Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Transitioning work posts

My transition of work posts from my archaic, slow desktop to my new, lightning-fast laptop is nearly complete. I've placed most of the files I need on my laptop and started my trial of Microsoft Office Small Business 2007.

I actually only need one component of the small business version of Office: Publisher. Everything else on there that I use, which is mainly just Word, is compatible with the free Open Office software I have now. Open Office Writer and Word understand one another perfectly and I am able to use Writer on the laptop and Word on the desktop interchangeably, with no problems whatsoever.

The Publisher component of Office I need for work so I can produce newsletters for a few nonprofit organizations.

A few evenings ago I downloaded the small business trial so I can work on my newsletters on the laptop. The trial lasts for 60 days. If I have really used it on the laptop I will purchase Publisher only. If it has not been of that much benefit I will just let the trial lapse without purchasing the program.

I do love the speed of the laptop and the more programs there are on it, the slower it runs. For that reason I'm putting as few files and programs on it as possible. I'd like to keep it mainly for Internet use. For the times that I need to email files that are on the desktop, I just save them to a CD and pop that in the laptop.

The transition is going well so far, and I hope it continues!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Free website hosting site in beta

I just ran across a free website hosting site in beta and wanted to share ...


You can do a blog, etc. with this and it says there aren't any ads. Your address would be "yoursitename.webonsites.com."

Between that and the no ads feature that is a really great deal, especially compared to other free website hosts like Yahoo Geocities, where your address is something like
http://www.geocities.com/smbwallace2003/arkansasprofiles.html and it is supported by advertisements.

I think I'll play around with the site in the next couple of days to see how easy it is. My Arkansas Profiles website, the one with the horribly long Geocities address, could use some updating and maybe the new Web On site would be a good place to put it. Something to think about ...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trade magazines

Write From Home has a list of trade magazines for which you can receive a free subscription.

Many writers are experts in certain areas and write for such trade magazines. They could also be used to expand these areas of knowledge.

For instance, I write about agriculture, housing, and similar topics for nonprofit organizations. I plan to subscribe to several of these magazines that appear to carry information that could benefit me in my newsletter work. I'll report back on the usefulness of the magazines later.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Writing for Profit: free mini ecourse

Write from Home has a great (and free!) mini ecourse entitled "Writing for Profit: Break Into Magazines," by Cheryl Wright.

It has a good bit of useful information that can also be applied to other print medium, like newspapers.

Seeing this mini ecourse gives me an idea of what to do with a piece I've written on how to get a job in the print market. And one of the free ebooks I've posted about recently describes how to set up an ebook!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A few more free online courses

There are a few more free online writing classes in this list from Freelance Writing at About.com.

Follow that link to About University and you'll find free online classes on every imaginable subject. I had no idea so many online classes were available for free!

Each online course is sent by email daily or weekly and is designed to help you learn a specific skill or solve a particular problem, so says the welcome to About U. Jump in!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Free online university writing courses

There are several universities that offer free online writing courses! That's perfect for us work-at-home writer moms who are trying to juggle the kids and the budget along with the projects we need to complete.

The list of universities offering these free courses is pretty impressive:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mit.edu)

* Introduction to Fiction
* Writing and Reading Short Stories
* Advanced Essay Workshop

Utah State University (usu.edu)

* Intro to Writing Academic Prose
* Intermediate Research Writing
* Technology for Professional Writers

Open University (open.ac.uk)

* Fiction Writing Course
* Descriptive Writing Course
* Essay Writing Course

University of Utah (utah.edu)

* Introduction to Shakespeare
* Introduction to Creative Writing

Western Governors University (wgu.edu)

* Rhetorical and Critical Writing
* Language and Communications
* Literature Course - Parts I and II

Purdue University (owl.english.purdue.edu)

* Pattern and Variation in Poetry
* Proofreading Your Writing
* Conquering the Comma

Steven Barnes' UCLA Writing Course (lifewrite.com)

* 9-Week Introduction to Screenwriting Course

News University (newsu.org)

* Cleaning Your Copy
* Beat Basics and Beyond
* Covering Breaking News


E-Zine University (ezineuniversity.com)

* Writing Clearly and Effectively
* Conquering Confusing Words
* Quick Ways to Clean Up Your Writing

Wikiversity (wikiversity.org)

* Introduction to Web Writing
* Technical Writing Courses
* Narrative Dialog Editing

Be sure to check out the listing for more information about these schools and their free classes. I'd like to find the time to take the News University courses along with the E-Zine University offerings.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More free e-books

Free e-books are available online by the truckload, including books on writing.

