Thursday, March 29, 2007

All kinds of updates

My Blogger account has had some problems for the last couple of days, so several of my posts didn't appear until today (finally!). Be sure to read everything and catch up!

I have a number of updates:

The Lieurance-King Article Challenge:

Yeah, that SO didn't happen. I've been too busy catching up on PAID work to write marketing articles. However, I hate not finishing things I set out to do, so I'm setting a challenge for myself: To finish my 30 articles by the end of April.

The Inkthinker Query Challenge:

I didn't send off any queries in February, but I did get a couple of in March. I'm up to a whopping 9 queries for the year. Obviously, I have a lot of catching up to do there, too.

My sleep schedule:

You'd be impressed -- when we were visiting Michael's family, I got up as early as 8:00 one day (that's 7:00 in Denver). It was solely to watch/help as Panama got his hooves trimmed, though. Without that kind of incentive here, I'm back to sleeping until 10:30-ish each day. That's not bad, though, considering that a month ago I was going to bed around 5am and sleeping until 1 or 2pm each day.

My work hours:

I never realized how few billable hours I worked every day until I started keeping track. Now that I am tracking it, though, I've been able to make a definite improvement. I'm still only getting about 6 billable hours a day, though; the rest is spent searching for jobs, corresponding with clients, blogging, networking, and doing a hundred other little time-consuming tasks.

My workload:

Going on vacation always screws me up; I always think I can work in the car, and it almost never happens. In other words, when I got back I had lots to do.

There's good news, though. After several crazy days of working almost non-stop since we got back, I have not just caught up on several assignments -- I have also prepared my estimated tax worksheet and figured out how much I need to make in the way of payments this year.

(That's my least favorite part of freelancing, by the way. I can handle filing my taxes, but I hate estimated tax payments. Probably has something to do with all of the dire warnings of the penalties you'll face if you mess up.)

I still have more work to catch up on, but the point is that the list is much shorter. I think that's partly because of my efforts to track my billable hours -- I'm working harder at this than I used to.

All in all, I think that's a positive list of updates. With the exception of those challenges I tried to take on (and failed miserably), I'm doing pretty well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Avoid contests that take all rights to ALL entries - regardless of whether they're winners!

Today I spotted an announcement for a contest, posted on someone else's blog. The contest is the Lady Speed Stick (R) 24/7 National Day Diary Contest, sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive Company. The idea is to submit a diary of a 24-hour period.

Here's the catch: Simply by submitting an entry, you are giving up all rights to it, whether it wins or not! As far as I'm concerned, that's just wrong. Writers should be able to retain their rights to their work if they don't win. After all, they might want to tweak it and resubmit somewhere else.

My advice of the day: Don't submit to any contest (or publication) that takes all rights to ALL submissions! Think about how low your odds are of winning or being selected for publication. Chances are you won't win or get published, and they'll get your rights for free. It's just not worth it!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Are writers professionals?

While I was on vacation, I received a comment on my post "Attention beginning writers: Don't write for free!" I'm not publishing it because not only is the person kind of nasty, she also uses the comment to plug her own blog. It pretty much says, "You're a b!tch and wrong. Hey everyone, come see my site!"

Anyway, the comment is in response to my statement comparing non-paying writing gigs to refusing to pay your doctor or lawyer. The comment starts out by saying:

First of all, if/when it happens, it's called pro-bono (short for pro bono publico) work. Beginning lawyers often do it to prove their competence when starting out, and doctors generally do it out of altruism.

I have no problem with pro bono work. If you writers out there want to dedicate your time to a cause you feel strongly about, I think that's wonderful. However, I hardly see it as "pro bono" to write for free for some sleazy website no one has ever heard of, just because the owner of said website has figured out he can get free content by taking advantage of beginners.

Next the comment says:

Second of all, how dare you compare "writers" to doctors and lawyers. My uncle works in the ER and To even insinuate that a "writer" is even remotely as important as a doctor is not only disgusting and laughable, it is the epitome of arrogance and you should be ashamed of yourself.

