreciate the words, I know they are meant to be helpful.

But hush already. LOL This is how I want to make my living. I don’t want to write for mills and impossible clients anymore. I don’t want to spend my days writing about stuff I don’t much care about. I can deal with doing it for a few hours a week, but not all day, every day. Not anymore. I’m starting to view my work with the same disdain reserved for “traditional” work gigs. And I can’t allow that to happen.

So, I’m diving in and getting these books written. This is what I want to do with my life, it’s how I want to make a living. Are the next few months going to be easy? Nope. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Perhaps. I can always change my schedule if I need to, but I’m going to try like hell not to do that. I’ve been saying “I’ll do it later” to my career for more years than I even want to think about. I’m staring at 50. If not now, when? If not me, who?

So, wish me luck. Ask me how things are going. Say prayers, light candles, think good thoughts as I dive into my career, the career I’ve always wanted, for what feels like the first time. I’m excited. Let’s do this!

 

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Hi There!


I know, it’s been a while, I’m sorry. If I had to describe the last six months of my life, I’d have to say it looked something like this:

tangled ball of yarn2

Between health issues, work issues and an overall displeasure with my life’s path, I knew changes had to be made. But look at all that tangle and mess! Where does one begin?

Well, I started with the obvious. I started taking some meds and I started changing up my diet. I’m still getting around to exercising more, but since the meds seem to be working, I’m dealing with less pain so now I can seriously look at the exercise options.

I also made some professional decisions. I went back to a regular, 9-5 day job like normal folks.

Yeah, stop laughing. It was worth a shot. It didn’t last long but I did learn some valuable lessons. No, I’m not sharing them here, and I’ll explain why in a moment.

There’s something I’ve always known about myself that I tend to ignore for a myriad of reasons. I don’t “do” normal. I don’t think normal, I don’t react to things the way normal people do, my brain has some different wiring. And I’m okay with that, until I start to believe when people say I shouldn’t be okay with it. When people (who for the most part only want me to be happy) tell me that if I just “play along,” or “play the game,” or “think of it as a role and I’m going for the Academy Award,” I’m tempted to buy into it because quite frankly, being me is exhausting. So, I try it. Then I quickly remember why I stopped playing along in the first place.

Because you see, as exhausted as I am being me, at least I don’t feel defeated. As tired as my own brain makes me, at least at the end of the day I can look in the mirror and stare down my own reflection. And as weary as being me can make me, at the end of the day, I’m proud that I am who I am and when I get up the next day, I’m ready to do it all again.

If that’s not enough for some people, if the real me isn’t good enough, I really don’t give a damn.

Okay, got a bit off topic, but apparently I needed to say that, so there you go. 🙂 Now to the real reason for this post: I’m switching this blog to writing only. That’s kinda what it was supposed to be from the beginning but me being me, (see I get in my own way!) I kinda let it become a catch-all. Well not anymore. This blog is about writing. My books, articles, rants about clients, all that will be here. My personal thoughts have a new home: Unapologetically Mocha. Follow me over there for my thoughts, feeling and rants about the world.

This is just my attempt to unravel the tangles and make my life more doable. If I had to wager, I’d guess my life currently looks like this:

not so tangled balls of yarn

Progress! 🙂

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A “Typical” Work Day…


I’ve been asked more than once what a typical workday for me is like.
Well, short of taking you on a Periscope trip (which I might do when it gets warmer and I’m on the road more), the best way to describe it is to show you a picture of my desk at any given moment of the day:

20160222_115345[1]This is what three businesses on one desk looks like. At least when I dump it all out like this to take a picture so you all can see what three businesses on one desk looks like. 🙂

I took this pic this morning while I was determining what all I had going on today. The receipts represent the mystery shop reports I have to complete. The jewelry supplies are for jewelry orders that I need to complete this week, and the notebook (far right corner) has a list of my writing assignments for the week.

