Sunday, November 17, 2013

Daily Tidbits 11/17/13



"The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary." - J. K. Rowling

Have you read any good books here lately? I am currently reading Antigoddess by Kendare Blake. So far, the tale is fantastic. I'm always a sucker for a modern twist on ancient mythology. Ms. Blake does an excellent job of executing a modern twist on the Greek Pantheon. 

One thing that I have noticed about Antigoddess is that the writing is pretty decent. I have to be honest and admit that I have kind of grown tired of reading new releases. It never fails, I'll find a new release in which the synopsis sounds intriguing, but when I go to read it, I find the writing leaves more to be desired. As of late, I've been reverting back to reading old works from my favorite authors because modern writing has left me depressed. Thankfully, Antigoddess is a new release that has proven otherwise. 

I won't go into further detail on Antigoddess, because I do intend to write a book review on it once I have finished reading it. But I will say that the writing is vivid, the scenery and imagination are present, and the plot was thoroughly fleshed out. 

This leads me back to the quote by Ms. Rowling. In order to be a writer, you must be an avid reader. In fact, you should read more than you write. Why is this? The only way you're going to understand how to create a novel (or blog post, or magazine article, or whatever it is that you write) is through experience. You have to read novels in order to know how to write one. 

A writer who is not also an avid reader is nothing more than a babbling monkey with a pen. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Site Maintenance

The blog will be under quite a bit of maintenance over the next few days. 

I will be working on revamping it and making it look a little prettier, because I like pretty things...

Anyways, if you are interested in hiring me, or have any questions during site maintenance periods, feel free to email me here and I'll be happy to talk with you. 

Blessed be!

-Danie

Daily Tidbits 11/15/13



Daily tidbits are a new topic I will be featuring on the blog. Basically, on my tidbits posts, I will include a quote or piece of writing advice to help you through your day of writing.

Although, hopefully I'll be able to get them posted sooner than 5:22pm. ;)


Anyways, here is your tidbit for today:



"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things." - Ray Bradbury


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my personal blog! On this blog you will find regular posts from me on freelance writing, blogging, and self-publishing.

You can also click any of the tabs above to find information about myself, freelance services I offer, book reviews and my policies on reviews, my portfolio, and content that I have for sale.

Thanks for reading!

-Danie

Thursday, May 30, 2013

5 Ways to Declutter Your Life

I often come across articles on how to declutter this or that, but very few actually list how to declutter your life. Most decluttering articles are about individual portions of your home or work area. While decluttering these areas is great, and they will in fact lead to a happier life if you declutter them, decluttering your life is crucial to your overall happiness.

In this article I have listed five areas of your life which you should attempt to declutter. Some of the things involve material things, but others are areas that are of a far more personal level. These five things are by no means the only things you should seek to declutter in your life, but they’re a start.

Begin this by doing one thing at a time. If you try to do all five things at once, you may become overwhelmed. The purpose behind decluttering your life is to help you to lead a happier life. If you try to pack too much decluttering all at once, you will more than likely become overstressed and frustrated, which do not lead to a happier you. Go slow, take baby steps, and remember that your ultimate desire in all of this is happiness.


Clean house: Part ways with unnecessary things.  Sell them, donate them, or just throw them out. If your closet is overflowing with shoes and clothes, cull some of them out. You know those jeans you haven’t been able to wear since your first pregnancy 10 years ago? Get rid of them. And those cute pumps that you can hardly walk in? Get rid of those too.

This rule doesn't just apply to your closet, either. Go through all areas of your house and reduce. Do you really need 50 plates when you’re the only one who lives there? Or do you really need all those wine glasses when you gave up alcohol years ago?

The best way to go about this is to go into each room with three boxes. Label one box for “donate”, one box for “sell”, and another box for “trash”. Sort things throughout the room into those boxes. Once finished,  place the donate box by the front door so you can take it to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army the next time you leave the house. For the things you want to try to sell, go on Craigslist and EBay and try to sell them on those sites. If there are things you are unable to sell, donate them. For the things in the “trash” box, throw them away immediately.

Drive less: Try driving less and walking or biking more. Obviously this option is not acceptable for everyone, but for those who live close to the store or to work, try going without your car. By doing this, you’ll help save the environment and you’ll also get a little exercise in – neither of which are bad things, by the way.

Don’t buy anything new: Many people have taken on projects of going a whole year or more without buying anything new. Of course, they still purchased necessities (food, not lattes), but they chose to not buy anything else new for the amount of time they decided on. For further reading on the topic, read Angela Barton’s blog.