No, I'm not ashamed of myself. Far from it: I'm proud. If people make comments like this, it's clear that blogs such as mine -- blogs that make the point that writers are professionals and should be treated as such -- are needed. Anyone who thinks that the idea of a writer being treated with the same respect as a doctor is "laughable" should be ashamed of themselves. Who the he!l do you think writes the textbooks doctors study to learn their trade? If it weren't for the writers, there wouldn't be medical textbooks, doctors wouldn't be educated, and fewer lives would be saved.

Now that I've had my say, I'm interested in what my readers have to say. I know there are many outspoken writers who read my blog regularly, and I'd be interested to see what others think about Ms. Down With Writers. If you'd like to comment, please click on the title of this post, scroll down to the bottom of the individual post page, and click on "Leave a Reply."

Rude comments will remain unpublished, of course, so please be civil. If you don't have a Blogger/Google account, you can email me with your comment, and I'll post it for you.

Another visit with Michael's family and my horse

Just last night, Michael, my sister Laura, and I got back from a trip to see Michael's family and nail down our wedding plans. Here's a picture Michael's brother took of us after we applied for our marriage license:

Although a good deal of the first two days there were spent meeting with people (the minister, videographer, chef, florist, manager at the venue, etc.) regarding the wedding, I also took advantage of the time to spend some quality time with my horse, Panama.

If you've been reading my blog regularly for the past year, you'll know that we got Panama as a rescue after witnessing his pregnant mother being euthanized by Michael's brother's stupid neighbor. We've made a handful or so of trips out there to see the family, and every time I spend as much time as possible with my horse.

Panama has grown a lot. I can remember when he was this little, scrawny colt, and now he's almost 14 hands. He'll probably be a small horse, but that's okay with me -- I'm small, too.

To show you how much he has grown, first check out this picture, taken in July of 2006:

The next picture was taken during this trip, almost nine months later:

Panama has matured a lot as he's grown, too. We haven't gotten him gelded yet, and late last summer he was really becoming a handful. His fiestiness culminated around Labor Day Weekend, when he kicked Michael's brother when the ferrier was trying to trim his hooves, and even reared up on me when I hooked a lead rope onto his halter.

Then around Thanksgiving, I noticed an abrupt change in him. He'd had his halter off for about a month, and had grown quite wild. We were able to corner him and get a halter on him about halfway through the visit, and from then on he was a changed horse. He started displaying quite an attachment to me during that visit.

This visit was even more satsifying. Panama can still be a little fiesty, but he is as sweet as can be with me. On Friday morning the ferrier came, and was able to trim three out of four of Panama's hooves before Panama fought back. In fact, he stood so calmly for the first three that we're thinking the fourth one happened to be sore that day. I stood in front of him the entire time, holding his halter and stroking his nose while I talked to him soothingly, and I think that might have made a difference, too -- he responds really well to that.

Panama is definitely becoming very attached to me -- there's no longer any question about that. On Saturday I decided to brush him, and I left my sister to hold Panama's lead while went to get the brushes. Panama became very anxious and kept his eyes on me the entire time. When I came back, I led him out of the pasture while my sister managed the gate; Panama did surprisingly well for that, too, despite the fact that the previous day walking out of the gate had meant getting his feet messed with.

I worked with Panama as much as I could while we were there, but Saturday was the only good day I had for it, so "working with him" primarily meant re-teaching me what he had unlearned in my absence. He was rather stubborn about being led at first, but I worked with him until he willingly walked with me when I had him on the lead rope or had a hand on his halter. I realized at the end that I'd inadvertently taught him the command, "Come on," because that's what I was saying to him out of frustration when he wouldn't follow.

Sunday morning, bright and early before we left for Denver, I went out to say goodbye to Panama. He and his best friend, Cuervo the donkey, were playing in the pasture. They ran all around, chasing each other. Sometimes Cuervo would rear up and put his front hooves on Panama so that he could nip at him; other times, Panama would get down on his knees so that he could nip at the little donkey. It was really cute, so I'm posting a video of it. There's no sound, but at least you can see Panama in action.

