Eating Healthy Even if You Travel A Lot Like a Journalist

eating-healthy-room-serviceWhen you travel a lot, as I do as a Journalist, eating healthy can become a chore. Many times, I have been guilty of getting a quick bit at a fast food eatery in an airport lobby before leaving for my hotel.

Hotels are expensive and fast food restaurants aren’t always the best solution, because it is unknown what is really inside of the food, you are putting inside of your mouth. Ingredients are an unknown, when ordering room service or eating fast foods. Counting calories becomes more and more difficult. Fast food restaurants serve foods with lots of salt, sugar, flour and fat, which is bad for the body. Eating healthy seems to be a distant second, to just getting what is convenient. Room service is just easier and eating (more…)

Kresley Cole – Paranormal Romance Novelist

author kesley coleFantasy and reality come together in the works of paranormal romance novelist Kresley Cole. She is a writer best known for her paranormal romance novels and books for young adults. Since publishing her first novel in 2003, she has won 3 Romance Writers of America RITA Awards, became the 14th member of the RWA Hall of Fame, published 21 novels with Simon & Schuster, and achieved #1 New York Times bestseller status, as an author.

Her most popular works are the Immortals After Dark or IAD series, and the Arcana Chronicles.

Her popularity comes from a combination of things including the historical backdrops Cole creates, the mythology of fantastic beings that inhabit her universe, and the incorporation of sensuality as a writing device. Her novels are romantic tales full of adventure and many wondrous details that make readers want for more. As a writer, she is someone that I would want to emulate and draw inspiration (more…)

On Becoming A Freelance Journalist

freelance-journalistStarting a career in journalism can be an exciting experience for many people out there. There are a few different options for anyone that wants to become a freelance writer. Anyone looking to develop this career for themselves should look around at the choices available to them. They can follow a few simple steps that will give them the support that they need as they go forward. If anyone is committed enough to follow these steps, they can expect some considerable rewards ahead of them. This could give people the support that they need to develop their skills as a journalist.

It will first be important for prospective journalists to simply identify some of the different skills that they will need. They should quickly identify some sort of specialty field, which will enable them to cultivate their own identity as a writer. This will also open up quite a few different opportunities for them, because they will be able to track down a few different skills for themselves as well. They can also cultivate a reputation for being a reliable writer in a certain field. This will enable them to grow their contacts and get linked up with the right kind of jobs that they want to get.

Many established freelance writers will give different reasons why they want to stay in this field. There are some surprisingly substantial benefits that people can get out of this career. Most people will note that they enjoy having the opportunity to set their own hours going forward. Others will just enjoy the chance that they need to get the freelance journalism experience that this job provides. This is an intellectually stimulating career, which will provide a full range of different types of options going forward. This is part of the reason why this is actually becoming such an engaging career option for many people out there.

Some people will also naturally want to know more about the pay that they can expect to get from this field. The opportunities in journalism will tend to range depending on location, so this may factor in to the amount of money that someone can get out of it. Most freelance writers will get paid in piecemeal, which means that they may get paid for each individual article that they write. They will need to be proactive when it comes down to hunting through different leads out there. But if they are diligent about this, then it is not unheard of for a writer to earn in excess of $50,000 a year.

Finally, many writers will need to travel to different locations in order to qualify to write different pieces out there. This will be challenging for them, but they should look around for some of the different options at their disposal. If they work with a large scale company, they may be able to get travel arrangements paid for through the job itself. If they interview for the position, then they should consider how they can negotiate this during the meeting. This could be integrated in to a larger benefits position for people who work for the company going forward.

The Freelance Writer on a Budget

writer-on-a-travel-budgetIf you are a freelance writer on a budget, then expenses, particularly traveling expenses, can be tough on the pocket. As a freelance writer, you are always on the go, in search of the next big story. Traveling is a part of your lifestyle, just as much as the writing itself. So finding apps on your iphone, that can keep track of your receipts and expenses while traveling, is important.

There are, however, many ways to save money. One way is to find great discounts, from sites that offer deep hotel, airline and car rental discounts. Keeping a budget, and staying within that budget, when you arrive to your destination, is also a good idea. There are apps on your iphone, that will help you in keeping track of your receipts and expenses, for the items that you buy, while on your trip. Keeping in mind, that you are there to write a story and work and not for a vacation, also helps keep things in perspective, when you get the urge to splurge.