Now, when I’m *actually* working, my desk looks more like this:

Writing

20160222_120950

Jewelry making

20160222_121404

Working on reports…

20160222_120804

There ya have it…a peek at my desk and a glimpse into my work day. So, what does YOUR desk look like?

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Kim’s Excellent Auditing Adventure (aka The time the crazy rode shotgun)


Okay, so today this happened:

The day started normally enough. I got up, got some coffee and waited for Diva to get ready for work. I dropped her off and proceeded to start my work day. Many of you know that along with my freelance writing and jewelry design gigs I’m also a mystery shopper. Well I’m also a quality auditor for gas stations, and today I had a route I needed to complete. Seven stations in one town.

I get to the first station and I’m doing the spiel. Let the station know I’m there. Give them my letter of authorization (LoA…remember this, it will be important later), then I take pictures and complete the inspection. I’m walking back to my car and a woman approaches me.

Woman: pretty gutsy casing the joint during the day.

Me: Yeah, I’m not planning a robbery, I’m doing a site inspection.

Woman: Oh, of course (wink wink nudge nudge)

Me: Yeah…okay bye.

I get in my car and drive to the next location, all of two blocks away. Do my thing again, alert the station, hand over the LoA, take the photos, do the inspection (from now on, I’m referring to this as ‘Do my thing.’ As I’m walking to my car, guess who approaches me again? Yep. Lady from station #1.

Woman: What the hell kinda heist are you planning?

Me: No heist. Site inspections.

Woman: Good. Glad you’ve got your story down. Makes it way more believable if the cops find out.

Me: Yeah…sure. Bye.

As I got in my car, I thought, “Great, crazy lady is following me thinking I’m going on a crime spree. My luck she’ll say she wants in on it.” I start the car and headed for station #3, which is five or six blocks down the street.

You know, you’d think that I would have learned by now that speaking things aloud to the universe is inviting the universe to act. Apparently I haven’t learned that lesson because, sure enough, after I did my thing…

Woman: Look, if I can anticipate your next move, the cops will. You need a partner, I volunteer me!

Me: Thanks for the offer, but I work alone.

Woman: That’s never a good idea. There should always be two in a heist.

Me: Sorry. Loner.

Station #4:

Woman: I’m an excellent driver.

Me: Me too, plus my insurance won’t cover you.

Station #5:

Woman: I have an excellent eye for detail.

Me: Without looking, how many lights are on under the canopy?

Woman: Uh…

Me: buuzzz! Too late, we’re in jail and it’s your fault. Thanks for playing.

I get to station #6…no sign of her. Did she give up? Did I lose her? Did she find something more amusing to do? After the nanosecond I took to ponder all that, I finished the gig and jumped in the car in the hopes that I could get the last site done..just in case she decided I was interesting again.

I get to the last station. There she is. With the station attendant.

Me: Seriously?

Woman: Told you I knew what you were doing.

Me: Lady you don’t know what you’re  doing, let alone what I’m doing.

Woman: Well you won’t be casing this joint!

Me:  (To the attendant)  I’m here to do your site inspection.

Attendant: Do you have a LoA?

Me: Yep. (hand over the letter)

Woman: That doesn’t mean anything. Any witless moron could make one of those.

Me: And yet here you stand without one.

And with that, I finished the inspection and left.

Now I’m at home thinking about all the ways that could have went wrong. But you know what? It didn’t and therefore it lands in the “must blog this because this only happens to me” box.

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I’m still up….


and therefore the day isn’t over for me and this post is not late. 🙂

I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire right now, from working on the new book and trying to get my book signing set up, to regular client work and helping someone get their business idea off the ground.  And in the middle of all that, I’m working on my taxes.

I was looking at my bank statement and I noticed a direct deposit that I could not identify. It wasn’t a huge deposit, but it was enough to make me wonder where it came from. I looked through my client list, my mystery shopping clients and my one-off work list…no match. I had no idea where the money came from.