Less social networking: Do you really need to check your tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, and any other accounts multiple times a day? Do you even need to check them every day? Try to cut back on the amount of time you spend on social networking. Better yet, set aside a certain amount of time, like 30 minutes, every day for social networking. This does not mean 30 minutes per site. This means 30 minutes for you to check each site. This also means that this is the only time you can log onto those sites. Setting a certain amount of time each day will help you to wean yourself off of the addiction to those sites. You will eventually learn how to spend your time on these sites appropriately.

What does cutting back on social networking have to do with decluttering your life? Think about how much time you spend each and every day on those sites. How could you better utilize that time? Could you be spending it writing? Or perhaps decluttering your house? There are so many things you could be doing instead of worrying about if someone has “Liked” your latest self-portrait in a bathroom mirror.

Reduce negativity: This one will probably be the hardest, as negativity can come in the form of many things – such as family, friends, and coworkers. Negativity can also come with the internet (or your use of it), the lack of time you spend with your kids, or the junk food that’s piled up in your kitchen. Figure out what things cause a negative influence within your life and try to reduce it. If junk food leaves you feeling negative, stop eating it. If spending too much time on the internet leaves you feeling negative, stop logging in or reduce the amount of time you spend online. If it’s people in your life that are causing the negativity, try to limit the amount of socialization you do with them. Clearly this can’t always be done, but try spending less time texting them or Facebooking them. If you think you can help them get past whatever it is that’s causing them to be so negative, try to do so.  

Negativity will prevent you from finding happiness, no matter how spectacular the other aspects of your life may be. Trying to reduce the amount of negativity you are exposed to on a daily basis will help you to find that nice balance you’re seeking.

If you are the source of the negativity, do some serious inward searching. What is causing you to be so negative? Is it because your house is always a mess? Is it because you work so much you rarely get to see your family? Or do you just feel crotchety because you’re not getting enough exercise or eating healthy foods?

If the source of your negativity is lack of good food and exercise, then those two things are easy to fix. Go through your kitchen and throw out all of the junk food you have. Start buying more produce and less processed foods. Try going vegetarian or RAW for a week or more and allow your body to cleanse itself. Start every morning with some light exercise. You can do simple stretches or you could go all out and start jogging regularly.


Do what works best for you, but make sure you’re doing something to involve change. If you need to push yourself to enact change, then do so. You know yourself best, so do what is best for you. Just make sure you are forming good habits that will get the change process rolling. Most important of all, remember that you are doing all of this to find happiness. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Managing Your Email for Writers and Bloggers


First off, clean out your inbox.

Sounds easy, right? Actually for some it can be rather difficult. Take me, for instance. I’m one of those people who allow their inbox to reach ghastly numbers (well into the thousands). However, if I want to simplify my day – and my work load – I really need to manage my email better.

Managing your email may not sound like a big deal or even something of great importance, but the issue for writers and bloggers is that email is a huge part of their daily work routine. Without email, most writers and bloggers cannot keep track of their blog comments, receive guest post requests, receive important payment information, and so much more. If you lose track of your email, you lose precious time; time that could have been spent perfecting your craft.

To begin, go through your inbox and delete everything that is of no value to you. This means things like spam, junk mail, emails that you have already read and no longer need, and random social media email alerts. Save the emails you do need to keep track of, or that you have not read but need to read. If you use Gmail, you can organize your emails into folders or “labels”. Create a few labels and organize away.

After you have done a massive inbox detox, go through your spam folder. I always try to check my spam folder because I do, on occasion, accidentally receive emails through there. Go through your spam folder and make sure you haven’t been missing out on any important emails. If you have, mark the important ones as “not spam” and they’ll shuffle over into your inbox.

Once you have sorted through your spam folder, delete everything in there. Yes, you should be keeping track and cleansing your spam folder as well. No, you do not need to do this every day. I only check my spam folder about twice a week, unless I’m expecting an email that might potentially end up in the spam folder on accident.

When you've cleaned out your inbox and your spam folder, breathe a sigh of relief. You’re almost done! The last thing I recommend is that you go through some of your emails that you have deleted and unsubscribe from them, if possible. Usually at the bottom of an email there will be a link you can follow that allows you to unsubscribe from the continuous email alerts. This last thing is somewhat optional, but I recommend it if you’re getting a bunch of junk mail.

