"I am alive and kicking"

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Jewel Among Freelancers

Jorden Roper's 'actionable advice' approach is best in industry

Oftentimes, adults and professionals will say, "Hard works pays off. Just keep your nose to the grindstone. Forge ahead!" among other indistinct advice.
While I agree, hard work does pay off, it's difficult to find your way in completely new territory without a little outside help.
I found myself in that situation when I seriously jumped into freelance writing. I was lost. I had NO idea what I was doing and for quite some time resigned myself to simply working my day job and writing crap on my blog.
Since I discovered in August the amazing Jorden Roper, author of the Writing Revolt blog, I have forged ahead and been working hard to realize my goal of becoming a self-sustainable freelancer.
WritingRevolt.com is the only straightforward site I've found that gives upfront "actionable advice" to becoming a freelance writer.
Some sites give you worksheets, others give you vague advice and point you at other sites that give the same vague advice, and yet others offer only paid courses (which could be worth it) but I don't have hundreds of dollars to toss around for courses that MIGHT give me worthwhile information.
You see, Jorden was forced into her current position after being fired. She knew she had to make freelancing happen because she had no other choice. So she busted ass and made $800 in the first month. In month five of freelance writing, she made $5,000.

That is a DREAM for most people. For someone just working a 9-to-5, they'd have to be making $31.25 an hour to make $5,000 gross income in one month. To  NET $5,000, you'd have to make about $40 an hour at your regular day job.
I don't know about you, but I'm not finding any regular jobs where my skills will gain me $40 an hour.
Most day jobs that don't require physical labor pay a max of $15 an hour, which is nothing to sneeze at. But, you can only work so many hours in a day.
Freelance writing will give me an opportunity to branch out and use Jorden's actionable advice to create a sustainable business where I choose my clients and make the life I want.
Jorden's course, Make Money Freelance Writing, which you can find here, has been an absolute Godsend. In seven free email courses, Jorden lays out exactly how she achieved success (and even had to scale back) in easy-to-understand lessons.
She's gives you just what she advertises -- "no-bullshit advice for bloggers and freelance writers."
Jorden's journey is inspiring and has shown me I can do it too!
Other bloggers talk about hard work and that you need to choose a niche and that you need to be all over social media. But none of them (that I found) tell you how to actually do these things. Jorden gives you step-by-step instructions on how to create an effective writer website; how to use Twitter to attract and snag high-paying clients; how to master cold emailing and bring in a huge profit; and how to choose AND master a profitable niche, among other topics.
She is always frank about her experience, and even shares in one of her posts how she screwed up big time, and what we as freelance writers can learn from her mistakes.
I encourage every freelance writer, particularly those starting out, to take Jorden's course. It will set you on a path to success, as long as you're willing to work HARD, follow some frank advice, and are not offended by several f-bombs throughout.
You will not be disappointed. Jorden is a jewel among the most experienced freelance writers.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Thin pancakes or thick?

In honor of National Pancake Day, I'd like to take a minute of your time and share thoughts about this delicious treat meant for any time of the day.
When I think of pancakes, I think of big fluffy buttermilk deliciousness.

Fluffy pancakes like these are delicious, particularly on National Pancake Day!

I also like the seasonal delights of pumpkin pancakes or fresh-picked strawberries on top of buttermilk cakes with homemade whipped cream (just like Grandma used to make).
While I adore these round bits of heaven, I actually prefer thinner, heavier pancakes.
I know, I'm a little weird.
My pancake recipe goes light on the flour, heavy on the eggs and milk. I concoct my recipe mostly from memory, along with trial and error.
Pancakes I make (which Jacob eats, but not Derek) look much like this:

Thinner pancakes are just as filling, but take less room on your plate.They also
have a spongier texture and look a lot like lefse. Mmmm ... lefse.
I douse mine in plain old maple syrup (usually whatever's cheapest) but I don't skimp on the butter - I use real butter at all times. None of this "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter." Because I certainly CAN believe it's not butter. Yuck.
So, go home tonight and either make pancakes for supper OR prepare your ingredients for a wonderful breakfast tomorrow morning. If you keep baking supplies in your house, here's my quick recipe for thin pancakes:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
2-3 eggs (depending on how heavy you want the cakes)
1 cup of milk

Mix dry ingredients together first. Whisk eggs in a bowl and add to the dry ingredients, and add milk. Mix all together until mixture is runny. Fry in butter in small pan. Usually makes 4-6 large pancakes (7 inches in diameter, if you're curious).

