There is a business component to our home improvement project. In addition to bringing my parents closer to us, the project will involve a business venture that will mean a shift in career path for my mother and a management and marketing challenge for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about business plans, contingency plans, and diversification.
Part of my overall plan has led be down a path I hadn’t considered before. About a year ago, I signed up to be a consultant for Perfectly Posh, a direct sale line of pampering products. My entire motivation for signing up was to receive a percentage off of products I was already buying (I was using some off-the-shelf lotions until one of them turned my daughter into a lobster and I decided to shift to more natural products…but that’s a whole different story). I never planned to sell the products myself since my plate is already overloaded and I’m not in a position to go out and do parties.
Then, this new project with my parents came about and I realized that if I sold Posh on the side, it could help support the new business. So, today is H and H is for hosting parties. This Saturday I’m hosting a Posh party at my house. I’m not a hardcore saleswoman, but I do love the products, so we’ll see how this goes. One thing I do like about Posh as a business is that it doesn’t require any inventory, so it’s not a bad choice for people looking for an easy added income. This may very well be the one and only non-virtual party I host.
And because I’m working on building this business, here’s the website: https://amyrivers.po.sh.
Anyway, throwing this party gave me an excellent excuse to hit one of my favorite home décor stores and do a little shopping. I purchased a few items that I can use this weekend and then save for the new house and all the exciting events that may be taking place there in the future.
I realize that I’m being vague about the new business and I apologize, but it is intentional. I promise I’ll have more details for you over the course of the next few weeks but for now I’m taking things slow.
My name is Michelle Dragalin and blog about writing, book reviews and other things on my blog Writer’s Journey. I have another blog that I discuss education, online work and other educational technology things. Currently, I am published in a few small publishing companies, a small publishing house and adjunct professor for a small online school. I stay busy! In addition to writing reviews, author interviews and online education, I am a Mom to two adult children and a wife to a retired Navy mechanical engineer. I earn most of my income by teaching online (hence the 51-talk tagline) and developing curriculum, as well as designing instruction. I work at home now, which I like. I work more hours which I don’t like, but it will all come together in the end.
Underneath my name at the end of the blog you will see a link to 51 Talk. Disclaimer: I receive a monetary reward if you click on it and successfully complete the application process.
Writer’s Notebook: Biographies, Alphabet books, Backyard Zoo and Guinea Pigs
I love to share information that I have picked up on writer’s journey and help other writers. I am not famous. I am not well known. I just like to help. In this blog I would like to share some ideas that help me as a writer.
The picture below illustrates what my desk looks like; I have books on all the above topic. I suffer a bit from ADD and so I need to be able to turn my attention from one subject to another. I also keep the information in my writer’s notebook. Recently a favorite singer of mine had his backpack stolen, he said that of all the things inside the one item he really misses is his song journal. I can relate, my writer’s notebook is a journal that I keep all my information in regarding my projects. If it were to go missing I would lose a lot of research, information and various quotes that I have developed or have received from other authors. In addition, it holds information from my contacts at 12x12, Critique groups, and Social media groups. My writer’s notebook is priceless, someone else would probably toss it in the nearest dumpster. All this information gets transferred onto my calendar, files and other areas. Yet the original information all stays in my notebook for my reference. My little desk behind me holds the material I need for my work.
Each story in development is at different stages, in addition, I include research for my online work.
A Story in Development
A story in development has various stages. The most important is the stage where I need to fully concentrate on that particular story. Right now I am working a story about guinea pigs.
The place I love to work at is the library. There is enclosed room with a white board that I can spread out on and work. Everything is available and there is no distraction, plus it has a small cafe and easy access if I need a book or some help from a friendly library. On the desk I have my laptop, which doubles as tablet, a kindle and tablet plus water and time. This way I can focus on one subject at a time, did I mention the room is enclosed!!!
My desk at home often looks like this:
Writing is a process, a development there are many areas that a person must take into consideration they develop and write a story.
Find out what works for you and organize your life to suit you! Work for yourself and in a way that suits you! My way works for me because I need to move, yet have all my stuff centrally located for when I am online teaching or meeting with people. Develop your environment to suit yourself!!
