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Monday, November 26, 2018

My Latest Book Is Live on Amazon

It's been two years and one month since I last uploaded a book on Amazon. That's too long in my opinion. While I want to release at least one book a year, I'm shooting for more like one per quarter. However, I do work as a copy editor, and those projects by other authors do take precedence over my own.

While this blog shows my progress on two of my WIPs (both planned to be fiction series), it was my third WIP, another series, but in the nonfiction genre, that just went live.

And, for the record, although Amazon stated it could be seventy-two hours for my book to appear online, it was only five hours and twenty minutes. Thank you, Amazon! The site is getting faster and faster. Amazing.

So here's my cover of my newest series, a menu-planning guide with recipes:

A Freelancer's Almanac-Style Guide to Menu Planning (Month 1, the Basics): Even When Short on Time, Money or Ideas by [Barker, Denise]

And here's my description, showing my purpose behind this goal:

Why I Wrote This Book

I wrote this planned series of books for me first (to gather all my favorite recipes into one collection of various books in both ebook and paperback form to eliminate the paper clutter of loose sheets of recipes in my home), for my son second (to pass down my family’s heirloom recipes), and to share with my readers third (to make your job of menu planning hopefully easier than it was for me).

Why Is It So Hard to Menu Plan? Or at Least It Was for Me …

As both an author and a copy editor, I find it is so much easier to tweak a written document than to create one from scratch. Since nobody’s menu plan will fit everyone’s tastes and lifestyles, it’s a given that any such offering should be personalized. And certainly other people were plagued with this menu-planning task, right?

So here is mine to help you out as you craft one better for you and yours.

NOTE: I am not a medical professional, but I offer my own insights and some findings from various internet searches here in my menu-planning guide in an effort to provide a convenient launching point for others to create their own menu plans. I have also included thirty-five recipes in this book.

Why a “Freelancer’s Guide” to Menu Planning, You May Ask?

From a freelancer’s point of view, it’s all about dealing with the lack of time and/or money when attacking the what’s-for-dinner question. Since I have juggled this time/money issue for over a decade of freelancing, I thought I’d share how I handle this. Therefore, my particular meal planning is flexible, based on available funds.

Why Almanac-Style?

I consider this an almanac-style book because I’ve added in so much more than just a thirty-day menu plan: appropriate quotes, various Top 10 lists, assorted issues (like emotional eating, healthier substitutions, creating convenience foods at home), all of which lend to a sense of diversity in this book. Therefore, being almanac in style.


Just getting this first book done has been freeing, a step toward organizing all my recipes. I had a cookbook in me, but it was so daunting to cull through 7,500+ recipes. And those are just the paper copies I have at home. That doesn't begin to count the saved recipes I have on various online sites.

Baby steps. Who would imagine how freeing this is for me on this one project? And this bit of organizing is infiltrating into other areas of my home. Simply wonderful!

Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying the Christmas lights popping up everywhere. Have a great week, everyone.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Today's Quotation to Inspire You

I wrote down this quote to keep it atop my desk (but sometimes it ends up buried underneath my current projects). I ran across it today and wanted to share it with you all.
Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world. Roald Dahl, from Matilda 
Just another reminder that adults, no matter their age, should continue to read children's books, mining for the gold therein.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Friday, October 26, 2018

Two Random Thoughts Which Motivated Me (and Hopefully Will Motivate You Too)

Here they are:

