Where I Got Published Today: Bankrate

If you like turning 🏚️into 🏠or 🌱into 🌼, you’re going to love my latest Bankrate post:

Best credit cards for home improvement and gardening

Home improvement isn’t cheap — according to The Spruce, even something as simple as a surface-level kitchen remodel could cost between $2,000 and $20,000. Add gardening into the mix and you’re looking at what could be a very expensive, but very rewarding, project. Your home is where you live, after all. It’s worth it to make your living space as comfortable and beautiful as possible. (Plus, the right home renovations can add a lot to your resale value.)

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Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

I love this piece SO MUCH. (So did my editor.)

How to Schedule Your Day When You Freelance or Work From Home

I’ve been a full-time freelancer since 2012, and most of my work gets done at home—that is, from my home office. I tried working from coffee shops and co-working spaces, but I tend to get the most work done when I’m in a quiet, comfortable, familiar space where I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be able to find a seat near an electrical outlet (and won’t have to ask someone to watch my laptop every time I need to use the toilet).

I also know that I get my best work done in the morning and early afternoon; the closer it gets to 3 p.m., the more I’ll want a task that allows me to respond to information rather than generate it. Reading a book for review, for example, instead of writing a book review.

So I’ve developed a schedule that lets me do my best work at the times I work best.

If you’re also working from home and would like to develop a similar schedule, here’s what I’ve learned over the past seven years.

Where I Got Published Today: Bankrate, Haven Life

Bankrate: The right credit card could be the right financial move in 2019:

If you’re paying for everyday expenses like groceries and restaurants without earning rewards, you’re leaving money on the table. Whether you choose a flat-rate cash back card that offers the same points on every purchase or a bonus category rewards card that gives you higher rewards for certain categories of purchases — and we’ve got a list of the pros and cons of both — you’re going to want one of the best rewards credit cards in your wallet. You’ll also want to use it for the majority of your purchases.

Otherwise, you’re going to do all that day-to-day spending without getting anything in return.

Haven Life: How to prepare your finances for a recession:

Remember, a recession doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll lose your job. Not all employers lay off employees during recessions, and many employers work hard to keep their best team members. However, they often look for other ways to cut costs. This might mean losing the coffee and donuts in the breakroom, or it might mean losing your 401(k) contribution match — so it’s in your best interests to claim as many employer benefits as you can while you’ve still got them.

Where I Got Published Today: Bankrate

Your guide to Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards

If you want your credit card rewards to go further, you might be interested in Wells Fargo’s Go Far® Rewards program. This credit card loyalty program rewards Wells Fargo cardholders for everyday spending, gives you the chance to earn bonus rewards while you shop and invites you to redeem rewards for everything from cash back to once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

On Writing for the Reader, Not (Just) for Yourself

My NEXT BOOK draft is currently at 8,916 words, and I’m hoping to break 10,000 by this weekend.

(Remember, I started drafting on February 21, so… two weeks ago.)

This draft is delightfully messy and somewhat ridiculous, in the “I don’t know which vivid description is the vividest so I’m just going to write three different options in a row and pick one later” sense. It’s a very different process from The Biographies of Ordinary People, in part because it’s a very different book — this story is about mysterious strangers and hidden doors and unexpected worlds, and since I’m not doing the whole “let’s just describe the library in my hometown but make it a little different” thing, there’s a lot more “is it this? is it that? let’s get something on the page now and we can make it more specific later.”

There is one area in which I am trying to stretch myself, and it has to do with something I learned at the Maggie Stiefvater Portraits and Dreams seminar: whenever possible, make the most exciting choice.

This has made this draft… a lot more fun. 😉

The trouble is that I’m second-guessing myself, a bit, on what I might find exciting compared to what a reader might find exciting. For example: at one point in the story our heroine sees the Mysterious Stranger, for whom she’s actively been looking after committing the grievous error of refusing his initial call to adventure. (Because that’s how heroes journey, y’all.)

So.

Option one: she goes to Mystery House and there he is, just hanging out in the lobby. Meh.

Option two: she goes to Mystery House, thinks he isn’t there, and then when she turns around to leave THERE HE IS. Slightly more exciting. Also kind of cinematic, but in a cliched way. What you’d expect, really.

