The BS of Becoming a Great Writer



(Okay, before my Baptist friends call my Mom…B is for the things that a great writer needs to BE…S is for the things that a great writer needs to do that all begin with the letter “s.”

Writing great content requires that you “be” several different things. these include…

1.  Be aggressive.
..”Eat that frog.” Add the writing habit to your morning routine, perhaps the first thing on your schedule.  The earlier you get it done, the less the rest of your day can interfere.

2.  Be analytical...Take as much time as it takes to figure things out and create systems that work for you personally. Find a routine that works not only for reaching short-term goals, but also long-term goals.

3.  Be committed
…The new habit must be a true priority. The important thing now is not how well you do, but that you actually do do it….

4.  Be diligent…Be diligent about keeping any new habit for just one day at a time, and you’ll find yourself not even thinking about that new habit…and actually miss doing this on the days when you don’t.

5.  Be patient.

6.  Be purposeful
. Consider the following…

  • Developing this new habit will give me…
  • Developing this new habit will help me…
  • Developing this new habit will help me have…
  • Developing this new habit will help me know…
  • Developing this new habit will prevent…
  • Developing this new habit will provide me with…
  • Developing this new habit will save me…

7.  Be relevant…Stay as close as you can to products related to your new habit and people who share the vision. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then don’t hang out at Golden Corral…Take a trip to Whole Foods instead.

8.  Be resourceful.

  • Look through Amazon...What are the the best-selling books and authors about this new goal or habit…What are the most popular items related to this goal or habit and the main companies are that make these products. 
  • Look through books…Which of these best-selling books seem worth reading or a total waste of time from what I can see on apps and sites such as Kobo.
  • Look though magazines...Which magazines are most likely to have published a related article lately..
  • Look through websites... Look at the websites of the manufacturers of the products and best-selling authors related to your goal or habit…
  • Look at blogs…What blogs, including the websites of the people on the list of best-selling authors, are worth following.

9.  Be “smart”...Know what you’re trying to accomplish and the best way to go about it so that you don’t waste all or even part of your time figuring out what you need to do.

10.  Be timely.
Decide a minimum amount of time that you want to spend on your goal or habit each day. Setting a timer forces you to stay focused, get to the point, and keep the schedule you’ve set for yourself..

11.  Be willing
…Be willing to admit that you do not know everything and to ask for advice.

12.  Be willing…Be willing to rethink, regroup, and restart. 

    Now, as you develop this writing habit, there are certain steps to consider as you write. these include…

    1. Study it……Read for the following…

    • Charts…(this shows that)…
    • Definitions…(this means that)…
    • Examples…(examples of this include)…
    • Functions…(this does what)…
    • Lists…(including the following)…
    • Parts…(this consists of)…
    • Steps…(this involves)… 

    2. Set it up….arrange the notes that you’ve collected during research together… and figure out what information you will include and what you will not in your article through either mind mapping or outlining…

    a.  Mind Mapping…Mind mapping can help you see how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together into an article or a series of articles. Write a single keyword or Big Idea in the center of a whiteboard or piece of paper…Start linking associated ideas, words, and concepts around that keyword or Big Idea.Spend time moving topics around at will, grouping and regroupinginformation until it makes the most sense to you.Reread and evaluate the ideas you generated. List all the ideas that you actually do want to include in your paper.Cross out any ideas that you do not want to include.Group related ideas together.Arrange these groups of ideas from the most general to the most specific. Label these arranged lists with main and sub headings

    b.  Outlining…Choose three main points to focus on about the topic at hand. Dedicate one paragraph per main point….one article per main point if writing a series. Sketch outlines for each of these three sections. Start putting together rough drafts..Creating an outline will helps a writer…

    • decide if you even really wants to write about this topic
    • decide if you really can write an article or series about this topic
    • decide if you needs to wait on writing about this topic
    • keep from going off on some irrelevant tangent
    • plan ahead
    • provide even more value to the reader
    • save time, stress, and worry
    • stay organized and on track

    3. Say It…As a writer you should try to write an article that “involves” the reader by…entertaining and making your readers laugh…inspiring your readers… offering advice based on your own past experience and expertise…teaching your readers how to do something or make something. A few good prompts to now start actually writing include….

    • Few people know that…
    • Few people realize that..
    • I believe that….
    • In response to…
    • In summary…
    • It has been my experience that…
    • Let me tell you a story about…
    • This is important because…

    Choose a title...Choosing a title early in the writing process will help keep you focused on both your topic and your purpose. Create a title that identifies what your post is about…

    Write an Introduction....The first paragraph should serve as a brief and simple introduction—what topic you’ll be covering, why it’s important, how the article will help to solve a problem or to answer a question.

    Write a Conclusion...End with a call to action. Offer encouragement or tips on how to reach the goal. Sum up your main idea. Tell your readers what to do next. 

    4. Scan It...Read back through what you have written, asking yourself…
    Am I writing this from the right point of view?

    • Am I writing this with the right tone of voice?
    • Do all of the ideas in the article make sense?
    • Do any sections or sentences need to be explained further?
    • Does the article have a specific purpose?
    • Does the article accomplish its intended purpose?
    • Have you made your best points obviously stand out? 
    • Is any additional information needed?
    • Is it appropriate for my target audiences?
    • Is it clear?
    • Is it organized?
    • Is there any irrelevant information that should be deleted?
    • What is my “bottom line”? 
    • Am I satisfied with my conclusion?
    • What would you say is the most successful part of your article? Why?  

    One of the first steps in carrying out a business plan is learning the skills and tasks needed to carry out your business goals.

    In the case of blogging, the primary skill that most of us need to learn more about is writing…after all, who wants to take the time to read a poorly written blog.