Free-ebooks.net has a long list of titles on all subjects available for download. The writing section has many e-books available for free. Topics range from writing e-books to finding freelance markets to book self-publishing.

The free e-books are available in several different file types, including PDF, EXE, and zip.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Free e-books for writers

Freelance Writing has quite a few free e-books on writing.

Here's the list:

Download free e-books to help you become a successful writer and freelance writer.

Can You Read Me Now? How to Use Readability Formulas to Write for Your Target Audience (Free E-Book)
Researchers and writers have been using readability formulas since 1920. Over the years, they have spent a lot of time devising the most accurate and scientific formulas to assess readability. In this free e-book, Can YOU Read Me Now?, you will learn how to use readability formulas on your own materials.

Ghostwriters take on the writing tasks of successful marketers and business owners so they can spend more time on marketing! How A Freelance Ghostwriter Saved My Business! will teach business owners and marketers where to find these "mysterious" writers (most marketers won't give up their sources, it's too risky), and how to get their best work out of them so you can explode your business!

(Free E-Book)
Discover how to write your own profitable book and become a recognized expert in your field. In this e-book, you'll discover everything you need to know to achieve your dream of becoming a respected author.

(Free E-Book)
Would you like to GET PAID to write a book? If you're thinking this is plain fantasy, think again. All professional writers get paid to write their books. How? They sell their books via proposals before they write the books. This e-book shows you how to go from idea to completed book proposal in seven short days. (Available in 2008)

(Free E-Book)
Learn how to make money freelance writing for the gaming industry.

(Free E-Book)
Learn how to make money from home as a freelancer.

(Free E-Book)
Learn how to write persuasive promotional copy to convert browsers into buyers and boost company sales.

(Free E-Book)
Learn about many diverse topics on copyright law, copyright registration, patent law, and trademark law.

(Free E-Book)
This free e-book will teach you all about copyright protection, how to register your copyright, and how to copyright any creative work.

(Free E-Book)
Learn how to search for a copyright renewal in the U.S. Copyright Office online database.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Transferring files

The time has come for me to designate my new laptop as my "work" computer.

Currently my work computer is a desktop that we bought in 2000 or 2001 (we can't remember which year but either way, the computer has quite outlived any expected lifespan). The monitor is shot (second or third one) and the hard drive is SOOOOOOO slow. I guess that's because it's got seven or eight year's worth of stuff on it.

The last couple of days I've not been able to connect to the Internet on the desktop. That's very weird because I'm connected on the laptop, which of course goes through a router wired to the desktop. At any rate, it's inconvenient because all my files are on the desktop and I need to be able to access them and the Internet for emailing. Right now I am saving my files to a disk and then opening the disk on my laptop. I'm saving them to the laptop for future reference and figure it's time to just transfer all the files I need to the laptop.

There is just one problem. I don't have Microsoft Office on the laptop and I need Publisher. I use that program to produce newsletters for a couple of nonprofit clients. Open Office has solved all the other problems ... Writer opens Word, Calc opens Excel, and so on. As far as I can tell Open Office doesn't have anything that doubles as Publisher. I can get a 60-day free trial of Microsoft Office to tide me over and then I will just purchase Publisher alone. I looked it up when I was getting ready to buy it for the desktop a couple of years ago. The 2003 version of Publisher was $169.

Well as I was typing this post the desktop prompted me to fix the connection between the computer and the router, and now I can get on the Internet on that computer as well. Problem solved.