51 Talk http://www.51talk.com/na?referrer=4869960
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Last week was hectic, so I decided to give myself the day off on Saturday. My G post is a day late and I’m not feeling guilty (despite it fitting the G theme).
Before lounging, we spent time looking at freestanding bathtubs and opening bank accounts. We were at the bank for two hours due to glitches (see that, G again) but Melissa Leigh, LLC is all set up and ready to go. Pretty exciting stuff in the works and I’ll be sharing more as we move toward the summer.
In the meantime, my self-imposed day of relaxation has left me with a to-do list a mile long so, for now, let me say goodbye and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Believe it or not, today’s topics don’t go together (although they could, but since I’m looking at buying new furniture, I’d rather not think about forensics during that particular process). When my husband heard my topics, he said “sounds like bloody carpet.” Um, no. Just no.
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll see Friday Forensic Fun Facts posts. These posts came about for two reasons: 1) I’m studying forensic criminology and I think it’s fun so I decided to share, and 2) I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers so forensics come up pretty often both in my reading and in my writing. I got my first glimpse at forensics as an undergrad in a physical anthropology class where we got to examine skulls and bone fragments to determine gender and estimate age. Then, as a graduate student, I took a forensic science class that was AMAZING! Recently, I was reading Jeffrey Deaver’s book The Bone Collector and couldn’t help but fall in love a little bit with Lincoln Rhyme and his love of trace evidence.
So, if you’re interested in forensics, you might appreciate the Friday fun facts.
If you think about forensics too much when shopping for furniture, you might never want to bring new items into your home. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. That being said, my husband and I spent an hour in a new furniture story yesterday looking at tables and cabinets and things for the new house. While most of the furnishings are staying, there are a few specific pieces we’re looking for. A cabinet for the entry and one for behind the living room couch. A round table for the entry (or maybe a square one - still on the fence). A bed frame for the master suite that has both a bookcase headboard AND underbed storage - at the foot of the bed, not the side. How’s that for specific!
I love furniture shopping. I can really appreciate the craftsmanship, especially in wood furniture. The house I live in is so modern, and when we were furnishing it, our focus was completely different than it is with the new house. It’s a lot of fun to walk through the store, run my hands over the fabric and finishes (probably leaving fingerprints and trace evidence all over the place….ugh), and daydream about where a piece would go and how it would/could be used. It’s easy to dismiss pieces that are just completely not my style or the house’s, but other pieces require more consideration. Here are a few of the things I found during our shopping trip (these are just ideas…we’re not ready to buy anything yet).
In my estimation, emotion can alter our expectations. OK, I admit it. I just really wanted to say that.
Just spent a few hours working on the new house, including a walk-through with our contractor to get estimates for some of the remodeling work. I felt excited (another E word) but was also a little sad for the previous owners who are starting to say goodbye to their home of 15 years. While this project is a fun adventure for me, both my parents and the previous owners of our new house are embarking on major life changes. As a result, I’m trying to keep by excitement in check with consideration to the bittersweetness of the situation for those around me.
In good news, our contractor said the words “that’s going to make it easy” more than once, and easy is a really really REALLY good E word to hear when you’re getting ready to remodel a house, especially a 100 year old house. Phew! Lots of work to do but it looks like many of the things we want to do are feasible.
Oh, and I got 100% on my final exam! Yay for E day!
In terms of expectations, I continue to work on keeping mine realistic. In every part of my life, there are a lot of people whose wants and needs are intertwined with my own. So rather than spend too much time with expectations, I try to keep close company with hope. I hope all our plans for the house are possible. I hope I can get my next novel drafted by June. And I hope that I find a literary agent who will join me on this fantastic, completely un-ordinary writing journey. I expect that if I stay positive, keep working hard, and take care of myself and the people I love, that no matter what happens, I’ll find myself surrounded with love and hope and possibilities.
We’ll start with some academic details. Just finished my exam! After a final pass to make sure all the details were where they needed to be, I pushed the submit button and now it’s a waiting game. Two things about me: 1) I am NOT the most patient person (though I try) and 2) I am a serious and sometimes ridiculous overachiever when it comes to school SO wish me luck J Next class starts May 21, so I’ll be turning my focus over the next few weeks to the new house and drafting a new novel.
