When Writers Strike: 2017

Reports have been popping up throughout the internet of an impending writers strike. Some of you may remember how this affected the production of entertainment media the last time it took place back in 2007/2008. Here are links to further info about the strike so you can keep your eye on the situation.

The next time someone tells you that writing isn’t a worthwhile career, you might want to let them know that the average salary for a TV or film writer is over $187,000.

Don’t forget to chime in about the strike at these sites and make your opinion heard. #WriteOn

CNN: http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/18/media/writers-strike-hollywood/

New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/business/media/with-a-hollywood-writers-strike-looming-heres-what-to-know.html?_r=0

Vanity Fair: http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/04/wga-writers-strike-preparation

Deadline: http://deadline.com/2017/03/hollywood-writers-strike-commentary-whats-at-stake-wga-1202053957/

Erika is such a relatable character (if you’ve ever been burned) and you’ll find yourself at times rooting for her then in the next breath you’re cussing her for her stupidity.

–Laura Greeson, Amazon.com

Don’t forget to grab your copy of Show Her from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com!


Get Yours Now: Tablet Mount

Kiss your carpel tunnel good-bye! This nifty bit of hardware can help you read, browse the internet, watch movies, and video chat in a convenient, hands-free way. As writers and readers, it’s critical that we take care of our hands, so instruments like this are essential. Mount it on the side of a table, the seat in front of you, or even your headboard to read as you drift off to sleep. Would make a fantastic gift for anyone who owns a tablet or e-reader.

Ruby Tuesday: New Collar Needed

10 Tips for More Writing Time: Shop Faster

Think you’re running out of minutes in the day to get some writing done? Here’s one place you can shave off a few minutes of wait time and get back to writing sooner: The Grocery Store!

You may not normally consider how much time you waste at the grocery store, but a chunk of this could be time better spent writing. Here are 10 things you can start doing today that will shave some serious time off your multi-daily, weekly, or monthly grocery outing.

1. Make a List, Check It Twice, and STICK TO IT!

Distractions are a writer’s worst enemies (well, when it comes to time management anyway) and can turn a seek-and-destroy mission into a wild goose chase. Make a (short) list of the things that you need from the store and bring it with you. Use a sticky note, phone app, voice recording, self-email or self-text.

And don’t casually wander into the bakery, ice cream, or candy areas just because you happen to be walking past it. Stay focused!

2. Grab a Hand Basket or Smaller Cart

Going into the store with a monstrous cart is like sitting down in front notebook with 100 empty page–you’re gonna want to fill it up! Or, best case scenario, you won’t realize how off track you’ve gotten with your shopping because every time you see the cart it won’t look full…and won’t look full…and won’t look full, until it is. Using smaller carts helps you stop shopping faster when your load starts to get too heavy or you quickly run out of room to hold items.

3. Frequent an Establishment

When you go to the same store every time you shop, you gradually begin to learn where everything is. This cuts down on you having to wander aimlessly or find an employee to help you look for something that you want.

4. Stick with Boxes and Cans

How does this save time? Because these scan the most quickly and reliably. When you buy things in bags, sacks, tiny packages, or oddly shaped containers, the bar code isn’t as easy for the scanner to read, and often isn’t even easy for the cashier to find. Precious time is wasted. If you are a big junk food eater, this isn’t much of an issue since a lot of junk comes in boxes. However, if you’re big on fresh produce, you may be wondering how you’re going to save time. The best a fresh producer fiend can do is opt for bags and plastic containers instead of items that are loose or only tied with twine or wire (meaning the cashier has to search for or ask for the PLU code to be able to ring it up). Also remember that, some loose produce items (such as potatoes or garlic) must be weighed, which takes even more time). For example, instead of a fresh bunch of wet cilantro, just buy the cilantro that comes in a jar or clear plastic box that has a clear, easy-to-read bar code on it. Instead of loose garlic, get the garlic in a box or jar.

5. Estimate As You Go

Estimating the price of your order as you go helps you keep from being surprised at the register. It also helps you know how much cash to prepare (as suggested in tip 7). Remember to always round up. $4.99 is $5, $3.23 is $4, and so on. And still add a few dollars onto the running total before you head to the checkout for tax. You’d rather be under budget than over budget.

6. Unload

Don’t just sit your order on the belt and start texting or daydreaming. Make checking out a process in which you are fully participatory. Unload your items and put your basket away under the conveyor built or hand it to the bagger when it’s your turn to be checked out.

7. Unload Intelligently

When it comes time to hit the register, put your items on the belt with the bar codes either facing you or facing down. Grocery scanners have a plate on the bottom and mirrors on the side opposite the cashier. So, if you place your bar codes like this, you won’t have to wait for the cashier to find it, and it’s more likely to be registered quickly by the terminal.

