for the Creatives

The Qapital app may have helped save $725

Did Qapital help me save more?

Sooo if you recall, for the new year I began this experiment to see if Qapital helps me save more money than I already do. I’m happy to announce that in the past few months I’ve saved $725 more than my average savings before. I excluded my tax return from this savings amount, because I’m not sure that counts in the span of a three-month average 🙂 Life circumstances change of course, so I can’t say for sure, but there’s a fair chance that Qapital helped with some of that.

(Interested? Sign up using my referral link and Qapital app will give us both $5.)

How will I change my usage of the Qapital app?

Problem: On the downside, most of that savings was to my “general savings” not my “book launch savings”,  because the only savings rules I gave for book launch were related to spending at Starbucks or Walmart – two places I try not to go to often.

Solution: I will likely be moving one rule from “general savings” to “book launch savings” to make a little more money there. I’m thinking the 1% of income rule. Tbd.

A warning for the go-getters:

Be forewarned! Qapital can only save as much as you actually have to save, except it doesn’t know that of course. My friend talks about her negative experience on her blogpost. Qapital can only help as far as you actually have money to save. So if you have a tight budget, it’s possible this app wouldn’t be the best tool for you. And if you’re a super competitive nature, don’t get too crazy with the rules on this app 🙂 Find balance.

This experiment is in flux:

I won’t be able to completely accurately continue this experiment because I’m about to buy a new car engine which will take a bunch of savings. Soooo that’ll screw up the average a lot. But I’ll keep ya updated 🙂

Have you used Qapital app? Tell me your experience. Has it helped you save? What rules do you find most useful?

Interested in trying it out? Sign up using my referral link and Qapital app will give us both $5. An easy way for you to contribute to your savings goals and my book launch at the same time 😉

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I Know You Like a Murder
for the Bookworms

Want to be murdered & live to tell the tale? (a bookish giveaway & cover reveal)

Here’s your chance!

You can enter for the chance to have a character named after you in my book “I Know You Like a Murder”. Why, it might even be the murder victim!

Enter to be Murdered*

*But don’t worry, remember, you live to tell the tale 🙂 

Picture it: your name in lights, or in murder. Maybe both 😉

Speaking of picturing it: Here’s the cover! designed by AMBER&GRAPHICS. Isn’t it spectacular!

I Know You Like a Murder

The book is really coming together and it’s just missing one thing: YOU! So jump on board for a diabolical conniving ride of a book.

for the Creatives

Learning marketing from the best: Lady Gaga

I’ve been obsessed with Gaga – as a musician, but moreso as a businesswoman – for quite awhile. So as I plan to launch a book, why would I learn marketing from anyone else?

Unfortunately at this point, Gaga doesn’t know I exist. Maybe if I learn her marketing strategies, it’ll change that 😉 But I can’t just hop on the phone and ask her how she got so big yet.

So I googled. A lot. (Links to all the articles I read below, so you can check them out yourself!)

Here’s what I found:

  1. She’s more than just music. Or in my case, more than just the books. She has a whole identity that surrounds it. You don’t just think of a song when you think of Gaga, you think about the whole shebang, her brand. You think of her outfits. You think of her activism. You think of her Little Monsters. You think of her meat dress. Maybe you think of her social media interactions.
  2. She’s all about spectacle. She’s memorable. She intentionally sets herself apart from the crowd. She gets people to talk about her. Whether they like her or not, they’ll be talking. That’s marketing, when it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad press, it’s still spreading the word. Shock and awe. I’m alllllll about that 😉 Causing an emotionally charged response from the audience gets people chatting.
  3. She partners with other brands. Which despite being mentioned in multiple articles, I still wonder if the fame is more the cause of the partnerships than the partnerships being the cause of her fame. But still. Collaboration and partnerships are a great thing. I am working on collabs with other artists more, but I don’t have a partnership with a perfume company yet, so *sigh*.
  4. She created a community. The fans are a family, they really feel connected to Gaga. She interacts with them through social media. They have a name. They have a symbol, the “paws up” hand gesture. And they have a cause. When they become a fan, they really become a part of something.
  5. She has a message, a cause. She fights for the misfits and outcasts. Besides just having a cause, which in and of itself helps, she went for the super-cause. The underdog effect gives the world something to root for, and she goes right for that.

