How to Become a Full-Time Writer: Finances

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Everything about being a struggling artist boils down to this - How can I pursue my dream and still afford to live? It's no secret that authors, even published ones, rarely make a substantial profit. Most still work 9-5 jobs in order to pay the bills. It's a hard life for any artist. Between the near-constant rejection, bad reviews, countless disappointments, failed manuscripts, and many hours of working without pay, it's a wonder anyone chooses to become a writer. But the truth of the matter is, we don't chose to be writers. It chooses us. Some of us from a very early age.


I've been truly blessed to be able to pursue my dream full-time. I can write to my heart's content and edit my literary journal without the concern of finances. As great and freeing as this is, there are sacrifices that have been made to make this possible. Below is a list of tips on how to become a full-time dreamer.

  • In debt? Sell everything. Create and Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay account. As financial guru, Dave Ramsey always says, "Sell so much the kids think they're next." 
  • Cut up credit cards. Yes, I said it. I promise you can still book hotels if you don't have one. We haven't had any in years and have never had a problem.
  • Shop thrifty. You can save BIG by buying appliances, cars, computers, and big ticket items off the Internet or through Craigslist. (The iMac I've typing on right now was a fantastic find on eBay for half the cost of one new!)
  • Save all your change in a jar. It adds up over the year. Great for extra Christmas cash.
  • Buy Bulk. Go ahead and invest in that Sams Club card. Buying bulk keeps you from running to the grocery store twice a week, which saves you from impulse buys.
  • But Christmas gifts year round. Many of us think we're going to to this, but actually put some effort in it. You won't be sorry, and neither will your friends. We buy better gifts when we aren't trying to buy for everyone we know at one time.
  • Simplify. Both home and closet. Limit how many items you bring into you home. I, for example, try to buy staple clothing. We all need black pants, a good pair of jeans, and a killer handbag. If you buy staple clothing, you'll find you won't have the need to shop very often. 
    • Tip: If something comes in, something needs to go out. 
  • Invest in your future. If you're a single income family, like we are, you'll need to make sure to invest enough for both of you. 
  • Give at least 10%. Nothing increases your chances of financial success more than giving. It teaches us the real value of money. Money isn't evil, only the love of it corrupts. Giving it away keeps our greed in check, and to be perfectly honest, nothing feels better than to give. Giving is a great testament to your budgeting skills. If you have it to give, you're doing something right.
  • Speaking of the B-word, you'll need to create a budget and stick with it. We use the HomeBudget app to keep up with ours. A digital, synced budget tends to work best for most people.
    • Tip: Make sure to include entertainment, clothing, books, etc. in your budget. 
  • Shop rarely and focused. Writing lists and not wandering around the aisles helps with this.
  • Treat yourself. Go ahead a purchase that Dooney (on sale, of course), but make sure it's something you'll use a lot and for many years to come. Just make sure to budget for it.
  • Live smaller. For two years my husband and I lived in a camper when we were trying to get out of debt. We were happier there, without financial burden, than we were in our nice house. Now we live in a 2BR 1B fixer-upper that we purchased for $15,000. It's certainly not our dream home, but it is allowing us to save for it.
  • Save 10%. Last year the average American saved -1% of their income. NEGATIVE! If you can't save, then something is wrong. Your finances need overhauling. We lived paycheck to paycheck for years, but after making the changes I'm including in this blog, we are finally back on track.
  • Create goals for your money. We have goals for everything else, why should finances be any different? 
    • Tip: Make sure to set realistic time frames for meeting goals. 
  • Be willing to bend but never break. Needed to buy school supplies but didn't budget enough? It's okay to bust the budget here and there, but try to pull from other areas to make up the difference. For example, for that month you may need to cut out a movie trip or wait until next month to purchase those shoes you've been wanting.
  • Finance carefully. The ultimate goal is to not finance anything, but if you need to, try to keep it reasonable. Purchase homes with a 15 year mortgage (or 7, even better). Cars 4 years.
  • Shop house/car insurance every other year or so. We've found that we get the best rates this way.
  • Pay bills online. Saves on envelopes and stamps.
  • Make your own coffee. Sorry Starbucks!
  • Never buy new furniture. If you want something in a furniture store, bring lots of cash and ruthlessly negotiate. 
    • Tip: Always negotiate bit ticket items. 
  • Eat simply. Keep recipes 5 ingredients or less, so there's no waste. Also, less ingredients = less calories. Both your pocketbook and your waist will thank you.
  • Monitor utilities. Invest in energy saving bulbs, and if you're in the South like us, buy a fan!
  • Repurpose furniture instead of throwing it out, and check flea markets for salvageable items if you need something different.
  • Borrow. Need a drill for your next project but don't have one? Borrow it. It's always okay to borrow from friends and family. Just be careful to return it in good condition and full of gas! 
  • Be willing to be weird to be wealthy. 
  • Once your finances are in order, plan a vacation once a year. Everyone needs a break.
  • Fix what's broke.
  • Make being a home owner an actual possibility. 
  • Only buy cars you're willing to keep for five years or more. If the body styles change every other year, don't buy that car. You'll be sick of it no time. Instead purchase ones who have timeless designs and still look good after 10 years. (Prius, VWs, Tahoe, Jeep, etc.) A paid off car drives better than a financed one.
I hope you've found some of these helpful. It's not impossible to be a full-time dreamer. It just takes a bit of planning and sacrifice. Living below your means can not only help you attain your artistic dreams, it will also help you tackle your financial ones.