  • Fear and Anger: Both are normally touted as "bad" emotions. But I propose that each have a good side as well. I know, for me, anger motivates me to plunge ahead with a goal, regardless of any perceived fears. Granted, if it pushed me to resort to violence, that would be bad anger at work. Just make sure of your motivation, your goal. And some fears need to be faced to find the silver lining inside. Same with procrastination. What are the top three things you are putting off? Those are the very things that should be the top three items on your To Do list. Once you accomplish them, you'll feel so rewarded, so free, so productive, so happy. Try it. I dare you to spend fifteen minutes on your biggest procrastination, whether decluttering, exercising again, taking a hard look at your finances, whatever. So, like carbs of late, look for the good fears. Look for the good anger. Both should urge you on to success, to finding your purpose in life, to living a fuller life, to experiencing true joy daily.
  • Baby Steps; You Can Do Anything for Fifteen Minutes: These are both sayings oft repeated by FlyLady.net and others. While easily applied to reinstate daily exercise routines, I applied it to my big nonfiction project of assembling a cookbook from the paper copies of recipes in my home. I've got three banker's boxes full, unless I've forgotten/misplaced other such boxes (which is totally possible), with an estimated 2,500 individual recipes in each box x 3 boxes = 7,500 recipes. Not counting those I've saved on individual recipe sites online, like Pioneer Woman and Delish and Yummly and others. Not counting those in my email folder labeled Recipes. Yes, this is a growing addiction of mine, collecting recipes. But last night's insomnia from 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. yielded me twenty pages of the start of my favorite recipes book, ones I use often, limited to 100 max. Baby steps in motion here. Now I'm making some traction on this beloved work-in-progress project. Wish me luck.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Today's Lines to Live Your Life By

I read constantly. I have various daily feeds in my email. I read for information gathering, like the ingredients' lists on foods and beauty products, with an eye to create a more healthy version at home. I read owner's manuals for the equipment I buy and also the Terms and Conditions docs before signing up for online services. Not the most fun reads ever but necessary, IMO.

In addition I do read for the pure pleasure of it, whether online sites, books on my Kindle, physical books of all genres, plus my work is the most fun of all: copyediting other authors' manuscripts. However, I can't share those lines with you as I guard my clients' words as the intellectual property they are in the prepublication process. After publication, I can choose to share those with you with the proper attribution.

So I run across many words of wisdom throughout my day. Just recently I began saving and organizing them better. My current process is to handwrite them into a spiral notebook daily as I find each one. I plan to review them at month's end and maybe delete the ones which don't withstand the passage of time. Anyway, it's a work in progress that I'll perfect as I go along.

Here are today's lines to live your life by:

You're building the future every single day, whether you do so knowingly or not. Everything you do leaves a trace in the world. What's your life's footprint?

One of the main ideas from this passage is to choose wisely, don't live life by default.

Wanna guess where this gem came from? Bet you'll be surprised to find out these lines are courtesy of today's horoscope for me per Horoscope Friends.

See? You can find wonderful words in various places.

Have a great day, all.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Freelancer's Out-of-the-Box View of Traditional Mortgage Refinancing (Not Just for Freelancers But for Anyone Who Owns a Home)

First, the term "freelancer" should give you several hints. Like, for instance, I don't make $1,000 (or any other figure you may choose) twice a month. I don't have automatic deposits of this fictional $1,000 on the first and the fifteenth into my bank account. Some months I don't make any money. Other months I make enough to cover the next month as well. Most months I make enough to cover my bills for that particular thirty-day period.

Second, sometimes the term "freelancer" is synonymous with "broke." But it's only a temporary state of brokeness. As a freelancer, you just don't know how long that period will last.

You need guts and faith and determination to succeed when self-employed.

I love working for myself and count any financial hardships as part of the job. In other words, I'm not all about the money. Only enough to pay my bills. Even to the point of working a second (and, at one time, a third) job too. So keep that in mind if you wish to follow my lead to become a freelancer.

However, my findings below could be of great help to a homeowner with a traditional day job too.

Third, I'm no financial guru, just a working gal with years of experience in the trenches. What follows is my most recent learning opportunity.

This idea to refi all started with something I saw online about HARP ending this year (not that it can't be renewed for another year but you'll have to check that out for yourself). But I don't qualify for HARP as my current mortgage is a conventional loan, not a Fannie Mae or a Freddie Mac (a government-issued/approved loan).

I then checked out HAMP, but I don't qualify for that either as it seems to be for those "underwater" folks (meaning, their mortgages are upside down, owing more than what the property is currently worth on the market), while I am grossly "overwater" (my own term, BTW; meaning, I owe way, way, WAY less than the current market value of my property, whether going by Zestimate or by my local county tax assessor).