Bonus: this student studied 100 Gaga tweets to analyze a strategy, so make what you want of this. I’m noticing that a whole lot more tweets are about fans and causes than about awards and albums.

gaga

Caveat: Unfortunately people tend to study how people become famous after they became famous. Darn it! AmIright? At that point it’s hard to sift between what actually made them famous and what they now do since they are famous. I tried to study articles from throughout her career a bit, but that doesn’t mean any of it is necessarily what launched her fame of course. So I guess what I’m saying is *results may vary,  don’t sue me or her if you’re not famous next week*. Oh and on that note, this isn’t an all-encompassing list, because also she’s talented and smart and worked hard and a billion other things I didn’t take the time to write about as well.

Here’s where I found all of this stuff, so you can study more:

I wanted to approach moreso like a scholar than a fangirl, so of course I started with the textbook about her, from the Lady Gaga & the Sociology of Fame university class. And by I started there, I mean I read the free part on Amazon since purchasing the full item is out of my pricerange. There’s a whole bunch of it that I didn’t get to read and study, so maybe I’m missing the coolest part and you should check it out 🙂

Then I read articles by the author/professor of Gaga & the Sociology of Fame. If I can’t get the book, I’ll still get some of the good stuff 😉 Those articles are here, here, and here.

Then I expanded to what other people said about the Gaga effect:

And finally I stumbled across a student’s honor’s project on Lady Gaga. Finally, someone else who had this crazy idea that someone could learn something from her! Sooo if you’re looking for scholarly but accessible, this is it 🙂

 

What that means for me and you:

I’m all about the spectacle and the costuming. I want to run with that even more than I already do.

I have some ideas for making my book launch a little different, but gosh I could use extra ideas.

What’s a great spectacle way to launch a book? Tell me your ideas, and tell me how Gaga inspires your marketing.

 

Musings of a Creative

Still learning to juggle a platform

 

If there’s two types of people in the world:

  • Minimalist: Keeps as little as possible
  • Hoarder: Gets rid of as little as possible

then I am absolutely neither of them.

But of course that’s a very sparse definition of minimalists and hoarders. I could go the other way:

If there’s two types of people in the world:

  • Minimalist: gets rid of stuff
  • Hoarder: gets more stuff

then I am absolutely both of them.

I love finding new favorite things as much as I love clearing out my house of all the excess. Just shop my closet to find that out.

And in the world of building a brand and platform, there a plenty of new favorite things to discover I’m supposed to do. I have a whole pile of things on the backlog of possibilities.

But a brand and platform of an artist can’t be everywhere. I can’t hoard all the things for that. I have to be selective. We have to be selective. A combination of where our audience is and where our joy lies.

I probably have a good chunk of a potential audience on Instagram, but making pretty visuals is overwhelming to me. So I stick with Facebook – a safe bet – and Twitter, which I just love being on regardless of my reach. And here, WordPress, my blogging community, always my little homebase.

Do you ever feel stretched too thin? Like a ghost shadow of yourself covering the town because there’s too many places to be at once. Well for me, it’s come time to publish my book, which means my to-do list got way bigger and it’s about time I have a monthly email update to my biggest supporters (hey, if that’s you, go sign up!) to peek behind the scenes of my publishing journey.

As if that’s not enough, I’m providing writing classes. (If you’re in Central IL, check it out.) I know, what was I thinking!? I recommend adding only one new thing at a time, and I definitely threw caution to the wind here.

That’s a lot of places to be. Something’s gotta give and there’s not really many things to come off the plate anymore.

So instead of weekly blogposts, I am adjusting that to once or twice monthly. I’ve been told readers won’t notice, but of course I kinda hope you do 🙂 When you miss me, sign up for my email newsletter or get in touch and ask me how my writing is going and if the (fictional) murder gives enough goosebumps yet. Or ask to beta read my murderous draft because this is your last chance, I have a few slots left before I’m to booklaunch.

Oh, and you can also contact me to pitch a guest blogpost that matches my general topics and brand. You have lots of options!

  • Mermaids
  • Pirates
  • Book art
  • Dabbling in art you have no business dabbling in (my failed attempts at painting for instance)
  • Mental health
  • Chai lattes
  • Adventuring
  • Creative arts in the church
  • Artistic fashion
  • Bookish or literary discussions
  • About writing in a very practical sense or in a very entertaining sense
  • Inspiration, motivation, or instruction for creatives in general

If I have a niche, it’s not a very nichey niche 😉 So tell me what you want to guest post. And I’ll be back here in a few weeks with a riveting post about our favorite inspiration: Lady Gaga 🙂

 

 

for the Writers

In Defense of Ghostwriters

Awhile ago Olivia J. guest-posted on my blog about concerns with the idea of ghostwriters, while I posted my defense of ghostwriters on her blog.