It was harder than ever to leave. I love visiting Michael's family, but I especially like being around my horse. I love the way he smells, the way he feels, the way he nuzzles me sometimes. I hope I'll be able to move him out to Denver this year!

Monday, March 19, 2007

My biggest procrastination excuses

These are my biggest weaknesses when I'm trying to get work done -- or procrastination excuses, as the case may be. What are yours?

1) Michael: Michael is my number one biggest weakness when it comes to working. If he's around, I find it really difficult -- if not impossible -- to get anything done.

2) Errands and chores: You know, those little piddly things that eat up your time when you're not paying attention. Somehow telling myself, "Well, it had to be done," is a consolation even when I know I'm deliberately putting something off. When I'm not trying to procrastinate, I try to schedule errands and chores so that I get them all done in one block; otherwise, the five minutes here and five minutes there keeps me distracted from writing.

3) Reading: I love to read; when I was little, the teachers complained that they couldn't get me to stop reading, even in class. I don't read instead of working often, but every once in a while I get this book that's impossible to put down...so I don't even try. It's even worse if it's for a book review, because then I feel vindicated for reading instead of working.

4) Blogging: As I think I've mentioned, my blogs pull in the majority of my website traffic... And now, thanks to AdSense, I'm actually earning a little money from them, too. When I blog I feel sort of like I am working, so I often find myself blogging when I'm putting off something I don't want to do.

5) Nice weather: I may be a Colorado girl, but that doesn't mean I'm the outdoorsy type. However, nice weather is still a detriment to my work schedule, especially on the weekend... And especially since I can take the T-tops down on my car when I drive in nice weather.

What's irritating me today

Today has not been going my way so far. I have all kinds of little annoyances to deal with, and it's honestly making me want to scream.

1) My haircut. Did I say I wanted the front shorter than the back? No. I said I liked the front chin-length (when wet) and I wanted that length all the way around. This lady has been giving me "flapper cuts" for months now -- what's up with the sudden neglecting to listen to me thing?

Thank goodness my hair grows quickly, so by the time I get my final cut in about a month, I should be able to say, "See how long the front is? I want it that length all the way around."

2) My rattling T-top. Either because my stereo used to cover it up or because the new window seats differently than the original did, the T-top is rattling on the side of my car that got broken into. Not loudly or dangerously, just enough to drive me batty. I can make it go away sometimes, but I haven't quite figured out the pattern yet.

3) Our crappy health insurance. Most health insurance plans suck when you have something like diabetes, but ours is particularly bad. Please introduce me to whoever came up with a free market system for health insurance, because I would like to kill their pancreas, make them diabetic, and see how they like it.

4) Too many wedding plans to deal with. I am so ready to be married already. People who just elope and have the reception later have the right idea.

Ben Franklin and an update on goals

Today Michael, one of his friends, and I went to the Benjamin Franklin exhibit, which is currently at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was quite interesting -- I knew from reading Franklin's autobiography in college that he was rather an amazing man, but I didn't know quite how amazing.

Interestingly, he was quite an entrepreneur, and had a good deal of advice for young aspiring businessmen. In particular, I thought his advice about using one's time wisely was of interest to writers. He also made a recommendation about going to bed early and getting up early, which made me wince.

Speaking of my goals and not wasting time, I need to report. I clocked 18 1/2 billable hours this week (i.e. not counting time spent searching for jobs and communicating with clients) -- about half of what I'd wanted. My saving grace was, as I noted earlier, that I was able to work much faster than I'd anticipating, meaning that I got a lot done anyway.

I should also note that one of the major successes of the week was that I discovered I get the most done if I start my day out by working, rather than trolling the markets first. I think that's probably why I was able to work more quickly this week -- I was using the time where I suffered the least interruptions to do my most serious work.