I let it go, figuring the mystery would solve itself. I was taking notes on an essay I’m writing for the book, and it hit me; I hadn’t checked my book sales recently. So, I hopped over to Create Space to look. As I was looking at the sales, I saw the “earnings earned” field. Lo and behold, the amount in the box was the same as the direct deposit.

I earned royalties on my book?

Holy crap, I EARNED ROYALTIES ON MY BOOK!

I wish I would have realized it sooner, I would have spent the money on something more fun. To be honest I think it became grocery money. However I spent it, my book created income for me. And that’s totally cool!

One of my goals is to write books that people enjoy and that will pay my bills. I feel like I just placed the cornerstone. I’ve got something to build on. And that is awesome!

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46(?)/46/46 – Day #6: It’s Monday


That’s the best thing I can say about it. It’s been a long day, I’m cranky and I feel like I am receiving karmic retribution for every stupid, mean or obnoxious thing I’ve done in the last decade. Oh well, this will pass.

But I’m tired of feeling like I’m sitting around, spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I think I’ve made changes that will correct that, but I’m impatient by nature and want it fixed now.

Yesterday actually.

Well, I’d love to stay and chat about any number of random or mundane things, but I have deadlines. Lots of deadlines. Yeah.

FYI – I’m not complaining about having too much work, I’m complaining about  the work process. That’s all I’m going to say. Sometimes the process sucks. Sometimes it’s awesome. It’s like any other career. Some days, you wake up, smile, sip some coffee and get right to work. Other days, the last thing you want to do is string words together in any cohesive order. Today would be one of those latter days.

The thing is, although I don’t want to write today, I’m blogging about not wanting to write.

The humor of the concept is not wasted on me.

Later peeps!

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**Tap tap** Is this thing on?


Bet you guys thought I fell off the planet, eh?

Nope. I have simply been too busy to blog. Even my friends on Facebook have noticed I’ve been less vocal of late. But I’ve got a few minutes of downtime, so I thought I would catch you all up with what’s been going on.

I’m Working…A LOT

I have several clients which are keeping me very busy. This is a good thing, since for the most part, they all pay a fair wage, and I enjoy the topics. It’s not all moonlight and roses, but it’s not thunderstorm and daisies, either.

Okay, I actually like thunderstorms and daisies, so that wasn’t a fair assessment, but you get my point.

I’m Working on the house…A LOT

We’ve ripped up five rooms of carpet, stained five floors and now we’re laying time. Eventually I am going to tackle the upside down fruit wall paper in my kitchen…just as soon as I can bring myself to look at it long enough and measure.

Yes, I said upside down fruit wallpaper. And not just any fruits…we’re talking pineapples. mangoes. Grapes.

Yeah, it’s bad!

But it’s starting to come together. Slowly, but surely.

I Went back to school. Again.

I bit the bullet and started my PhD program. I’m studying E-learning and Instructional Design. I think I’ve lost my mind.

Check that, I know I’ve lost my mind. But it’s a means to an end, and I’m sure once it’s all over, I’ll be glad I did it.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

This Area Is Intentionally Left Blank

I might have some good news to post here, but I don’t want to jinx myself, so I won’t say what it is about.

And that, ladies and gents, is what I have been up to. But I do want to leave you with one pearl of wisdom before I delve back into work. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles and blog posts on how to become a writer. The information has been interesting, but frankly, unnecessary. You don’t need a 2,000 word blog post to tell someone how to be a writer.  I can do it in less that 100 words.

Ready? Here goes:

How To Become a Writer 

By: The Classic Quill

Step 1: Write.

Step 2: Write some more.

Step 3: Submit what you write to people who need what you write.

Step 4: Keep writing.

Step 5: Ignore those who ask if they have possibly read what you’ve written. They probably aren’t your intended audience anyway.