One final tip: Only check and manage your email after you've written for the day. Preferably write in the morning and manage email, social media, and other accounts in the afternoon or evening. Getting the most important thing done during the day (in this case, writing), will help you manage your time better. If you try to deal with social media and email first thing in the morning, you run the risk of getting caught up in all of it and wasting time that could be better spent writing. \

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How to Write 4,000 Words a Day

Some people see the number 4,000 and panic. Others look at it with a sly grin and begin clicking away at their keyboard. Whether you fall under the first group, or the second, it can be difficult to write 4,000 words a day.

This is not to say it's impossible. No matter what your schedule is, you can almost always find time to write. You might complain about how you have a full time job or you're a stay-at-home parent and cannot possibly find the time to include such a hefty chunk of writing into your schedule. However, I'm here to tell you it is possible.

I'm a stay-at-home mother who works as a freelance writer. I also manage to find time to write 4,000 words a day towards the novels I work on (Note that the 4,000 words a day does not include the amount that I write daily for my freelance contracts.). In no way am I trying to brag. In fact, I wish I could write more. But this seems to be the number that I'm stuck at. It's not a bad number, which is why I'm writing this blog post explaining how to write this much in a single day.

The key thing you have to do to make this work is create a schedule and stick with it. If you are one of those people who admire themselves for their unorganized ways, stop it. Being unorganized really isn't helping you get anywhere and it's kind of silly to brag about something that's not awesome. Brag about your kids or dog instead.

Obviously, you are going to have to make some sacrifices to make this work. Shaving an hour or two off of your sleep schedule is one way to cut corners. Eating while writing is another option. You can even keep a notepad in the bathroom and write when you're on the toilet or taking a bath. Hell, you can even skip shaving for a few months to save a little time while you're in the shower. I'm sure none of these options sound appealing, but if you want to become a writer you're going to have to work hard. Working hard requires sacrifices.

The way I manage to get 4,000 words in every day is pretty simple. I write 2,000 words, take a 1 hour break to surf the web or snack, then I write the remaining 2,000 words. This usually all happens from about 8 pm till around midnight. I write fairly fast, which helps me keep my writing schedule simple. While I'm writing, I avoid distractions. My son is already in bed by the time I work on my novel, so I don't have him to worry about. My husband is usually in bed as well. I also avoid the internet so that I'm not distracted by Facebook or Twitter. I don't have a phone, so that's not a problem. Basically, all I do is have my notes and Microsoft Word up during my writing time.

Make time. Find a time in the day that is best for you and involves the least amount of distraction. If you're kids are old enough to be left on their own for a bit, tell them you need some alone time to work. If you're friends and relatives constantly text you, tell them it will just have to wait until you're done writing. Tell them if it's an emergency  they can call. 
Ask for help. Don't be too afraid to ask for help. This has always been my greatest weakness. For the longest time, I felt like I had to be super mom, super wife, super writer. What I ended up with was being extremely stressed out, accomplishing very little writing, and I was always pissy with my husband and son. I will admit, I'm still not the greatest at this, but I do make a point to ask for help more often than I use to. I now ask my husband to help with chores so that I can write. Or I'll ask him to watch our son for a bit while I take a nap. As shocking as this may sound, he's actually more thrilled with helping me around the house than dealing with me when I'm pissy. Go figure.

Never leave your work hanging. Whatever you do, do not stop writing when the writing gets hard. I don't care if you've met your 4,000 word quote for the day. If the story is hung up, keep writing. Write until you're back on smooth turf. If you leave your writing at a massive road block, it's going to be that much harder to convince yourself to pick it back up the next day.

Have an outline. Before I begin writing, I have every chapter figured out. I have an in-depth outline written up and I try to stick with it. If I feel the story needs to take a different direction half-way in, I'll change things up. But for the most part, I stick with my original plan. This will help you when you're trying to write 4,000 words everyday.

Basically, the best advice I can give you for writing 4,000 words a day is to write and stick with it. Don't just write when you're feeling inspired. Writing is a job, it's a career, it's not something to do only when you feel like it. If you want to be a writer you must stick with it.

I'm not trying to tell you to take the pleasure out of writing. I still enjoy writing and will probably be writing till the day I die, and this is despite the fact that I write a bunch every day. Do I ever get sick of writing and want to take a break? Of course. Do I do what I want? Hell no. Because I know that in the end what I really want is to be a writer. To do this, I have to stick with writing, no matter how tired of it I may get.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Writing with a Toddler

As I write this, my 14 month old son is trying to yank the mouse pad out from under my mouse. He has also piled a few of his toys onto my lap. This is a typical day for me. I pound out a few words, maybe a sentence or two, if I'm lucky, then I'm trying to keep my son happy. Needless to say, not a lot of writing gets done during his waking hours.