I won't be able to repeat the experiment next week, unfortunately, but I intend to the following week.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Warm weather wasn't made for working

It is a beautiful day here in Colorado: it's about 70 degrees and all sun-shiny. I washed my car, and when we run our errands later this afternoon, we're going to take her and put the T-tops down. It's been nearly a year since I've run her T-topless, so it will be a momentous occasion.

It's difficult to work on a day like this! I have a couple of projects on my plate for today, but I think I'm going to have to leave them for later. After all, the errand is something we have to do: picking out tuxes and getting Michael's measurements.

On that note, I just have to say... I still can't believe the wedding is in just over a month!!! My mind is racing, trying to think of what we might have overlooked, on top of the stuff we know needs done (but just haven't gotten to yet). I guess this is why there are wedding planners -- so that rich people don't have to worry about stuff like this.

Well, I'm going to try to do a little of the "easy" work (i.e. the stuff I don't have to focus on, so that I can look out the window and smile occasionally), and save the more involved stuff for later this evening.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My goals for the week

I have been so busy trying to reach my goals for the week that I haven't been able to blog about my progress! It hasn't helped, either, that I have had to work on my car and deal with the drama surrounding my little blog lately.

Anyway, I am pathetically short of my goal -- for the first three days of the week, I have only clocked 11 1/2 hours. Part of this was because I had to take time out to work on my car Tuesday and yesterday.

Despite my lack of hours, though, I have been able to get a lot more done in that time that I would otherwise have expected. Part of it is because I have decided to shift my daily job search back to the end of the day, rather than doing it mid-afternoon. I may be missing out on some jobs that way, because of the rather fierce competition, but I've discovered that I get the most work done during that time (now that I'm not working late at night anymore).

Speaking of not working late at night anymore, I'm not waking up as early as I did on Monday, but my schedule is much better. I've been going to bed by 2am and waking up by 11am (it would be 10am if I would hear my freaking alarm). I've also been getting all my work done during the day and early evening, so that I can just read before I go to bed at night. It's only a few hours' difference, but it makes a big difference in the way I run my day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The latest from Anonymous

I just received another comment from "Anonymous" (who claims, by the way, that he is not Knick Onkaspol). I decided not to approve the comment, but I am going to paste some of it here so that I can respond to certain threats "Anonymous" made.

Anonymous says:

Any potential business partner who Google’s his name is going to find this blog which could inadvertently effect his business dealings. Why? Because he made a post asking for writers at a dollar a page? Did you ever once stop and think about Knick, that maybe he is a struggling new business owner trying to better his life by building his own business on a VERY limited budget? You probably didn’t. Because it seems that it is more important to you to drag someone’s name through the mud just because you were insulted by his add. Never at any point of time were you forced to accept.

Your right the first amendment does give someone the freedom of free speech, honestly if this blog was only under Knick and not his full name I could really care less what you wrote on it. The fact is you are slandering his full name, with a big warning “Stay away from this guy” If you had any compassion whatsoever you would apologize to my client and remove his last name from this blog. Stop for one minute and think about how words can effect people. War’s have been started by mere words. This is something else you should know as a “writer”, and then think about how your words may effect someone’s life/business/and credibility.

With that said I am formally requesting that you please remove Knicks last name from your blog. If after reading this you still feel determined to slander my client I will have no choice but to report your website to your domain register (Godaddy) and also to your web hosting provider (The Planet). These are not threats, honestly I prefer to resolve this civilly and save us both a lot of time.

My response:

Actually, the term is "libel," not slander. My blog is NOT libel because everything is either 1) the truth, or 2) clearly stated as opinion. I have proof to back up every factual statement I have made, and all of my warnings are clearly stated as my opinion.

If Knick's budget is as limited as what you say, he shouldn't be hiring writers, plain and simple. The landlord, website host, electrical company, and phone company aren't expected to discount their rates for "struggling new business owners." Writers shouldn't be expected to do this either.

I will not be removing Knick's name from my postings, because it is completely within my legal rights to write about my experiences with him. If Knick doesn't like what I am saying, perhaps he should reconsider what he is doing. All I have done is posted the truth and certain opinions that I have derived from the truth. If this hurts his business opportunities, it is of his own doing, NOT mine.