It's just a matter of time before it happens again so I'm going to continue to transfer my necessary files to the laptop so I can designate it as my official work computer.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Found it!

Just an update to say that I found my planner (and my camera and the bag that everything was in)!

I left the bag in my sister-in-law's truck on Thursday.

I was relieved to see that I hadn't missed any major events since Thursday. I can now proceed to plan the upcoming week and the rest of my life.

Glad that's over!

I'm lost!

My planner has been missing for a few days and I'm LOST!

I first noticed it missing on Friday and gave my desk area a cursory look, and the same goes for yesterday, except I sent my niece outside to look in the vehicle. Nothing.

I last remember having it on Thursday afternoon, when I packed it up in a briefcase bag to go to a meeting concerning work. I took it to my appointment and to my daughter's appointment for sure. Then things start getting blurry. After my daughter's appointment we went to my sister-in-law's house and picked up the other four kids, my other two and her two. I don't recall having it after that, but that doesn't mean anything. I could have left it in her vehicle, which I was driving. I could have taken it into her house and left it. I could have brought it in my house and put it somewhere strange.

I would normally have brought it into the house and sat in near my desk area.

I'm also missing my camera and a notebook that has an important slip of paper -- proof of my daughter's completing her appointment that I must present so she can be paid -- tucked inside of it.

My little purse was stuck inside the bag but I have the purse. So does that mean that I took my purse out of the bag somewhere along the way or that the bag actually made it into the house and got away from me?

Either way, I really need it. I need my planner. I just dug a medium-sized notebook out of my office supply boxes and created pages for the rest of this month. Now I feel like I have some semblance of order restored and I know the direction I need to take for the next week or so but I really need my planner. I'm making out my schedule for this coming week and there could be something already written in there that I need to do!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Outsourcing anyone?

Being able to outsource things is a work-at-home mom's dream! It kind of sounds like you're defeating the purpose -- don't you work from home so you can take care of the kids AND help with the bills, all at the same time? -- but any mom who works from home can appreciate what a big responsibility it all is and knows you need some help sometimes.

I actually outsourced some of my work to a very dependable and trustworthy person (an online friend) for a time but things have gotten so tight around our house lately that I haven't been able to do that in a long while.

If I had my way, I'd outsource some childcare! It's summer break and five kids get under my skin very easily sometimes. I'd let out some of this endless cooking and cleaning, too! But as things stand I must handle all of it plus trying to get some writing done, too.

Strictly job-wise, it might help if I had someone to track down local ideas for me and maybe a bit of looking on the Internet for stuff to fill in. My husband, the charming social butterfly that he is, is actually a very good source of local story ideas. I am able to use most of them sooner or later.

For the most part, though, I handle everything from tracking down ideas, interviewing, writing, changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. with no hope of being able to outsource anything anytime soon!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Home business ideas for moms

About.com has a great list of home business ideas for moms.

The list includes the normal child care operator and independent distributor that you expect, but there are a few on the list that you don't normally think of when it comes to home businesses for mothers.

Writing wasn't included on the list, sad to say, especially since a lot of moms do that and it really lends itself to working remotely.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Trying something new

Since this blogging revival I'm experiencing started, I began to think of adding advertisements to a few of my blogs, in particular this one and I Hate the Kitchen, my collection of really easy and cheap recipes. It was something I had never done before although I've had this blog and another parenting-related one, Living the Mom Life, for quite some time.

After a lot of thinking about it and toying around with the idea I went ahead and started an account at one of the more popular advertising sites and installed some advertising panes on this site and the recipe blog.

I installed some ads on my history blog, Historical Happenings, but removed them because I felt like they took away from the "old" feel of the blog. I decided not to try to put any on the "mom life" blog since I'd have to do some template adjusting (it's in the old Blogger) or some code deciphering, which I have forgotten how to do.

I'm pleased with it overall but think it needs a bit of adjusting.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Blogging revival

I've had a blogging revival lately and I love it.

