September 2018 Monthly Wrap-Up

This month was characterized by 1) taking some big steps towards healing and 2) by work–I feel like I say this every month, but my writing career exploded this month. More on that in a minute! In between all of my work, most weeks I went to small group one evening, tutored at my nonprofit one afternoon, babysat one afternoon, and took a tap dance class.

I had some amazingly fun weekends in September. The first weekend of the month, I went to the Decatur Book Festival and heard several authors speak. Another weekend, I went to a women’s conference at my church and spent the night with Brooke; the conference spoke to exactly what I needed to hear. And another weekend, I went to Write2Ignite, a Christian writer’s conference at North Greenville University (my fave!). This conference was absolutely AMAZING. I spent time with old friends, made new friends, and learned SO much from wise Christians in my industry… and only came home with eight new books. 😉

Other fun stuff from September: hanging out with the baby my mom keeps, lunch at our friends’ house, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and dinner with Brooke, Little Women with Mom, and lunch after church and dog sitting and baseball games and Frosties with friends.

 

(Three different days. Apparently I only own one shirt.)

 

 

sept4

This month I’m…

Reading: Bright Lights, Dark Nights, Stephen Emond. Written in the Stars, Aisha Saeed. Nowhere Boy, Katherine Marsh. Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Jenny Han. Valiant, Sarah McGuire. Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell. Save the Date, Morgan Matson. Shooting the Moon, Frances O’Roark Dowell. A List of Cages, Robin Roe. Love and Gelato, Jenna Evans Welch. These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Words in Deep Blue, Cath Crowley. 12 total.

Listening to: Take On the World, Sabrina Carpenter. Castle, Halsey. Breathe and Spring, Savannah Locke. The Way I Do, Bishop Briggs. Worst in Me, Julia Michaels. Legendary and X, Welshly Arms. Silence, Marshmello and Khalid. Survivor, 2WEI. Holy Ground, Passion. Throne Room, Kim Walker-Smith. Defender, Rita Springer. Better When I’m Dancin’, Meghan Trainor. Higher, The Score. Complicated, Mura Masa. Reckless Love, Cory Asbury. I Like Me Better, Lauv. Beat Drops, Cozi Zuehlsdorff. The Get Fit Guy Podcast.

Watching: Girl Meets World. NBC’s World of Dance. Sierra Burgess is a Loser. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Little Women.

Loving: The First Time, summer of 1999. He gives us what we need, Madyson Grace. Could Doing What You “Should” Be Hurting You?, Relevant Magazine. Trauma is Not a Life Sentence, Desiring God. Chronic Illness and the Need to Schedule Rest for Healing, Emily Lofgren.

Writing: Oh wow. Okay. I accepted a 20 hr/week job with an e-learning company that will begin October 1st. I landed my second DREAM client, FloSoftball, and did my first feature for them. I did four business profile updates, three articles on disabled parking permits, ten articles on tech/cars, and seven app reviews. I landed a marketing company client and did two blog posts for them (example). I wrote two blog posts for Ethnico Advertising, began writing for FitnessGoat, and finished editing my client’s fiction novel. I wrote a feature on preschools and proofread Georgia Family Magazine. I finished up a piece for CYC and one for InBody. I also did a ton of marketing (applied to 74 jobs, sent around 20 LOI’s, did lots of LinkedIn marketing) and learned a lot through Den 2X. I had a devotional published here and a day in my life blog post published here. And I officially 2X’d my income! Sadly, I only had a little time to edit my novel.

Grateful for: Tap dance!!! Doing cartwheels with a little girl at work, trying to decide how best to describe them in her journal. Kicking off my shoes and dancing in a parking lot late at night under twinkle lights. Being sought out in the conference bookstore and asked to sign my book when I totally wasn’t expecting it. Heart to hearts at midnight in a friend’s kitchen. Picking up my brother from school and taking him and a friend to Wendy’s so we could sit in my car and eat Frosties and fries while it rained. People who understand and validate my struggles. Getting paid to interview my favorite college softball players.

What did you do this month?

Week In My Life! (Full-Time Freelance Writer)

This past week was crazy: I was fully booked, made a ton of money, and did some really fun stuff. Here’s a glimpse into my life these days as a full-time freelance writer!

Sunday, September 2nd

I had a long day at the Decatur Book Festival on September 1st, and I wake up Sunday feeling awful–headaches, dizziness, nerve pain, the works–so I don’t make it to church. I have a quiet morning in bed with Sophie and my journal. When my family gets home from church we sit outside and talk (while Sophie hunts toads); then I start reading through the materials for month 4 of the freelance writing intensive I’m in (and get super excited about all the marketing coming up). I introduce my family to Girl Meets World (and am highly offended when they don’t like it), talk on the phone with Sara, read, journal, work on my novel, watch more GMW, and go to sleep at 8:30. 