Another reason...

Since I posted on my blog about Knick Onkaspol and his low-paying gigs, my blog has suddenly started getting an unusual amount of attention in the form of nasty comments. Although I don't know for sure that "Anonymous" is really Knick, I have reason to believe it may be.

The facts:

1) Knick's final email to me, written after I informed him I would be warning other writers of his low-paying practices, stated simply: "Do what got to do and so will I." A badly written threat? Certainly seemed that way to me.

2) Since posting on Knick's low-paying gigs and our email exchange, I have received several rude comments on those posts, containing everything from bad words to indirect libel suit threats to accusations that I am unprofessional.

3) All but one of these posts were made by "Anonymous," and the only one that wasn't came after I told "Anonymous" that I wasn't going to approve any more of his comments.

4) According to my website statistics, the visitors to these specific pages came to my blog from a saved favorites link. In other words, no one has happened upon these pages by searching the Internet, despite the fact that the last commenter tried to make it sound like that's how he got here.

5) All but the last comment were written in the same style as Knick's emails. That is to say, they all had similar spelling and grammar errors, often leaving out entire words.

Do these facts mean that it's Knick harassing me for exposing him on my blog? Ultimately you'll have to be the judge of that. However, if you think, as I do, that Knick is probably involved, this makes just one more reason why you should avoid working for Knick Onkaspol.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Three cheers for my clients!

The car thing set me back a little on my work, but I've gotten a lot done lately and I finally feel like I'm almost caught up. Now that the stress is lessing a little, I need to take the time to voice a little appreciation for my clients.

Andi, Angela, Lee, Chris, Todd, Logan, and Scott --
Thank you all for your understanding, your sympathy, and your flexibility! I appreciate it more than I can say!

Some people...

An "employer" (probably Knick himself) commented on my post of a few days ago, on the lunacy of writing for $1. Click here to read his comment and my response.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Magical Monday

It's a beautiful Monday, and everything is going my way.

1) I went to bed early last night, and got up early this morning. And although it took me a looooong time to fall asleep, getting up at 7:45 (yes, 7:45!) this morning wasn't that difficult. Of course, that might be because I had Michael to wake me up.

I'm hoping to go to bed early again tonight, and get myself onto a schedule where I get up around 9-9:30am every morning. It may not sound very ambitious, but when you figure that I was getting up around 1-2pm every day for quite a while there, it puts the whole thing in a new light!

2) I went to the junkyard, and they ordered me a new window for my car for not much more than the used one (that didn't fit). I'm supposed to pick up the new window later this afternoon.

And no, I didn't yell at them. They were too nice about it, and it seems the problem was on the end of the "tech" who pulled the window (rather than the guys at the counter). I might have yelled at the tech, had I had a chance...

I'm having problems with the fact that the new window is half of what it would have cost to get the window and have it installed by Elite Auto Glass. On one hand, I'm disappointed about having to pay more for this window than I'd planned on, but on the other hand I'm appalled that Elite is making $75 off of an install that probably takes them less than an hour to do.

Of course, truth be told, I'd always rather do the repair myself. That way I know it's done right. I don't want to have to wonder if some newbie window tech mixed up two screws, or cross-threaded something, or left a pile of broken glass inside my window. If I know I can do it myself, and do it right, why pay someone else good money to do it for me?

3) It's a beautiful day. Yes, this figures into my feelings of happiness this morning. Not only did I get up early and get the window problem taken care of, it's also warming up to be a 70-degree day. As I was letting myself into the house, the sun was warm, the birds were chirping, and all the various pets were happy to see me.

This is bliss.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

There's no such thing as an easy repair...

It never fails: as soon as your start thinking that a repair is going to be easy and plan your day accordingly, something goes wrong.

As I mentioned in earlier blog posts, my car was broken into last week, and today was to be the day to replace the broken window.

