Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I'm a Finalist in 'The Write Affair' Contest

I have had an account on Wattpad since November. If you are not familiar with Wattpad, it is an app/website where you can upload stories and books (chapter by chapter) to be read for free by members who are looking for some reading material. Wattpad has millions of members all over the world. The majority of the members are readers, so it is a great place to find a new audience for your work.

My goals after joining Wattpad were to find new readers, connect with readers in a more personal way, and to give myself a kick in the pants to write more regularly. I think I succeeded on all 3 goals.

About a month ago, I joined the 'Romance' page on Wattpad. The site runs various genre pages to encourage writer/reader participation and to give writers a chance to compete in various contests. After I joined the Romance page, I found out about a writing contest sponsored by Kensington Books called "The Write Affair." They were looking for writers to enter who had completed romance novels on Wattpad. The prize was a book contract with Kensington.

I had just finished posting the entirety of my romance, ACAPULCO NIGHTS, so I decided to enter. The first round of the contest was to paste a link to the first chapter of my book. Readers would read the entries and vote on the ones they liked the best. After about 2 or 3 weeks of voting, the top 10 entries would move into the 'final' round. The final round would be judged by 3 people from Kensington and then, in April, a winner would be announced.

I was a little unsure about how my book would place in such a contest because ACAPULCO NIGHTS is not a straightforward, traditional romance. However, my thought was the contest might give my writing more exposure and more reads.

Early last week, the top 10 were announced. My book was not one of them. I was not surprised. I chalked it up to a marketing opportunity and moved on. A few days later, I got notice from The Write Affair that the editor of the page had picked 4 additional entries to be in the final judging, and my book was one of them!

I was very surprised. There were 74 entries, and my little book made the cut. Yay!  My expectation is that I won't win...I just don't think my book is what they are looking for. But who knows? Also, it is still a marketing opportunity for me, because the book is still being promoted on Wattpad as a finalist in the contest.

I'll let you know what ends up happening. Meanwhile, if you want to read the book while it is available for free on Wattpad, here is the link:

http://www.wattpad.com/story/25373807-acapulco-nights-write-affair-finalist

Wish me luck!

UPDATE (April 15, 2015): Kensington Books chose the winner, and it was not me. However, please check out the winning entry: Strawberry Wine by Monrosey.  Congratulations to Monrosey on the win. It was such a fun contest, and I was flattered to be included in the list of finalists. It just keeps me wanting to write more!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fix #12 from Stitch Fix - March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And welcome to another Stitch Fix review. This will be my 12th review...so I've now been a Stitch Fix customer for a whole year. Hard to believe. I fondly recall reading an article online about Stitch Fix and being entranced with the idea of a stylist selecting clothing for me at the reasonable price of $20.

One year later, my closet is bursting with Stitch Fix goodness. I wear my items multiple times a week, and almost all of them are favorite wardrobe pieces. Let's total up what I've accumulated in the last year, shall we?

CARDIGANS - 2
DRESSES - 3
LONG-SLEEVED TOPS - 2
SHORT-SLEEVED TOPS - 1
SLEEVELESS TOPS - 4
SWEATERS - 3
SKIRTS - 2
PANTS - 4
SCARVES - 2
BAGS - 1
JACKETS - 1

TOTAL NEW PIECES - 25

Wow. That was actually a very interesting tally for me to do. I had no idea how much new stuff I'd added to my tired closet in the last year.

If you'd like to look at my past reviews to see when I picked up all of these items, check it:

Fix #1 - May 2014
Fix #2 - June 2014
Fix #3 - July 2014
Fix #4 - August 2014
Fix #5 - September 2014
Fix #6 - October 1, 2014
Fix #7 - October 29, 2014
Fix #8 - November 2014
Fix #9 - December 2014 
Fix #10 - January 2015
Fix #11 - February 2015

All righty. Let's get to that review, shall we?

This month I'd asked my stylist for a blush colored top to go with my two pairs of magnificent red jeans. I also mentioned a fun skirt for spring that was not too fitted and possibly giving a necklace another whirl. I really wanted a fun statement piece and have seen some cute things in other people's fixes. My January box was a bust for jewelry, but I was willing to try again. The rest I left up to my stylist. She always does a bang up job of sending me stuff I didn't even know I wanted or needed.
Looks like she sent me another piece of jewelry. Fingers crossed this one's a winner!

Then, I laid everything out on the bed and took a pic.
Ooh!  Some nifty colors and patterns in here. Then I took a few more pictures to give you a better idea of everything.
 Cool stuff, huh? I received: a purse, a necklace, a maxi skirt, a short-sleeved blouse and a sweater. Nifty. I am pleased with the fun selection of stuff.

Now we get to the hang up and try-on stage. As most of you know, my rule is to NOT look at the receipt until I'm done trying everything on. I do not want to judge an item before I actually try it on and see what it looks like.