Saving and staying on a budget, as a freelance writer on the go, must be something that you think about, before, during, and after traveling. There are a number of apps that can be used on your iphone, like One Receipt, Shoe boxed Receipt Manager, Mobile Receipt, Fresh Xpense Capture, Paper Phobic Receipt Manager, Kvitto and Piikki, just to name a few, that will keep track of your receipts and expenses, while helping you keep money in your pocket. These apps for the iphone, have features where receipts can be photographed, scanned, emailed, tagged and used to create reports. Many of these apps are either free or very inexpensive.

Technology has come a long way and as a freelance writer, you can take advantage of this technology, by keeping your budget, on your iphone. Having your budget close by and at the tip of your fingertips, helps you understand how much you have left, within your budget. It keeps you from splurging, because you can keep in your mind, that once your budget is gone, then the spending stops.

If you are traveling by train, plane or bus, remember that booking your trip, far in advance, will save you lots of money. The more in advance you can book your trip, the less you will have to pay, in the long run. As a freelance writer, making sure how much you will get paid, for the writing assignment, will also let you know what your budget will be, while letting you know how much you can spend. Understanding the percentage of your money that you will spend and then sticking to that percentage, takes discipline and determination, on the part of the traveling freelance writer, but it can be done.

You are the freelance writer on the go, who has everything at his/her fingertips to help you keep track of your expenses and receipts. Mapping out a plan that lets you spend, while budgeting how much will be spent, while working on assignments, will keep your budget safe, while knowing that you will not go overboard with your spending, while traveling.

The Writer’s Craft

writing-a-novelWriting fiction is a process that takes a skill set that includes self education and development of your craft. To write quality works, one must have a keen working knowledge about everything that will be included in their books. This is what makes writing a paranormal romance novel challenging. A well rounded mind and a wide variety of interests are part of being a great novelist. As a writer, you must be able to create unique landscapes for your fictional worlds, characters that have depth to keep the attention of readers, and develop a style that is original. Anyone can write an average novel, but great writers work their craft and make novels that stand out.

Having a solid education is essential for any serious writer.

Not everyone who writes has a PhD or MA., some writers have only a basic college education or less. Still it’s important to have a good working knowledge of the English language, so taking courses on journalism, literature, and composition at a university is a way to get started. These classes will help to develop your writing skills, learn about grammar, understand how literature is constructed, and most importantly, such coursework will get you writing. Another reason to take classes and pursue self education is to expand your horizons.

For the paranormal romance novelist, a background in history, philosophy, the arts and sciences will be helpful. Your ability to create realistic backdrops for your novels will be much enhanced by studying the world around us. Romantic writing must have a combination of psychological, sociological, and physiological descriptive information. Plus having a wide base of studies to draw from, will make your novels more interesting for readers and your characters will have more depth. If English is your language of choice, then you should focus on learning it well. Not every writer is a linguistic master, but all of them understand the rules of writing. Even if you break all the grammatical rules, this is done best by knowing them in the first place. Also good writers read other people’s writings. They do this to gain insight, do research, learn other styles, and because it is part of the writer’s craft.

There are many tactics that can be used to get published today.

The literary world has changed with the advent of the digital age. Being able to take advantage of computers and other modern tools has changed the face of publishing. Modern writers do not have to get signed to a publishing house, so that their first novel can be sold. First time publishers can use resources like Amazon Kindle or Lulu to release their literary works. Many writers will self publish a number of books, often selling them very cheaply. Without the overhead of a major publishing company, an independent novelist can make money by self publishing and selling their works at economical prices.

Above all, being a writer takes discipline and perseverance.

Being a journalist, a book reviewer or a paranormal romance novelist requires the practice of writing. The more an individual writes, the better their skills at writing become. Writing takes discipline. This is achieved by writing everyday, about anything. Practice writing both fiction and non-fiction works. Try writing poetry, if you have never done so. Some writers keep a daily journal of their thoughts, dreams, or as a regular diary. It worthwhile to try writing research papers, articles, music reviews, advertising copy, content text, blog posts, and even ghostwriting. Call it cutting your teeth, your writing skills will benefit from it. Writing is a craft and learning to write in various styles, will only enhance your abilities in the long run.