Have more money saving ideas? Share with us in the comment section.
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How Pinteresting!

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We've all heard the saying, "A picture's worth a thousand words," and sometimes they're worth thousands more. Authors are now realizing the advantage of the lovely photos shared on Pinterest. Using Pinterest as an inspiration board proves useful

  • if you are stuck in your writing. Sometimes a photo is all that's needed to inspire a new chapter or pivotal event/character.
  • if you'd like to share something with your readers, friends, or family while you're writing. A Pinterest board can give your viewers an idea of the feel of your novel long before they're able to read it. 
  • if you'd like to add a visual aide to your novel. Once your book is finished and available, readers may enjoy the ability to see how you see the novel through the photos you've chosen.
Below is a list of my own project boards on Pinterest.
  • Once Upon a Midnight
    • YA/Fairy Tale In Mezzanine, Rowena finds that the stories she grew up hearing may not be fictional after all. 
  • Emporium
    • YA/Southern Gothic/ Fantasy Sixteen-year-old Ophelia has no idea where she belongs after being shuffled from one foster home to another, but when vivid dreams feel like lost memories, she realizes that something about her new home is seriously amiss.
  • Untitled 
    • MG/Modern Fairy Tale Collection When twelve extraordinary kids living in an ultra-modern society seek to remedy their boredom, they find that unplugging from their world and stepping into the past may be the key to unlocking a life of adventure.
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Blog Tour: WHITE HELLEBORE by Nicole Zoltack

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Cooking with Julianna's Mom

Hi, everyone, I'm so glad to be here! I'm Nicole Zoltack, author of  HELLEBORE, the second book in a NA superhero romance trilogy.

Julianna is one part of the love triangle in White Hellebore. She's too busy being the sheriff of Falledge and trying to keep her town safe to make elaborate meals for herself. She usually eats pizza on the run. Her mom, on the other hand, loves to cook amazing meals and decadent desserts. Here's Julianna's mom's raspberry pie recipe.

Ingredients

2 9-inch pie crusts (Julianna's mom would of course make homemade but she doesn't share her crust recipe. Kinda stingy about that)
4 cups raspberries
1 cup sugar
2 ½ tablespoons tapioca
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon half and half cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together the raspberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Place one of the pie crusts in the pie dish and add the raspberry mixtures. Dot with butter. Add the top crust and crimp edge. Make slits into the top crust and brush with the cream. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes to set the crust. Reduce heat to 375 and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Usually 25 minutes. Cool the pie completely before serving. Enjoy!

BLURB:

After destroying Skull Krusher, Nicholas Adams thinks Falledge is safe and becomes a security guard at the museum, watching a valuable statue. Unfortunately, the Egyptian statue houses the soul of a scorned witch, biding her time to have her revenge on the descendants of her cheating lover.

Kiya the witch isn't the only new foe in town as the drug that created Skull Krusher has now transformed a scientist into yet another monster, forcing Nicholas to don his Black Hellebore mask again and save Falledge.

Nicholas has no help this time as Kiya gains possession of his love Julianna's body and brings the soul of Justina, Nicholas's high school sweetheart and Julianna's twin, with her. Despite himself, Nicholas is torn between the sisters. If he can't stop the fiends from taking over the world and destroying humankind, he'd never be able to find lasting, true love.


