How to Finish the Year Strong as a Freelancer

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Jingle bells are ringing, the leftover turkey is long gone, and the world is counting down until that famous ball drops in Times Square. That’s right – the year is drawing to a close, whether you are ready or not. 

As a freelancer, the end of the year is a daunting time. From meeting deadlines to an influx of holiday project requests, this last month is a master class in chaos. However, by applying these four tips, you can end the year strong, and set your freelance business up for success in the months to come. 

Wrap Up Projects
For many people who run a freelance business, December is often a time of drowning under the weight of deadlines and rushed orders. Help make the most of these crazy weeks by prioritizing your projects, and putting in the extra effort this time of year calls for to make sure all is wrapped up by the time the clock strikes midnight. Having your projects completed gives you the satisfaction of knowing your work is done, and the freedom of a clean slate to start and grow with in January. 

Organize Your Finances
Finances. Has your heart rate skyrocketed yet? Freelancing means taking control and digging into the nitty gritty of your business’ finances. Before the end of the year, make sure all is in order by double checking your invoices, figuring your profit for the year, as well as paying your estimated taxes for the fourth quarter. Taking the time to organize your finances in a simple spreadsheet will save you a lot of time and stress once April rolls around. 

Send Thank You Notes
This time of year is meant for showing others how much they are appreciated, and your clients should not be an exception. Stock up on thank you notes and send one to each client you have worked with this year, telling them how much their business means to you. This simple touch will put a smile on their face, and help to build lasting relationships. 

Plan Ahead for the New Year
Setting goals for the New Year is the perfect way to start aligning your business plan for the next quarter. Want to land more clients? Hoping to expand your services? Set a game plan for each goal with actionable steps you can take in the New Year, or even in the remaining weeks of this one. Having a clear set of goals you can achieve will help get you on the fast track to growing your business and set you up for success in 2018.

How are you planning on finishing your freelance year strong? 

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8 Tips to Help You Finish NaNoWriMo Strong

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Here we are, halfway through November, or as I and countless other people refer to it, National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a tradition celebrated worldwide where (arguably insane) writers attempt to complete an entire book in a month, or at least 50,000 words of one. 

That equates to roughly 1,667 words per day, and at this point in the process, many are falling behind, most are right on target, and only a handful of writers are ahead of their goal (high five to you!). While already having 25,000 words on the page is a major accomplishment, there’s nothing like hitting that lofty 50k to really help you end the year on a high note, and give you the kick in the pants you need to keep up this habit into 2018. 

So let’s keep on charging ahead and make that dream a reality by finishing NaNoWriMo strong with these eight tips:

Set a Schedule
Pick a time each day, and no excuses, write. Whether before work, during lunch, or at 2AM when you neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking, create a schedule and hold yourself accountable to your craft. 

Stop Mid-Scene
Have trouble starting up each time you sit down to write? At the end of a writing session, stop mid-scene so that you know exactly where your plot is headed next, and you can dive in quickly the next time you open the document. 

Outline
While flying by the seat of your pants can lead to great character moments, it’s in your best interest, especially when you have such a high daily word count to hit, to at least partially outline your work. Whether it’s your whole manuscript or just the next scene, an outline will give you structure to hold onto when writer’s block tries to knock you down. 

Disconnect
Turn off the Internet. Get off of Twitter. Stop scrolling through Instagram. Those cat videos will still be there once you’ve finished your book. 

Join a Word Sprint
Need some inspiration? Join a word sprint on NaNoWriMo.org where you will race against the clock to get words down on the page. Not only is this a fun challenge, but it is an easy way to add to your word count. 

Take a Break
Writing a novel in a month isn’t supposed to be easy. When you start to feel overwhelmed, step away from your laptop, take a walk, or even binge-watch Gilmore Girls for the hundredth time. Sometimes time away from your manuscript is the best thing for it – but remember to come back eventually!

Check In with Buddies
NaNoWriMo is can be a lonely process – that’s what happens when you sit in front of a computer talking to made-up characters all day in your mind – but that’s where writing buddies come into play. Chat with your friends who are also working toward 50,000 words, and make some new ones on the NaNo forums where other writers are surely procrastinating. 

Celebrate Small Victories
Even though we all want to rejoice in the big victory of that almighty 50k, simply making a point to sit down and write is a victory within itself. Celebrate that great scene you just finished, give yourself a high five for pushing through that block, and remember that every word on the page is a step toward accomplishing your bookish dreams. 

How is your novel going so far? Check out mine by adding me as a writing buddy!

5 Benefits of Freelancing

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Whether you are running your own full time business or just starting out with a side hustle, there is a lot to gain from the world of freelancing. From the way you work to the type of work you do, freelancing allows for you to take control and enjoy your career in a way no other job does. 