For anyone who wants to pursue writing seriously, a mix of self education, usage of modern technology and writer’s discipline will make you well rounded. In any genre, these are the keys to being successful as an author today. Modern literature is very competitive, but by knowing how to take advantage of the new publishing tools and the self publishing marketplace, authors have more artistic control. Writers are able to make a name for themselves, develop a fan base, and make a living in ways that never existed before.

The Pain of Divorce – Therapy Through Writing

writing-through-a-divorceDealing with death in the family is painful, but the knife cuts even deeper when it is your spouse, the one love of your life. I experienced this a few years ago and felt like ending my own life. Yet the simplest thing of all that helped me was a pen and paper. I learnt how to express myself and feel like I was moving forward in my life.

It took a while for this to happen of course, there was no magic switch, that made all the hurt go away. However, the first time I started writing after my husband passed away felt like the first ray of sunshine that I had experienced for such a long time, it felt like a little bit of my grief faded away the more I wrote. 5 years on from my partner passing away, I am now a journalist and the grief is still there, but it just doesn’t hurt as much anymore.

I recently helped one of my male friends who sadly divorced from his wife late last year. Understandably, he was bereft, but coming from the generation which first spawned the stiff upper lip, he was afraid to talk about it and open up. On the few occasions I tried to talk to him about it, he at first was quite reluctant to talk about it. Then a great idea came to me. If writing helped me move on, why couldn’t it for him?

The first time I suggested it to him, he dismissed it as being nonsense and that he didn’t do that kind of wish-washy stuff. I explained to him that great writing comes from the heart, and that often, great pain can yield great inspiration. I told him the next time that he was feeling down that he should write something about it.

As the weeks passed by, I was convinced that he wouldn’t take my advice, as after all, time is the greatest healer. However, one morning he dropped by my house and told me of how he took my advice and felt just a little bit of his pain fall away. Over the next few weeks, I had to keep reminding him to do it, and he built up quite a good list of story plots. First, they were just his thoughts or feelings, but gradually, with time and practice, they turned into short stories that were full of amazing characters.

The one thing I used to encourage him was to advise him not to set any limits on himself whilst he was writing. Rather than rigidly sticking to a topic, i told him just to write what came into his head as sometimes spontaneity can be the best remedy for stress and difficulties. As he felt he had power of his writing, he gained some control and structure back in his life, which he had been feeling a lack of ever since his wife left him. It has got to the extent that he is now planning to write a novel about his life after divorce, which I think is a marvelous thing.

So if you know of someone who is going through pain right now, suggest writing to them. They might scoff, but once they try it, they might just feel the pain ebbing away……

Saving Your Skin as a Traveling Journalist

dry-air-on-planesSometimes, my job has to come before my skin. As a journalist who hops from one coast to the other, and every stop in between, I spend far too much time in conditions that are terrible for my skin. If I have to interview a governor on the sunny capitol steps, he’s not going to wait for me to refresh my sunscreen. I change climate almost daily, and that is hard on the skin. And don’t get me started on the quality of air in airplanes. I feel like I’ve spent half of my life at 30,000 feet. And half of my life is nothing to sneeze at – I’m 50. And like most women my age, I work hard to make my skin look younger than my real age.

To combat the dry, damaging air found in the confined space of an airplane cabin, I start from the inside. I always drink as much water as I can before a long flight. Also – and this is difficult – you have to skip the alcohol. Hard as it is to get through a flight without a little something to relax me, I know alcohol dries out my whole body, including my skin.

Flying isn’t the time to go heavy on the foundation. Instead I use a soothing moisturizer like Boots Expert Hydrating Sensitive Moisturizer, and then after it has full absorbed, I use a tinted moisturizer. That way I get a double hydrating layer. If I have to see, or be seen by anyone important, I save my primping for after I disembark. For my lips I use something like Baby Lips from Maybelline.

Recently, I had to travel from the very wet Pacific Northwest (which has its own share of skin challenges) to the extremely dry New Mexico. I landed in a major city, but my assignment was out in the desert, and unfortunately I didn’t realize until I was out there that I’d left my essential makeup and moisturizer bag at home. I was more or less in the wilderness, so when I went on a search for replacements, I didn’t have many stores to choose from.

I have to admit, on that first night I fell back on my mother’s old standby – Vaseline. Don’t laugh! Vaseline is perfect for preserving moisture. What it can’t do is replenish moisture. So I was able to create a seal on my skin and at least halt the damage temporarily in its tracks. But when you’re 50, maintenance isn’t enough. You have to find ways to make your skin better. (Not to mention I left an unfortunate greasy smear on the hotel pillowcase. I wonder what they think I was up to in there?)