Check out Olivia’s reservations about ghostwriting, and then see why I think ghostwriting has an important place in the literary universe:

 

What makes ghostwriters the bomb-diggety:

Ghostwriters aren’t quite ghosts, sadly. But they’re still more or less supernatural in their capabilities! They’re the undercover secret agents of the writing world. The trained, the elite, the you-never-saw-it-coming – the ghostwriters 🙂

  • Us regular writers take years of writing to find our own voice
  • Ghostwriters are shapeshifters, finding the unique voice of each person they are writing for

 

  • Us regular writers mostly write something we’re passionate about
  • Ghostwriters use a magical spell to transfer your passion into their words. Your passion is infectious and as it seeps into them, topics or stories the ghostwriter may have never been passionate about are suddenly passionately written! Teamwork 🙂

 

  • Us regular writers might be considered semi-narcissistic – speaking of myself here mostly 😉 They devote their life to making their own dreams come true
  • Ghostwriters are fairygodmothers, passionate about devoting their lives to making others dreams come true. How cool is that!

 

  • Us regular writers are clumsy and walk into doors and walls and lampposts
  • Ghostwriters are also clumsy, but at least they float right through the objects. Or wait, is that just ghosts?

 

Why readers should care about ghostwriting:

Readers should be ecstatic to support the existence of ghostwriters. Not only do ghosts make for great stories, but *ghostwriters* make for great stories. More quality stories will exist for readers when non-writers choose one of these three options:

1)      share their story in a medium they’re skilled and passionate in

2)      have the passion and take time to gain the skill of writing before putting the story out there

3)      hire a ghostwriter to marry their passion and knowledge of the content with the ghostwriter’s passion and skill for writing

 

The problem with ghostwriting:

Now here’s the horrid part about ghostwriters – as awesome as they are, they don’t get the credit. Hit the NYT bestsellers list, win the Pulitzer prize, get a movie deal – everyone applauds the author (the person who hired the ghostwriter.) The ghostwriter is, well, ghosted. They generally can’t even say they wrote it, because they *officially* didn’t.

 

 

So why does the person who hired the ghostwriter get to be the author? Why do they get credit?

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Scratch that. Ideas don’t cost a thing, in fact, us writers can’t turn them off. So no, a ghostwriter isn’t needing the idea from the author. But what we call the author, the person who hired the ghostwriter, they contribute much more than the idea.

The person called the “author” is in fact the author because it’s their brainchild, their knowledge, their story, their platform, their audience, their marketing, their voice, and their passion.

The ghostwriter alone generally won’t have all those things to get the book into the world as the book actually is. If the ghostwriter alone wrote the book, it may miss the knowledge of the topic or the direct experience with the story. Maybe if the ghostwriter alone wrote the book, it wouldn’t reach as large an audience. Maybe if the ghostwriter alone wrote the book, it wouldn’t have that unique voice, style, or tone. Maybe it would just lack passion.

So on that note, mad props to the author for making all this happen!

 

How to fix the discrepancy:

I get it. The author deserves a lot of credit for making this book happen. And also, the ghostwriter deserves a lot of credit for making this book happen. It takes two. It most definitely takes great skill for a ghostwriter to take all the author has to offer and turn it into a quality book. And it most definitely takes the author to make the book happen in the first place.

Here’s my proposal, the main thing I’d change about the concept of ghostwriting to give proper credit:

On any ghostwritten book, have the front cover say “Written by [name of supernatural ghostwriter person], Directed by [name of person who had the vision to make the book happen]”. We already do this for movies: listing actors, directors, producers, and all myriad of workers in the credits. Just do that for books with ghostwriters too – give them some credit for their kickbutt magical powers 🙂

 

What do you think?

What say you? Do you think ghostwriters as an entity should just be called “authors”? Or do you think ghostwriters have their place in the literary universe hidden behind the scenes? Share your thoughts in the comments, check out Olivia’s counter-argument, and join the convo 🙂

 

for the Creatives

3 practical strategies that keep me hustling

My writerly dreams battle against lovable nuisances like a day job (Cha-ching$$$$), family & friends, self-care, and of course household chores. And I have found three strategies that keep me writing even amidst ALL THE THINGS that will squeeze their way into my calendar.