    There are many resources that will help you improve your writing skills and become a better blogger…This post will highlight several such websites…

    1. 750 Words

     The primary goal of this website is to get writers into the daily habit of writing.every day.
    This site gives writers the opportunity to write Morning Pages, three pages of writing done every day about anything and everything that pops into mind. ..a concept that originated with the book The Artist’s Way, first published in…

    Writing Morning Pages helps clear your mind and gets the ideas flowing for the rest of the day. 

    According to the website, the standard accepted number of words per page is 250 words…making three pages about 750 words.

    This site tracks your word count at all times, lets you know when you’ve passed the 750 mar, awards points based on your writing, allows you to compare your points with the other 300,000-plus members, and gives you an analysis of the feelings, themes, and mindset of your words each day.

    2. The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) was founded in 1967 as a nonprofit organization created to advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, encourage and advocate for new writing programs, and provide publishing opportunities for young writers.

    Their website includes an extensive database of literary programs, grants, awards, contests, publication opportunities, and conferences throughout North America. 

    The AWP Conference and Bookfair is the largest literary conference in North America and features over 2,000 presenters and 550 presentations, readings, lectures, panel discussions, book signings, and receptions. Each year conference attracts more than 12,000 attendee and 800 exhibitors.

    The first conference was held in 1973 at the Library of Congress, with help from the National Endowment for the Arts. The next conference will be held in Washington, D.C. from February 8–11, 2017.

    The Writer’s Chronicle, a magazine published six times a year, has been an important asset to writers for the last forty years.

    The magazine features in-depth essays on the craft of writing; a listing of grants, awards, publication opportunities available to writers; a list of upcoming conferences for writers; exclusive interviews with accomplished authors, and news on publishing trends.

    Each year AWP sponsors six contests…

    1. AWP Award Series, an annual competition for the publication of excellent new book-length works. 
    2. Donald Hall Prize for Poetry is an award of $5,500 and publication. 
    3. The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction 
    4. The AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction 
    5. The AWP Prize for the Novels
    6.  The AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature 

    3.  The Authors’ Nook is a blog written by Ben Schmitt—a blogger, copywriter, and screenwriter—that offers great writing advice with a dose of humour.

    4.  Backspace is an online writers organization with over 1,800 members, including several dozen New York Times bestselling authors,cthat seeks to help writers help other writers through discussion forums, an online guest speaker program, question and answer sessions, articles from publishing experts, and actual conferences and events. Backspace was included in Writer’s Digest Magazine’s ‘101 Best Websites for Writers’ list from 2005 to 2012.

    5.  The Blog Starter is a website run by Scott Chow that shares his knowledge from twenty years of experience starting blogs and websites. his ambition is to show other people exactly how to start their own successful blogs.

    6.  The Crafty Writer offers a free online, self-paced creative writing course that consists of eight sessions… 

    • Releasing your Creativity
    • How to write a short story
    • Writing from a point of view (POV)
    • Bringing your writing to life
    • Writing characters
    • Writing dialogue
    • Poetry: how to write poems
    • Markets, competitions and opportunities

     7.  Daily Writing Tips delivers a daily article to your inbox or RSS reader…about topics including grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, and vocabulary..

    8.  Grammarly is an online grammar and spelling checker that helps users find and correct writing mistakes. 

    Grammarly provides expert help and instant feedback on the accuracy, impact, and credibility of text that you copy and paste into their online text editor. 
    After checking for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, Grammarly flags these errors, suggests corrections, and explains the reasoning behind each correction.

    The Grammarly website also offers…

    • Access to the Grammarly Facebook community and Twitter accounts
    • Grammarly Answers, an online community for writers to ask and answer questions on English writing
    • Grammarly Handbook, an online guide explaining English grammar and style
    • Grammarly Words, an online dictionary-thesaurus hybrid
    • The Grammarly Blog full of fun grammar tips and discussions

    9.  inkPageant is a database and search engine for blogs and blog posts related to writing. The site strives to help writers improve their writing skills and reach their goals…by gathering the stories of the experiences of other authors and advice given on their own blogs. 
    10.  Positive Writer encourages writers to stay positive during those days of writer’s block, self-doubt, rejection, waiting, and disappointment.

    This award-winning, highly acclaimed website was created by Bryan Hutchinson—a writer whose work has been published in newspapers, national magazines, books, and on world famous blogs.

    Articles can be found on this site that to encourage, inspire, motivate, and advise writers…such as this article,  39 Great Books on Writing.

    Finding The Zzzzz’s

    So many of us have trouble going to sleep at night, as evident by how many over-the-counter sleep aids are available. 

    But there are other options, including…

    1.  Breathing…Concentrate on taking long and deep breaths.

    2.  Earplugs…
    Wear earplugs if needed to drown out the sound of someone’s snoring. 

    3.  Essential Oils…
    Essential oils have a powerful ability to impact our bodies and moods if used in a diffuser or applied topically. Essential oils that are suggested for night time use include…

    Bergamot…Bergamot essential oil has relaxing and calming properties and is rich in linalool and linalyl acetate, two compounds that can reduce the heart rate and blood pressure. Bergamot can dissipate anxious feelings while simultaneously cleansing and purifying the skin.

    Juniper Berry.
    ..Juniper Berry essential oil has the ability to cleanse and purify the air and can produce a calming, grounding effect.

    Lavender…Lavender essential oil has relaxing and calming properties and is rich in linalool and linalyl acetate, two compounds. lavender oil that can reduce the heart rate and blood pressure. Lavender oil helps reduce feelings of tension, calms emotions, and leaves you with a general peaceful feeling.

    Ylang Ylang...Ylang Ylang essential oil is used to lessen tension and stress and to promote a positive outlook.