Michael and I bought the window at the junkyard yesterday. Although I've bought parts from Budget Auto before, and I've always been impressed with their selection of Z cars, their service this time around leaves a lot to be desired.

First, I called on Wednesday to price the window. The guy that helped me said they had the window, but he would have to pull it. I called back on Friday to have him pull it, and I talked to another guy who said they had one that was already pulled. I should have made him check, but I didn't... And when we showed up on Saturday, it turned out they had to pull the window after all.

When we picked the window up, I thought it looked wrong. "Too flat," was my first thought; "Too big," was my second. They assured me that if it was wrong, I could bring it back.

Michael and I held it up to my car when we got home. It still looked wrong, but Michael really didn't want to go back to the junkyard, and I let myself be convinced that the window would work (even though it didn't look right).

Sure enough, though, my instincts were right. Once we got the door dismantled today, it was very obvious that the window was wrong.

It's pretty clear to me that one of these guys ignored something I said. I suspect the window either goes to a 280ZX 2+2 (a four seater) rather than to a coupe (which is what I have), or they got the year and model wrong and gave me a 300ZX window instead.

Either way, they disregarded something I said. I run into this all the time: men usually assume I can't possibly know what I'm talking about, since I'm a woman (and cars are apparently a man's thing). It's infuriating. Tomorrow I plan to march into the office and request to see the car they took the window out of. Once I see which way they erred (i.e. whether they just got the number of seats wrong, or messed up on the entire model), I am going to give them a piece of my mind.

In the meantime I am going to fume about the arrogance of men who think that their having a penis means they know more about my car than I do.

Goals, updates, and a whole lotta rambling

I'm feeling distinctly cranky today. Just a lot of little stuff - my wedding dress not coming back right from the seamstress and having to go "under the knife" again, and not getting started on replacing my car window early enough today - piling up on top of my already-stressed shoulders.

On top of it all, I had a major setback in my bedtime/wake-up time progress. I had woken up at 11am the past few mornings, and all of a sudden - boom - an early Daylight Savings Time hits me, and I'm back to waking up at noon. Grrr.

The good news is, I guess, that I've been able to change my schedule. It's slow work, but the point is that it's working.

I'm also plugging away at the article marketing challenge. I have eight articles, most of which are live, but I've gotten behind this weekend.

Which brings me to my newest goal. I think I've mentioned that being a freelance writer isn't writing for 40 hours every week; there's a lot of job searching, administrative work, and other tasks that reduce the number of billable hours quite a bit. However, with a backlog of work remaining (and my motivation fully returned), it is my goal to clock 40 billable hours in the next week. That doesn't include job searching, personal blogging, etc. - just the time I spend working on paying projects.

I'll post daily on how I'm doing.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I saw this on Harmony's blog, and had to try it. I have to say I like the results (click on "Read my VisualDNA" and then the little notebook). This is me all right!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The latest from Knick Onkaspol

Knick Onkaspol is the "employer" I discussed earlier this afternoon. I seriously recommend that you avoid this guy at all costs.

Here is the gist of our exchange:

Knick posted an ad.

I responded with my cover letter and resume.

Knick emailed me back with the details of the project.

I emailed him back saying that his prices ($1 per article to start) were insultingly low.

He emailed me back asking why I was searching for jobs on Craigslist if I'm so great that a buck an article isn't good enough for me, and insulting me with the statement, "You might not be as good as you think you are………"

I emailed him back saying that I suspected his gig was low-paying, and wanted to confirm my suspicions (so that I could tell him off). I noted that I would be warning other writers about him.

He emailed me back just now, accusing me of not reading the job description all the way through to see the pay raise he offered for loyal writers. (This pay raise, by the way, is to "$2 onwards" per article. Yippee.) He closed with the sulky statement, "So, go ahead go ruin another person passion by your ego and tell your fellow writers."

I think that this guy's lack of professionalism speaks for itself, but I still wanted to get my 2 cents out there. My advice to everyone is to stay far, far away from Knick Onkaspol!

How much can I get for a dollar?