Here we go!!!!

1) The first item I hung up was the Remmie Maxi Skirt by Papermoon for $58. I noted right away that I had several items in my closet I could wear this with. In fact, I took it over to my closet and held it up to some things I thought could work.

The material was very light and stretchy, but not see-through. The waistband seemed very forgiving, which was important to me due to my 'lumps and bumps' that most of us 40-somethings find ourselves worrying about. I tossed on my black t-shirt (a staple for my Stitch Fix try-on sessions) to see how it would work for me.
 Here's a front view and a side view. It is really hard for me to take good pictures of lower-half clothing like pants and full-length skirts! However, you can see the length is perfect. And I do think it looks more flattering in person than in the photos. I think it looked great with the black tee, so I knew it could also be worn with many other black items in my wardrobe, plus other pieces.

I took some fun pictures of the stretchability of this skirt. Unfortunately, they all turned out blurry! Let's just say I could do pretty much anything in this skirt without problems, it is THAT stretchy. Sweet! Never know when I might need that kind of mobility. KEEP!

2) The next item I tried was the Emanuel Split Neck Blouse by Daniel Rainn for $74.00. This was a lovely sheer blouse that came with an attached camisole.
I included 2 photos here so you could see up close how pretty this blouse is. I loved it when I got it up on the hanger. Although it is a little early here to be wearing such sheer blouses, I have an update to my Stitch Fix situation (I'll elaborate later in the post) so I was okay with buying something more summery at this point. Let's try 'er on!

Can I say adorable? And pretty? And feminine?

Check it from the side, people. Oh yeah! Looking good with my red jeans. Slam dunk YES!

3) All right. After all that excitement, let's bring it down. Turn down the lights. Imagine it's Friday night and you need a nice clutch for your 3rd date with that nice guy from Match.com. I would highly recommend the Adelade Woven Fold-Over Clutch by Urban Expressions for $48.00.
It's cute and strappy. The folded edge attaches magically with hidden magnets. The weave is pretty sweet, too. And you can fit everything in there you might need on your date: ID, money for cab fare, lipstick, your phone. You know, the necessities.
Then, wham, you open it up and you have this rockin' lining with a zippered pocket inside. I mean, really, it's adorable. However, I don't need a clutch. I ended up with a clutch last year that I wasn't all that excited about, but kept it due to the Magic Rule of Five (keep all five items in your box and get a 25% discount).

Sadly, I didn't need this. Sorry, clutch, you're going back. NO.

4) My last item of clothing in the box was the Melita Pull-Over Cable Knit Sweater by Brixon Ivy (Get it? Bricks and ivy? LOL. Very clever, designer.) for $68.00. I was pretty okay with getting a sweater, because the weather here still permits it for another month or so.
On the hanger, it looked kinda cute. A little bulky, but cute. It had this weird bottom edge, that you can't quite see in the picture. That concerned me a bit. But, hey, try that sucker on!
 Hm. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. A little dowdy. A little bumpity. And that strange bottom edge was doing my hips no favors. It was almost like it was yelling at people to check out my wideness. The neckline was also a little sad. Droopy and depressed somehow.
The side view was better. I think because you don't see the weird break in the bottom edge of the sweater (which happens in the front and back). I do think this was worse on me because of my height. On another, shorter woman, perhaps the bottom of the sweater would fall in a different spot. For me, it just drew emphasis to my lower half. Not flattering. Sorry, sweater, you are riding back home with the clutch. No.

5) The last item in my box was the Adrianna Circle Bib Necklace by Zad for $34.00. I really liked this one when I got it out of the box.
The metals were a mix of silver, gold and bronze. Really fun and shiny! I threw on a different top to show off the necklace.
I don't know if I would really wear it with this red sweater, but it was the first thing I grabbed out of my closet. Such a pretty necklace! The clasp worked well. The weight of it was nice. Definite KEEP!

So that is how it went this time around. Keeping 3 and sending 2 back. Not bad.

Here are the styling cards for the clothing items, by the way!

NEWS: I have had to reduce my Stitch Fix deliveries to quarterly from now on. I need to slow down my purchases and focus on my finances in 2015. So, you won't see as many reviews from me as you used to. However, I am still looking forward to writing more of these. They are just a ton of fun.

Please leave your thoughts about this month's box. I love hearing from you!

And, if you haven't tried out Stitch Fix yet, can I lure you in to use my referral code:

https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3587901

I will receive a $25 credit after your first order. Thanks for considering!










 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tsu.co - Worth Your Time? Scam?



A couple of days ago, I saw a news story online about a new social media site called tsu.co. It was similar to Facebook and used hashtags like Twitter, but you were PAID for the content you provided and the people who joined using your code. The code would create a family tree or network through which you could receive additional $$ depending on the popularity of someone's posts. Tsu.co promised to give 90% of its ad revenue to the members providing content.