    To use these oils to promote relaxation…Combine a total of twenty drops oils in a 10ml Roller Bottle. Fill with fractionated coconut oil. Roll the blend on the feet, wrists and back of the neck.

    4.  Monotony…Doing something monotonous, such as counting sheep or counting down from a chosen number, can wear you out and will help you block out other thoughts in your mind.

    5.  Music…
    Listening to relaxing music, such as classical tunes and music with sixty to eighty 60-80 beats per minutes, can help lull you to sleep.slow down your heart rate, and relax your body. Look for suggestedplaylists on Spotify, Pandora or YouTube.

    6.  Sleep Apps…There are several sleep apps available now. these include the following…

    • Nature Sounds Relax & Sleep
    • Pzizz Sleep
    • Relax & Sleep by Glenn Harrold
    • Relax Melodies
    • Simply Being
    • Sleep
    • Sleepmaker Rain

    7.  Tea…The placebo effect of drinking milk or a hot beverage can trigger your body into thinking it’s time for sleep. Although caffeine before bed is not gonna work, decaf tea is definitely acceptable. Tea can help muscle tension and twitching, calm the stomach and ease anxiety. Chamomile tea is the most commonly recommended tea for night because apigenin, one of the active compounds in chamomile, has calming effects on the body. 

    If All Else Fails…
    If you still find yourself tossing and turning and unable to get to sleep, get out of bed leave your bed…so that the bed is not associated with feeling awake and restlessness and try an activity such as  a crossword or sudoku puzzle. 

      6 Ways to Make Waking Up at 6am Less Alarming


      How you wake up and what you do to start the day affect how the rest of your day goes and how you feel, even more than what time you wake up.

      Having a morning routine allows things to fall into a seamless pattern, helps “ground” each new day by allowing you to observe your thoughts and feelings and goals in a mindful, proactive way, and helps you face the day ahead with drive, inspiration and passion. 

      Good ideas or great art are the unpredictable outcomes of a predictable regimen—they are, by their very definition, out of the ordinary.

      This fact is evident in the lives of artists such as Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Pablo Picasso…political figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Karl Marx…and writers such as Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, and William Faulkner.

      Studying their lives reveals how they managed to accomplish the work they loved and summoned up the willpower and self-discipline to create good work…

      Their struggles and solutions can inspire, amuse, and delight each of us in our own battles with the always difficult, occasionally miserable creative process.

      Adding simple steps to our own morning routines and creating rituals out of simple, mundane tasks such as getting dressed and eating breakfast can help us from feeling over-extended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed.

      A predictable morning routine that you try to follow every single day can become an almost sacred “jumping off place” to tackle the day ahead.
      Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your own morning routine…

        1.  Alarm…Use a sunrise alarm that uses light to gently wake you up instead of jolting you awake with a loud sound.

          2.  Devotion…Scientifically proven benefits to meditation and mindfulness include reduced anxiety, increased body satisfaction, improved cognitive function and emotional intelligence, and an increase in the brain’s ability to deal with distractions. Meditation and mindfulness teach us to step back from our reactions and observe what’s going on inside our minds with intention.

            3.  Exercising…Exercising is not only good for your health, but also for improving your energy level and relieving stress. Taking time to stretch can help you feel more awake…increases blood flow in your body and mobility, improve balance, lower your blood sugar, and feel less stressed.

              4.  Hydration…Drinking water is important for your overall health, and drinking water should be one of the first steps in your morning routine. drinking water can help boost your metabolism, aid with digestion, and help your body function more efficiently.

                5.  Light…Open your curtains as soon as you wake up.

                  6.  Music…Listening to music you love…can decrease stress…can prevent increases in heart rate and systolic blood pressure caused by anxiety…improves memory…boost the immune system…motivate you…help get your day off to the right start…and boost your mood even when you’re a little groggy and reluctant to start your day.

                    Book Review…Will Write for Food



                    This book is a handbook about the nuts and bolts of being a professional food writer, written for everyone who aspires to be a food writer.

                      This book sparked my interest because I am interested in both “food writing” and food blogging.

                        The title…Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More is appropriate for the book because the book offers excellent advice on how to come up with ideas, develop and test and write recipes, take terrific photos, and get your work published.

                          This theme is carried out throughout the book as evident by the chapters listed here…

                          • Chapter 1: What, Exactly, Is Food Writing?
                          • Chapter 2: The Gastronomical You
                          • Chapter 3: The Food Writer’s Mise en Place
                          • Chapter 4: On Food and Blogging
                          • Chapter 5: Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer
                          • Chapter 6: Dining Out
                          • Chapter 7: The Cookbook You’ve Always Wanted to Write
                          • Chapter 8: Mastering the Art of Recipe Writing
                          • Chapter 9: Crafting Memoir and Nonfiction
                          • Chapter 10: A Recipe for Good Fiction
                          • Chapter 11: How to Get Your Book Published
                          • Chapter 12: Bringing Home the Bacon

                          The author of the book is Dianne Jacob…who has also written, coauthor of Grilled Pizzas & Piandinas and The United States of Pizza, and the writer of The Good Pantry. She judges for both the James Beard Foundation annual cookbook awards and the IACP annual cookbook awards. 

                          She also started Will Write for Food, a blog on food writing, in 2009,   aimed at food bloggers, food writers, and cookbook authors. 

                          The book features strategic advice and “break into the business” stories from award-winning writers like cookbook author Mark Bittman, food blogger Shauna James Ahern, and former Los Angeles Times Food Editor Russ Parsons.

                          I am working on putting together a “cookbook” of family recipes that will hopefully be passed down through generations. my mother-in-law began compiling these recipes into a handwritten journal before she died twenty years ago. I hope to finish this project before any one of my three college-aged daughters gets married.