I really hate people who advertise low-paying writing gigs. No, guys, $1 is not a good rate. Not even for a beginner. No, we are not so desperate that we'll exchange a lousy dollar for the "pleasure" of seeing our work in print.

In my job search today, I responded to an ad that I thought sounded rather fishy. It was seeking "new" and "fresh" writers, and I thought it was probably low paying. Usually people who post ads looking for beginning writers have been told too many times that their payment rates are too low. I responded anyway, figuring if it was a good job, I'd be glad I applied, and if it wasn't, I'd give the poster a piece of my mind.

It wasn't a good job. It was actually a new ad for an old job that I saw a couple of weeks ago, where you write short "free writing" articles (they're not really free writing) for a dollar each. I wrote back, telling him his rates are too low. He sent me a dubious response, including the statement,

If you feel that you are so advance, why you searching for gig’s on Craigslist then?


I know I say this all the time, but I'm going to keep saying it until these slimeballs go away: don't take low-paying gigs! Don't work for a dollar! Just don't do it!

I'd also like to add to my mantra a request that others join me in this cause. When you see a low-paying gig advertised, tell the poster exactly what you think of them. There may not be a practical way to institute a writer's minimum wage, but at the very least we can do the virtual equivalent of tarring and feathering anyone who tries to take advantage of writers!

Click on post title to view comments for this post.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

An emphatic "Screw you!" to all petty criminals

Thanks to the loser who decided my eight-year-old CD player was worth breaking a window for, I have been dealing with the aftermath of the burglary all day.

I was able to get the police department to come out and dust for prints with surprisingly little trouble. The CSI got what she thought was one good set of prints, but of course it still may be mine. She also took the frame that surrounded my stereo, which the thief took off and left on the floorboard. They'll get prints from it in the lab.

I also talked to a neighbor who saw the thief. Unfortunately, he didn't see his face, but I still gave the CSI the neighbor's name and number. I'm still trying to make contact with a couple of other neighbors.

It was hard to get motivated enough to do anything this afternoon. I took a long time going to sleep last night, and just as long getting up this morning. I wanted to just stay in bed and sleep all day, or at the very least refrain from dealing with anything at all, but I did manage to get a bunch of things done...of which I am very glad.

I decided as I was falling asleep last night this thief - whoever he was - deserves a very emphatic "Screw you!" in the spirit of Kathy Kehrli. Why should I have to feel depressed and unsafe because of some jacka$$ who wants to make a quick ten bucks? So hold on while I give this petty criminal the proverbial finger...and make plans to (almost) never leave my house again.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My no good, very bad, horrible-a$$ day

Today should have been a fantastic day. I had a meeting with a local client that went incredibly well, and a meeting with my "NaNo" friends (local writers that I met during NaNoWriMo in 2006) scheduled for this evening.

And on this day - the one afternoon in weeks that I wasn't home - my car got broken into.

It was clearly a quickie job, because not everything of value was taken. The passenger window was completely shattered, and the stereo ripped out of the dash. They left the other stereo equipment, the papers in the glovebox, and even a wallet of CDs sitting in plain view. They didn't even take the time to cut the wires to the stereo - just pulled until they came loose.

The cops came and took a quickie report to go with the quickie theft; I have to call tomorrow and see if I can convince them to dust for prints. (I think they should, since several houses nearby were hit, and this is the second string of burglaries in the last few months... I want to feel safe in my neighborhood, but unfortunately the cops may not see it that way.) I'm also going to try to talk to more of the neighbors. Our next door neighbors heard the glass breaking around 2 or 2:30pm (within half an hour after I left!), so I'm hoping some of the other neighbors might have heard something more - particularly those whose houses are closer to the alley.

And of course, I have to replace the window. I'll get it at a junkyard, and it shouldn't cost very much, but that's still an expense that I wasn't planning on. The part I'm really not looking forward to is doing the actual replacement. In addition to what a pain it is to take off the door panel and dismantel the inner workings of the door, I'm also going to have to try to get out all the glass that fell down in there - without cutting myself in the process.