And I want to keep my house in the family, even when I die, passing it on as a hopefully paid-for asset, so what little I know about reverse mortgages doesn't work for me. But, if any of you are interested in that vehicle, you'll need to conduct your own research and due diligence.

So I recently tried to refi my mortgage at my small local bank (not one of the big countrywide chains) to get a much better interest rate and to lower my monthly payment. However, as a freelancer, I couldn't easily qualify, like when I worked as a legal assistant (with consistent and equal income payments), at the time I originally bought this property, as a first-time homeowner. And it seems banks tend to look to refis as debts to sell, mostly to those entities seeking loans which meet the government standards of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac funding.

Therefore, my back-end ratio (based on my current mortgage payment) was excessive and threw me out of consideration for any refi (from any bank at least) even though my front-end ratio (based on any new mortgage payment) was in the barely acceptable range.

Yet I'm shaking my head. Regardless of the ratios, I'm making those mortgage payments that the banks/government deem me unreliable to make. And for the last eighteen years at the same address.


AND, like I mentioned above, my current mortgage balance is way below market value, almost a full one-third of what my property lists for today per Zestimate. Regardless of its market value or its Zestimate valuation, this land is where I plan to live for the rest of my life. Obviously having property as an asset for a mortgage loan is immaterial in the bank's point of view, which is mind-boggling at first glance.

Even the taunt of repossessing my home, should I fail to make those mortgage payments (as predetermined by faulty ratios used by banks) and for seven months in a row (as per a quick internet search into what constitutes foreclosure factors), isn't enough of a lure to induce banks to lend me the money. Even with a $4,000 "hickey" (from my viewpoint) earned up front by the lending bank.

Still shaking my head ...

Which makes me think the banks are more interested in a guaranteed payment of a fixed amount each month.


Kinda like what I would want too in my own business.

Plus, per my local bank  (not one of the big chains either), I would have to double this year's income in order to be considered for a refi to meet those needed ratios.

YET, when I figure out how to pay off this current mortgage in six years (an acceleration for sure), I only need $418 more than my normal payment a month (to start with) to accomplish this. Granted, I should add roughly $1.17 to this principal-only extra payment figure and increase it by at least $0.03 each month to keep in alignment with an online amortization schedule (or so it appears by a comparison of my last three monthly mortgage statements).

In my mind, this converts my current high interest rate on my mortgage into a much more pleasing "net" rate of interest (by saving years' worth of interest payments).

This seems more feasible to me, and I am currently researching flexible online work to accomplish this (consider this my second job) which still allows me the time I need to focus foremost on copyediting projects (my first job). I have also reframed my mind-set as to this second-job search about being something to help me get out from under my mortgage faster.

Like I wrote in my last blog post, seek those long-term fixes (paying off your mortgage as early as possible) over the short-term (a refi, with fixed fees of about $4,000 added in from the very first, per my bank anyway). That $4,000 figure was enough to dissuade me from any refi option. I have worked too hard to pay down my mortgage to have this much added back in.

No. That doesn't work for me, not with my situation. Neither does a second mortgage. So, if you ever consider a refi, rethink your options as to paying off your current mortgage earlier.

Such are the random thoughts of this freelancer as to the traditional refi process in the States.

Not having a mortgage payment would be a big boon to any freelancer or to any 9-to-5 worker alike. Granted, I'll still have to pay insurance on my home. I'll still have to pay property taxes. But I'm paying them anyway. And I'll save much more money by paying off my mortgage.

Wish me luck.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Financial Backup Lessens the Stress and Worry of Freelancing

As a freelancer, I find my worries and my stress are greatly lessened when I have a financial backup. If single, one way is to live with a roommate, who will share in all living expenses. This could be with another freelancer (hoping your slow months are not the same but weathering them all the while). And/or you can get a "day job" (even if a part-time position at nighttime or an online gig).

Another way is to have a credit card for those slow months where you need a couple hundred bucks to tide you over until the next freelancing project comes in. While I hesitate to offer this suggestion, keep in mind that the best way to use a credit card is to never use it. The second-best way is to pay it off monthly (or at least before the 0% interest expiration date). Don't take cash advances as the interest rates are exorbitant.

