Friday, June 29, 2012

Party, Party!! It's Keli Gwyn's Debut Release!!

It's Party Time!!!


I am SO thrilled to host a virtual party for my dear friend, Keli Gwyn!!! Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California releases in a few days!!

I met Keli online four years ago when I first started blogging. She ran a blog called Romance Writers on the Journey, and I met many of my online writer friends through the interviews Keli hosted. Imagine my delight when, shortly after, she interviewed me! I was never so excited! (My family still thinks it's pretty cool!)

Since then, Keli has been a source of sunshine in my life. She always seems to know when I'm going through a rough patch. She'll come through with an encouraging word or gift, and it will make my day.

When Keli announced she'd landed the fabulous literary agent, Rachelle Gardner, I wanted to fly to California and hug her! Not long after, Keli shared the fantastic news that she'd sold her debut novel to Barbour Publishing. And now, here we are, celebrating the big release! Yay!!

All of you familiar with Keli, understand her infatuation with Taco Bell and McDonald's sweet tea. So instead of the customary coffee and desserts, we're heading south of the border and celebrating with fast food!

Taco Bell
Photo by compujeramey

IMG_6375
Photo by theyoungthousands


McDonald
Photo by tamaranai

Now that you have a snack, let's celebrate Keli!

Earlier this week, Keli and her husband headed to the post office to pick up the shipment of her books. Lucky for us, she caught on video the first moment of holding her book--I dare you not to cry when you watch this!



Look at this gorgeous cover!!


Now you REALLY want to read it, don't you?? Here's what it's all about:


Love Is Gold in El Dorado, California

Widow Elenora Watkins heads to California with her nine-year-old daughter, Tildy, eager to become a partner in a mercantile. When the mulish owner withdraws his offer because she’s a woman, she opens her own shop. She’s determined to prove herself capable of running a successful business without the help of anyone—including her controlling father, her seemingly distant heavenly Father, and one Miles Rutledge.

Widower Miles Rutledge is not about to get involved with another willful woman like his late wife, especially when she’s his competition. But the beautiful Elenora may be too hard to resist. When another man appears out to claim Elenora’s heart, Miles searches for a way to win her back. . .while putting her out of business.

Meanwhile, Maude Rutledge, Miles’s meddling mother, longs to see her son make a good match. And Tildy is just as bent on gaining a loving papa.

The battle of wills begins, but can anyone win when the competition is more than they bargained for?
***

Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, set in the heart of the Gold Country where she lives, will be released in July 2012.

When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell.

To learn more about Keli's books, head to her website, like her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, and check her out on Goodreads.

***

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Moving: Pictures Before Remodeling

We're moving in a few days, and, as promised, I'm sharing some of the "Before" pictures of our new house!
First up: Family room.

Bye, bye stained, green carpet! We're painting the walls a pale gray and installing a neutral carpet. My husband wanted a more modern look for the fireplace, so we're replacing the beige ceramic tiles with tiles in earth tones and changing the wood surround to white.


Next up: Nice, but dated kitchen.

No offense to all you wallpaper-lovers out there, but my husband and I prefer a straight-up paint job. We're taking down wallpaper, replacing light fixtures, installing new cabinets, counters, appliances and flooring. Basically, I'll be without a kitchen for 3-4 weeks. I'm trying to think of it as an alternate form of camping! It will be worth it! (I keep telling myself it will be worth it...)




Bathroom-a-rama!
The wallpaper continues...in every bathroom! Eventually, all will be removed and a nice, neutral paint will take its place. :)






Last, but not least, the sad deck. It looks better in this picture than up close. We originally wanted to tear it down and pour a concrete patio, but the budget  actually laughed at us. Who  knew a piece of paper could heckle? We're going to stabilize the deck then stain it. It will do for a year or two!



I can't wait to show you the "After" pictures when we finish the work. My husband already gave the garage interior a fresh coat of paint, and in a few days, we'll be moved in and ready to tackle the rest. Yay!

We can tell the previous owners took pride in the home, and we're looking forward to bringing it up to date. We also hope the owners of our old house love ours as much as we did!

How do you feel about wallpaper? Can't live without it? Or do you prefer paint?

Enjoy your day!

Monday, June 25, 2012

WSG 16: Fighting Distractions

Writer's Survival Guide 16: Fighting Distractions

Distractions? What? I would never be distracted while writing. Never.

I wouldn't sit down and click on Internet Explorer, getting sucked into a time warp of Facebook updates and Twitter check-ins. Nope. Not me.