                            Resources in this book that I found especially helpful as a blogger were advice on how personal to be, how often to post, what kind of voice to adop, associations for food writers, writing workshops for foodies, and conferences for food writers.

                            This book is an essential tool for food-obsessed people who want to express themselves.

                            Even  The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, says that she wishes that she had read this book before she started a “tiny little food blog” on a whim a few years ago. 

                            The book includes many practical ways to make your photo shoots look more professional, a list of powerful action verbs that will bring your recipes to life, writing stories that will help grab a reader’s attention, and creating a mood or setting a scene in a fiction book through the use of recipes.

                              Do Not Disturb

                              Too many of us neglect the benefits of soaking in the tub in today, but a leisurely soak can allow you to step out feeling clean, comforted, and relaxed…improve your circulation lower your blood pressure…make your skin glow and feel feel smooth to the touch…melt away all the stress of the day…prepare you for a glorious, uninterrupted sleep…refresh and rejuvenate your body…and soothe or heal skin and muscles.

                              Here is some advice for people like myself who haven’t had a bath in years, especially a bath that will change your life, or at least your week, 

                              Step One…Create a soothing environment.

                              Bath Mat…
                              Place a bath mat or towel on the floor to catch any water that might slosh out while you bathe or drip off your body when you get out. …prevent you fromslipping and falling when you step out of the bath

                              Bath Towels/Robe
                              …Invest in a fluffy robe and towels.

                              Bathroom Door…
                              Ambient temperature is important as well. Once you start running the bath, it’s important you keep the bathroom door shut. This lets steam build and warm up the room so the water doesn’t lose heat to the cold air too fast.

                              Room Temperature…
                              If you have a heater in the bathroom, turn it on to make sure the temperature outside the bath water isn’t jarringly cold. Running the bath with the bathroom door closed can also help create a warm environment. 

                              Step Two…Run the Water

                              Water Amount…
                              Fill the tub until it is about 2/3 full, then turn off the water.Remember that once you step into the tub, the water level will rise. If you fill it to the very top, water is going to spill over the sides and create a spillage, and water could go everywhere.

                              Water Temperature.
                              ..A good bath is all about the temperature of the water.Bathwater that’s too cool will cut your relaxation time short, and bathwater that’s too hot will just make you sweat. Generally, you want your bathwater to be somewhere between 90° F and 105°F by the time you get in.

                              While you may find a scalding bath relaxing, too-hot water actually agitates your nervous system and can cause a drop in your blood pressure. Your heart will start pumping harder, and you may feel dizzy or sick. Too hot bath water can actually make it more difficult for you to relax and fall asleep.

                              Start your bath hotter than you might think. Basically, it’s better to err on the side of your bath being too hot than too cold. If it’s too cold, you have to add a ton of hot water to heat the whole tub up, but if it’s too hot, you can just drizzle cold water into the hot water.

                              Try  heating an extra pot of water on the stovetop and pouring it into the bath. 

                              Use a thermometer to ensure that you don’t run your bath too hot.

                              Or test the water with your wrist-not your hand. This will give you a more accurate sense of how the water will feel on the rest of your body.

                              Step Three…Add whatever…(well, almost)…

                              Bath Salts..
                              .Combine two parts Epsom salt, two parts kosher salt, one part baking soda, and a few drops of your favorite essential oils…such as tendrops of eucalyptus and ten drops of peppermint to help clear sinuses…or ten drops of lavender and ten drops of bergamot to help aid relaxation. When it comes to bath salts, the more, the better! Grab a handful or two, and hold them under the running water as you draw your bath.

                              Champagne or Red Wine
                              …Add a glass or two of red wine or champagne into your running bath. 

                              Epsom Salts.
                              ..Soaking in epsom salts relaxes you, soothes aching muscles, regulates blood pressure, regenerates and heals skin cells, reduces swelling, helps heal bruises, and detoxifies your system. Add 1-1/2 to 2 cups epsom salt to your running bathwater.

                              Herbal Bath…The easiest way to take a herbal bath is to brew a cup or two of a very strong tea using herbs and essential oils. Strain the tea. Add to running bathwater. Tie remaining brewed herbs in a washcloth, using a hair tie. Throw this in the tub also.

                              Chamomile is extremely relaxing and calming. Green tea is an energizing and mood-stabilizing antioxidant. Peppermint tea is energizing and clarifying. Rosemary tea is a relaxing astringent and clarifier that is great for keeping you alert. Sage tea is an uplifting and calming astringent that is great for people with oily skin or back acne.

                              Milk and Honey
                              …Pour 1-2 cups of 100% milk and 1/2C honey under running, warm water. 

                              …Oatmeal is great for sunburned skin, rashes, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, acneic skin, oily skin, and aging skin…because it is softening and soothing. Fill a knee-high nylon or thin sock without holes with 1/2 to 1 c. of oatmeal. Tie tightly at the top. Place in your bath water as you soak. Squeeze it softly every so often to release the oatmeal “water,” and scrub your entire body lightly with the sock before leaving the tub.

                              Scented Oil.
                              ..Add some scented oil when your bath is halfway full. Lavender or rose oil are great choices because of the relaxing effect. Use at least an entire cup of oil per bath to reap the moisturizing benefits.

                              Step Four…Soak until your fingers wrinkle…

                              Close the darn door
                              …After you step into your bath, either partially or completely close the shower curtain or door to seal in heat so that the water takes longer to cool and to keep in all that fabulous, fragrant steam. 

                              Try an oil hair treatment or deep condition your hair. Tea tree oil can help treat dandruff and moisturize dry hair. Moroccan oil assures you of silky, but not oily, tresses.