The option that’s currently in the draft: she goes to Mystery House, does not find him, gets frustrated with this whole biz, pushes her way through a group of people who are getting ready to tour the Historical Landmark House That Is Definitely Not Full Of Hidden Doorways, opens the coat closet, and MYSTERIOUS STRANGER IS THERE AND HE PULLS HER INSIDE.

Now, I’m already seeing as I write this blog post that the way to fix this scene is to change the PULLING ASPECT, which is EXCITING TO ME (because I have had the specific experience of being pulled into a secret makeout nook by this person I had a crush on, and even though I had not verbally consented I had already consented multiple times in my imagination, so I was all, like, finally*) but PROBABLY NOT EXCITING TO EVERYONE FOR REASONS THAT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS, to a BECKONING ASPECT.

I can probably keep the part where he takes her hand. That’s exciting! His mysterious touch is mysteriously electric! I can definitely keep the part where they hang out in the closet until the tour group goes by and then sneak out so they can go into one of the Hidden Doorways, because that’s also exciting IF WE KNOW AS A READER THAT OUR HEROINE WANTS TO BE THERE.

Which I’ve totally established with the whole “she goes back to Mystery House looking for adventure” thing, but could make a little clearer by having him take her hand — or even just hold it out, Aladdin-style — and say something like “Come in,” or “you can hide in here,” or whatever, you get the idea. An exciting version of that.

I mean, there’s got to be some balance at this point in the story, because our heroine isn’t full-on ADVENTURE LET’S DO THIS yet. She’s more like “I can’t stop thinking about that mysterious guy and his stinkin’ mystery doors, so I’d better go back to the mystery house so I can just stop asking myself whether I should go back to the mystery house.” This part of the story shouldn’t be THIS IS EXCITING, it should be more like IS THIS EXCITING? YES IT IS! BUT ALSO A LITTLE SCARY.

But the scary part shouldn’t be WORRYING THAT THIS GUY JUST PULLED HER INTO A COAT CLOSET WITHOUT ASKING.

Okay, so I think I just solved this problem.

Anyway, MAKE EXCITING CHOICES! And then figure out if they’re equally exciting to the reader, for the right reasons.

Also, feel free to take bets on whether any part of the “getting all flirty in a coat closet” thing will make it into the final draft. It’s a little Chronicles of Narnia-esque, plus there are connotations associated with the words “hiding in the closet” that I may want to avoid. So maybe he invites her to hide in the pantry, instead. Or something else. I’ll figure it out. ❤️

*I should note that, although being pulled into Secret Makeout Nook by Secret Crush ranks as one of the best makeouts I’ve ever had, it was also a good prognosticator of the way that very brief non-relationship was going to go (he got to decide when and where and how we interacted, I got the anxiety of sitting around waiting for him to decide to spend time with me). INTERESTING.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

I told you this article was coming — and it’s LONG, so set aside some time to read the whole thing.

All the Questions to Ask Before Starting Your Own Business:

Don’t assume that your business will be an LLC or a S-Corp before talking with a CPA. There are specific advantages and disadvantages of each type of business structure, and it’s important to learn which might be the most beneficial to you—and why—before you incorporate. These decisions have tax consequences that could save (or cost) you a lot of money, so it’s worth it to get a CPA on your team at the very beginning of the process.

Where I Got Published Today: Bankrate

New Bankrate post up!

Your guide to Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining:

The easiest way to earn points with Rapid Rewards Dining is by using a linked credit or debit card to pay for meals at participating restaurants. You earn 2 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent, including tax and tip. You can use the Southwest dining portal to locate participating restaurants near you, or you can sign up for Rapid Rewards Southwest Dining emails to get restaurant recommendations.

Where I Got Published Today: Bankrate

If you want to follow my freelance output in real time — and also read the articles — here we go:

Bankrate: How to use a credit freeze to combat identity theft

Identity theft protection is a big concern for modern consumers. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of data breaches dropped by 23% between 2017 and 2018, but the number of personally identifiable information exposed during those breaches increased by 126%.

What does that mean in real numbers? The ITRC reports that 197,612,748 personally identifiable records were exposed during 2017 data breaches. The massive Equifax breach alone exposed the information of 143 million individuals.