I couldn't imagine blocking off two hours to write, and instead of focusing on my manuscript, hopping up to pay a bill, grabbing yet another cup of coffee, staring out the window, tossing a load of laundry in, and scanning the fridge for the perfect snack. Uh-uh.


Lodi - various distractions
Photo by greceres

Let's face it--no matter how much we love writing--it's a daunting task. Even when we adore our work-in-progress, we still worry the magic will disappear, that we'll hit a major problem midway through, or that we're deluding ourselves and the book really isn't that great. It's natural to allow distractions to keep us from working. I think it's a protective mechanism.

But...

If we want to finish a book, make a deadline, and continue our writing journey, we must fight these distractions!

How? Use as many tricks as necessary.

- Set a timer for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour. For some reason, anything under 60 minutes doesn't freak me out the way 4 hours does!

- Reward yourself for small successes. You revised for 2 hours? Enjoy your favorite beverage. Wrote another chapter? Read for an hour. Figured out the plot problem you've been stewing over all week? Indulge in a treat. For me, it's chocolate!

- Just say no. Fight temptation! If you routinely lose valuable writing time to social media, make the Internet off limits until a certain time of day. If phone calls interrupt your writing time, use call waiting or have your answering machine pick up.

- Schedule the rest of your life around your writing. Let's say you have one hour every night you know you can write. Maybe it's 8:30-9:30. Don't let anything come between you and that time. If someone "desperately" needs something, say a poster board for a report the next day, or you realize you need to wash a special pair of pants--wait until 9:30. I know it's late. I know it's not the best time, but we have to keep our writing time sacred. No one will do this for us.

- Use an accountability partner. If you're stressed about the amount of time you're frittering away, and it's an ongoing problem--say, you've struggled for a month--enlist a friend to help keep you accountable. Maybe you e-mail her after each session and let her know how it went? Or you keep a log of how long you wrote, and how many times you took breaks, etc...

- Schedule your writing-related activities. Sometimes we get distracted from our writing because we're doing tasks that are truly necessary, yet we aren't sure how to fit them in. For most writers, social media is a vital part of their writerly duties. I block off an hour each weekday morning to check e-mails, my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and my writer loops. If I have a bit of time left over, I read a few blogs. If I have no time left, I move on.

I'll never be able to eliminate all of my distractions, and I don't want to. Perfection ranks low on my list of aspirations! I just aim to do my best with each day. That's all any of us can do!

How do you fight distractions?

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Summer Strategies to Beat the Weather

Here in southern Michigan, we have a mix of summer weather. Some days are scorching, and outdoor activities need to be kept to a minimum. Most days are hot, but quite pleasant. Sometimes we get cooler air, rain, storms, even tornadoes. We're never sure what the day will bring!

Fun in the pool
Photo by aragornsbeard

My summer strategy for wringing every drop of fun out of three short months relies heavily on the Doppler Radar. I write or do writerly duties each weekday morning, but weekday afternoons we get out and have fun.

On scorching days:

- Our neighborhood has a pool, and we spend as much time there as possible. (I'm going to miss it in a few weeks when we move!)
- We love driving up to Ann Arbor and walking around the mall or shopping downtown. Yes, we holler it up when we drive past the Big House--Go Blue!
- Movies are expensive, but we'll catch one at a matinee if it's unbearably warm out.
- We're blessed with art museums less than an hour away.

On hot-but-still-can-play-outside days:

- We live near Lake Erie, so we head to the beach!
- Again, neighborhood pool--hello!
- Now and then, we'll catch the Thursday flea market. It's fun for a few hours.
- We're members of a nearby zoo. We love watching the baby elephant, baby tiger cubs, and we enjoy just walking around and seeing the sights.
- We ride our bikes. Sometimes we'll head to a state park and bike the trails.

On cooler days:

- Our library offers free movie rentals. We'll stop in for books and movies.
- Hobby Lobby is a fun craft store. We like to pick up items for inexpensive projects, like summer scrapbooks.
- If it isn't raining, we may walk at a nearby park or by the river.
- If it is raining, we might do anything on our hot-hot list above!

No matter what, I keep plenty of ice cream and popsicles on hand. It's much cheaper to purchase ice cream at the grocery store than buy individual cones at an ice cream stand. We also make Kool-Aid, homemade cookies and brownies, and, during summers when we aren't moving, we grow vegetables in our garden.

Summer rejuvenates me, gets me ready for the delights of fall, and no matter what the weather, I'm determined to enjoy it!