I am beyond THRILLED to be featured on Ksenia Anske’s blog. My five years ago self would never suspect that I would one day have this opportunity to work with and learn from this writerly genius I admire so much (Oh btw, awhile back I also wrote about all the reasons I love Ksenia). Okay, I’m going to stop gushing now. Keep dreaming and working, and go steal my tips from Ksenia’s blog for your own world domination plans.

for the Creatives

An experiment saving $$$ with Qapital app

Always one to shirk away from traditional New Year resolutions, I’ve come up with an improvement-related experiment instead.

I’m all for finding motivation to save without too much spreadsheet work. Ech, spreadsheets, am I right?

Enter Qapital app.

(Psst… Sign up using my referral link, & Qapital gives us both $5)

Qapital is kinda like a saving $$$ game. You set “rules” for how to save and then you rake in the dough – or at least the dollars and cents and sense.

The great savings experiment numbers data stuff:

I already save each month, so my skepticism reared its actually-quite-beautiful head when I first heard of Qapital. “But wait… To save that money, you have to already have that money, so it’s just moving money at certain times to ‘save’ it when you already had it.”

Since I’m not a numbers person, I budget with Mint which tells me my net each month of the past calendar year. See below: The green is income, the red is spending, and the black tumultuous line is my net. bargraph.png

I’m not super consistent, because income fluctuates, payments fluctuate (somewhere in there I paid off loans, woohoo!), and okay fine, Starbucks and Lularoe addiction fluctuates. But I used excel formulas to find the monthly net average/median (which is the best to track here? I don’t know!).

I’ll be testing if Qapital app helps me save more than my average or median. My average/median are both just over $1000. If I save more than that, I call this a possible success, while realizing there are a bunch of other factors that affect how much I’m saving. (I’m no scientist with a control case and laboratory or anything here… ) But it would be the start of an indicator.

If I don’t save more than that, it may have been a flop *for me to choose to use it in this way.* Note that doesn’t mean the app is a flop. My next option would be to automatically deposit my average into savings each month, and then only after that point do Qapital savings beyond that average.

 

How I’ll be saving through the Qapital app:

I set up two savings buckets in the app:

  1. Money for my book launch – I figure I’ll need some money for ads, giveaways, book launch party, something, though I don’t have details figured yet.
  2. General savings – because I should save money to just save money too of course.

 

I’ll be saving money for my book launch in relation to groceries & visits to Starbucks:

  1. If I spend less than $40/month at Starbucks, the remainder will go toward my book launch (so I’m incentivized to not go to Starbucks as often)
  2. Every time I buy Starbucks, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving even if I cave and go to Starbucks)
  3. Every time I buy groceries at Walmart, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving throughout the month regardless, just by living my life)

 

I’ll be saving money for just saving based on bigger rules:

  1. The 52-week rule reversed, meaning each week an amount goes into savings counting down from $52 the first week, $51 the next week, $50 the next, and so on through the year.
  2. The round-up rule, meaning every time I spend money, the amount will be rounded to the nearest dollar and the change put into savings.
  3. Plus, 1% of my income will automatically be deposited into savings.

 

We’ll see how this goes. I’ll update you in about 3 months on my experience. I may keep it the way it is or adjust depending on results. I could definitely move more into savings, but I want to start small and see how it goes.

 

How are you saving $$$?

Tell me your best tips and tricks to savings in the comments below. And if you used the Qapital app before, let me know your experience.

Want to try the Qapital app?

Use my referral link anywhere in this post and Qapital app will give us each $5

Want something more simple for saving?

My friend Kathryn is using the Qapital app in a set-it-and-forget-it way, because she’s all about the simple life. Check out her post and see if it’s something you’d want to try.

for the Creatives

When to hire a ghostwriter

In my class Do You Have a Book in You? I don’t coddle. Just because you’re taking the class doesn’t mean you automatically get the “YES, you should write a book!” answer.

Some people have a story but not a book. They don’t have a passion for the writing; they have a passion for the message, the story.