This recipe literally takes 10 minutes or less to make. Plus the pancakes cook quickly, so if you have hungry little devils running around your house, you should be able to satisfy their desires for pancakes in 20 minutes or so. Good luck. Don't lose any fingers when people/little devils scramble to snatch these off the serving plate.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Yerks yanks at readers' emotions with 'Dream Junkies'

Anne-Marie Yerks
(Photo from press materials
at dreamjunkies.nyc)
Networking is finally proving to be an interesting activity.
A woman named Anne-Marie Yerks approached me last week through Facebook. We are both a part of a freelancer's group and she was responding to one of my posts. She's a fellow journalist, fiction writer and essayist, but hails from the Detroit area.
She sent me a private message about a job opportunity and then she asked if I'd like to read her new book she just had published. I said sure. I'm always up for a fun new book.
Well, turns out Yerks won the 2016 New Rivers Press Electronic Book Series through Minnesota State University Moorhead -- my alma mater! How wonderful.
Of course, she called it Minnesota State University. But I knew the name of the publishing company, having walked by the office a thousand times while attending MSUM.
Anyway, Yerks wrote "Dream Junkies."


'Dream Junkies' cover.
(Photo from press materials at dreamjunkies.nyc)
I'm only about halfway through, but so far, it's a good read.
It follows three women, two of whom are aspiring actresses in New York City. The third woman is their agent.
Kristin and Daphne are the actresses who Pavia, their agent, discovered while watching the comedy sketch show in which they took part in Chicago.
Pavia takes the two girls to New York. Things don't quite go the way they want them to go, and Yerks' writing makes you feel like you're right there with the characters.
She writes Kristin in a way that makes you hate her, but also feel sorry for her and want her to make better decisions.
Daphne is more self confident, but struggles with making decisions and justifies a lot of her behavior in favor of her career.
Pavia wants Kristin to succeed because she feels Kristin is her ticket to success.
Each chapter is labeled with a character's name, which is something I've rarely seen, but enjoy.
I can imagine each person's life as if they were real.
I'm excited to see how these two girls arrange their lives and whether they'll let fame go to their heads, or ultimately find themselves and do the right thing.
Thanks to Anne-Marie Yerks for the book! It's getting a thumbs-up from me.

You can find 'Dream Junkies' on Amazon.com.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Nostalgia can be useful

It's strange to think items from my childhood (only 25 to 30 years ago) are considered antiques.
Now, they probably aren't considered real expensive antiques, but are antique-y nonetheless. Perhaps nostalgia is a better word.
On Friday, I stopped in our local antique store, The Second Impression Palace Antique Mall. I was on a mission to find a spring-action flour sifter.
Yes. A flour sifter. It makes for fewer or no lumps when I make pancakes.
Anyway, as I searched I came across several items that would make us laugh today and others to make us say, "Awww, I remember that,"
My favorite was a pair of dolls (despite the fact I hate dolls) that I had wanted when I was a kid, but never got.

These two were a source of pure television entertainment
when I was a kid. (photo by Anna Jauhola)
Although Lisa and Bart never made it into a permanent spot in my bedroom as dolls, they were on my television. I lived to watch brand new episodes of The Simpsons every Sunday and reruns every night at various times on Fox. Thank goodness I had Fox. I literally don't know what I would have done without The Simpsons.
Another doll caught my eye while I was in the antique mall, a doll that many coveted and HAD to have. The many varieties of this doll had tall, fluffy and crazy colored hair. And they were naked.
The Troll dolls. This one in particular was quite popular, with its little jewel belly button. I personally had one troll doll with bright pink hair and it thankfully had a dress.
I found this blue-haired beast next to another strange childhood toy most would consider today to be SO 1980s.
The ViewMaster. This is how we children of the 80s saw the world. We could view the pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal or the Grand Canyon. Now we have the Internet. It's just not the same.


The ViewMaster was a simple way to see history, the wonders
of the world and other fantastic sights. (photo by Anna Jauhola)
The last entertaining photo I have to show you is of a master list most businessmen and women kept on their desks far before the 1980s.
The Rolodex!

