My Writing Journey

All posts in the My Writing Journey category

Are You Fit to Freelance?

Published July 3, 2014 by Jennifer Elizabeth

college gradWhat they don’t tell you in college …

I studied professional writing in college. Lessons on writing resumes, cover letters, and business proposals were covered. However, nothing was ever mentioned about freelancing. (Well, if it was, I wasn’t paying attention.)

Technology has certainly advanced in the past ten years since I graduated. And with these advancements, opportunity sprung forth – opportunity to freelance as a student and as a graduate.

However, I now wonder:

“Are these opportunities being discussed within the walls of the advanced education systems?”

My guess is no.

In a crap economy  (yes, I still say it’s crap even though reports predicted otherwise), college grads are emerging from their “me” centered bubbles with high hopes. They expect to find a job in their field, and one that pays well.

Ha.

This is not always the case. And when it is, those grads are “the lucky ones.”And we all wish that was the reality for all grads. If it were only that easy …

Where I come from, college grads are lucky to find a job that pays more than minimum wage.

Unless they’re willing to move.

Most are stuck with minimum wage jobs. And if they’re lucky, they’ll be hired despite being a now overeducated applicant.

However, there are money-making opportunities right at their fingertips, literally. But, you have to think outside the “college box.”

Money-making opportunities at your fingertips

Freelancing websites allow users to search for field related work. And the work can be done while sitting naked on your own couch. (I don’t recommend sitting naked on a parent’s couch, however, if said grad still lives at home.)

Sites like oDesk provide free user registration. Once an account is created a user can then search job listings by category and go from there. However, if said user is not quite ready to jump into the freelancing pool, and he or she prefers to first get their feet wet, I suggest trying Fiverr.com.

Again, registration is free on Fiverr and one can opt to participate as little or as often as desired. Fiverr allows users to search gigs and buyer requests. The easiest gigs are posting reviews, such as product, book, and site reviews. And while the money isn’t a lot, it does eventually add  up. Also, payments can be sent directly to a PayPal account.

Simple. Fast. Perfect.

However, there is a downside to freelancing.

When freelancing, you are not exposed to actual human beings. Therefore, you are alone. You MUST motivate yourself. If you have difficulties with distractions (i.e. Internet browsing, social media sites, online shopping, etc.), then you may have a hard time succeeding as a freelancer.

Why is Jen writing this blog?

I’ll tell you why. Over seven years ago I was an expecting mom with a college English degree. I wanted to work from home, be my own boss, and daycare was out of the question. So, I tried my best to think “outside the box.”

First, I thought I could start my own resume writing service.

Yeah, that didn’t work. I knew nothing about website development and that’s where I thought my business would generate the most customers.

Then, I bought into Mary Kay Cosmetics. I learned I was a terrible sales person. But I LOVED the makeup!

Next, I dabbled in candle making. Too much mess. And good wax is expensive.

So, I then joined a candle selling business (like that of Mary Kay). Apparently I hadn’t learned my lesson the first time. Ha. However, I was lucky because I sold those candles for a year. They were THAT good. Good candles sell themselves. But, I had to leave my home and my kids in order to sell. So in the long run, it wasn’t for me.

Finally, I started my own book blog and decided I was going to write, even if I wasn’t being paid to do so. And as a result of that decision, I broke into freelancing, by accident.

Two years ago I was given an opportunity to edit and I snatched that baby right up (all because someone noticed I was a writer),

Thank God.

I did everything I possibly could to ensure my client was happy with my work. I went nearly two years with less than 5 days off. I worked all the time. And along the way I met some wonderful people and fellow freelancers. Doors opened. Opportunities came my way.

And finally, one day, I had a choice. I had several opportunities floating in my inbox. I chose the one best fit for me. There’s nothing better than having a choice.

The lesson

Think outside the box. If you’re working a “less than desirable” job, do something on the side. Do anything. Search for work. Create your own work and talk about it. That’s what I did. And one day, it finally got me somewhere.

One day, it may get you somewhere as well.

Peace.