If you fall into that boat – the “have passion for a story, but not passion for writing” boat – then ask yourself these questions:

  • If writing isn’t your dream, are you willing to devote time and energy to writing a book instead of devoting that time and energy to your actual dream?
  • Since you likely aren’t trained in writing since it’s not your passion, are you willing to sacrifice quality in getting your book out there – sacrificing the number of readers and the impact of the message?
  • Alternatively, can you devote the adequate time, effort, and income to receive the training necessary to clearly communicate the story you want to tell with the quality it deserves?
  • If you do choose to devote time, energy, and income towards receiving training on writing, are you willing to chance diluting the passion of the message with the obligatory monotony of a medium you aren’t passionate about working in?

If you answered “No” to these questions, take a moment to consider hiring a ghostwriter. There are options other than hiring a ghostwriter of course: Telling your message in a medium you *are* passionate about, but that’s a whole ‘nother blogpost – or actually, it’s a 30-minute online course of mine that you can take for free 😉

If you decide, “Yes, I must have a book out there, but no, I can’t write it,” then don’t devote time and energy to writing; instead devote some finances to hiring a ghostwriter. In a couple weeks, I’ll talk about the awesomeness that is the supernatural ghostwriterly world. Keep an eye out for it 🙂

Stories to Read Right Now

A Very Mermaid Christmas

Or, a Christmas more impossible than Unicorns and Pocket Pandas <3

No, my obsession with mermaids isn’t quite over yet 😉 In fact, I have an eerie holiday tale written just for you!

My White Winter Hymnal dystopian story – Turn the White Snow – wasn’t creepy enough, so I teamed up with Jaclyn – Proprietor of Amica Mea – for a new holiday horror story.

 

Find some time this holiday weekend to get away from the hubbub and read The Cost of Holiday Cheer for some chills.

Here’s my Christmas greetings to you: I hope your awkward family Christmas isn’t as awkward as this one 🙂

for the Creatives

Sorry, but there’s no market for your idea…

Many artists, entrepreneurs, and dreamers hear that there’s no market for their dream. It’s dire, folks, but here’s some hope for ya.

Psst! I heard that some odd sort of people prefer watching videos over reading articles. Super weird. But weird people are my type of people, so I made a video preview of this blogpost. Now you can go watch the great quirky awkwardness of me instead of reading my awkwardness in blogpost form. 

 

So I was walking through Barnes and Noble and stumbled across these books:

img_20171110_071510746.jpg

They were on the shelves in the front, the money-maker shelves. You know what I’m talking about, the shelves that mean publishers have bought into this book, that have said “Yes, these will make money, put them prominently on display for all to see!” Those kind of books.

But these aren’t your typical money-maker books.

Exhibit A: poetry.

Let’s be real, I totally judge books by covers, and I bought “The princess saves herself in this one” without even opening it. But when I did open it, I found poetry. A story in poetry form.

IMG_20171110_071543882

Poets are notorious examples of being told “there’s no market for your work.” When’s the last time you read poetry from a book? Probably high school. Poets are told they’ll only get interest on cutesy Instagram or Facebook images, and they’ll never get a publishing deal, and if they self-publish, they’ll never have any readers. Yet Amanda Lovelace, I don’t think she listened to that. At least not entirely. Because she wrote poetry and convinced probably an agent and a publisher that her work was worth front shelf placement at Barnes and Noble.

Exhibit B: Cartoon drawings with bad spelling, for adults not kids.

Like seriously, how do you pitch THAT to an agent or publisher? Got me! I’m still trying to figure out how to describe it on a blogpost.

It’s a book of cartoon drawings. An alien comes to earth to study humans, but the alien is bad at spelling and grammar so the book is full of cutesy misspellings, and the alien is actually befriending non-humans like rocks and animals and trees, but it’s insightful and philosophical into what actually makes us human. Oh yeah, it’s not a children’s book, it’s for grown-ups.

IMG_20171110_071623509

Okay, I have no idea how he pitched it, probably better than me, but I’m just saying if your dream sounds crazy, you’re in good Barnes-and-Noble-front-shelf company.

 

The business guy top secret insight:

After posting that Facebook video about these books, my business school brother messaged something insightful.

I had mentioned that poets often hear stuff like, “Nobody buys poetry anymore, they only read it on cutesy Facebook or Instagram posts.” I had said these authors didn’t listen to that negativity.

My brother noted my claim isn’t quite correct. They did listen to that. They noticed where the audience was and went to it. Amanda Lovelace started on Tumblr before ever being published, and I heard that Jomny Sun was on Twitter before being published. They both went to their market to get their big break. You can find your market and build interest now, too.

There’s a step in the right direction for ya. Past the dreaming and onto a practical tip. This is why my bro will make the big bucks 😉