Most of my writing is done late at night after my son and husband have already gone off to bed. In some ways, this arrangement is convenient because I am allowed a nice bit of quiet time. I also tend to write very fast, so when provided a few extra hours late at night, I can usually meet my daily quota. The downsides to this arrangement are: I rarely get to sleep next to my husband (he's usually getting up for work when I'm finally going to bed), I get maybe 6 hours of sleep every night, and I'm almost too exhausted to write at night because I've spent all day with my son.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to complain about my son. I love him to death and I enjoy spending time with him. It's just, when you've got bills to pay, being a stay-at-home working parent can stretch you pretty thin. Sometimes, during the weekends, my mom will volunteer to babysit so that I can get some writing in and also so my husband and I can spend a little time together. These have been blissful, but I also can't help but feeling like a bad mother at times. Sometimes it just feels wrong to crave those days off that my mother helps provide. I know, I shouldn't feel like this. Everyone deserves a break. But at the same time, I don't want my son thinking that my breaks are more important than spending time with him.

So, I suppose my real question is, how do other writers manage? I've heard of many writers who write and take care of their kids simultaneously. How do they do this? Do they just never sleep? Do their children resent them because they spend more time writing than with them?

Sorry this has turned more into a rant piece. I wish I had some real insight on how to make this work. So far, all that works for me is: little to no sleep, occasional help from Grandma, and rarely getting to see my husband. The occasional help from Grandma I don't mind, and I know she enjoys spending time with my son. However, it would be nice if I could change the other two. Or atleast, be able to spend more time with the hubby.

By the way, it took me about an hour and a half to write this due to trying to get the mouse pad back.

Weekly Recap: April 21-28

This week was spent bringing this much neglected blog back to life. Originally, this blog had been a place for me to market my freelance writing work. But since I'm finally finishing up my novel and plan on publishing it this year, I decided I should spiffy this blog up a tad. I also wanted a place in which I could write book reviews for the numerous books I devour.

Book Reviews
I've only written 3 book reviews this week, which isn't bad I suppose considering I read all 3 books in 3 days. Here are the reviews I wrote:

The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick

Maverick Wild by Stacey Kayne

Her Warrior King by Michelle Willingham

Articles & Posts
N/A for this blog, other than book reviews.

Writing Update
My book is coming along nicely. This week I had a huge 'ah hah!' while writing. Basically, I finally figured out how to end my book, which for me, is always the hardest part.

Currently Reading
I am currently working towards finishing up two books. The one I'm closest to being finished with is Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas. The second is The Pirate and the Pagan by Virginia Henley. Both are oldies but goodies!

Personal
I am now 31 weeks pregnant. I'm beginning to get to that "uncomfortable" stage. It's hard to sit, it's hard to breathe, it's hard to sleep, etc., etc. But it's all good! It will definitely be worth it in the end when I get to meet my little Bug.

My 14 month old son is beginning to form words. He is also entering that lovely toddler stage in which he loves to throw temper tantrums, refuses food based on color alone, and wants to go with Daddy wherever he goes. Sadly, the little booger is just so darn cute that I can't help but laugh sometime when he's doing all of this.

As far as my week has gone, it's been filled with writing, reading, chasing after my toddler, and chasing after my husband when the toddler is asleep (wink, wink). I've been having to lay up a lot more due to being in the last stage of my pregnancy. My back and hips just can't handle standing up for long periods of time. But that's kind of worked out since I had so much reading and writing to get done this week.


How has your week been? Did you read any exciting books or gain progress in your writings?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick

Photo Source


The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life: How to Sew a Sampler Quilt & 49 Other Pioneer Projects for the Modern Girl by Jennifer Worick 

Series: Single
Published: October 1, 2007
Publisher: Taunton Press
200 pages (hardback)
Genre: How-To, Non-Fiction
Acquired this book: Local Public Library
Warning: May contain spoilers
(Goodreads Link) (Amazon Link)


My Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life provides very basic information (and I mean very basic) on how to live a prairie girl lifestyle in the modern world. The book contains information ranging from how to host a quilting bee to how to pull your hair up into a bun. 

I found the idea behind this book quite intriguing. What little girl didn't want to live like Laura Ingalls when she was growing up? Heck, I still enjoy reading the Little House series and I love trying to create crafts that were popular during that time period. So for the inspiration, I give the book a couple of stars. 