How do you survive YOUR summer weather?

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Moving Adventure Part 1

Yesterday we closed on both of our houses. We signed the papers to sell our house at noon, and signed the papers to purchase our new house at 4pm. Since we're moving an hour away, the closings were in different towns. Earlier in the morning, our buyers had their final walk-through in our home. To say it was a busy day would be downplaying it!
Weeds?
Photo by southpaw2305

But it all worked out, and I'm thrilled to have everything finalized. My husband and I bought 15 gallons of paint and a hand-held steamer to remove wallpaper before heading to the new house to check it out. The house needs updating. We're used to house projects, and we're excited to fix it up in our style. Some of the work we'll hire out, and some we'll do ourselves.

I thought we were just dropping off paint. I didn't exactly expect my husband to start chipping away at  the ceramic tile surrounding the fireplace three minutes after we arrived, but maybe I should have? Ha! While he popped tiles and ripped up carpet for an hour, I took my sweet time inspecting everything.

And I realized--boy, do we have our work cut out for us.

Between a desperate need of a power wash, the multiple bees nests in every eave, a dilapidated deck crying for stain, a peeling, leaning mailbox, and let's not forget the weeds peeking up through the cracks in the concrete driveway--the outdoors alone will keep me busy for quite a while.

Indoors, we're facing several rooms of wallpaper, dirty windows, an out-of-date kitchen, carpet that needs to disappear pronto, and light fixtures that have seen better days.

Yes, it will be a lot of work, but I know it will be worth it. The neighborhood is great, the layout just right, and the town is super cute. We can't wait to get started!

For all of you interested in packing methods, I'm sharing my suggestions, so stop by Melissa Tagg's blog today. I'm honored to be her guest--thanks, Melissa, for having me!

Is your house a work-in-progress? What's your next decorating project?

Have a fantastic Wednesday!

Monday, June 18, 2012

WSG 15: Trust In Your Work

Writer's Survival Guide 15: Trust In Your Work

I've talked to many fiction writers who have the same affliction I have--we don't always love our work-in-progress. Maybe we adore everything about the first draft. We know it's our best book ever. But then we start revising and something happens. We've read the book three too many times, or we're working through a personal problem. Maybe we're just in a slump. Whatever the reason, the book we gushed over no longer excites us.


Books to be returned...
Photo by hashir

Instead of listening to the little voice in our head that's shouting, work on this fabulous new idea, we need to take some time to evaluate.

A few questions to ask:

Related to the book:
1. What did I love about the book when I last loved it?
2. Have I changed something since then, like added a subplot, cut a chapter, or adjusted the main character?
3. Is my lack-luster feeling related to the pacing? Is it reading too slow?
4. Could my main character be too bland? Does he/she need to stand out more?

Related to my life:
5. Am I dejected about more than just my writing?
6. What challenges am I facing? Are they affecting my judgment?
7. Have I recently experienced a setback that could be making me doubt my abilities?
8. Am I getting enough sleep?

Sometimes we get down on our writing when there's nothing wrong with it. It's simply a scapegoat for other issues we're facing. We're tired, sick of life, having trouble paying bills, or feeling blah.

Other times we no longer love our writing because it needs tweaks. Maybe we need to cut or add introspection to affect the pacing or deepen the character. The book isn't bad, but it could be better.

When you're not feeling the love for your book, don't give up on it. Trust in your work!

Have you ever considered tossing a project aside because you no longer loved it?

Have a fantastic Monday!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Eliminate Sing-Song Writing

I'm putting the final polish on my current manuscript, and the last thing I do is read the entire book out loud. This takes a lot of time, like fifteen times as long as a regular read-through! But it's worth it.


Singing
Photo by spaceodissey

Reading the book out loud reveals repetitious phrases and words. More importantly, it shows areas that are sing-song-y. You know, the times when sentence structure repeats or when words sound similar. I'm always amazed at how many small tweaks I make during the final pass.

Why? Our eyes don't always catch when we've overdone the sound of words.

For example:

She rode in the center of the overloaded boat and watched her brother row.

The words rode, overloaded, boat, and row all feature long "o" sounds, and it would be a good idea to substitute words with different sounds for one or two words.

She sat in the center of the tightly packed boat and watched her brother row.

Another sing-song mistake? I find simple sentences too near each other.

Julie grabbed her purse. "I've got to run."
"Me too." Jake opened the door.

And Dick and Spot ran to Jane...

I'm cringing. Yes, this is just an example--not something I actually found in my manuscript--but I've found some dreadful stuff! Sometimes we need to spice up our sentence structure to keep the reader interested rather than yawning.