Day One Disasters of Summer Vacation

Published May 30, 2013 by Jennifer Elizabeth

Noah's Graduation from KindergartenWell, my first official school year as “the mom” is finally over…Kindergarten graduation is over, the uniforms are semi-put away and both of my boys are now home with me every day. Yesterday was day one, and I think I sprouted a few new white hairs within the past 24 hours. LOL 🙂

Day One of Insanity

My oldest decided to go exploring while I was working for EYES IN Magazine. He went into the kitchen, climbed onto the counter (which is directly above the kitchen sink) and he snatched the Gorilla Glue that was sitting nicely out of reach on the window sill. OR SO I THOUGHT IT WAS OUT OF REACH.

Five minutes later I heard, “MOM! My fingers are stuck together!”

Me (aloud): “WHAT?! What did you do?”

Me (inside my head): WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

My Son: “I wanted to glue something.”

Me (aloud): “Well I really hope it wasn’t your fingers!”

Me (inside my head): BOY, I’M GONNA GORILLA GLUE YOUR TUSH TO A CHAIR!

And so the next ten minutes were spent trying to research the best method to remove Gorilla Glue. And then another 10 minutes were spent trying to remove it.

Note to fellow moms: Be aware that when you help your child remove Gorilla Glue from his/her fingers, it will also get on yours!

Moving On…

Once I finished my work for the morning AND did my best to remove said Gorilla Glue, I showered–but not before I sat each of my sons in a chair of his own with a bowl of raisins, chocolate chips and oyster crackers and then turned on “Special Agent Oso.” (I knew I had to keep their hands and their brains entertained, or else I would be doomed, again.)

After the shower, we went outside. Minus a bit of back and forth brotherly arguing and dirt throwing, the rest of the day went well…Until my oldest went exploring again–and he decided to climb the counter in the bathroom and touch a lightbulb above the bathroom sink.

Me (aloud): “REALLY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!”

Me (inside my head): “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”

My Son: “I don’t know but it really hurts!”

Luckily, there was no mark or blistering of the skin–just a little sting. I had to basically spell out the lesson of the day, however.

IF IT IS UP HIGH, THAT MEANS DO NOT TOUCH IT.

Hopefully this lesson has been learned!

So Moms, how’s the start to the summer going for you? 🙂 

My #Writing #Journey: An Aside about Being #Mom

Published April 15, 2013 by Jennifer Elizabeth

For nearly two years I have tossed around the idea to home-school my oldest son. Currently, he is in kindergarten at a private Catholic school. And he has 28 days left.

I have been counting down the days until summer vacation since day #1. In my experience, I’ve only ever come across moms who count down the days until school STARTS.

The first day of school was one of the worst days of my life. It wasn’t because it was a terrible day for him (that’s another story for another day ;).) It’s because it was the first day I had to leave my son, in a new environment, without me. I cried when I walked away from him, and I cried when I picked him up (but of course, I did the mom thing and hid my tears behind my sunglasses).

I hate being apart from my kids. I always find myself rushing home whenever I go out. Some may think I just need to get away more often and just get used to being away from them. But that’s not the case. It’s because I love my kids, and I am aware how life can change in a blink of the eye.

Life changed for may people today at the Boston Marathon. You don’t know when something is going to happen that will change your life forever.

And this is one of the reasons why I am choosing to home-school my son next year. Life is so short. We have little control over what happens to us–more specifically in regards to unexpected acts of violence caused by others. But allow me to clarify: I am not afraid of death, or of the unexpected. I am not living in fear. I just want to make the best of the time I have been given. And one day, when it all ends, I want the peace of knowing that my time was well spent and that I didn’t miss a thing.

I am a stay-at-home mom who is also able to work from home. I also have an education degree. I am very blessed. I have the option to teach my children at home. I have the option to embrace this precious time when they are little and just learning. And I am going to do just that. I am going to embrace this time and am thankful that I can.

Some may think I’m crazy. Others will think I’m overreacting. And some will agree. But when it call comes down to it, at the end we are only left with memories. And I want my family to remember me being there, and to remember that I wanted to be there.

So that’s my little aside about being a mom. I love to read thoughts if you’d like to share them with me :).

 

My #Writing #Journey: The Ah-Ha #Writers Moment

Published February 14, 2013 by Jennifer Elizabeth

Have you ever found yourself suspect to an unexpected inspirational moment?