                              Mask…Apply a hydrating mask if your skin is dry or you’re worried about it drying out in the bath…a clay mask for super smooth skin, or if you have large pores or oily skin.

                              As you soak in the warm water, your body will start to try cooling you down by sweating. This can make you quickly dehydrated. Be sure to replace those fluids by drinking plenty of water and applying a cold washcloth to your forehead to keep you from overheating. Skip the diuretics-soda, coffee, alcohol, or caffeinated tea-as these will further dehydrate your body. Instead drink lemon or cucumber water.

                              Take your sweet time
                              …After ten minutes of soaking, you may be tempted to hop out of your tub and go back to other activities. Instead, lie back and stay there for another ten minutes. Set aside at least thirty minutes.

                              Step Five…Now what?!

                              …Wet skin acts like a sponge, so using moisturizer immediately after your bath means your skin will absorb as much as possible.

                              Dry off
                              …Gently pat your skin with a towel and avoid harsh rubbing, which can irritate your skin and may wipe off your moisturizer.

                                          Saving Money on Cosmetics…Things to Take

                                          Take time to read blogs… There is a ton of information to be gathered from reading other people’s blogs. A few of the best beauty/fashion blogs are…  

                                          Take time to read online reviews…


                                          Take advantage of free samples. 

                                          • Company Websites…Request samples directly from company websites.
                                          • Coupons…Use coupons to get free beauty products at Target and drugstores such as Walgreens and CVS. 
                                          • Department Stores…Request free samples from department stores like Macy’s, Clinique, Lancome, Benefit, Origins-give free samples when you ask. 
                                          • Facebook…Find your favorite makeup companies and become fans of them on Facebook. 
                                          • Online Shopping...A lot of the beauty stores-such as Sephora and Ulta-will send you free makeup samples if you place an order online. Just look for the option of requesting makeup samples during checkout. 
                                          • Product Test Groups...Some companies-Allure Beauty Enthusiasts, BzzAgent, CrowdTap, Elle Inner Circle, Glamour Glam Spotters, Good Housekeeping Tester, House Party, Influenster, InStyle Trendsetters, L’Oreal, PinchMe, Redbook Club Red, Smiley 360, Swaggable, The Pink PanelToluna, Vogue Insiders-offer free samples in exchange for your writing reviews.
                                          • Sephora…Ask a salesperson, and you should be able to get up to three free samples per type of product.
                                          • Subscription…Sign up for beauty company subscription programs, such as Amazon Beauty Box and Walmart’s Beauty Box, that offer the first box free.

                                          Saving Money on Cosmetics–Things to Know

                                          Makeup, skincare products, haircare products, and everything else it takes to make you look good at the next Ole Miss game can add up to a pretty hefty sum…

                                          But are there actual tried-and-true ways to save money on those products you actually do use and love…and not waste money on products you will never use and might even hate…without losing that all-important Southern belle image?!

                                          1.  Know how much you are actually spending as compared to other similar products or sizes available in that particular product. Calculate how much a product costs per ounce/gram by dividing the product retail price by the number of ounces in the product.

                                          2.  Know what products have won awards, such as…


                                           3.  Know your skin…The most important step in caring for your skin is understanding your specific skin type. To figure your skin type, gently pat a blotting paper on the different areas of your face and hold the sheet up to the light. The five different skin types are…

                                          a.  Combination Skin…Combination skin is the most common skin type since there are so many more sebaceous, or oil-producing, glands around our noses than other areas of our faces, but people with this skin type have a consistently oily T-zone with consistent dryness in other areas of the face, such as the cheeks.

                                          b.  Dry Skin...Dry skin is characterized by small pores, an overall feeling of tightness, more visible lines, less elasticity and a duller complexion.  Dry skin requires moisturizer throughout the day, especially when you first wake up or after you cleanse your face. Cleansing dry skin leaves it feeling taut and dehydrated.

                                          c.  Normal Skin…Normal skin is not too dry and not too oily. Your skin usually has an even tone,  a soft texture, and little flakiness. You may get an oily T-zone in hot weather, but generally this area is oil-free. People with normal skin will feel clean and clear after cleansing…and might still be in need of a little moisturizer, but will not need to apply moisturizer very often throughout the day as the skin stays fairly moisturized on its own.

                                          d.  Oily Skin...Oily skin types tend to have larger pores, a shiny and  thicker feeling complexion, frequent blackheads and pimples. Cleansing the face often and avoiding heavy creams and emollients help minimize the appearance of oil. Oily skin feels clean and oil-free after cleansing, but oil returns shortly after cleansing.

                                          e.  Sensitive Skin…People with sensitive skin experience a low-level of discomfort-breakouts, rashes, red spots, stinging, swelling, flakiness, itching-at all times. People with sensitive skin have trouble finding products that do not irritate the skin and cause a reaction. Look for mild products without fragrance, harsh ingredients like alcohol and menthol, and harsh scrubbing agents such as crushed walnuts, pumice, and aluminum oxide crystals.


                                          4.  Know yourself...What kind of makeup wearer are you? 

                                          We apply makeup to help us project the image we want the world to see…as contrary as this may sound, to help us  be “our true selves.”

                                          Each of us has some sort of “beauty routine ritual” that really works for us as individuals….a routine or regimen that makes us feel fresh, grounded, whole and ready for the day…and propels us forward with confidence, grace and self-empowerment.

                                           This image or “true self” will be individualistic, specific, and perhaps difficult to put into exact words…but each of us has an idea of the type of person she wants looking back at her whenever she takes the time to look in a mirror.

                                          Knowing yourself and the image that you wish to project will help you define your personal needs and aproach both the world of beauty and the world of fashion from the proper perspective.