In terms of the house, we’re meeting with the contractor tomorrow and the first order of business has to do with doggie details – namely, the fence. This house comes with a spacious and beautiful backyard. My parents, who will be moving in in less than two months, come with a sweet little adorable doggie pal who we’ll all want to keep safe and sound in said backyard. So, we’re looking at the fence. We’ll be putting in a new gate and dig-proofing the entire fence. I found some cool spikey things that keep critters from digging their way through. Has anyone ever used these before?
This pup isn’t much of a digger really, at least not around fences, but she’s small enough that she could slip pretty easily under a few areas where the fence doesn’t quite reach the ground. This seems a lot easier than – say – replacing the whole fence, right? My pooch is an indoor dog only so we haven’t had to deal with this particular issue at our house. I always love a new challenge!
After the fence, we’ll be looking at doggie doors and other canine contraptions that will make the new house a great new home for my mom’s furry friend.
AND THEN….on to the new novel. I’ve spent the last two months researching degenerative eye diseases and I’m ready to start delving into the world of my new protagonist (and her sidekick), as well as a brand new villain who already gives me the creeps. Yay! Hoping to have a first draft done by June. Fingers crossed!
Today’s task: getting an estimate from one of our favorite contractors for at least half a dozen improvements to the new house. One of those projects is building a carport. We’re going to compare a custom built structure that would more closely match the look of the house vs. a pre-fab structure that will likely be the more economical option. The new house is not listed on the National Historic Register but the neighborhood itself is a Historic District and many of the neighboring houses have been listed as official historic sites. We’re hoping to make improvements keeping with the style and historic aesthetic of the neighborhood.
Collaboration is the name of the game. Finding professionals who will help us realize our vision while working within our budget is just one part of the process. If you know me, you know I tend to think really big. So having collaborators (including my brilliant and interminably patient husband) who will rein me in when necessary is high on the list of priorities.
My husband and I certainly collaborate on many things in life, but I prefer to think of him as my co-conspirator. For some inexplicable reason (could it be love?), he likes my big ideas, my passion projects, my leaps of faith. I have a strong work ethic, so he knows that I’ll work my tail off to make things happen, but I suspect I also amuse him. He supports all of my endeavors, providing reality checks and some necessary grounding as we go along.
So, what does all this have to do with writing? As much as we’d love to shut ourselves into a room and produce masterpieces that make us wealthy without having to interact with anyone, having a writing career requires collaboration. Whether we’re freelancing or writing novels, we’re likely to work with agents, editors, publishers, marketers and all sorts of other people who help get our work in front of readers. We also work together, in writing groups, to improve our craft and broaden our horizons (and sometimes just to vent over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine). All of these pieces are necessary parts of seeing our projects to completion (oh look, another C word!).
Anyone have any thoughts on collaboration? Or, if you prefer, custom built vs. pre-fab carports? I’m all ears. (here's a picture of the driveway).
I live in an ultramodern house in Boulder County. Our new house is the opposite…sort of. It’s an American foursquare style house cozily situated in the heart of a historic district. Built in the early 1900’s, but restored and updated to reflect modern sensibilities, the house is a mix of old and new. For instance, many of the original windows are still in place, but fixtures and appliances have been updated. The previous owner is an interior designer, and the house reflects her aesthetics. Walking in the first time was like entering a dream home, and lucky for us, much of the décor and furnishings are staying put.
However, to fit our repurposing project, there are a few big fixes and renovations to be done. In terms of priority, the basement and bathroom are on the top of the list. The basement has a lot of usable space and we’re going to work on turning it into the new laundry room so that we can convert the current laundry room into a fourth bathroom. It’s going to be quite a task! And in terms of style, I’m on the fence. I want the bathroom to feel luxurious, but not overly modern. This is definitely not my area of expertise and it’s at least a mile outside my comfort zone. Thankfully, the Internet never lets me down when it comes to idea generation. You can help too. Below you'll find a photo of the current laundry room. Once a covered porch, it’s a small but sunny room and I’m dying to put a nice soaking tub in there.