I'm pretty upset about the whole thing. Although my friends still came over, I had a hard time socializing. And there was absolutely no way I was going to get any more work done today. This entire thing has given me a lot more to do over the next few days - stuff I didn't have time for to begin with.

What a pain in the a$$.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I'm an expert author!

As I've already mentioned, I recently joined the Lieurance-King article challenge. Although I still haven't written or submitted any articles beyond my first two, I got an encouraging email today: my first article was accepted for publication on EzineArticles.com, and I have already been promoted to Expert Author status!

As for my other goals... Well, I was doing better about going to bed and getting up earlier. I was down to a 2am-3am bedtime, but then this morning I slept in horribly. I never even heard my alarm! Going to bed earlier may be more difficult tonight, but I'm determined not to lose ground so soon.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Goals update and time spent at bookstores

Before I talk about my goals and what I've achieved, I need to talk about bookstores.

Visiting bookstores is one of my favorite pastimes. Michael and I often go to Barnes & Noble to drink coffee, eat pastries, and work on homework (Michael) or work (me).

Right now I'm at Tattered Cover. For those of you who don't know what Tattered Cover, it's an independent bookstore in Denver - quite famous for its success, actually. This indie bookstore now has three locations, each one of them unique. Long before B&N was around, everyone in town knew that if you needed a book, Tattered Cover was where you would find it.

We're at the Highlands Ranch location, which is much more suburbanite than the other two. The others are in old buildings (one a big downtown building, the other an old theater), and are sprinkled throughout with comfy old armchairs and sofas, nothing matching. Although this particular TC doesn't have the same eclectic feel of all the non-matching furniture, I have to say that right now the modern leather armchair/recliner I'm sitting in is quite comfortable. I have my feet up and my 3-pound-laptop on my lap, and I'm feeling quite cozy at the moment.

It's also rather nice that Tattered Cover provides free WiFi. Few places in Denver do.

As for my goals for this week...

Schedule changes:

I've succeeded somewhat in shifting my schedule. Last night I was finally able to get to bed a little earlier (3:30am), and I got up this morning before noon (!). Don't congratulate me yet, though - it remains to be seen if the trend will continue.

The problem is that I generally start feeling a little tired at some point between midnight and 2am, but by the time I finish up my work and read for a bit, I'm usually wide awake again. So I keep reading.

I am happy to report, though, that I am tired right now - and have been for the past couple hours. Maybe I will be able to head to bed even earlier tonight.

Writing work:

I've gotten some good work done this week, although not everything I would have like to have done. The biggest relief was finishing several minor projects that have been on my to-do list for quite some time.

Unfortunately, I didn't get much work done today. Wednesday was my mom's birthday, so I took her out for lunch today, and we spent the afternoon together. As a result, I will still be working this weekend, as per my usual.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I signed up for the Lieurance-King Article Challenge!

I decided to participate in the Lieurance-King Article Challenge. I'm starting midway through (meaning I'll have to write very fast), but basically the idea is to write and submit 30 marketing articles by March 31st.

I have been wanting to try article marketing for a while now. I'm still not completely sold on the idea that it's going to provide enough marketing to make it worth writing for free, but I'm game to try it.

Besides, I write these types of articles for clients, so it makes sense that I should try doing it for myself, too. After all, if they're still hiring me, something about it must work, right?

Today I wrote two articles and submitted them to EzineArticles.com. I very quickly found that trying to keep the word count down (i.e. the 250-400 words that Kristen King recommends) is probably more time consuming than just writing the article. Perhaps I need to find topic ideas that will lend themselves better to shorter articles...

Anyways, I'll let you know when they my articles are live!

Spread the Google love!

Hey, everyone! One of my favorite freelance writing job search sites has gotten dissed by Google. If you use Deb's site in your job search, post a link on your own blog or site to help her earn back her search engine ranking!

If you've never visited the site, it's never too late to start - Deb's doing a fantastic thing by compiling a free DAILY list of freelance jobs!


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