Purchase links:



Nicole Zoltack loves to write in many genres, especially romance, whether fantasy, paranormal, or regency. When she’s not writing about knights, superheroes, or zombies, she loves to spend time with her loving husband and three energetic young boys. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dressed in garb. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on. Her current favorite TV show is The Walking Dead. To learn more about Nicole and her writing, visit http://NicoleZoltack.blogspot.com

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Cover Reveal: BELLA'S POINT by Elizabeth Seckman

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I'm pleased to share with you the newest of Elizabeth Seckman's novels Bella's Point. What a beautiful cover, and the blurb has me hooked!

Did you know? After the Civil War, bartering often replaced cash for the exchange of goods. That might have been cheaper than paying the doubled and sometimes tripled of prices for common items like flour and corn meal. 


Isabella Troy Stanley is a divorced, slave freeing pariah surviving in the shattered post Civil War south the only way a fallen debutante knows how. 
She heads to a Yankee prison and buys herself a husband. 

Jack Byron is the former Troy plantation stable boy and object of young Bella's affection. He rejected her then, and he's still not sold on the idea of marrying her now.  

 It’s complicated.

 Though to Bella, it’s simple: make Jack love her, marry her, and live happily ever after. The plan seems to work...at least until her secret is revealed.



Elizabeth is a wife, a mom, and a writer. She has four wonderful boys, one dusty house, and three published books to her credit. Feel free to check them out and buy them HERE! Erm, the books, not the kids or the house...though all things in life are negotiable ;)

You can find her here - Blog // Facebook // Twitter

Cover art by Sprinkles on Top Studios.
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The Art of Keeping On

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Having a dream is hard.

My dream to become a published author has proved to be the more difficult than I could have ever imagined. My journey began five years ago when I started this blog. I was naïve when I began writing my first novel, but I learned quickly that finding an agent and getting published may not be in the cards for my first book. I submitted it to maybe fifteen agents and chose to let it go. So I wrote another. I didn't query it because I wasn't happy with it. I then decided I'd go back to school and major in English/Literature and make every effort to learn how to write well and verse myself in the classics. I graduated and thought about graduate school, to make myself more employable, but I felt like I wasn't giving writing a good go if I didn't at least try again before becoming lost in a new career/program.

So I've devoted the past year and a half to writing. I haven't tried to find a job or committed to another study program. Instead, I wrote my third novel and thought it would be the one. It still may be (fingers crossed). It's out there in the query world now. I've since wrote another novel and am currently on my fifth.

If someone would have told me five years ago I would go on to write five unpublished novels and still be seeking representation, I would have probably chose to devote myself to a more realistic goal.

I'm glad no one told me.

Even with all the uncertainty, I wouldn't change a thing. No matter what other career path I chose, I'd always be a writer.

There are a couple of things I've learned along the way that help me keep the negativity in check.

  1. There is always and will always be someone more talented and better than me. And that's okay.
  2. Just because I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't mean it's not there. Who knows when I'll turn a corner and find the reality of my dream staring back at me! (Just thinking about it makes me smile.)
  3. It only takes one yes to change my entire life.
  4. Writing brings me joy. Feeling down? Write!
  5. I am my worst critic. It's never as bad as it seems to me.
  6. Though I am a writer, writing is not the center of my life.
  7. A beach trip cures most things.
  8. A good book cures everything.
  9. Hard work will always lead to success.
  10. Never underestimate the possibility of a new work-in-progress.
I won't give up. Mainly because I can't. I refuse to let go of the hope that someday I may hold an actual copy of one of my books. I can hardly imagine it.

For now, my hope tree is in full blossom.
 
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SNIP SNIP REVENGE by Medeia Sharif

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SNIP, SNIP REVENGE by Medeia Sharif
YA Contemporary, Evernight Teen
Release Date April 25, 2014

Beautiful, confident Tabby Karim has plans for the winter: nab a role in her school’s dramatic production, make the new boy Michael hers, and keep bigoted Heather—with her relentless Ay-rab comments—at bay. When a teacher’s lie and her father’s hastiness rob her of her beautiful hair, her dreams are dashed. The fastest barber in Miami Beach has made her look practically bald. 

With all her pretty hair gone, Tabby doesn’t believe she fits the feminine role she’s auditioning for. Michael is still interested in her, but he’s playing it cool. Heather has taken to bullying her online, which is easier to do with Tabby’s ugly haircut. Tabby spearheads Operation Revenge, which proves satisfying until all of her problems deepen. After messing up, she sets to make things right.

Author Bio
I’m a Kurdish-American author who was born in New York City, and I presently call Miami my home. I received my master’s degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. After becoming a voracious reader in high school and a relentless writer dabbling in many genres in college, I found my niche writing for young people. Today I'm a MG and YA writer published through various presses. In addition to being a writer, I'm a middle school English teacher. My memberships include Mensa, ALAN, and SCBWI.