However, I was slightly disappointed in this book. It seemed to cut corners and condense things too much. It also provided very simple activities and things to do, such as how to braid your hair. I'm sure some people do not know how to braid their hair, but the ideas and information just came across as too basic and simple. 

I suppose I was looking for a bit more depth from this book. I would have liked to have seen more historical information, such as what the people of that time period ate and wore. The author delves a little bit into pioneer cuisine and fashion, but not enough to really provide much historical depth to the book. 

The author also insisted on including glimpses into her childhood. Her childhood was far from pioneer-like. In fact, it made my childhood look downright caveman. Not that I mind at all for an author to include their background in such a book, but she seemed to have very little actual background knowledge in what she was writing about. Her writing came across as someone who enjoyed reading a great deal of fiction and not that of someone who had spent some time actually researching the history behind pioneer living. 

With that, I give this book 2 1/2 stars. I did enjoy it. I could definitely see some of the projects being fun things to do with your children. But I would have loved to have seen more historical depth and just more information on the pioneer time period. 

Book Review: Maverick Wild by Stacey Kayne

Photo Source

Maverick Wild by Stacey Kayne

Series: Book #2 in the Wild series
Published: January 1, 2008
Publisher: Harlequin
291 pages (paperback)
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Acquired this book: Personal library
Warning: May contain spoilers
(Goodreads Link) (Amazon Link)


My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

This book had me enthralled from beginning to end. The plot was perfect, the characters were perfect; I simply could not put the book down from the moment I began reading it. 

Chance Morgan is a rancher who carries a heavy burden on his shoulders. Little does he know that the burden will practically show up on his door step one day. Cora Mae Tindale was promised by Chance long ago when they were children that he would come back for her. When her mother begins setting up an arranged marriage and Cora is raped by her prospective husband, she sets out to find the boy who swore to protect her and come back for her. 

When Cora arrives at Chance's ranch, he knows she is hiding something, but she refuses to tell him the whole truth. It is not until Cora's mother arrives at the ranch, hell bent on returning her daughter to a man who will only abuse her, does Chance learn the truth. 

Chance makes good on his old promise and protects Cora. The two are wed and he helps her to begin healing the wounds that were left on her heart by her mother and the man who forced himself upon her. 

Both Chance and Cora seemed very believable to me. They both seemed like normal people trying to survive and trying to get over old pains. The book was well written and didn't have outlandish love scenes, nor did it have unrealistic characters.  I really loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good love story involving a cowboy. 





Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Her Warrior King by Michelle Willingham

Photo Source

Her Warrior King by Michelle Willingham

Series: Book #2 in the MacEgan Brothers series (this is actually book #1, but they were published out of order)
Published: January 2008
Publisher: Harlequin
288 pages (paperback)
Genre: Medieval Historical Romance
Acquired this book: Personal library
Warning: May contain spoilers
(Goodreads Link) (Amazon Link)




My Rating: 2 Stars 

I found this book incredibly... frustrating. The plot was impressive and it lured me in, but the male protagonist, Patrick MacEgan, came across as a man in dire need of some cojones. He was far too worried about what his people thought (peer pressure, anyone?) that it clouded his judgment and also caused problems in the bed chamber. The character Patrick was, in my personal opinion, not thoroughly planned out. He possessed the typical brutality and vigor seen commonly amongst male protagonists in romance novels, but he lacked any real depth. Therefore causing his character to come across as being dense. 

Despite the negatives, I did thoroughly enjoy the female protagonist, Isabel de Godred. Her character was strong and brave, yet deeply desired to be a good wife and queen. She possessed the traits of a Pagan Celtic goddess and yet she was not ashamed to bake bread all day long. I really enjoyed her character and she was probably the only reason why I continued reading this book. 

The plot was impressive. An Irish king marries a Norman enemy in an attempt to gain peace from the Normans for his people. What he doesn't expect is that Isabel is nothing like the Norman enemies he has seen murdering his tribe. She is kind, gentle, independent, and incredibly fierce. Patrick can't help but to fall in love with her. However, his pride and his peoples' opinion matter more to him than the woman who is trying so desperately to be the queen he needs. 

In the end, I give this book 2 stars. It was an interesting read and the female protagonist was incredible, but the male protagonist left more to be desired. Nearing the end of the book, it also felt as if the story was being rushed suddenly. It flowed fairly well, but then suddenly it picked up way too fast and seemed to skip over things that could have been vital in making the story more enjoyable.