The other day my oldest son, Noah, was home sick from school. He had woken in the morning with a slight fever, so I had to keep him home. (If you go to school with a fever, you will get sent home.)  Anyways, that day he wasn’t that sick. He was actually quite active.

Little piano keyboard

Little piano keyboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And during the day he created a music game—he played a random little tune on our piano while my youngest and I danced around the living room. The faster he played, the faster we dance. And when the music stopped playing, we stopped dancing. If the music sounded “wiggly,” we danced “wiggly”. Get the picture? :)

Experiencing the “ah-ha” moment is unforgettable.

My heart was touched as I watched my five-year-old sit at the piano, with his little legs dangling from the piano bench. He was so proud of the music he was creating, and it came so naturally. He wasn’t just “hunting and pecking” at the keys. His notes morphed together beautifully. He was inspired with a new game idea and he was able to communicate it as he played.

Cover of "Pretty in Pink (Everything's Du...

Cover via Amazon

I have sat for months trying to figure out how to jump-start my YA story idea. I’ve questioned myself and my methods—Do I need to read more? Should I hang out with teens? Do I need to revisit “Pretty in Pink” or “Say Anything” to grab hold of the innocent yet cheesy teen romance moment?

Something has held me back…lack of inspiration? Fear of failure? Procrastination? My own lack of self-esteem as a writer? Be it whatever, I’ve made hideous excuses for not writing—until I watched my son play the piano.

Hands down, my kids are my inspiration. I have had an adorable little idea for a children’s book series, all based on my experiences as a mom of ‘two little monkeys’.  The ideas are endless. The adventures are endless. All this time my inspiration has been staring me in the face. Yet I didn’t recognize it until my precious “ah-ha” moment.

I think as a writer we sometimes focus too hard on finding inspiration—

And we miss what is right in front of our faces.

I think sometimes we try too hard, make things too difficult. Some published writers are able to naturally create imaginative worlds and characters without any single detail relatable to their life experiences. And that is remarkable! But it doesn’t work for every writer.

Cover of "Hush, Hush"

Cover of Hush, Hush

The other day I was browsing Author Becca Fitzpatrick’s Website, and discovered that she draws from her experiences as a teen to create her masterpieces. (And I use the word ‘masterpiece’ because her “Hush, Hush” saga is absolutely that—a masterpiece.)

 I didn’t know this! This tid-bit of information was surprising to me. If you’ve read the “hush, hush” saga, I’m sure you understand. The suspense, romance, plot, and characters are tremendous—how could any of it have been pulled from real life experiences?

Yet that is the beauty of fiction—duh. We can pull inspiration from anywhere and twist it into what is necessary to “get the job done” and create the perfect masterpiece.

Inspiration can come from anywhere—

It’s what we do with it that is the most important.

So there it is. I finally opened my eyes and my heart to my inspiration. Now it is up to me to do something with it. No more procrastinating. It’s time to put these ideas to paper and create a masterpiece for myself and for my children.

Have you ever caught yourself  in an “ah-ha” moment of inspiration?

…as always, thank you for your thoughts 🙂

My #Writing #Journey: Cleaning the Litter Box

Published February 11, 2013 by Jennifer Elizabeth

Writing a story is the equivalent to cleaning a litter box.

Do I have your attention? I bet you’re thinking: What the heck does writing have to do with cleaning a litter box? Have I awakened some nasty images in your brain? I sure hope so ;).  The imagination is the BIGGEST golden nugget to successful story writing.  If you can see it in your imagination, you can write it (in my opinion). The trick is getting it all out.

Can you see where this is leading?

Allow me to continue: Over the past few days I have sorted through snippets of  writing produced last summer, and some produced nearly three years ago. A few I would consider “golden nuggets.” Many I wish to piece together for my “story-to-be.” And the key is to gather all the golden nuggets and pray they stick together to form the final product—much like cleaning a litter box.

Now, let’s get a teeny bit graphic.

A few weeks back I experienced litter box cleaning for the first time. My family and I adopted an adorable kitten. We named her Periwinkle (after the beloved cat from the children’s show “Blues Clues”). I took on the responsibility of cleaning her litter box. At first, I was a bit grossed out. There I was, a grown woman scooping cat crap.