After my son was born I basically ignored this blog and my other one, Living the Mom Life. I had intended to keep up with both of them, especially "Mom Life" since it's about parenting in general and I had wanted to journal all of the wonderful moments with the baby. But those moments came and went and so did my blogging opportunities. A photograph of me pregnant, posted the day my son was born, stayed up for nine long months on my "Mom Life" blog before I made another post. I think I can count on one hand the number of blog posts I made here in all of last year.

I missed it terribly though, and even began to think of starting another one. Ridiculous thought, I figured, but this new blog would be about something I'm passionate about, history, and of course there is no end to new information. (Same with parenting and working from home with kids around and see where that got me last year!)

Despite that fact, I went ahead and started Historical Happenings. I posted there fairly regularly and updated the original two blogs as well, but then that dreaded thing called lack of time and energy happened again, and the posts on all three fell off again.

Summer break happened and I had to start cooking for all the kids and I decided I'd collect easy and cheap recipes and keep up with them -- guess how? -- through a blog!

I Hate the Kitchen was born and along with that, a blogging revival.

I've updated all of the blogs several times a week and some of them daily for a few weeks now. I'm thoroughly enjoying it and really hope I can keep it up. The scheduling feature really comes in handy because I get on a roll on one topic and can schedule posts for days to come. What fun!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Historical blogging

Thanks to one of my new favorite blogs, Writer's Resources, I've been accepted as a blogger at TerraStories-Bearings.

This site blogs about unusual places with a historical draw. As it turns out I collect this type of information and photographs for myself, so I have a nice collection of it. Some of it I have on my blog Historical Happenings. That blog publishes historical tidbits but I have much more information about the places I've blogged about that I can greatly expand upon for the posts at Bearings.

I'm excited about this and thankful to Writer's Resources for letting me know about it.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Monday stinks.

I think that's pretty much for everyone. It's just very difficult sometimes to make the transition from relaxing weekend to harried workday.

It's hard for me because I go from having my husband around to help with all the kids (five of them) on the weekends to just me to take care of all of them. To make it worse, Monday is a big work day for me.

I've had Monday set up as a big workday ever since I started working from home five years ago. I was a work-from-home employee for several months before I actually started working for myself. I figured that since Monday gets the work week off to a big start everywhere else, it should likewise get things going in my office. I use that day to contact people and set appointments for the rest of the week and to in general get the work week going.

Tuesday and Wednesday are also fairly big work days for me as well. Things start tapering off on Thursdays and Fridays for me.

This schedule has worked well for me for years but this summer I have felt overwhelmed, especially on Mondays, more times than I would have liked. My sister made a very reasonable observation the other night -- there's no written rule that Monday has to be a big work day; shift some of the work to the end of the week when there are only three kids (mine) here for me to care for.

Valid point.

I've not done much on Thursdays and Fridays (except for write) on those days because I figure people are looking forward to the end of the week and the weekend on those days and I don't really want to bother them. But my very reasonable sister said that most people work up until at least lunch on Fridays.

For some reason that thought was very liberating for me (evidently it doesn't take much). Today I did have a lot of work set up (or from the looks of my planner for today it looked that way) but I stopped and took the girls to a park here in town. (It didn't hurt that I needed some photos of the park for a short piece I'm getting ready to write.) It felt good to not feel so rushed to get so much done all in one day.

Depending on how this new outlook works for me I may begin to schedule some of my work weeks more evenly through the entire week instead of setting up so much to do on Mondays. So far so good!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Writing for free

For you work-at-home writer moms like me, do you/have you write/written for free?

The freelance writing blog at About.com is talking about this right now.

I commented on there, and my answer was in the minority.

Basically, I said NO. I am first and foremost a mom who is just trying to work enough to help with the bills and feed the kids, and I just can't afford to give my work away. Exposure, etc. is nice but I can't use that to pay my mortgage and utilities every month. Those companies don't accept that for payment of their services so I can't afford to work for that.