Five of the top benefits of freelancing include:

You Choose Your Projects
The beauty of freelancing is that you get to pick and choose the type of work you do, and how you want to execute it. Want to illustrate children’s books? Do it. Passionate about writing articles exclusively about going vegan? More power to you. While some projects will have more opportunities for financial and networking growth than others, the fact of the matter is that you will be the boss of what work you do, and how you do it. 

You Choose Your Pay
One of the biggest perks about starting your freelance career is determining your compensation structure. While no one can expect to charge a fortune right out of the gate, or for mediocre work for that matter, freelancing allows you to set a price that you think your work is worth. Plus, you can always increase your rate as your experience and reputation grow. And as an added bonus – being a freelancer means that you can build your client base as much as you can handle in order to grow financially as quickly as you want. 

You Decide What Works and What Doesn’t
Have a client that never pays you on time or someone who drives you mad by requesting numerous rounds of free revisions? As a freelancer, you are your own boss, which means you have the power to “fire” anyone who does not play by your professional rules. Sure, there are exceptions, but in the world of freelancing you have to find the right balance and determine if any problematic clients or stressful projects are worth the financial or resume building incentives in the long run. 

You Get to Set Your Own Hours
For most freelancers, the work gets done during nights, weekends, or well-timed lunch breaks at the 9-5. However, once you begin to gather steam, you will be able to be flexible with the time frame in which your projects get done, and how much extra energy you have to devote to them. While, yes, the first few years of freelancing may mean skipping The Bachelor to finish a project, you will quickly find that working hard now to beat deadlines will allow you to have more flexibility down the road. 

You Get to Experience a New Way of Working
Even though freelancing can be stressful, it is an incredible way to gain experience, and not to mention pocket a little extra cash. Being a freelancer allows you to try new ways of working, experiment with different mediums, and build a network of professional connections to grow your career in the way a typical job cannot. Whether you are just doing a couple of projects a month or diving in to a full roster of clients, you will learn more from running your own freelance business than you could have ever imagined. 

What are your favorite things about being a freelancer?

September Reading Wrap Up

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I’d say September was a pretty great reading month. With 15 books finished, I’d be crazy to ask for more.

Maybe it was due to the start of autumn, maybe it was because of the lack of good tv, but either way, I was on a reading roll for the past four weeks. While some of the books I read were my all-time least favorites (coughSchumercough), a couple of these novels have skyrocketed to the top of my must-read-again list (if you haven’t read a book by Renee Carlino, you haven’t truly lived).

Without further ado, here are the books I read in September:

  1. Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me by Lily Collins
  2. The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr
  3. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
  4. Ape House by Sara Gruen
  5. The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
  6. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
  7. Making Faces by Amy Harmon
  8. Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
  9. Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino
  10. Girling Up by Mayim Bialik
  11. Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
  12. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
  13. Slammed by Colleen Hoover
  14. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
  15. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

As always, you can read my reviews on these books and stay updated with my current reading by adding me as a friend on Goodreads.

August Reading Wrap Up

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In August, I was able to squeeze in quite a bit of last minute summer reading – 12 books to be exact.

From the best memoir I’ve ever read (The Glass Castle) to the finishing my first ever read through of the most iconic series of all time (Harry Potter), I’d say my reading list in August was one of the year’s best.

The books I read in August were:

  1. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith
  2. Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  4. Tracks by Robyn Davidson
  5. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
  6. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
  7. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  8. All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
  9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  10. Lucky in Love by Kasie West
  11. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
  12. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Keep up with my reviews of these books and what I’m reading next by adding me as a friend on Goodreads.

3 Books to Read Before Summer Ends

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School buses are making their rounds through neighborhoods, pools are announcing closing dates, and pumpkins are beginning to appear in storefronts downtown. Yes, fall is looming in the air, but summer isn’t over yet!

My favorite part about this season has always been summer reading. Whether you regularly thumb through a novel while at the pool or prefer the comfort of air conditioning while you devour a biography, nothing beats a good book during the hot summer.

Make the most of the summer you have left with these three books:

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Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
A quick, fast-paced read, this work by the famed Me Before You author will take you on a journey with a handful of short stories that fly by over the course of an afternoon. With this book, you’ll laugh, cry, and even get to explore Paris without leaving your own backyard.

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The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
There’s a reason this book is regarded as one of the best memoirs of all time. Dive into the world of the Walls family, and discover for yourself what it means to love unconditionally, and forge your own way of living. Not to mention, once you finish the book, you can treat yourself to a viewing of the top-rated film staring Brie Larson in theaters now.

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston
A humorous take on Cinderella meets Comic Con, this book by Poston is a retelling unlike any other. Full of geeky jargon and lovable characters, Geekerella gives a fresh look into the life of a downtrodden princess and her unexpected prince.