Step 6: Read. Read for fun. Read to see what to do and not to do. Read those whose work you love a respect.

Step 7: Did I mention WRITE?

Step 8: After a few months, look back at the first three things you wrote. Cringe and laugh. Tweak if as necessary.

Repeat Steps 1 through 8 for the rest of your life.

And there you have it. The only way to become a writer, is to write and submit what you’ve written. It’s not rocket science. Yes, there is a bit more to it, such as learning to research markets and determine a publications needs and tone, but those things don’t matter if you don’t write.

And with that, I’m off to practice what I just preached. 😀

 

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It Could Be Worse


So, today has been a struggle writing-wise for me today. I’ve just not been “into it”, and have only accomplished a fraction of what I needed to get done today.

But that’s okay, cuz ya know, sometimes it happens. Sometimes the words just won’t flow. The ideas are stuck…just out of the reach of your fingertips. It’s frustrating, but sometimes it’s part of this life. Not every word you write will be brilliant. Sometimes the things you write will be utter rubbish.

But no matter how bad a writing day you’re having, someone else is having a worse day. And for the really unfortunate, some of the greatest writing guffaws actually make it to print. So, in honor of a lousy writing day, and in the hopes of a better one tomorrow, I offer you “When Headlines Go Wrong” aka “Hey, things could be worse, this could have been YOUR headline.

And because I want to retain my “Snarky” attitude, I’ve included comments. Cuz, that’s how I roll.

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter (Wait…how does THAT work? Was a seance involved?)

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says  (Other than the plane crashing, I can’t imagine what else could have gone wrong…)

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers  (Wow…I guess a ticket just doesn’t cut it any more…)

Miners Refuse to Work after Death (So much for RIP…)
Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant (And what happens if they fail…or succeed?)
War Dims Hope for Peace (Yeah, that’s usually how it works…)
If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile  (Nothing like a good dose of stating the obvious!)
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures (Uh huh…)
Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide (Nah, it was the Masque of the Red Death)
Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges (Next time, try cement!)
Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge (I got nothing for this other than *groan*)
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group (Big Macs for everyone!)
Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft (Well, they shouldn’t have pulled his finger!)
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks (Yeah, but they’re quick, crafty and hard to kill…)
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half  (Well, that’s one way to decrease the dropout rate…)
Chainsaw Massacre all over again! (Wait — it happened before?)
Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors (Next – legislation requiring all hospital ceilings be at least 7’1″.)
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead (So, did that increase or decrease the occupancy?)

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Content Sites – Why Some Work and Why Some, Well…


If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I wrote for quite a few content sites (or content mills as their detractors referred to them). For over a year, I provided content for DemandMedia, BrightHub, SEED, BreakStudios, WiseGEEK, Interact Media, Writer Access, and Textbroker. I was busy, my schedule was crazy and I was making just enough to get by.

Then — enter the Panda, Google’s pet name for its new algorithm. Suddenly, sites that were begging for writers didn’t have work for the writers they had. Some sites were more upfront about the issues than others (I won’t beat that horse anymore, I’ll let it R.I.P.), but ultimately, Panda was too much to overcome.

First, I noticed there were never any new titles for BreakStudios. That was a bummer because I wrote some of my more, shall we say, fun and colorful articles for them. SEED was always a crap shoot, so no real loss there, though I did write one of my most favorite pieces for them.

Then BrightHub went away, and with it, so went my rev share. I had a couple of articles that returned a nice chuck of change every month, on top of the upfront money I got to write them. And finally, DMS, in true DMS fashion, basically said, “Thanks, but you might want to write for someone else…at least for now. Oh, and for the foreseeable future, too.

Now, luckily, I had seen a lot of this coming, and had been transitioning myself away from the content sites such as DMS and BrightHub. But I kept writing for sites such as Interact Media, Writer Access and Textbroker.

Why?