Monday, September 3rd (Labor Day)

I get up at 8:30 and get to work. Even though I knew I was already fully booked, I made a bad decision last week by telling a former client, sure, I can write 10 articles for you by Wednesday. So I write four short articles about different categories of apps for your car, answer all my Upwork and LinkedIn messages, and then meet my family at Waffle House for lunch. Afterwards, Joshua and Dad and I go to the batting cages. Then I work on my novel for an hour, which feels like such a luxury since I don’t normally have time for it during the work day! I work on my clients’ novel, go through the Month 4 materials some more, and let myself stop working at 5 and watch Girl Meets World because it is a holiday after all. I’ve always thought GMW was funny and cute, but these days the message really resonates with me: it’s time to make the world your own. After dinner I play the piano and dulcimer and sing, and then I work on my road trip novel before falling asleep.

Tuesday, September 4th

I have a quiet morning of work alone with Sophie: three tech articles, some phone calls and invoices (including a call with a client where he gave me feedback on my work, which is basically my least favorite thing ever), some research for a business profile update (not as much as I’d hoped due to my computer crashing, which happens about once a day), and get sidetrack by a phone call from a big health company in Atlanta who wants to talk about their content needs.

After lunch I have to pick up Joshua from school, and I catch up with some family friends. I go back home for an hour of marketing (job applications and LinkedIn referrals) and then off to the post office, bank, and my nonprofit. It’s mostly new kids this year, but a little girl I was very close with last year comes back and I tutor her for two hours.

Then I buy tap shoes, which makes me SO RIDICULOUSLY OVER THE MOON HAPPY! Small group hasn’t started yet, so I go home. After a little reading and Netflix, I’m asleep by nine. A fun and exciting day even though Sophie chewed up my favorite sandals.

tues

Wednesday, September 5th

I wake up so so exhausted. Yesterday was such a long day. Nothing exciting happens today (except that I discover the song Castle by Halsey), I just work at home from 9-6 (specific schedule below if anyone cares haha). After dinner I watch World of Dance, play the piano and sing for a while, and fall into bed at 8:30 with a headache and lots of nerve pain in my legs.

Thursday, September 6th

In the morning, I’m so exhausted and my legs are completely numb, but I make myself get up and work on this week’s business profile for two hours. Then I GO TO TAP CLASS AND IT’S ALL MY BEST DREAMS COME TRUE!! Little background: I did ballet, tap, and jazz for six years growing up, and I’ve missed it so much the last few years but haven’t been able to find a class. I finally registered for a senior tap class through my local park and rec, and I don’t remember the last time I was so excited for anything. The class is amazing; I’ve missed being around older ladies, and the class was the perfect skill level for me (I picked up most things easily, but there were still a few challenging combos). I can already tell this is going to be the highlight of my week every week!

Afterwards I’m dizzy and drowsy. I only have time for lunch and to research a blog post for a client before leaving to get in car line (I pick the little girls next door up from school every Thursday this year). When I finish babysitting I do an hour of work for a fitness website, and then after dinner I read until falling asleep.

thurs

Friday, September 7th

I’m tired and sluggish; I work from home all day long (details in the picture below) and am stressed. Highlight of the day–I finally get Jellie Bellies again! After work I watch Sierra Burgess is a Loser on Netflix, mostly because Noah Centineo is in it (but I like Shannon Purser too). It’s a funny movie, I like the theme of how so much ridiculous pressure is placed on high schoolers, and I love the Deaf representation. When Joshua gets home from baseball we have pizza and then I go to bed.

Saturday, September 8th

A much much needed quiet morning. I spend a couple of hours doing my most favorite thing in the world: listening to music, browsing Pinterest writing prompts, and writing snippets of the novels I’m going to write next (all YA contemporaries–my road trip novel, ice dancing novel, and dance novel). I’m so busy and stressed with work these days that I tend to binge fiction in any form I can get it (writing, reading, movies, TV) on the weekends. After writing, I tap dance for a while, and then my mom is babysitting and Joshua and I go to visit. We eat pizza, I feed the baby dinner, and we play fetch with the dog. Back home, I read until going to bed.

Their history teacher, Mrs. Smith, talked about Atlas that day.

“Cursed to hold a weight he couldn’t bear,” she said, tapping the textbook on her desk. “But he kept standing—not because he could, but because he had to. Atlas wasn’t given a choice: he was made to hold the stars.”

Daniel looked to his left, where Celia sat a few desks over. She was slumped down in her seat, staring at her hands, not giving any sign she heard what the teacher was saying. Out the window behind her, snowflakes spiraled to the ground. He wanted to take her somewhere safe, hold her tight, make sure nobody ever hurt her again. But he didn’t know if he could.

–from my forthcoming ice dancing novel

What did you do this week? What does a typical week in your life look like?