Do you read your work out loud? Do you ever find sing-song writing in your manuscripts? What's your secret to the final polish?

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When the Moving Budget Blows Up

My husband and I move often. Most of the time we moved for his job, but sometimes we moved for other reasons, like when we chose to build our houses. This time we're moving for a combination of reasons. Last year, my husband changed positions in his company, doubling his commute time. We figured if we were going to get closer to his work, we should do it now. (And, for the record, yes, we'd like to stay put this time!)


Moving Day
Photo by gavinmusic

Once we signed the contract to sell our home, we switched to high gear to either a. find an existing home to purchase, b. find a home/apartment to rent so we could build a house. We had two non-negotiables--school district and price. It took a month (a very stressful month!!), but we finally found the house perfect for our family, in the school district we wanted, and at a price that would keep our living expenses in check.

The house isn't move-in ready. We're tackling several expensive, time-consuming remodeling projects this summer, and we're excited about it. My husband is extremely handy, and we've done projects on every home we've owned. The big issue? Keeping our costs within our budget.

We prefer to spend money on things like quality carpet for the new house rather than on hiring someone to move us, so we're packing everything and moving with the help of a few friends. We've done this several times in the past, and it's worked great. Plus, this method helps us weed out the stuff we're no longer using and donate or toss it.

But there are costs with a move that can and will blow up, and there's not a whole lot we can do about them.

Things we typically shell out money for in a move:

- Earnest money to "hold" the contract on the new house until closing (this money is returned to you when you close on the house).
- Appraisal fees
- Inspection fees
- Homeowner's insurance for the new house
- Moving supplies (boxes, packing tape, Sharpies, moving truck, possible storage units, etc..)
- Fees to transfer the utilities in our name
- Fees to hook up cable/satellite, phone, high speed Internet, etc...
- If moving out of state, new license plates, registrations, etc...
- Additional food costs. We eat more take-out meals the week before and after the move.

Murphy's Law costs (these are things we've paid for this month that we didn't see coming. Life keeps chugging!):
- Car repairs
- Annual HOA fees when we'll only be in our current house 2 more weeks
- A large dental bill
- Air conditioning repair
- Sports physicals

We've also been getting quotes for the work we're hiring out on the new house. Until every bid is in, we won't know for sure the scope of what we'll be able to accomplish. We've put a few projects on hold for a later date. We've dropped a few others altogether. And we've had to add a couple for maintenance issues.

My husband and I like things a certain way. We both have perfectionistic tendencies, and we are good at making decisions together. Sure, we bicker over stupid things like the timeline or whatever, but we also agree on the big things, like staying within budget and what we can and can't live without.

Every time we've moved, it's been expensive no matter how much we tried to keep costs down. By keeping our expectations realistic, and by knowing there will be 2-3 months of bloated bills, we've been able to keep our sanity intact. And, you know, we always make it through!

I wish I could say that moving doesn't have to be killer on your wallet, but I'd be lying. It always equals plenty of extra expenses for us!

What do you think? Is moving expensive? How do you keep moving costs down?

Have a fabulous Wednesday!

Monday, June 11, 2012

WSG 14: Daily Attitude

Writer's Survival Guide 14: Daily Attitude

The writers I know excel at using their imaginations, and I'm no exception. We fantasize about the future--the exciting days of selling our books, getting fabulous reviews, and having a career doing what we love best.

daily grind
Photo by *CQ*

We're so good at this inner life that the reality of daily life can disappoint. Month after month, year after year, we push ourselves to write, revise, submit and be active on social media. Often, the fantasy of our future keeps us going. Most of the time, our passion for writing is what sustains us. But at some point, we all have to deal with the daily grind.

Published, aspiring, almost there--it doesn't matter--it hits us that this is our job. Jobs have perks and they have downsides. That's why it's so important to nurture a positive daily attitude.

Every morning I start my day by reading a chapter of the Bible and a short devotion. I then practice gratitude for a new day. Yes, I'm even thankful for Mondays! Waking up grateful (even when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, we can choose to be grateful) makes a big difference in my life.

It's too easy to let our insecurities, fears, and even just general ho-hum-ness of the same-old, same-old affect our positivity. But we really must stay positive and joyful, or we can get envious, bitter, and burned out.

