Balancing Multiple Hats

I recently took on another freelance project and people keep asking me if I can handle it. “Well, of course, I can,”  I said. This made me think about how I balance my multiple hats.

As a writer, blogger, worker and social media coordinator, it can at times be overwhelming. We all at one time or another have felt burnt out. I’ve learned that for me, the best thing is utilizing the extra time I can find and utilizing the tools available to me.

I’m a huge fan of the old school date planner. I tried to use the preloaded calendar on my smartphone, but it just wasn’t that smart. This is my first trick; a good organization system to keep a record of what is coming up next.

I always used my commute to and from work to write. I still carry a lined blank book in my bag with me, just in case I get inspired to write. Now that I have so many projects going on, I find myself utilizing the capabilities of my smartphone more and more.  Just last week, I wrote an entire proposal on my smartphone using Evernote.  How can you go wrong using a program that you can access online when you get home. I use Evernote to make note of ideas for this blog, freelance stories and book reviews.

Some other tools you’ll find on my smartphone, besides Twitter, of course, are the WordPress app and now HootSuite. I like having the ability to post from the road and schedule my posts/tweets/entries ahead of time.  Most of us have phones now that have all of the capabilities of a computer.  Why not use them to make your life easier?

Writers, what tricks do you use to manage your time?  Do you have any other tips and tricks to share?  Leave me a note in the comment section below.

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Book Review: Strange Fruit by The Left Side Poets

The following review originally appeared on Book End Babes, a website devoted to a love of reading and to learning about new authors.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to be emailed the advanced copy of Strange Fruit. I had met one of the contributing authors, Ronald Clark, through another one of my Twitter followers. I haven’t really picked up a poetry book since I was through with college, but because Ronald had poured his heart and soul into it and because I had heard so much about Strange Fruit, I read it.

Strange Fruit is the best compilation of poetry I have read. In one word, it’s POWERFUL.  English professors should be using this book when they teach their courses. I would have loved to have been able to study a book like this in college. In fact, Strange Fruit brought the English major out in me. I was immediately in my purse looking for a pen to note stellar stanzas and lines, note alliteration and identify my favorite parts to share with you.

Even if you aren’t into poetry, I would recommend everyone read this book. It has something for everyone. Each poet’s lyrical key and themes are found at the beginning of the book, which I found a very useful tool.

Much of the content is raw and the poets do not hold back. The group came together during Hampton University’s Black Heritage Extravaganza and much of the content revolves around black history and the identity of being African American. I think a great example of this rawness is in Unchanged by S. Velvet Noose:

“My ancestors were the closest thing to a Christ:/A pendant on a chain/Lassoed around the necks of branches.”

Some of my other favorites include: 80′s Baby BABY!!! by Daniel Parrish, Help by Sophia Buxton, Gravedigger by Terry Odis, Only by Ronald Clark and The Definition of The Left Side by The Left Side Poets featuring S. Velvet Noose, Nikieta Faulkner, Martin Tucker, Shawnon Corprew, Tolani Oyefule, Sophia Buxton, Ronald Clark, Terry Odis and Daniel Parrish.  However, my absolute favorite is Tuesday by Ronald Clark. It is about love, loss and going after your dream before it is too late.  This poem moved me to tears, in public, on the CTA Brown Line train.

If I’ve convinced you to pick this book up, The Left Side Poets’ Strange Fruit is available on Createspace.com.

I Fell Through the Social Media Rabbit Hole

I graduated from DePaul University in 2006.  The most advanced class we had was writing for the web with then Professor Thiel. It was the most beneficial class I took. It prepared me for the changing face of journalism. Then came social media.

It wasn’t until January of last year that I decided to join Twitter. I was hesitant at first, but realized that if I didn’t adapt I would be stuck in the past. I needed to remain marketable and I don’t regret this decision.

I went hog wild and followed all of the national and local news outlets. I connected with my friends and some people with some of the same interests at me. But really, I looked at social media as someplace for me to publish clips and connect with my readers.

Boy was I wrong. Social media has afforded me opportunities I had never imagined.

Most important to me has been the network I have created. I introduced you to some of the wonderful people I have connected with in an earlier post. These people have supported my work and made me laugh when I needed it. Only on Twitter can someone tell you they are like blog herpes. I can’t imagine my life without these people, many of whom I have never met.