I may have the luxury of being established enough so that I don't have to work for exposure, and I don't knock anyone who does that. I do have a problem with writers selling their work so cheaply that it drives the going rate down for all of the seasoned writers out there. I'm not that high-priced but I believe excellent work such as the kind I produce should be accordingly compensated.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Job feeds at FreelanceWriting.com

A few days ago I mentioned the Job Feeds on Freelance Writing. I wanted to expound on it because it is a really great time-saver for freelance writers looking for work.

What this service does is take all the writing and writing-related jobs from renowned job posting sites like Craig's List, Online Writing Jobs, and other sites and presents them to you on a single screen. To make it even better, the feeds lists prints the details right on that same screen so you can just read down the list without clicking anything if the job detail doesn't match what you are looking for.

Here are some of the job sites on the Job Feeds list:

Get a Freelancer



RentACoder (This is great because I never could figure out how to find the writing jobs here)


Online Writing Jobs


Craig's List (This one starts with job listings in New York but there are links to click for other major cities in the U.S.)

Simply Hired

Writing Career


Freelance Blogging Jobs


I'm not endorsing any of these sites since I haven't used them all but you may have your favorites and want to go right to them.

Or you could just go to the Job Feeds list and work from there! They're automatically updated!

Friday, July 04, 2008

OpenOffice.org saves the day!

Recently I griped about the difficulty I've had in opening documents at my two different computers; I've got Microsoft Office on the desktop (my main work computer for now) but not on the laptop. Since I work at both computers I need them to be compatible, but right now I don't want to spend any more money on programs. I can open a Word document on my laptop but cannot copy anything from it or edit it. This presents a problem. I will most likely get Microsoft Office on my laptop at some point in the future, but that doesn't really help me right now.

This evening I ran across OpenOffice.org and saw that you can open, read, edit, and save Microsoft Word programs with the Writer portion of Open Office, which is completely free. (I actually was told about this program over two years ago and I downloaded it but did not install it on my desktop. I don't know why I didn't follow through with it.)

I immediately downloaded it on both computers and l think it is going to solve my problem for now. I set my laptop to open Word documents with Open Office Writer by default, and am saving Open Office documents in RTF format, which seems to work well between computers. I ran a test with the same document and IT WORKS! It opens in Word on the desktop and in Open Office on the laptop. I'm elated.

I also love that it is very user-friendly. Right away I saw how to set Verdana font as my default; I've yet to figure that out on Word and I've been using it for a year and a half. Granted, I'm not the brightest bulb in the box when it comes to stuff like that but I appreciate Open Office Writer for being so obvious with how to do things like that.

Thank you OpenOffice.org for already making my life easier!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Business ideas for home-based income

My favorite work at home mother website, Mommy Jobs, has a great listing of business ideas for home-based income.

There are free downloads of ideas of how to make money on the weekend and reselling computers. The page also includes articles on job ideas from walking dogs to delivering meals for the elderly to planning meals.

Be sure to take a look!

While you're there hop over to the boards to see what job issues and family challenges we're talking about!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Don't miss it! (A little of everything)

One of my very favorite resources for work-at-home moms is Mommy Jobs! There are all kinds of job ideas and articles to help us get things done.

For all you work-at-home writer moms like me, there are great listings for getting paid to write, writing greeting cards, and getting paid to blog that you could look into.

And over at the writing board there is a little of everything from blogging ideas, places to submit articles, sites to check out for jobs, and newsletter suggestions.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

More freelance writing job resources

It seems like lately I've been spending a little time every day (or almost every day) looking for jobs online. This is a new thing for me but it seems to be working out okay. I have been offered a few of these jobs that I have applied for and one of them I did follow up on. It is for an online/print magazine. I send some story ideas today and hopefully one or more of them will be accepted.

One of the places that I've been looking for jobs is the Morning Coffee newsletter at FreelanceWriting.com.

Also on the site is a Freelance Writing Jobs Feed that posts offerings from a number of sites. I haven't ever used any of those sites but I know writers that have.

The Online Writing Jobs site lists tons of writing related jobs. You can go through them there or through the Online Writing Jobs section at FreelanceWriting.com.

You can post your writing profile for free at FreelancePortfolios.com, and those needing writers can post for free as well.