Thursday, September 26, 2013

How working remotely works for me

Because I make a living writing from a small town in North Carolina, I'm often asked how and where do I find work. I can tell you it's not coming from N.C. companies at present, though I've tried really hard to land local work. I don't mind commuting to work for the right job. They just haven't presented themselves. I grew up around the Washington, D.C., area and commuted daily from the Annapolis area. That drive makes driving from Mt. Airy to Winston-Salem (or even Greensboro) a walk in the park by comparison.

And since I have bills to pay and a fiction addiction to support, I have to find work somewhere. Fortunately, I've been able to find contract writing opportunities that can be done remotely online.

As an example, I answered a post on Craig's List from a company wanting content written for instructional design courses. The work could be done remotely. Sounds good to me - I have this kind of experience. Two weeks and two courses later (I provided content and programming in Articulate),  I have established a great relationship with a client who is adding me as a team member to proposals for ongoing work.
In fact, Craig's List is the place where I found another client, this one who sought someone to ghostwrite blogs for attorneys and CPAs (and cabinet makers plus one of the partners of the social media company). That client is in New York, though that wasn't where I found the posting.

The other source I've had success with is a site called, Since January, I've been working with a progressive community college on a part-time, as-needed basis writing marketing communications stuff. This college regularly hires its employees using this site - and not just marketing folks!

The end result is a great mix of work for me that can be done from this out-of-the-way location where I currently live. Now that's what the Internet is all about, in my opinion. I've waited YEARS to be able to work this way!

Do you have a reliable source for finding online work? Share it with your friends. This really works, folks!   

Monday, September 16, 2013

How to make Harvest Gold disappear

The bathroom remodeling project called for a disappearing act: Harvest Gold (a favorite color in 1979 for appliances and bathroom fixtures like sinks, tubs and toilets ) was hogging the spotlight in this vintage hall bath of ours, and it was time for it to disappear.

Several years ago, in an attempt to disguise the mustard-colored uglies, I painted the bathroom walls turquoise, the vanity a medium shade of blue, and put up the small bit of wallpaper that my mother-in-law had leftover from her last bathroom remodel -- it had a mosaic of brightly colored "tiles" that created an image of fish -- golden fish. The goal was to blend the fixtures into the scenery, making them look like an intentional choice. Complete the decor with shells and sea prints, and I called it done. It didn't work out quite like I thought it would, but we've lived with it for five years that way.

Well, now that the little boy of the house has grown up past the age of reasoning (we hope) and no longer throws his wet washrag up on the "popcorn" ceiling above the bathtub just to see what would happen (what do you think happened?), I decided it was probably time to revisit the idea of a renovation.

Given the budget we have for home remodel projects (i.e., no money, since we already have replaced the roof, fixed major plumbing issues, added a wood-burning stove, installed new energy-efficient windows, installed a new hot water tank, etc.), I had to be sure this "fix" would be the last fix for that bathroom. And since the budget doesn't allow for ripping the Harvest Gold uglies from their spots, I did what every stumped girl does: I called Mom.

My mom is no ordinary mom, just so you know. She's a retired interior designer/decorator whose client list included some of the finest homeowners in upscale neighborhoods throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., and the Raleigh/Chapel Hill area. She's worked on beachfront, lakefront, and city-front properties, and has made fairly basic suburbia houses look like it was ready to grace the cover of a well-known shelter magazine. My mom is a self-taught colorist with an eye for details and a flair for making things work when everyone else says, "that can't be done."

When I told her of my conundrum, she said as if waving a magic wand, "Just make it disappear. Hide it in plain sight by painting the walls a lighter shade of yellow. Add a bold accent color. And add black. Every room needs black."

So, last Sunday, I started with the basics: Strip wallpaper. Check. Putty holes. Check. "Cut in" edges. Check.Get one coat on -- not looking too good. Hubby and Son are not liking this color choice so far.
Try to spray on popcorn repair patching. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The nozzle got stuck in the spray position.
Clean up huge mess in the bathroom. Check. (Sigh.) Down on hands and knees scrubbing floor to within an inch of its life. Check. (Why did I think this project would be a quick fix?) Run out of time. Definitely. I'd forgotten how long these projects take. Meanwhile, we've all been sharing the other bathroom, taking turns using the remaining functional shower. That's loads of fun at bath time!

Yesterday, like a girl possessed, I continued the project:
  • Finish second coat. Check. 
  • Try a putty-like popcorn patch -- works perfectly, is easy, and isn't messy! Big CHECK!
  • Paint three light coats of black paint on a narrow shelf unit to increase storage (and to add the touch of black that every room should have). Check. (More coats still needed.) Half a check mark.
  • Put mirrors back up. This is starting to look good! Check!

This evening, after work, I'll paint the ceiling patch white. I'll also put another coat on the shelf unit. Son chose a nice black and silver shower curtain, and is starting to feel less hostile toward the yellow color (Hubby's smart enough not to comment at this point. He knows I'll hand him the paint brush and walk away if he does.)

By midweek, I'll hang new towel bars and officially call it done. Oh, how I love that word.

Thanks, Mom!

I started this blog thinking of how I was able to compare hiding bathroom fixtures in plain sight with how I place clues in a mystery -- like the one I'm working on now, the second in the Mystery at the Lake House series for children; but I'm not going to do that. I think you can see how it might turn out. And I'll let you know when that  project is done, too.