8. Prep (your coupons, school cards, discount cards, gift certificates, etc.) 

Translation: Get your shit together before it’s time to check out. Don’t wait for the cashier to ask you if you have a shopping card or coupons. Often, you’ll be standing in line waiting to be rung up anyway. Instead of staring a magazine covers, browsing candy labels, or texting on your phone, use this time wisely. Check your pockets for coupons. If you have partner or loyalty cards on your keychain, have them out and ready to hand to the cashier the moment the order before you is complete.

9. Start Paying As Soon As Possible

If you’re paying with plastic, most terminals are able to complete the early parts (and sometimes most) of the payment process as soon as it’s your turn to check out. Do this so that you utilize your time well while your items are being rung up. Just step up to the card reader and insert your chip (or slide, if you still have to do that).

If you’re paying with cash, open your wallet and pull out at least $5.00 more than you think your . Pull out four pennies. If you have four pennies to give, you won’t get any back. For example, if your total is $44.04 and you give $50.04, the pennies get absorbed. Then, as the total for your order rises, start pulling out bills. When you get the final total, you should have everything you need to hand the cashier exact (or near exact) change within about three seconds.

10. Bag

It may be difficult emotionally, but try to set your pride aside and help yourself get out of that store as quickly as possible. Lots of grocery stores may have times during the day when they don’t have a bagger around to help out (and the manager is with a belligerent customer and the other cashier is in the bathroom and the customer service is swamped, and so on). When this happens, jump in and get it done. As soon as you’ve followed the previous step with your credit or debit card, slide to the end of the check lane and start bagging up what your cashier has rung out. If a bagger steps in before you’re done, by all means, step aside and let the expert handle it. But don’t let poor staffing at a store keep you there any longer than necessary.

How Trump and E. L. James Cured My Anxiety

For whatever reason, I actually felt less and less nervous about publishing my first novella the closer the release date came. Here’s an inside look into what transpired in the days leading up to the release of Show Her.

What I Expected To Happen

Given the near-nervous-breakdown I had when I published the first version of Show Her many, many moons ago, I kinda figured it would go the same way this time. I would be making an insane amount of changes up until the very last second and then would click ‘Publish’ with my eyes closed and go curl into the fetal position on my bed feeling like I’d just murdered a herd of puppies with a blunt axe.

In short, I didn’t think that I had really gathered any confidence at all since the last time I tried to do this. I thought it would be a cluster-fuck of epic proportions.



What I Didn’t Expect To Happen

Yet, it didn’t go like that. Don’t get me wrong, I am a procrastination master (though I am trying to become a better person in this regard), so I was still making major changes to the plot, character descriptions, and even the entire ending as of a week before the launch.

However, I found myself getting more and more excited about release day coming as it approached. I found myself actually telling family members, co-workers, and even strangers early on, with ease and relative comfort.




Why It Happened This Way (In My Humble Opinion)

There are a couple of major things that happened since I began thinking that I wanted to make writing my full-time career that contributed to this more relaxed reaction to self-publishing. Please feel free to use this information for your personal healing if that’s helpful for you.

First, Donald Trump got elected as President of the United States of America. I’ve never been so glued to an election in my life (okay, 2008, I guess, but you know what I mean). So, why was Donald Trump an inspiration that eased my anxiety? Because–following the “rules” of politics–he shouldn’t have won. He should have lost. He should have been an epic failure, a laughing stock. He should have been rejected by every single voter in the country according to traditional political ideology because he “didn’t fit in.” He didn’t look, think, act, walk, or talk like a president or even your run-of-the-mill politician. Yet, he won it all, and by a landslide.

If this man that stood “no chance” of winning the day he announced that he was running made it all the way to the top through sheer persistence and giving haters and critiques the bird, who was I to feel inadequate? How dare I be afraid of rejection! If he can make it to the top of Mount Everest from the Earth’s core, certainly I can make it from the bottom of the mountain (geez, at least I’m above sea level).

Second, E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey not only became a bestseller, but went on to become a proverbial movement in the literary and cinema worlds.  I just had to read it since it was getting so much hype, but when I tried, it was like trying not to pass out while sawing off my own leg.

Why is this inspirational for me? Because I struggled so hard to get through the book. I’ve never been a huge fan of romance novels (though I do enjoy erotica) so that was already a strike against her. Beyond that, I personally thought the book wasn’t well written and the plot was not realistic or thought through very much. It was like she wrote it and sent it in without any rereading it herself, having a friend look at, hiring a copy editor or proofreader, etc.–straight from brain to print.

And yet, look at the enterprise that has been built from it! So, again, what the fuck would be wrong with me to think that I can’t be successful just because I don’t love the things that I write? What kind of sense does it make for me to doubt myself and the reading public? If she can do what she loves successfully, so can I.