Earlier today, I had a whole post written about Tsu.co, but I deleted it. Why? Because this website has only been in operation for about 5 months...and when it was new on the scene, several bloggers suspected it was all a scam and spammy and suspect and crazy...etc.

One blog in particular, the woman went point by point through each thing she didn't like about the site. The idea that you have to entice people to join, where does the money come from to pay you, how do you access your money, what about copyright violations and legal problems...it went on and on.

I deleted my original post before it went live because I didn't want to be perceived as a scammer or someone who was trying to rope you into some MLM scam. I wondered if I'd been duped into joining something underhanded.

However, let me tell you more about Tsu.co and what I found out since this morning when I wrote my first post.

MORE ABOUT TSU.CO

1) You join just like you do Facebook. All you have to provide is an email address and very basic information.

2) You post just like you do on Facebook, and you also use hashtags like Twitter. Your posts can be pictures, videos, links, etc.

3) You can friend and follow people and start seeing their posts in your feed, along with your own.

4) You have access to a lot of information about your membership...how many followers, friends and 'children' you have (children are people you invite to the site using your personal code); the analytics of each post including views, comments and likes; how much money you have in your account.

5) You can simultaneously post to Twitter and Facebook, if you'd like.

6) At no time did I need to provide an address, credit card number, or phone number.

That's probably the main stuff I can think of right now. After 2 days, I have ONE PENNY (!) in my account. LOL. The site distributes money to its members every day based on the amount of ad revenue it brought in and the size of your network in comparison to others on the site. 

This site is very new, but it already has millions of users. Some famous people have joined because I think they see it as a place where they can actually make money off of their content - music, videos, etc. Artists have been upset with the likes of Spotify and other such sites that pay very little for the use of their content...and then make no $$ off of the advertising dollars these sites generate for themselves.

I think it seems promising, and I want to see what happens.

WHY I DON'T THINK IT'S A SCAM

1) The first place I saw a story about this was on Fox News. In the story, they mentioned 2 people in particular who have made a lot of money on this site. One was a formerly homeless man, the other was a young woman who posted a video of her singing to her baby...her video went viral and she ended up with a recording deal and is making $$ on Tsu.co also.

2) After my freak out this morning reading negative reactions to the Tsu.co model, I went back to Google to see if I could find more news sites that may have featured Tsu.co. I found a very recent (last week) interview with the founder of the site on ABCnews.com:

INTERVIEW & STORY LINK

3) The more time that goes by, the more legitimate I am thinking this site is. Sounds like the founder has some future plans for how you can spend the money you make on the site...possibly a way for him to make money off of your money? Still a mystery.

4) Right now Facebook and Twitter and other sites make money off of YOU. You post content. They sell ads. None of the money goes to you. You have provided way more personal information to Facebook, and you are getting nothing for it. I think any fears about it being a 'scam' are a little outrageous. You already are giving away content for FREE. Why not try something that might pay you for what you're posting?

So, that is where I stand today. I would love to hear feedback from people...your doubts, your experiences with Tsu.co, etc. I don't pretend to be an expert on any of this, but I'm willing to give it a shot. People have made money in stranger ways on the internet!

If you are interested in joining Tsu.co and checking it out for yourself, here is my code:


Yes, of course I'd love for you to join using my code!  That way I can grow my network and make more than a penny. Being honest, folks. I just thought I would share this with the world and see where it goes. For young people who have a large network of online friends, I think it might be an amazing ride. For me, it will probably be a harder slog to get a decent number of people to join in order to up my penny-a-day status. 

Thanks for stopping by and considering my idea.

UPDATE - March 11, 2015: I have been on Tsu.co for a week now. I made about a penny a day. Until yesterday. Yesterday I had a lot more activity on my posts...probably because I was adding new friend connections and following more people. The more exposure your posts get, the better for you. When I woke up this morning and logged into my account, I had made 3 cents in one day...I tripled my income. I know that may not seem like much: to go from 1 cent per day to 3 cents; however, I have only been on this site for a WEEK. Where will I be in 6 months or a year? Will continue to provide info on my experience.

UPDATE - March 17, 2015: I have now earned 19 cents in 2 weeks. Not bad!

UPDATE - June 2, 2015:  So, I've been on Tsu for almost 3 months, and I'm up to 59 cents in revenue. I had two posts of mine get a lot of attention...one was a joke pic with an Avengers theme. The other was a recent photo I took. That one really took off and was shared multiple times. I made about 5 cents in a couple of days. You do start to learn over time what kind of content gets you the most return. I have enjoyed the people I've met on Tsu. Lots of very friendly people. I visit the site almost every week day. Rarely do I post on a weekend.