New Surroundings, New Workspace

by RS on April 11, 2014

It’s been a little over a week since the move up to the mountains, and in these ten days I’ve been familiarizing myself with the area. The hamlet where we’ve settled doesn’t have much with the exception of a hardware store, a liquor store with an attached tavern, a post office, a pizzeria, which is actually very good, and a convenience store/gas station. The nearest grocery store is about 25 miles away, and to get there you drive past vistas of lakes and through more mountain roads.

Once you hit the town, you can see that it’s geared more for summer tourists. There are more shops, but most of them are closed for the season. One sign that was posted at a doughnut stand warned people to not to feed the bears. So far I’ve seen deer, but no bears. I suppose they know the pickings are still slim in early April.

It’s quiet here. The few neighbors we have are scattered up the mountain, and it seems that they’re like the bears and make their respective appearances during the summer. So I’m assuming it might get a bit noisier, but not much because most of the houses are in the woods so there are no lawns to mow. In fact, I doubt there are any lawn crews, and there certainly aren’t any contractors remodeling houses.

The house we rented has views of the forest, the first floor is an open space with 30 feet of windows. Our view is nothing but trees, and we’ve seen enormous deer make their way across the woods. They know we’re here with three dogs, and by their casual strolling it seems they’re not intimidated at all by the mutts. But when you share the woods with numerous bears, a Jack Russell terrier is no big deal.

The top floor of the house has views of the other side of the forest and I’ve made one of the rooms my study. Although my desk is in storage and I won’t see it for at least another two months, I’ve turned a large table as a desk and I’m in the process of adding my personal décor touches. It’s a smaller, more intimate space that has a deck with stairs that lead down to the woods. It will be interesting to see what strolls by my window while I work.

Wait is that a bear? No, just a shadow.


This study is a nice departure from what I had at the beach. There, my home office was also a bedroom and it also housed my elliptical (now long gone). With the desk, bed, dresser, bookcase, captain’s chest and elliptical, it was crowded and I felt like I always spent my time in that room either working or sleeping.

Now that I have a new workspace, my plan is to take advantage of it. It’s specifically set up for writing, but also cosy nighttime reading and some crocheting.

Did I mention that I’ve become enamored of crocheting? After reading and writing about it for the magazine, I decided that it’s not an old lady’s hobby after all. So far, I’ve somewhat mastered the chain stitch. My goal this weekend is to make one lousy square. Hopefully by the end of spring I’ll have made enough squares to sew together a small afghan. And maybe by the end of summer I’ll have mastered the circle. Yes, I lead an exciting life.

Concerning my beloved Julius, I’m giving it a long rest. The woods and Juliani pigs have hit me hard with inspiration and I have a story idea that I hope can turn into something interesting. I’ll write more about that later next week.



Universe, I Need More Work!

by RS on March 13, 2014

Sometimes when you need something very badly you have to say it out loud so the Universe can hear you. In November, I stood in the middle of my dining room and decided that I wouldn’t turn my nose up at certain PR freelance jobs and said, “Universe, 2014 has to be the year I increase my income.”

A few days, later more work assignments started coming my way.  I also launched my SimplyScrivener niche website because I was inspired by Mridu Khullar Relph’s posts about her own niche website experiment. I’m pleased to note that the site is slowly making some money that pays for the hosting, but it also is generating interest from organizations that want me to teach online courses. So if I had not read Mridhu’s posts, I probably wouldn’t have been inspired to launch the site.

Now did the Universe have any play in this? Was it because the economy is pulling itself of the deep pit? Or was it simply being proactive on my part? I suppose saying it out loud that I needed more work psyched me to get busy. Busy generates more busy, and this first quarter has proven to be fruitful.

However, apart from the tutorials, the magazine, and the PR freelance gigs, I still need more work. My move to the Adirondacks is costing a mint and I need to recuperate what was spent, but also increase my income.

Because I’m moving to a completely new area, I’ll be sniffing out potential stories that I hope might make it into big market publications. However, I need some help to get those queries out, to shape these story ideas, to challenge me to go beyond my comfort zone. And what happened today? I receive Mridhu’s newsletter announcing that she’s offering her fabulous 30 Days, 30 Queries online course in April. It’s exactly what I need to jump start my freelance writing and get noticed by editors.

The 30 day schedule runs like this and I’ve highlighted the classes where I know I need the most help:

Day 1: Where Will You Be in 30 Days?
Day 2: The 30 Target Markets
Day 3: Creating Workflow
Day 4: Psychological Barriers and Easy Wins
Day 5: Who Are They? What Do They Pay? What Do They Like?
Day 6: Why The Idea is The Most Important Part of the Process
Day 7: 30 Ways to Package Your Story Idea (Part 1)
Day 8: 30 Ways to Package Your Story Idea (Part 2)
Day 9: 30 Ways to Package Your Story Idea (Part 3)
Day 10: Finding Story Ideas That Sell
Day 11: Brainstorming Techniques for Idea Generation

Day 12: The Sources of Good Ideas
Day 13: Finding Unique Slants to Common Story Ideas
Day 14: The Anatomy of a Query Letter
Day 15: The 6 Traits of Good Query Letters
Day 16: You Ask, I Answer – Part 1
Day 17: You Ask, I Answer – Part 2
Day 18: You Ask, I Answer – Part 3
Day 19: Avoiding Overwhelm and Burnout
Day 20: The Different Types of Query Letters
Day 21: How to Get Quicker Responses
Day 22: The Art of Building Relationships
Day 23: Writing Confident Queries
Day 24: Your Pitches Aren’t Creative Writing, They’re Marketing
Day 25: Staying in Touch With Editors on Social Media
Day 26: 9 More Query Letters That Sold
Day 27: Why Editors Don’t Respond and What To Do When You’re Rejected
Day 28: Why 30 Queries Matter and How Not to Give Up
Day 29: The Marketing Habit: How to Create It, Nurture It, and Stick to It
Day 30: For Every One Yes, You Can Get 30 More

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Mridhu is offering readers who want to take her course a free spot. To get in you can either tweet, write a Facebook update, or blog about the course. Once you’ve done that, email her at or tweet her @mridukhullar to qualify. Fingers crossed that I’m the lucky one!


She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain

by RS on March 7, 2014

…In exactly 22 days. By March 29th I’ll be in my new and humble abode in the Adirondacks. It’s exciting, but I still have a lot to do here at the beach. We’ve sold or dumped quite a bit of stuff, including a mahogany sailboat dinghy and Honda motorcycle (sold) and a dresser and an elliptical (dumped) along with several boxes of books donated to the library and to the “goody” pile at the dump.

Apart from the move itself there’s also work, and 2014 so far has been the complete opposite of 2013. There’s an abundance of work that’s been keeping me out of trouble, and that brings me to an announcement . . . starting April 7th, I’ll be teaching a Beginner’s Scrivener course that’s sponsored by the Colorado chapter of the Romance Writers of America.

It’s a six week online course that “meets” three times a week. I’ll show Scrivener (Mac and Windows) newbies, and those who want to become more comfortable with the basics, the essentials that will provide them with a good grasp of how the program works. It will allow them to start writing quickly and not get overwhelmed with all the features. To sign up for the class go to Scroll down for the April classes and you can sign up right there.

I’m hoping to be back on regular schedule now that I seem to have organized myself to get all my projects completed in a timely fashion. I admit with everything happening at the same time plus the move and dealing with the Ol’ Man’s health issues it’s been a bit overwhelming, but thanks to my handy To Do lists (and I discovered a new software program thanks to Michael Hyatt) that it’s put me right on track.

And now I leave you with this lovely view of the stars….

Adirondack Night Sky