Once I was able to reach civilization and a well-stocked pharmacy, I stocked up on my favorite over-the-counter skin saver: Neutrogena Ageless Essentials Anti-Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer. This product does it all. It has a moisturizer that’s powerful yet penetrates quickly – a necessity in the sweaty New Mexico heat. It also has broad spectrum SPF 20 protection to fight the sun damage that’s so easy to get when you’re working outside in the merciless desert sun. Even better, it has Retinol SA, a special formulation that is gentle but effective. It is formulated to be released gradually, so more retinol can be available even at lower doses. Can you tell I’m a fan?

(I bet you didn’t think you could use retinol during the day. But the gentleness of this formula combined with the protective sunscreen means you can use this during the day, and another retinol product at night.)

Even if I don’t use this product, I always make sure to wear a moisturizer with sunscreen every single day. Everyone should do this, at any age, but at my age, and with a family history of skin cancer scares, I definitely have to take precautions. I have light skin and lots of moles. Though really, isn’t the word “freckles” cuter?

Most people have between 10 and 45 moles. They can be brown, tan, or black. Red moles can be a bad sign, though. Most moles appear by age 40. I try to keep track of mine, and note any changes. Dermatologists make it easy for you to remember what to look for: A-B-C-D-E. A stands for asymmetrical shape; B stands for an irregular border; C stands for changes in color; D stands for a diameter of more than a quarter inch; and E stands for evolution, or changes to the mole over time. If I see any of those scary things, I’m going to the doctor right away.

So far, though, my rigorous use of sunscreen seems to be doing the trick. Either that, or it’s my occasional dose of Vaseline. But don’t tell my mom – I’d never live it down!

A Journalist Traveling with Expensive Jewelry

storing-jewelry-while-travelingAs a world traveling journalist, you have many things to keep track of, besides luggage. You will have equipment that you work with in the media,like the voice recorder, smart phones or a laptop to write your story, as well as other items. Keeping your jewelry organized, can become a problem while traveling. Your jewelry is important to you and sometimes sentimental, as it may have been given to you by someone special. Keeping it safe is something to learn, while staying in the hotel room.

There are hotels who will offer amenities for storing your jewelry, such as a Swiss watch that is full of diamonds around the dial. From Extended Stay America hotels, which is a hotel chain known worldwide, for the business traveler who wants to stay for more than one night, offers small safes in the rooms, for storing important items, like your jewelry. There are also jewelry organizers that can be bought, in well known stores, that allow you to store different types of jewelry, from watches to earrings to necklaces and other jewelry, in compartments, made specially for the type of jewelry. This allows you to be more organized with your jewelry, while letting you know where everything is. Remember to only take with you, the jewelry that you know that you will wear, on the trip. Bringing along excessive jewelry, may mean that mishaps, like losing the jewelry, can happen.

For the more posh hotels, like Holiday at the Ritz, placing your jewelry within their hotel safe, is probably the best solution for preventing your jewelry, from being stolen. The hotel itself, has a large well protected security safe, that will keep your valuable jewelry safe. Staying in places where there is either a small safe in the room, or the hotel itself has a main vault, makes your traveling as a journalist, much easier.

Also, keep in mind, that the caliber of the hotel has a lot to do with whether their security is a good system. Two star motels will not invest much money into security safes, that protect your valuables. However, the five star hotels, will most of the time, offer every convenience and amenity, in helping to keep you and your jewelry safe.

As a journalist, you are always on the go, seeking to interview and finding the right story, is the reason you are there. Having a peace of mind that your valuable jewelry will be safe, makes your traveling easier. Having a small or large safe within your room, is also convenient, as you don’t have to go to the front desk, every time you want to wear the jewelry. The safe also gives you the added bonus of knowing, that if a thief does break into your room and steal your other belongings, that he would have to know a pass code, in order to get into the safe. The safe is strong and sturdy and meant to resist fire and other disasters that can happen, while keeping your valuable jewelry protected.

So, the next time you travel as a journalist, remember to keep your jewelry in a room safe or main vault, which may be offered by the hotel. Knowing that your valued jewelry, can be organized in a way that will keep it safe, is also nice to know. Also, knowing that there are hotels that have safes in the room, for storage, or a larger main vault, is also something that will give you a peace of mind, as you travel.