As an added bonus, I have my beautiful and talented Curtis Cartel as backup. Forming my own cartel was something I knew that I needed to do in order to keep myself moving forward with publishing and hold myself to deadlines. But I could not have imagined how invaluable they have been in helping me turn Show Her into a solid piece of literature.



If you find yourself doubting your work or your abilities, just remember that there are people out there making hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars who don’t write half as well as you do, who don’t have the same education and experiences that you have, and who don’t have the same world view as you do. Just because you are technically different from these people doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed at the things that they do. Good luck!


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Writer’s Tax Deductions

There are many tax deductions currently available to independent contractors. Make sure you’re not missing out on any of these as a self-publishing author. __________

When you work for yourself, you are often considered an independent contractor. This means that you are responsible for managing your own tax payouts and keeping track of your own expenditures and revenue. When tax time rolls around, besides just knowing what you made and what you spent in general, take a closer look at your finances and try to find possible tax write-offs, credits, and cuts for you / your business. Here are some basic categories with examples to get you started.

Equipment and Supplies

Equipment Warranties and Insurance

Laptops, desktops, tablets, etc.

Reading Lamps
Book Lights

To read to create content for a website, observe the craft to inform your own, or even non-fiction that helped you find writing gigs, tighten up your marketing, or learn how to promote your book more effectively.

Binder Clips
Paper Clips
Tape Dispensers

For taking photos to go inside your book, creating covers for a book, for PR and marketing purposes while you’re at an event, etc.

Dry Erase Boards

For organizing your plot, describing your characters, outlining your story, planning publishing, or keeping meeting dates.

Dry Erase Markers, Erasers, and Cleaning Sprays

Postage stamps for mailing out orders, along with logo or name stamps for the company.

Postal Scale



If you have a home office or just a small space that you rent, you may be able to get deductions for some of the following expenses.

Renter’s Insurance
Extermination Services

For a waiting area or for your professional development (or both).

Landline Telephone
Internet Services



Car Registration and Taxes
Car Insurance
Car Maintenance and Repairs
Car Washing
Car Tires
Airplane Tickets
Meals on the Road
Rental Car Expenses
Public Transportation Fares

Taxi, Uber, Bus, Subway, Streetcar, etc.



Equipment or Office Repair
Training / Education
Cover Production
Copy Editing


Any categories or items you think are missing? Leave a comment!




3 Hot Pens That Love Your Budget

Here are a few pens that give you a little taste of luxury without sending you to the poorhouse.

Pens range in price from a few pennies to over a million dollars. Some pens you wouldn’t mind tossing after one use, others become life-long accessories.
Finding a pen that writes well, feels comfortable, lasts long, and doesn’t destroy our bank accounts can be difficult, but I’ve found a few that you might want to try.

 Uni-ball Signo Bold 207 Retractable Gel

This pen is retractable, lightweight, and B-O-L-D (1.0 mm line)! I like this pen because of how thickly it lays down ink. In my near-decade of working in social services, having a pen that marks thick means copies of signatures and form fields come out clear and legible copy after copy. Also, you are purchasing that level of quality for the price (around $1 per pen), but that amount might not break your finances completely. This is especially true if you buy a 12-pack instead of one or two at a time.
Watch Out! – I’ve not been able to find refills for this pen (if you do, please email me). So once it’s empty, you can toss it. I haven’t found this to be a problem because I value those thick lines and the writing comfort so much. If a pen not being refillable is a deal-breaker for you, steer clear!



Pilot Dr. Grip Medium FullBlack Retractable Ballpoint

Sleek, sexy and smooth, this is a ballpoint pen that I love to write with. It puts down a sophisticated, 1.0 millimeter line and the ink flows like silk. The grip is comfortable and the pen itself is has a thicker body that helps decrease my hand fatigue. This pen is refillable and comes in a black-on-black style with only the clip being silver. I’ve seen this pen sell for as little $6 online, but usually between $8 and $10 from a physical store. But since it looks great, writes well, is comfortable, and is refillable, it’s an investment I didn’t mind making.


Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Liquid Gel

So far, the ultimate favorite of mine! I can’t resist a metal barrel, so this pen immediately caught my eye when I saw it on the shelf at WalMart. This is an aesthetically pleasing pen that comes in (so far as I’ve seen) pink, three difference shades of blue, purple, black, red, silver, and gold. All of these colors have silver accents.

This pen is retractable. It has a heavy body that has a classy vibe. Every time I pull this pen out to write with it I get either a compliment or a question about it’s construction or where I found it (most times, I get all three!). Even for people who aren’t office supply geeks like myself, the sight of this pen screams “quality.” It sells for between $6 and $20, sometimes the difference in price is solely based on the color (the gold body, for instance, will be on the higher end). But, being refillable, you can just pick your favorite color and use it ad infinitum!

Be sure to share you favorite pen picks with your fellow Volo Press readers by leaving a comment.