                                          Starting to know yourself in this arena may be easier if you first understand the following five types of makeup wearers.

                                            • a.  The makeup hoarder ..The makeup hoarder is an informed customer who feels confident shopping for beauty products and probably has a huge stash, but is uncomfortable actually wearing it.
                                            • b.   The makeup junkie…The makeup junkie is an informed customer who feels very comfortable shopping for and wearing makeup…who reads the top makeup blogs regularly,  watch Youtube videos, frequent makeup counters. She appreciates and owns good quality makeup products and brushes.
                                            • c.  The makeup know-it-all...The makeup know-it-all can be shown or told nothing that she haven’t seen or heard before. 
                                            • d.  The makeup novice…The makeup novice is interested in, but also intimidated by makeup. She knows very little about applying makeup and has worn little to no makeup in her lifetime.
                                            • e.  The makeup wearer…The makeup wearer is an informed consumer who feels comfortable with her makeup and skincare routine. Although she has a general knowledge of makeup and skincare and wears makeup daily, she does not consider herself an expert. 

                                              National Eye Exam Month


                                              August is National Eye Exam Month, the perfect time to schedule annual eye exams for both yourself and everyone else in your family.:

                                                National Eye Exam Month, a month dedicated to the importance of eye health and safety, was founded by Sears Optical Eye Exam Month in 1989. Today most ophthalmologists use this as a time to sponsor Eye Care America, a campaign for seniors ages 65 and up that can qualify for a free eye exam. . 

                                                Why even have an eye exam in the first place?

                                                1.  To detect eye conditions… An optometrist can spot early onset signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma, cataracts, hypertension, and high cholesterol just by conducting an eye exam.

                                                During your exam, your eye doctor will look for eye muscle imbalance, vision disorders, and eye disease that could potentially cause future problems.

                                                Having your eyes examined on a regular basis can help detect these problems before they escalate and affect not only your vision, but also your overall health.

                                                The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that you have a baseline eye exam at age 40, the time when the early signs of disease or changes in your vision may occur. 

                                                This baseline screening can help identify signs of eye disease at an early stage, when treatment can have the greatest impact on preserving your vision.

                                                  2. To determine if you need a stronger prescription, or if you need eyeglasses or contact lenses….Your eyes obviously change over time, especially after the age of 40. Having a current prescription reduces eyestrain and helps you see better. 

                                                  3.   To improve your children’s school performance…Eye exams are an important part of healthcare for everyone, but especially for children. 
                                                  According to the Vision Council of America, one out of every four children in the U.S. has an undiagnosed vision problem.

                                                   It is also estimated that 48% of parents with children under the age of 12 have never taken their children to see an eye care professional. 

                                                  Vision problems and poor vision are two of the most common reasons why children fall behind in school each year.

                                                  Eye exams ensure normal vision development and can detect any vision problems that could contribute to possible learning and reading difficulties. 

                                                  Early identification of such problems is crucial because children are more likely to respond to treatment when problems are diagnosed early.

                                                  4.  To keep from having headaches... If you have been having unexplained, constant headaches, the problem could lie with your vision. An eye care professional may be able to pinpoint the cause behind your headaches and help give you the relief you deserve.

                                                  5.   To prevent eye diseases, such as macular degeneration or cataractsMany serious conditions like these often have no symptoms, but an optometrist can detect early signs of such diseases, helping to prevent serious damage.


                                                    Makeup Tips for Women Who Wear Glasses

                                                    Eyewear makes your eyes the immediate focal point of your face, so it’s imperative to apply your makeup in a way that’s flattering to both your frames and your face.

                                                    Less is definitely more. Applying makeup to wear with glasses is not a matter of piling on more and more makeup. Instead it’s about using the right makeup and techniques…things like keeping your eye makeup simple, using a light hand, blending everything carefully, and keeping your makeup tidy, well-defined and as close to “perfect” as possible.

                                                    Yet putting on eye makeup can not be thought of as merely a waste of time because any makeup that you apply will simply be hidden behind your glasses.

                                                    1.  Primer…Use a primer, such as NARS’ Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base. This will create a canvas to prevent eyeshadow from flaking off throughout the day. 

                                                    2. Concealor… If you wear glasses, your under-eye area is one of the first things people see on your face. Be sure to apply an under-eye concealer like MAC’s Pro Longwear Concealer.

                                                    3.  Eyeshadow…A full-out smoky eye would look slightly overwhelming. Stick to neutral shades. Get your color from liner, not eyeshadow.

                                                    4.  Eyeliner…Eyeliner is also essential. The thickness of the liner should correspond with the thickness of your glasses. If your frames are thick, apply a thick line of liner to the upper lash line…If your frames are thin, apply a softer line.

                                                    Wear colorful liners-greens, blues, or purples-such as these Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils in a shade that is darker than your natural eye color.

                                                    5.  Mascara
                                                    …Finish with two coats of waterproof mascara.

                                                    6.  Highlighter…
                                                    Apply a highlighter like Benefit High Beam to the inner corners of your eyes.

                                                    7.  Brows….Eyeglass frames draw attention to the brows, so keep your arches well groomed. Pluck or trim and scraggly hairs. Fill in any sparse spots with a brow pencil or powder shadow.

                                                    8.  Lips…Go bold with your lips. 

                                                    9.  Face…Keep blush and bronzer minimal.  


                                                      August 3-National Underwear Day… Clearing Out Closet Clutter 

                                                      Cleaning out and organizing your clothes closet is a very SMART long-term goal…(much like losing fifty pounds before Christmas, right?!)… that can seem overwhelming and must be broken into several short-term goals…

                                                      Closets often become a stashing ground-not only for clothes, but also for all kinds of other stuff that you don’t exactly know what to do with. So it eventually becomes overwhelming to even begin finding the floor of your closet. 