Remember: look more to long-term solutions than to quick fixes (or at least a mix of the two).

For some freelancers, PayPal's line of working capital might work for them. It doesn't for me. I'm a service provider, not attending conferences or making purchases of costly equipment or with any employees to pay. So those big-ticket items (seemingly covered by an injection of capital) aren't involved in my business as a copy editor.

Just like decluttering your house can ease back on those interrupting and nagging to-do/should-do thoughts, having a financial backup can lessen those distracting worries and disabling stressors, keeping you working and focusing on more productive endeavors.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by Florence. God bless you all.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Computer Running Slow, Hanging Up? Here Are Some DIY Tips

I visited a friend of a friend to get my computer running faster. It worked. Enormously. Thanks Liz and Don.

MY NEEDS: I'm not a gamer or a photographer. I'm a copy editor using Word to Track Changes in my clients' soon-to-be-published manuscripts, using online Webster's to double-check spelling, using the online version of The Chicago Manual of Style to double-check grammar, plus doing some fact-checking via the internet, along with accessing three email addresses to connect with my author clients. Yes, it should be just one central email hub in hindsight, but I was tracking how I got their attention.

Also I have a cloud backup program. I've found that I need to see that little icon appear in my taskbar before everything else speeds up. While that icon seems to be the last to show up, it only takes a couple minutes max. In my downtime, once I've stopped working for the day, I do watch movies on Netflix and YouTube on a second laptop while in bed.

MY SYSTEM: I'm on Windows 10, using 2010 Word, with a wireless laptop (no wired-in desktop computer).

INTERNET MODEM: My service provider is AT&T, and they are wonderful. We finally got them in my neighborhood, and (1) I was happy to switch. They are cheaper than my previous provider (who was the only game in town for years). They provide faster service. They are rarely down. In fact, they seem to run two underground lines from my house to the pole in my backyard. Like my neighbor said, if the system goes down, it's only for about five minutes, as the second line kicks in to keep me connected.

My router/modem is installed in the first bedroom that initially served as my office. However, years ago I had moved my office to the second bedroom, some one hundred feet apart, with many twists and turns and walls and doors in the way. (2) I bought an internet booster that you sync with the modem and then plug in somewhere between said modem and the computer. That helped even before I switched internet providers.

Prior to my visit to the local computer guru, I found two videos on YouTube: (3) one to double my RAM and (4) a clean batch file to clear out the temp files and the prefetch files. I run it every morning to delete the junk. After all that, I then (5) uninstalled computer programs, notably all but two browsers. [I had been checking other browsers to see if they were any faster than Google Chrome.] Google Chrome is my current default, with Microsoft Edge as my alternate, in case I need to see if Google is down.

My new friend, the local computer guru, also checked for software programs that could be deleted, suggested I check for more software that I did not need and was not using that could be deleted. NOTE: I suggest you make a list and speak to your IT tech first before deleting/uninstalling any unknown programs to you, or you could search the internet to confirm what those programs do as well before uninstalling something really important that you need. My computer guru also asked about how close my router/modem was to my computer, asked if I was wired-in or wireless (discussed above).

But his best advice was priceless: (6) Set up a second work laptop strictly for checking my three work-related email addresses. My primary work laptop was restricted to working on my clients' Word docs and doing related internet research. Luckily I have a graveyard of laptops that I had not yet recycled at my local BestBuy, as I resurrected one for my bedroom for movie-watching (nice big screen for a laptop with great audio and video), another one to serve as a second work-related laptop for my office to segregate said three email addresses via two email programs from my other business-related needs.

Once I set up that secondary work-related laptop for checking emails throughout my day, magic happened. My primary work-related laptop no longer froze up every ten minutes (or less). My computer boots up/shuts down in five minutes or less (instead of thirty minutes to an hour or even more).

Now I'm a happy camper. Granted, my system is not as fast as what is depicted on TV with hackers able to do anything in seconds. Is that even possible in real life? I'm no hacker, but I am envious of their computers. However, just doing each of the above-noted tasks has vastly improved the frustratingly slow computer problems that I had been dealing with earlier.

Hope this helps someone out there as well.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)