August 2018 Monthly Wrap-Up

August started with a twelve-day trip to Alaska with my grandpa, aunt, uncle, and Joshua. It was the MOST AMAZING TRIP EVER and I miss it so much. We stayed in Denali National Park for a few days; then we took a cruise that stopped in Haines, Juneau, and Ketchikan before ending up in Vancouver. Read more about the trip here.

When we got back, my grandpa stayed for a few days, and after recovering from the trip I dived back into work with a vengeance. Writing made up the bulk of the remainder of my month–tons of meetings, new clients, and marketing and learning and work–but I also started babysitting my next-door neighbors one afternoon a week and working at my nonprofit one afternoon a week. Fun stuff: brunch and shopping with Brooke, coffee with Andrea, met my (other) grandpa and watched a baseball game played according to rules from the 1800’s, and movie and dinner with Brooke.

 

This month I’m…

Reading: He’s Making Diamonds, S. G. Willoughby. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J. K. Rowling (reread). Marley and Me, John Grogan. Culture of the Few, Brad McKoy. A Beautiful Work in Progress, Mirna Valerio. Cruise Confidential, Brian David Bruns. The Weight of Feathers, Anna-Marie McLemore. East to West, Ravi Zacharias. Anna and the French Kiss and Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins. Out of Darkness, Ashley Hope Perez. Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell. All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven. 13 total.

Listening to (I discovered SO much good music this month): 25, 56, and 139, Red Rocks Worship. Daydream, Jillian Edwards. Never Come Back Again, Austin Plaine. Quintet in Eb, Schumann. Don’t Wanna Think, Julia Michaels. Way Down We Go, Kaleo. Can’t Hold Us, Macklemore. Believer, Imagine Dragons. Green, Ben Rector. Arrival of the Birds, Jason Swinscoe. My Feet Are On the Rock, I Am They. Light It Up, Major Lazer. I Won’t Back Down, Johnnyswim. Neptune, Gustav Holst. Pride and Prejudice, Valentina Lisitsa. Stupid Love, Dan + Shay. Bookseller in the Rain, Laura Osnes. Nobody Knows, The Lumineers. Lovers, Anna of the North. Can I Be Him and Say You Won’t Let Go, James Arthur. Mamma Mia. Shotgun, George Ezra. Waves, Dean Lewis.

Watching: Restless Creature, Wendy Whelan. The Parent Trap. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before AHHHHH NOT OVER IT (also watched *almost* every video of Noah Centineo on the Internet). NBC’s World of Dance (mostly just Charity and Andres’s dances, over and over and over). Mamma Mia 2.

Writing: Except for some work on the Atlanta > Anchorage flight and then a video call job interview on the ship (unfortunately, I didn’t get that job), I didn’t work at all in Alaska, and then I jumped back in with a serious 9-6 daily work schedule when we got back. I had a ton of meetings (like, SO many) and landed a ton of new clients: an ethnic advertising company I now write B2B blog posts for, an author who needed an editor for her YA magical realism novel, a company I now write business profiles for, and my DREAM CLIENT (literally still so so so so over the moon about this one and can hardly believe it).

In addition to meetings, I spent time doing assessments for two potential clients; for one, I took a course on sales emails, and it was extremely helpful although I didn’t get the job. I also began taking a persuasive copywriting course through Den 2X; this month we focused on low-hanging fruit, meaning lots of LinkedIn referral marketing. I also applied to 88 jobs, pitched four magazines, and sent out around 10 LOI’s, and I proofread the September issue of Georgia Family Magazine.

As far as guest posts and single articles, I had a feature published in Just Labs magazine, a success story published at WritersWeekly (and wrote another piece for WW, coming soon), wrote a guest post for CYC, wrote a pretty technical article on heat and metabolism for InBody, wrote a post for Write Naked, and had a devotional published here.

Fiction-wise, I came up with/messed around with dozens of new story ideas in Alaska, began editing World on a String when not editing my client’s novel, and wrote one of the best short stories I’ve ever written.

 

Loving: Margzetta Frazier’s Challenging Journey to UCLA, Nationals, and Beyond (Inside Gymnastics). Pain, training, and 73 medals: Inside the life of US gymnastics all-around champion Ragan Smith (Dallas News). To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Movie Chat (Paper Pizza). Noah Centineo on “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and Being a Hopeless Romantic (Teen Vogue). And Abbie’s publishing a novel! 

Grateful for: A moment on a bus driving through Alaska, curled in the seat, sharing earbuds with Joshua and laughing quietly at this. Meeting super sweet Alaskan homeschoolers in the hot tub. A girl I haven’t seen in three years sending me her Netflix login so I could watch To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (we have since switched our Netflix account from the DVD-only option o the normal one, largely so I can watch it again). Texting snarky comments to my accountability buddy during the mastermind of our freelance writing class. My little neighbor getting into my car and giving me pictures she drew for me at school that day. Friends who find spiritual allegories in movies. Spotify Premium.

What did you do in August?