                                                      Your initial thought might be to pull everything out of the closet and attack the clutter all at once, but this can get way too overwhelming way too quickly..simply leaving an even bigger mess and wasting precious time.

                                                      Instead, attack only one small zone at a time, starting with the most obvious items—anything that you haven’t worn in at least a year…simply don’t like…do not feel comfortable in…”wouldn’t be caught dead in”…can no longer fit into…


                                                      Why Get Rid of “Clothing Clutter”

                                                      1.  When you get rid of clothing clutter, you can help someone else in need who will be able to use the clothing you cannot.

                                                      2.  When you get rid of clothing clutter, you can perhaps sell some of the discarded clothing to help you get back some of the money you spent. This can be more work, but it can be quite motivating as well. 

                                                      3.  When you get rid of clothing clutter,  you no longer waste precious storage space in your home storing stuff that no one ever uses anymore.

                                                      4.  When you get rid of clothing clutter, you’ll only be left with only things that make you feel good and actually still fit.

                                                      5.  When you get rid of clothing clutter, you no longer find yourself doing “excess” laundry…and it will be much easier to put away the “clean” laundry..


                                                      Once you’ve finished analyzing and curbing down your wardrobe, completely empty your closet. As you take items out of your closet, group like items together. This will allow you to see how many of each type of item you have and help you choose the right types and sizes of closet storage solutions.

                                                      Now choose what storage solutions best accomodate the items you have kept and work for the shape and size of your space.

                                                      Options to consider include additional closet rods…drawers…extra adjustable shelving…hooks and pegs…over-the-door storage solutions…storage baskets…vertical hanging dividers.

                                                      You probably already have many items you can use to help organize your stuff around your home…so use whatever organizers you already have before buying any expensive closet organizer kits and systems. After all, there is no magical one-size-fits-all closet organizing system that everyone should use.

                                                      After you have your closet organizing systems in place, finally place everything back into your closet, grouping like items together and placing frequently used items where you can find them quickly and easily.


                                                        Even More About Me


                                                        Found this list
                                                        of questions as a post on the GoodReads website in the Young Adult section with the following introductory paragraph…

                                                        posted a list of questions that you can answer if you are bored or something or just for fun. You don’t have to answer any or all of them. Its kind of a waste of time!

                                                        Took the time to answer all 110 questions not only out of bored or something, and not only just for fun…not only because I actually found time to waste…and not because I am narcissistic and vain…(well, maybe)…

                                                        But to illustrate how even stupid quizzes like this can be used to brainstorm blog topics or topics to write about…and fill in an editorial calendar or the pages of a journal……