Find Medeia

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Join Medeia's giveaway to celebrate the release of her latest novel.

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Doing the Write Thing

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I've been struggling lately with sticking to a schedule. I know all dreams are achieved by setting specific goals and deadlines and by creating an intentional plan to conquer tasks. Though I know this and it sounds simple enough, I cannot seem to make a schedule work.

I read a great article on Huffington Post yesterday about how women writers face a significant number of challenges in finding writing time each day. We have to fit our creativity in between house work and familial responsibilities. We are the wearer of many hats, and this often keeps us from devoting time to our dreams.

January and February of this year was going well. I was writing every day and even finished a MS in record time (six weeks!), but when March came around, my mind desperately needed a break. And boy did I take one! I didn't do anything but journal work and blog posts. I had good intentions for April, though. I joined CampNaNoWriMo and have written a grand total of thirty pages thus far. I will say that I have done quite a bit of research for the WIP, so I'm not completely slacking.

I'm just frustrated! I love my WIP, but the creative juices are not being cooperative. I feel the urge to write when I'm in the middle of making dinner, folding laundry, or mowing the lawn. Sometimes when I finally do make myself sit down and write, I end up staring at the screen for minutes at a time. There are one thousand and one things I need to be doing at any given moment, and it's hard to block everything else out and concentrate. Distraction is the root of all evil!

When I don't write, I feel guilty. And when I don't get the house clean, lawn mowed, or spend time with my husband, I feel guilty too. So what's the answer? I've got to relinquish some of the pressure and try a different approach.
  • From now on, I'm going to write whenever I can. I'm usually not happy unless I've written 2,000 words per sitting. That's simply unrealistic for me, at this point. I've got to learn to be happy with however many words I write per day, even if it's only 50. That's better than none, right?
  • I'm going to set a timer on my writing. I've found I work better under restraints, so I think this may help.
  • I'm going to schedule time to let my mind decompress. Maybe I'll watch some television or do some pleasure reading.
  • I will limit my time on social media and reading articles. If I'm not careful, I know I can spend an obscene amount of time on the computer without getting anything done.
  • I will not feel guilty. Okay, I know I probably still will, but I'm going to try not to. I really am doing all I can do.
Hopefully, trying this new approach will help me get back into some type of routine. Have you found any tricks that help you stay on schedule?

 
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How to Write a Novel: WRITE

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So you're ready to write. How exciting! This is where the fun begins, but beware. Life has a way of trying to stop you from completing your goals.

What to do:
  1. Write daily. Set a realistic goal and fight for it every day. Stephen King, for example, won't get up from his desk until 2,000 words have been written. I, personally, set different goals for each project, depending on what's going on in my life. All that really matters is that you set aside time five days a week to write your WIP. Do it.
  2. Get involved in some type of writing community - Twitter, Facebook, and/or NaNoWriMo. It really helps to have accountability partners with writing. It's a lonesome venture for the most part, but having others to vent with helps in keeping on track and not getting bogged down.
  3. Don't talk too much to other people about your work. I've learned this the hard way. Most likely, your friends and family won't understand all the heartache and difficulty in writing a novel. They'll think it's easy, or they'll set unrealistic goals for you. They'll ask to read it when you're done, and they will probably feel like sharing all they know (or don't know) about writing. Especially with your first novel, it's best to just keep it to yourself and maybe your immediate family (spouse, mom, dad, etc.) until you've edited. Then you may want to pick a handful of trustful people to serve as betas. (More on this next post.)

What you should expect:
  • Writing is hard. There's nothing glamorous about staring at a computer screen for hours. Writers aren't sophisticated beings sipping coffee and typing to their hearts content like they make them out in the movies. They are gulping coffee in their pjs bleeding words onto a page.
  • You will fight the urge to procrastinate. Everything will happen during your writing time to keep you from writing. Your husband will want to watch your favorite show, a kid will suddenly throw up on the rug, the dog will need a walk... or your mind will just want to rest. Don't. Give. In.
  • You'll want to give up. Just before you meet the half way point in your novel, you'll probably struggle with throwing it out. Push through. This too shall pass.
  • You'll feel inadequate- not good enough. Nothing you write will be as good as your favorite novelist. Ignore this. Take captive these deceptive thoughts and visualize flushing them down the toilet. No one will ever write like you. You're the best at what you do.
Whatever happens, don't give up. This is your dream, and you owe it to yourself to see it through. You got this.

Go forth and write on, my friend!

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