Of course, as we speed along on this project (and this week is also finals week for me, so I’ve got some tall studying to do), I have to remember to take a moment to breathe. Yesterday, I developed tunnel vision and made a few unfortunate mistakes. Today, I’m reminding myself that working hard is important, but working smart….even more so. My tendency to jump into things has led to some amazing adventures in my life, but it also tends to land me in hot water from time to time. I’m constantly telling friends “Breathe!” when they feel overwhelmed. Guess it’s time to take my own advice.
Speaking of hot water….I’m ready to look at tubs!
Carrie Visintainer is the author of Wild Mama. When not traveling, she lives in Fort Collins with her husband and two kids.
Recently I was going through some boxes in my basement, and I discovered a notebook containing my diary from sophomore year in high school. The entry dated February 4th read, “I really love Macbeth. Mr. M. made us read it but I liked it anyway. So anyway, I think this weekend I’m going to stay home to write that play through a modern lens. Ooooh!”
Um, nerd alert, right?! Yep, that was me as an adolescent, skipping normal teenage activities like hanging out at the mall to rewrite masterpieces of literature. Anyway, that’s who I was. But I think what’s most interesting about that time in my life is not so much my nerdiness, but that after high school, I stopped writing.
I took a road to a bright future, chasing an education in biology and genetics, which I wasn’t necessarily passionate about, but it was interesting, and it did seem a lot more lucrative than creative writing.
Which worked out okay for a while, until it didn’t. Until the middle of graduate school when I couldn’t stop thinking about writing. How I wanted to be a writer. That I loved words on a page. And while it seemed like a less-than-promising career path, it was what I wanted to do.
So I decided to go for it. I finished school and got a job to pay the bills and wrote in my free time. And because I had no formal education in writing, I studied a lot of stories and novels, noticing how authors used different literary techniques. I signed up for a continuing education class at CU in fiction, where I met a professor who was encouraging about my work. And I auditioned for a critique group in Fort Collins, submitting the one and only short story I had ever completed. (Nope, it wasn’t the rewrite of Macbeth.)
Anyway, they let me join the group, and I will always feel infinite gratitude for this, because it’s what gave me all of the foundational tools, both in critique and camaraderie, that I needed to progress. It’s how I got better at writing. How I got up the guts to submit my stories and essays to journals and magazines. It is the sole reason I wrote Wild Mama.
Honestly, I’d never thought about writing a memoir. I only sort of liked reading memoirs. I did like writing and reading essays, though, and then one day in critique group, when the members were giving me feedback on yet another piece I’d written about early motherhood and adventure and travel, someone said, “Do you think you might be writing a book?”
I didn’t really think so, but I decided to give it a chance. I committed to spending a few hours putting all of my essays that had been published (or not) into one document, and what I found was that I did kind of have the framework for a book. There was sort of an arc? It was an illuminating moment.
But then, the hardest work of all began. The day I finished the final draft, it hit me that the next step was to query agents, which was my preferred route to publication. It made me want to puke, putting myself out there like that, and in nonfiction! But I did it, and eventually, several months later, I found a match in an agent who has turned out to be one of my favorite people in the world.
Somehow, she is still hanging in there with me. After Wild Mama came out a couple of years ago, I announced to her that I was sick of my voice and I wanted to switch to fiction, and also I wanted to delete all of my social media accounts, because it just wasn’t me. She said okay. And now I’m stumbling along, trying to finish a novel, hanging out in a private space that feels just right, right now.
The thing is, I love seeing the world through a writer’s eyes; that’s what makes me feel most alive. Several years ago, I had the chance to see Pam Houston speak, and she talked about the concept of “glimmers,” those moments or details or interactions that catch our eye. Her words resonated deeply, and I think about them often, pretty much every day, as I walk around noticing what I notice, experiencing my very own glimmers, letting it all simmer in my subconscious, where it is bound, at some point, to come out on the page.
When Carrie Visintainer became a mother at the age of thirty-two, she worried it was all over, that her adventurous life was done. World travel? Adios. Solo explorations in the mountains? Ciao. Creative outlets? She wondered, are diapers my new white canvas? Immersed in a whirlwind of sleeplessness and spit-up, she was madly in love with her new baby, yet also felt her adventurous spirit and core identity crumbling.
Where to Buy Wild Mama
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.
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