                                                        • 1. What is your favorite Primary song? Jesus Loves Me
                                                        • 2. What is your favorite nursery rhyme? Hickory, Dickory Dock
                                                        • 3. What is your favorite subject in school? Statistics
                                                        • 4. What is your favorite flavor of jelly beans? Licorice
                                                        • 5. Which flavor of ice-cream do you prefer? Coffee
                                                        • 6. What do you think is your very best feature or characteristic? Perseverance
                                                        • 7. What is your strongest talent? Knowing when to keep my mouth shut
                                                        • 8. Do you play a musical instrument, if so which one(s)?vyes…piano…
                                                        • 9. What do you usually do when you have leisure time on your hands? Sleep
                                                        • 10. What is your favorite season and why? fall…SEC football…
                                                        • 11. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? London
                                                        • 12. What is your favorite color? Red
                                                        • 13. Who is your best friend and how did you meet? Jesus…nursery at church
                                                        • 14. What is your favorite home cooked meal? Chicken and dumplings
                                                        • 15. What is your favorite grab and go meal? Chipotle
                                                        • 16. Do you prefer to wear pants or dresses? Pants…duh…
                                                        • 17. How many siblings do you have? Two
                                                        • 18. What is you favorite snack? The first thing that I can find 
                                                        • 19. When do you usually do your homework? Really?!
                                                        • 20. What is your favorite electronic device? My back-up mirror on my car
                                                        • 21. If you could be any animal which one would you prefer to be and why? Possum…they can actually get by with rolling over and “playing possum”…and even toddlers fall for it…
                                                        • 22. What kind of vehicle do you usually ride in? Ford Edge
                                                        • 23. Do you have pets? Two cats and one dog
                                                        • 24. When was the last time you visited a park and what did you do while there? Two weeks ago…ate ice cream with my grandson
                                                        • 25. What is your favorite sport to watch? SEC football
                                                        • 26. Which sport do you most enjoy actively participating in? Too funny…
                                                        • 27. What do you usually do when you meet someone for the first time? Hope that they won’t shake my hand, or even worse hug me…
                                                        • 28. When was the last time you stayed or hosted a sleepover with friends? Does going to my mom’s last month count…
                                                        • 29. If you have to dress and leave in a hurry what is the one thing you can easily cut out of your routine? Bra
                                                        • 30. Do you plan to go to college? Been there, done that, got a t-shirt
                                                        • 31. What job do you think you would most enjoy as an adult? The one I have now…
                                                        • 32. Do you hope to have children of your own? If so how many. Another funny question…probably three girls…
                                                        • 33. What was the last item you cooked and ate? Watermelon
                                                        • 34. How many books did you read last year? One..,the Bible…
                                                        • 35. Where did you spend your last family vacation? my mom’s
                                                        • 36. Do you have relatives in other states? If so, which ones? Yes…Mississippi and North Carolina
                                                        • 37. Have you ever made jell-o? It’s disgusting
                                                        • 38. Are you ticklish? Yes
                                                        • 39. What size shoe do you wear? 6
                                                        • 40. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Too many to count…that I actually wear—two…
                                                        • 41. Which one fashion accessory do you like better than others? Wedding ring
                                                        • 42. Do you have chores at home you are responsible for? Another funny question…
                                                        • 43. If you were called on to serve a mission where would you least like to serve? Somewhere where people hugging and touching and kissing each other on the cheek is not a part of tradition or custom…
                                                        • 44. If you were called on to serve a mission where would you most like to serve? Somewhere not too hot but not too cold…
                                                        • 45. What age do you consider old? Maybe 80
                                                        • 46. Which birthday are you most looking forward to and why? At this age?!
                                                        • 47. Do you prefer pens or pencils? Pens
                                                        • 48. Do you like your handwriting? Yes
                                                        • 49. Were you named after anyone? Named after the book Christy 
                                                        • 50. When did you last visit the zoo? October
                                                        • 51. Have you ever stayed on a farm? Yes
                                                        • 52. Have you ever been horseback riding? Yes
                                                        • 53. Have you ever been water skiing? No
                                                        • 54. What do you most like to do in the snow? Get out of it
                                                        • 55. What is your favorite all-time movie? the Blind Side
                                                        • 56. Can you change a tire? No
                                                        • 57. Is your room more clean or more messy? Perfectly clean
                                                        • 58. Do you prefer a bath or a shower? Shower
                                                        • 59. What do you prefer to drink with your morning meal? Vodka
                                                        • 60. If you had to be stranded on a deserted island with one person who would you want that one person to be? Brad Paisley
                                                        • 61. Which animal would you most like for your pet? Reptar
                                                        • 62. Do you like sweet treats or salty treats? Both
                                                        • 63. Have you ever sung in the shower? No…I hate to sing…
                                                        • 64. Do you find it easy to save money? Not with three daughters in college
                                                        • 65. Do you get an allowance? Whatever Kurt wins from his fishing tournaments
                                                        • 66. Do you have more friends that are boys or girls? Most are men and women of legal drinking age…except for Emily
                                                        • 67. Which do you prefer you had – straight or curly hair? Washed and combed
                                                        • 68. What color eyes do you most like? Green
                                                        • 69. Do you prefer colored or white socks? With what else?!
                                                        • 70. What would you say is your normal exercise routine? Rolling out of bed…
                                                        • 71. Have you ever had acrylic nails? Yes…they would get caught between the keys of my piano and fly across the room…
                                                        • 72. Have you ever colored your hair? Would I ever admit it…
                                                        • 73. What do you do when something funny happens? Pee my pants
                                                        • 74.  mountains in a very, very long time…
                                                        • How do you earn money? Play piano for dead people 
                                                        • 75. Do you like to dance? Nope…
                                                        • 76. Are you on any teams or in any clubs in your school? If so which ones? I would love to go back to school…maybe I could be on the badminton team…
                                                        • 77. Where do you keep your spending money? starbucks
                                                        • 78. Do you save trinkets and mementos? Not on purpose
                                                        • 79. Did you have a favorite toy as a child? Yes…wanna know what it was…
                                                        • 80. Do you share a bedroom? Yeah…most married people do that…
                                                        • 81. Do you like drinking from the cup or a straw? Depends on where that cup came from…
                                                        • 82. Do you like ice in your cold beverages? Yes…unless it’s a beer…
                                                        • 83. What is your favorite sandwich? Reuben
                                                        • 84. Do you carry floss in your purse? I don’t even carry a purse…
                                                        • 85. Where is the fartherest you have ever traveled? By car or boat or plane…probably Frankfurt, Germany to Atlanta
                                                        • 86. Do you have family members who live in another country? If so, which family members and where do they live. the country, yes…in another country, no…
                                                        • 87. Which family member do you most resemble? Probably my Dad
                                                        • 88. Which family member are you more like? Probably my Dad
                                                        • 89. What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you? Life in general
                                                        • 90. Do you live in a house, trailer or apartment, etc.? House
                                                        • 91. Have you ever won anything? If so, what did you win? Yes…won $100 playing Bingo at my dad’s Christmas party when I was three…
                                                        • 92. Do you prefer fresh air or air conditioned air? What’s the difference?
                                                        • 93. Do you prefer mountainous or flat regions? Haven’t seen
                                                        • 94. What is your favorite reading material? Facebook
                                                        • 95. Name all of the pets you have ever had? Tramp, Chloe, Sheldon, max
                                                        • 96. Do you mow the lawn at your residence? You have got to be kidding!!!
                                                        • 97. Have you ever been in a musical drama or play? If so, what was it? No…I’m usually behind the piano…
                                                        • 98. Have you ever visited a planetarium? if so, where? No…
                                                        • 99. What is your favorite childhood memory? Just being a “lucky bum” in general
                                                        • 100. Do you usually buy or carry your lunch when at school? Don’t go to school…I dropped out..,
                                                        • 101. What is your favorite fruit? Strawberry Ice Cream
                                                        • 102. What color of clothing do you most like to wear? Black
                                                        • 103. What is your favorite cereal? Frosted Shredded Mini-Wheats
                                                        • 104. What is your favorite breakfast? Cinnamon rolls
                                                        • 105. Who do you spend more time with? My “significant other”
                                                        • 106. What is the longest car trip you have ever taken? Columbia, South Carolina to dfw
                                                        • 107. Do you know how to iron your clothes? No
                                                        • 108. Can you sew a button on your clothing? No…well, yeah…but usually just shove that article of clothing into the closet and find something else
                                                        • 109. Have you ever cut your own hair? No
                                                        • 110. Are you creative in any way? If so, which way(s)? No