I often ask myself why I do this? And every time I'm transported back to my bedroom when I was a teenager. Books changed my view on life, but being a "real writer" seemed so out-of-the-realm to me at the time. Then I remember how I quit my job before our first child was born and declared I was going to be a writer and that was going to be my career. I look back to all of the little acts of courage I've taken to get to this point and I laugh at how anyone could ever think of writing as a chore! It's a good reminder to me when I'm feeling flat.

How do you maintain a positive daily attitude? Please share!

Have a lovely Monday!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fewer Gimmicks, Please!

After reading two excellent blog posts, "Can Facebook Hold Your Fan Page Hostage?" by Kristen Lamb, and Porter Anderson's latest installment of On the Ether (41 section 2) "BEA Self-Pub/Owen/Litte/Greenfield: Kobo's platform," I realized something's been bothering me about some of the latest trends in social media.
pocket watch illusion
Photo by botheredbybees

They feel gimmicky.

For six months I've tried (without much success) to grow my Facebook Author Page without resorting to repeated "invitations" to like it. From holding fun polls, to updates about my life, to re-posting cartoons--I've worked at making my Facebook page a happy place to land. However, it lacks the thing I love about my personal profile--the ability to have conversations. And, from Kristen's article, it looks as if it also lacks outreach. If the only people who see my posts are people already there, I don't know how it could possibly grow. I wonder if I'm just trying to ride on a gimmick anyhow? I've always enjoyed Facebook through my personal page. Maybe I should just stick with it and not work so hard on my Author page? I don't know. I want to be authentic.

Then, I read Porter's round-up which included information about "Writing Life," the self-publishing imprint offered by Kobo, and almost snorted out my Coke when I read that authors earn badges for things like writing late at night.

I left a comment on the post, and I'll re-iterate it here. I don't need a sticker saying I wrote a book. I want an audience to read and love my books.

Too often on Twitter, I'm bombarded with retweets of blog posts. I love retweeting other people's blog posts, so this doesn't bother me. However, when the Tweeter ONLY RT's blog posts, it feels gimmicky.

Conversations! I want a conversation. Yes, share that fabulous post or picture with me, but also tell me you're low on coffee or watching The View. Don't be shy! I just want to know that you're a real person and not someone scheduling every social media post in an attempt to look like a real person.

What about social media feels gimmicky to you?

Have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

5 Easy Questions with Lindsay Harrel!

Every Wednesday, I ask a writer the same five easy questions. In an effort to support and promote fellow wordsmiths, I feature authors who write a variety of genres, from sweet inspirational to mainstream thrillers. The writers themselves may be aspiring, published, or best-selling--all have made an impact on my life.

Thank you for joining me in welcoming…Lindsay Harrel!!

Lindsay and I met through blogging friends and I’m so glad we did! She’s one of those people who is a little bit of everything—funny, kind, humble, talented—I can’t wait to meet her in person. (And I actually get to this fall at the ACFW National Conference!!) I’m excited to have her here today.

Let’s get to it!


1. Beverage of choice?

Ice water. In Phoenix, it's a must, and I drink it by the boatload. I recently got this hot pink insulated cup (yeah, baby!) and refill it like 10 times a day at work. And yes, that means I also have to make frequent trips past the front desk guy and to the restroom. *Embarrassing!*

2. Any pets?

Oh yeah, I love having pets...there's nothing quite like the companionship they offer. We have a golden retriever puppy (Chloe) who will be a year in July. We're planning to get another golden this fall...so excited (and so exhausted thinking about it)!

3. Dream vacation?

Well, my husband and I have always wanted to go to Europe. We've both been separately (him in high school and me in college), but we want to go together. We're hoping to go next year if we can swing it with time off of work, finances, etc. Our top spots to hit will be London, Paris, and Rome. I just love the history that's there...and all those beautiful churches! Awe-inspiring, for sure.

4. What are you listening to right now?

Nothing. I love music but I work best in silence. But it's a cozy silence right now. We just got back from a hike and the dog is lying on the tile panting, dinner's in the oven cooking, and I've got my feet up on the coffee table relaxing. So yep, a nice silence for sure.

5. What's for dinner?

Mini pizzas--I know, don't we sound like we're twelve? Ha. But they're soooo easy. I just take whole wheat sandwich thins and split them, put a little dollop of pizza sauce (you can make your own or buy a jar of it) on each piece, sprinkled with low-fat mozzarella cheese, and top with turkey pepperoni. Then I just bake them for 12-15 minutes. Voila! Easy, somewhat "healthy" pizza. At least, that's what I tell myself!
***
Lindsay, I drink tons of water too, so I feel your pain. But I recently read that drinking lots of water helps prevent migraine symptoms, not to mention makes us look younger. It's worth it. And you’re getting a puppy? Golden puppies are SO cute! And rambunctious…good luck with that! I haven’t been to Europe, but London and Rome are my two top cities to visit. I’d also love to drive around Britain’s countryside. Mm, mm, that would be nice.