The Rolodex. Where businessmen and women kept all their
important contact information. Now we have LinkedIn
and smart phones. How boring. (photo by Anna Jauhola)
I saw this ancient version of a digital phone book in the doctor's office, dentist's office, school offices, courthouse offices and even in a few home offices. I remember thinking how the Rolodex made people look important and I couldn't wait to have one, with enough contacts to fill it.
Oh how times have changed. I still like the idea of a Rolodex, as opposed to a smart phone. I like my smart phone for quick searches for phone numbers or addresses I don't have, but there's something special about physically writing down a person's information and having it stored away with all other contacts.
As a final nostalgic note, Halloween is nearing and I broke out Hocus Pocus yesterday. It was entertaining to watch the main character Max give his phone number on a piece of paper to a girl in his class.
Why can't life be that simple again? Where is the anticipation? I used to love answering the phone not knowing who it was. But, today it is useful to cut out unwanted phone calls, particularly at dinner time, and life can be more lucrative by being able to run a business using technology and the Internet.
Once in awhile, it is good to take a step back, and perhaps mix the old with the new. Maybe I'll purchase that Rolodex to add to my new desk at home. And perhaps, Lisa and Bart might finally find their way to a shelf in my office as well.

Monday, September 12, 2016

An easy DIY desk creates perfect writing space

In an ongoing quest to delve further into freelance writing, I've been seeking out advice, reading a LOT and taking some courses. I've also convinced my husband to build me a desk so I could have a specific space for writing. And, it got done this weekend! The project maybe took an hour and a half. Pretty simple.

This tiny space is mine. And it has a door to separate
me from the noise of the TV.  (photo by Anna Jauhola)
It's not much. It's actually in the front entryway, which is tiny. You see, the house we live in is super tiny. Our bed pretty much takes up our bedroom, which leaves no space for a desk. Jacob's room is his, I can't use that.
I was using the table, but the TV is a huge distraction with the volume way up.
But when my desk was done, I sat down and closed the door, and I could barely hear the TV, which is just on the other side. BLISS.
It will be colder than a witch's thorax in the winter. BUT. It's mine and I love bundling up. Also, a space heater might help, along with some sort of stylish covering for the outside door.
I already was quite productive this weekend in my little office.
It'll be exciting to have this space, even in subzero temperatures. Hot coffee or tea will sustain me. Words and hard work will fuel my ability to stay motivated.
Here's to productivity!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My wrist won; I brought back the watch

Recently, my wrist felt lonely. 
And it often asked for my attention after the clock in my car started going haywire. Eventually that clock went completely dark and my wrist won. 
It got its best friend back. 

Wearing a watch completes me. (photo by Anna Jauhola)
After a few years of just not wearing a watch, I've started wearing one again. 
I'll give you a few reasons why. 


1. I simply need to know what time it is ALL the time. 

I don't want to dig in my purse or pocket to find my damn cell phone. What a pain. My purse is black and so is my phone. I can't ever find it in there. 
My wrist is always within easy reach, even if I have to push back a long sleeve to look at it. The only thing that's easier is having a wall clock or your computer clock right in front of you all day.

2. It's a classy way to dress up your wardrobe. 

I am no fashion queen. You should see what I'm wearing today. Yikes. 
BUT, when I wear my watch, I feel pretty classy. It's a cute little thing my husband bought me before we were even engaged. It's a Relic (which makes me feel ultra cool) and it's dainty, yet durable. 
It goes with practically everything I wear, too, save sweats or pajamas. 

3. It keeps my wedding ring company. 

My hands are kind of tiny and manly, they're freckled beyond repair and bear a few scars here and there. And when I am watchless, my hand looks funny with just my wedding ring. I put on my watch so the two can complete the ensemble for the day.

4. Checking the time is rude, but less rude than looking at your cell phone.

I feel it's much less insulting to look at your wrist when you're talking to someone or at an event. When someone takes out their cell phone when I'm talking to them, I automatically assume they're bored with me (because they probably are) and start texting or playing games or browsing the Internet. But when you look at your watch, it's usually just an indicator of one of two things ~ you have to get going OR you want to know what time it is. 

5. I feel naked and lost without my watch.

For the couple of years I did not regularly wear a watch, I often caught myself looking at my bare wrist for the time. It didn't matter if I was alone or with a group of people, my reaction was always the same: I'd cover my wrist with my right hand and say out loud, "I don't have a watch on." I then kept my hand over my wrist and frantically searched for a clock on a wall. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Please, don't waste your vote

Voting is an important part of being a U.S. citizen.
Saying you hate Trump and you hate Hilary, and you plan to just not vote is not acceptable to me.
Please, don't waste your vote. If you don't like the mainstream candidates, take a look at former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.

I'm not going to go in-depth. I should, but I'm not comfortable enough talking politics. I just know these guys have more common sense than Trump and more integrity than Hilary.
SO, please (forgive the fun pun) #FeelTheJohnson this election.
Maybe we CAN make America sane again.