A basic litter box and a bag of litter

A basic litter box and a bag of litter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those unfamiliar, to clean a litter box you must put the scoop into the litter, dig around a bit, and filter out the “golden nuggets”—and most of the time you will come up with a big pile of…well, you get the picture ;).  Everything should stick together nicely, and the goal is to find the big chucks and scoop them out—scoop them ALL out. And when you do—success. And of course the process continues the next day.

Well eventually I got used to the process and almost found myself excited when I’d discover the “golden nuggets” and was able to rid the box of the source of stink.

When you’re a writer, you have to sort through your ideas, constantly seeking the golden nuggets—the non-cat golden nuggets that is ;).

You have to access your imagination. Because if you can’t, why should your reader? Reading a story is all about the imagination: words are strategically placed to allow a picture to form inside the reader’s mind.

Our imaginations allow us to build on those words and create a perfect moving picture as we read. (And that is how we find ourselves suddenly lost in a story: perfection. :))

To conclude: as writers we have to constantly access the imagination and seek those golden nuggets. Some we have to filter out. Others we can put aside for later. And when we’re lucky, many will stick together and form the perfect story.

Right now I am filtering though my pile of nuggets and working towards my perfect story. Ultimately, my goal is the fuse the golden nuggets together and encourage the formation of a perfect moving picture within my readers imaginations.

What do you compare your writing process to?

…as always, thank you for your thoughts 😉

#BoutofBooks 6.0 Goals and Updates

Published January 7, 2013 by Jennifer Elizabeth
It’s finally here!  Bout of Books 6.0 Read-A-Thon kicked off today, Monday, Jan. 7th (which made its debut in August 2011).
Bout of Books Read-a-Thon
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda (On a Book Bender) and Kelly (Reading the Paranormal).  It is a week long read-a-thon that begins at 12:01am on Monday 7 January and runs through to the end of Sunday 13 January in whatever time zone you are in.  Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week.  There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 6.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
– From the Bout of Books 6.0 team
My Reading Goals:
Jennifer Wagner
1. Michael Connelly’s “The Black Box”
2. Becca Fitzpatrick’s “Finale”
3. Comment on many of my fellow book blogger’s goals/challenges/updates
4. Participate in at least ONE challenge
Monday Update: I am getting a super late start, as it is currently 9 p.m. on Monday evening. I have done quite a bit of reading today; however, it’s been for my freelance job ;).  I wish I had the motivation to read “for me” right now, but I don’t.  I’m just going to call Monday a “wash” and start fresh tomorrow. Plus, I have 35 minute of Downton Abbey to finish from Season 3’s Episode 1 which aired last night, and I am dddyyyyinggg to finish it!  ;). Best of luck fellow readers!!

 

My Writing Journey: Inside the Wormhole

Published November 24, 2012 by Jennifer Elizabeth

Image courtesy io9.com

It has been far too long since my last blog post. Friends, I promise I have not fallen off the face of the earth. However, I may have fallen into a wormhole, and perhaps got stuck. For that, I apologize.

For weeks I have dedicated myself to work, and when I’m not working, I’m thinking about how I could be working.  The guilt caused by these thoughts then generates to “I need to spend less time working and more time with my kids.”

Naturally, I now long for the days when the majority of my day was spent entertaining my two boys, and my free time was spent reading and writing.

For months I have felt like my existence includes a laptop resting on my lap. My eyes are consistently exhausted from hours spent on the computer. However, my income has given me the opportunity to send my oldest to the school my husband and I feel is best for him. Not the one that was chosen for him.

With all of that said, I still miss the old me.

I miss the excitement of new followers, blog traffic, and Twitter responses. But most of all, I miss my creative moments and all the self-contained ideas I had bouncing inside my mind, not yet exposed to the outside world. I have yet to figure out the balance. The time just isn’t there.

It is beyond frustrating to feel as though months of work, brainstorming, and progress have been flushed into a black pit, and when something is spewed to the surface, it’s a bill or an unexpected medical expense. These are rancid reminders that work is an absolute, not an option.

How do other writers do it? Where in the world do you find the time? Do you sleep?

What do you do to keep from falling into the wormhole?

I need to get back into it. I miss my passion. Ignoring my intrinsic need to read and to read is no longer an option for me. I am spinning inside my own personal wormhole and I desperately need to be spewed back to the surface. Something has to give. Help.

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