Simple. I quickly figured out that, although I was making less per article at these sites, I could write the articles quicker and make as much, if not more writing for them than I did slaving over a 500-word article that may or may not get past a CE, depending on what side of the bed s/he got up on, whether their coffee was to their liking or if they had been chewed out by someone five minutes before they pulled my article from their queue. To me it made sense, but a lot of people refused to write for these sites because the upfront pay was so low, and opted to stick with the higher-paying quick cash of DMS, BrightHub, etc. Now many are regretting that approach.

But there was another reason I stuck with these sites when I backed away from the others — it seemed they were less affected by Panda, and for one important reason: They weren’t guessing about what their clients/readers wanted. They took orders FROM their clients and used freelance writers to fill them. So Panda changing the algorithm didn’t really have an effect on them because they weren’t dependent on the search engines to tell them what to write, their clients were propelling the search engines.

So, I guess, if you take nothing else away from this post, remember this: research your market and pay close attention to the signs. Figure out which sites are catering to clients, and which are catering to themselves, and then decide for whose team you want to play. Me personally, I’m glad I switched sides.

How have you all fared in the days since the Panda? Are you still writing away, or are you scrambling to find new places to write?

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Long Live General Knowledge


So, I got an email from one of my regular clients yesterday, basically announcing that, although the sites I write for will live on, the opportunities to write for them are going to decrease dramatically. This email wasn’t much of a shock, because opportunities to write for this client have decreasing steadily for a while now.

Now, of course, I’m not the only freelancer who writes for them, so getting the email wasn’t a personal affront to me. However, others seemed to view it differently.

For months….months I have been preaching that it is folly and freelancing suicide to depend on just one client, or one type of client for your bread and butter. Companies fold. Companies scale back. Companies execs wake up one morning and decide they don’t like this group of people, and *poof* those people are on the outside, looking in.

I’m not going to lie and say that the scaling back hasn’t hurt. As I mentioned a while ago, I had grown too dependent on this client and other like it, so I’ve been working on branching out for a while now. So, although the news isn’t great, it’s not going to kill me either. I can find work elsewhere. I’ve got skills and enough general knowledge and experience in the freelancing world to make it work.

Which brings me to the reason for the title of this post. A few weeks back, a fellow writer made a statement that ruffled my feathers a bit. She stated that generalists were a dying breed and that the only way to make it as a freelancer was to carve a niche, and stick with it.

Uh, pardon me?

You’re trying to tell me that it’s not a good idea to have knowledge in a variety of areas? You really expect me to believe that it is better to stick to one knowledge base and skill set…as a freelance WRITER?

Um, that’s as suicidal as sticking to one client.

Now, I’m not saying it isn’t good to become an expert in an area and tout that expertise. I do it all the time with my small business knowledge and growing expertise in social media marketing. What I’m saying is that along with that expertise, it can’t hurt to be able to write on a variety of topics. So, yeah, I can write about small business startup concerns and how to launch a social media campaign with authority, but I can also explain how to troubleshoot a washer, how to get rid of a skunk smell in your furnace, and give men 10 reasons why they are still single. As writers, one of our strongest skills is the ability to research and write knowledgeably on a variety of topics. You cannot survive as a freelancer if you only write about one topic. Not to mention, it would make the freelancing gig incredibly boring…

And if I wanted to be bored, I’d go back to a brick and mortar job. To toss out a well-worn cliche, variety is the spice of life, and it’s a freelancers bread and butter.

So, to all my fellow generalists, keep doin’ what you’re doing, and ignore those who tell you that you’ll never make it as a freelancer. If they still want to argue, send them my way. It’s hard to argue with someone whose been doing it since 1996. And to those of you who are niche writers, good luck to you, and I have you have a niche B. And feel free to try and prove me wrong.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have three social media articles to write and then I need to explain how to hide an ugly bay window, remove scratches from a butcher block table, and detail the various sizes of dormers.

Diversity…it’s a good thing!

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