Silence is always good. I’m enjoying some of that myself right now. Oh, and I never thought to use sandwich thins as pizza crust. We make English Muffin pizzas (yes, we’re twelve too!), and they’re always a hit! Thanks so much for being my guest!
***

Lindsay Harrel ~

Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and an M.A. in English. In her current day job as a curriculum editor for a local university, Lindsay helps others improve their work and hones her skills for her night job—writing inspirational women’s fiction with romantic elements. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, Lindsay has been published on the Power to Change website, in the online CronkiteZine, and in The Arizona Republic. For more information about Lindsay, head to her blog, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

***

Due to our upcoming move, I'm suspending the 5 Easy Questions series until this fall. Instead, I will share my moving adventures on Wednesdays. Since we're remodeling our new house (and living in it for part of the process), I'm sure there will be much to share!

Does your summer schedule change? Or do you maintain the same schedule year-round?
We're on summer vacation here, so I spend my mornings writing and sipping coffee. It's a nice break from the hectic school year!
Enjoy your Wednesday!

Monday, June 4, 2012

WSG 13: Saving Money on Supplies

Writer's Survival Guide 13: Saving Money on Supplies

All writers need writing supplies, but aspiring writers have an added burden. We aren't earning income to pay for the supplies vital to our work. Even published writers don't have the luxury of a steady income. Saving money on supplies is a must for most writers.

Here are my supply essentials:

- Computer/Laptop
- Printer
- Printer paper
- Printer ink
- Pens/highlighters/etc.
- Sticky notes/index cards
- Manila folders
- Memory sticks
- Day planner
- Reference books

Other expenses:
- High-Speed Internet
- Wi-Fi
- Web Hosting
- Annual dues for writers associations
- Gas to attend writers groups
- Conferences
- Back-up data (Carbonite or external hard drive)

All of these add up--I would tremble to have to shell out money for all of these at once! Thank goodness, I don't have to. My husband and I set an annual budget for my writing expenses based on my membership dues, web-hosting expenses, and general supplies. Some of these items have fixed prices--membership dues are what they are. But other things I can find deals on.

The first line of attack is to find a local office supply store. We have a Staples here in town. Find out if they have a free discount card. Sign up for it if they do. I get money back for recycling ink cartridges, and I check their weekly ads when I know I'm about to run out of something. Last year I bought a box of ten packages of printer paper on sale for $29.00, and it had a $10.00 instant rebate. That's a lot of paper for under twenty dollars.

Also, instead of using an ink-jet printer for printing out my novels, I invested in a small laser printer. It's a Samsung and it only prints black and white. The original cost was around $100. I waited in line on a Black Friday sale and bought it for $50. The laser toner runs around $60, but I found an off-brand company online that sells the equivalent for $30. I haven't noticed any difference in quality, and these toners last forever. I'm on my third toner cartridge in five years, and the printer does a great job by printing everything quickly.

If you're on a very tight budget, stretch your supplies by limiting the amount of paper you print. You can also single space your manuscript to use the least amount of paper.

For basic office supplies (pens/pencils, index cards, and such), stock up in the summer when the back-to-school sales are in full swing. I don't limit it to superstores, either. Staples routinely has weekday sales on special items, and you can get things cheap.

I'm blessed to have high speed Internet and Wi-Fi in our budget. If you can't swing it, head to your local library. Most have computers you can use. Around here, all of them have Wi-Fi too.

Most of my reference books I've bought brand new. However, when I wanted a book featuring maps of all the countries of the world, I couldn't afford the $100 price tag. Instead, I purchased the book secondhand through Alibris.com for $12 and a few bucks shipping.

What did I miss? How do you save money on your writing supplies?

Have a fantastic Monday!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Self Check-out Lane with Jill Kemerer Vlog

Welcome to another webisode of "... with Jill Kemerer"!! This month we're discussing the self check-out lane.

June 2012: The Self Check-out Lane with Jill Kemerer


I apologize for the barking toward the end. My dog flipped out due to the cement trucks pouring a foundation across the street. She can't handle the construction noise!

What are your thoughts on the self check-out lane? Does it make life easier or can it be a time waster?

Happy June 1st!! Have a great weekend!