What books are you hoping to finish by the time autumn arrives?

July Reading Wrap Up

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Summer is one of my favorite times of the year to sneak in a little extra reading. Maybe it’s the heat that makes laying around with a good book and air conditioning so appealing, or maybe it’s the extra hours of daylight.

Either way, last month I was able to finish 11 books.

  1. The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling
  2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  3. Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
  4. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
  5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  6. My Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill
  7. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  8. Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
  9. Geekerella by Ashley Poston
  10. This Life I Live by Rory Feek
  11. The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Check out my thoughts on this books and what I’m reading now by adding me as a friend on Goodreads!

Why You Should Write Like You Have a Deadline

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As an aspiring author, the best thing you can do to better your craft and get you closer to seeing your novel on the shelves at Barnes and Noble is to write. While that’s no secret, all writers are different, especially when it comes to how quickly they can get words down on the page. 

Some writers can crank out upwards of 1,000 words a day, while others struggle to complete 500 in a week. Are either of these writers better than the other? No. However, writing like you have a deadline, even when you don’t, can often mean the difference between finishing your manuscript or always wishing you had. 

Approaching your writing like you are on a deadline:

Provides Instant Motivation
We all have days that simply don’t have enough hours in them, but giving yourself a deadline gives you the extra dose of motivation that is often needed to finish your book. This inspiration will keep you moving toward your goal, and give you a tangible finish line to look forward to. 

Gets Words on the Page
Deadlines are great scare tactics. Either you meet them or you don’t, and nothing feels worse than letting your creative self down. When you give yourself a date that your draft needs to be finished by, you will work harder to fill the blank pages of your manuscript, which in turn, gets you one step closer to publication. 

Eliminates Excuses 
YouTube, Netflix, Twitter, and Goodreads all too often become excuses for us to avoid digging into our work in progress. By giving yourself a deadline, and making your writing a priority, you will crave completing your novel over a useless binge-watching session. Besides, these typical excuses can make great ways to treat yourself once your book is complete.

Have you ever written on a deadline before? How did it compare to regular self-paced writing?

3 Secrets to Getting Published

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As a writer, it’s likely not a secret that one of your main goals is to get published. Sure, writing just for the love of writing is great, but you’re probably kidding yourself if you say you don’t dream about one day finding your novel on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. 

While the publishing industry changes daily and there is no one set in stone path that will get your book on the New York Time’s Bestseller list, these three tips will get you pointed in the right direction. 

Network
Rarely does one ever get published without the help of others in the industry. Make a point to reach out to agents, publishers, and other authors you admire. Building relationships with others in the field will help open new doors and opportunities. But be careful to never promote your work right away to new contacts – instead, focus on building lasting friendships. The business aspect will follow when the time is right. 

Build a Platform
In today’s world of social media, it is vital that new authors have a presence online with a meaningful platform. Whether through Twitter, Instagram, or a blog, by continuously building your platform and posting quality content, your likelihood of getting noticed (and ultimately getting a book deal) by a publisher increases significantly. 

Write
The best way to help your work get published? WRITE. Embrace your manuscript and put in the effort to make your book as good as it possibly can be through several rounds of edits, beta-readers, and then even more edits. Constantly working on your writing is the only guaranteed way to improve your craft, and since the quality of your writing is the ultimate factor between your book selling out on Amazon or living in Google Docs forever, it is best that you make the process of actually sitting down to write your primary focus. There are a lot of mediocre books out there, but by ensuring yours is great, you increase your chances of getting published infinitely. 

What are some of your favorite helpful publishing secrets? 

Supermarket Small Talk: 5 Minute Fiction

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Supermarket Small Talk

“Megan?”.
Oh no.
“Is that you? Oh, of course it is!”.
I wish it wasn’t.
“It’s been so long!”.
Not long enough.
“How long has it been? High school?”.
Ugh. “Yeah”, I say with a smile faker than Heather’s new cheekbones. “It’s been a while”. I give her a polite nod and turn around, pretending to be engrossed in the latest tabloids, and praying the 17 year old cashier will get a move on.
“How have you been?”, Heather doesn’t take the hint, expecting me to humor her constant questions.
Since I can’t tell her that I spend most of my time in public avoiding soul-suckers like her, I give her the always acceptable, “Fine”.
“Oh, life’s just great isn’t it?”, she muses.
Not this particular moment.
She keeps going, “Adam and I just moved into a farmhouse, and my blog is really taking off!”.
Her blog about how hard life is in upper-class suburbia. 
Yes, I’ve read it.
Stop judging me.
“What have you been up to?”, she narrows in
“Contemplating how badly I want these bananas, or if ditching them and this conversation would be worth it”.
“Excuse me?”.
Shoot.
I said that one out loud.

Read more 5 Minute Fiction pieces by yours truly.