Twitter has also afforded me the opportunity to connect with people I had lost touch with, specifically Professor Thiel-Stern.  She’s continued to teach me through her journalism course hashtags.  She has connected me with people on Twitter who have been of tremendous support to me.  She was also one of the first people to congratulate me on the launch of this blog.

I’ve also been able to give back. I’ve introduced people via Twitter who are now collaborating on their own and bouncing ideas off of one another. I’ve helped spread the word of projects and retweeted blog entries and contests. Just as everyone has done for me.

This blog wouldn’t have come about without the support of the people I met on my journey down the rabbit hole. They have supported me, retweeted me and provided me with material to write forever.  I thank them all for that, even if there ears won’t stop burning.

How as social media affected your writing career? Have you met someone who is now your mentor? How did social media surprise you? If you read my blog, follow me on Twitter @sjezioro and say hello. I’d love to “meet” you!

Book Review: The Tatooed Girl by Dan Burstein, Arne De Keijzer and John-Henri Holmberg

The following review originally appeared on Book End Babes, a website devoted to a love of reading and to learning about new authors.

Like many readers, I was absolutely sucked into Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. (I haven’t made it onto the third book yet). I came across The Tatooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time at my local Target and immediately threw it into my cart. I’m glad I did.

It’s a bit of a slower read and one of the most challenging reads I’ve completed since my days as an English major, but it proved rewarding. The information provided to me makes me want to reread the series immediately and watch for the things I learned and the new themes that I missed the first time around because I was so enthralled in the plot.

While I found the commentaries of Swedish political movements and historical backgrounds to be quite interesting, especially when it pertained to how Larsson developed his characters, the tidbits of unknown information were what stuck out to me most.

How many of you knew the original title of the first book was Men Who Hate Women? Had Larsson not died, these books would have been known by very different titles. The Girl themed titles were the creation of the Larsson’s publisher.

Another intriguing factoid I discovered is that Larsson based Lisbeth off of Pippi Longstocking, paying homage to that in the name listed on her mailbox in her new home in The Girl Who Played with Fire.

The chapter containing the errors that may have been made by the translators may be one of my favorites of the book. I almost want to learn Swedish to read the book in it’s original format. The meaning of some sentences has been lost in translation and has made some areas of the book drier than the original.

Larsson lived a most intriguing life, with many of his experiences and beliefs reflected in his characters and in the situations in which they find themselves. The authors do a nice job of providing insight into Larsson via his life partner, Eva Gabrielsson, his friends and his colleagues.

I recommend this book to anyone who is in love with Larsson’s trilogy. It’s filled with insight into Larsson and his characters, the politics of Sweden, the publishing world and a bit of conspiracy.  As I mentioned earlier, it is not an easy read and can be dry at some points but it’s worth taking the time to better understand the intriguing characters Larsson has created.

Must-Have Tool: A Solid Support Network

I’ve grown as a writer and I will continue to grow as a writer. I owe much of my growth to my support network. The most valuable thing I have learned, and this is something I wish I had known coming out of college, is to surround myself with a strong group of fellow writers. This epiphany came to me in the form of Jeanne (@jeannevb) who I introduced you to in the first post.

Jeanne and I met in an advanced freelance writing class. We hit it off instantly and spent most of our virtual class sending each other direct messages on Twitter. We’ve remained in contact and due to her pimpstress ways, I have been introduced to a group of stellar writers who have inspired me to write. My network of Twitter writers are always there to provide guidance, support and tricks of the trade.  We grow as writers from reading and this group has provided me with plenty of excellent content.

My circle of birds have not only provided me with support, but with new writing opportunities.  The lovely Jamie (@Jamie_LD) introduced me to Malena (@malenalott) who extended me an invitation to become a contributor to BookEndBabes. I have also had the pleasure of pitching stories for and reading an advanced copy of Ronald (@rprestonclark) and the Left Side Poets’ Strange Fruit. (Strange Fruit drops in nine days. If you love poetry buy it immediately)

There is nothing more gratifying as a writer than to give back to the people who give to you. Thank those who support you unconditionally and do for them what they have done for you. Foster strong relationships that will last a lifetime.  It’s worth it.

As my thank you to Jeanne, I encourage you all to support gone Elvis where she will serve as producer if the project secures enough funding.  For more on gone Elvis and to contribute to the project visit the website.