Friday, February 6, 2009

Tips to Staying Sane and Entertained- What to Do When You Get Laid Off

Considering people are losing their jobs left and right, I thought I would share a few tips I used when I got laid off last February that kept me sane. I was jobless for six months and with the help of unemployment and a few small things I did to spread the money around, I was able to keep myself entertained.

1. When you run errands, do them all in one day. No need to go out every day and waste gas restarting your car. Plan your day so you don't back track.

2. Put aside a few dollars toward your favorite coffee shop/place to write and get a gift card. That way, you can keep track of how much you're spending. I did this with Panera. I would put $10-15 on a gift card and could only spend that amount in a week there. I would sit and write for hours (my favorite place to write) with a cookie and iced tea. It was heaven. Once I ran out for the week, I had to wait until the next week.

3. Instead of buying books, use your local library. If they don't have the book you're looking for, sign up for PaperbackSwap (US residents only I believe). For only the price of shipping (media mail rate so around $2) you can get any book that is available (including hardbacks). I've belonged to the site for 3 years now and LOVE it. I've said almost $500 (based on used book prices) since joining. They also now have Swap a CD and Swap a DVD, too!

4. Look for places around your house that are free/cheap to go that you haven't been in awhile. My husband and I went to areas of the city we never thought to check out. Outdoor activities are always free. Usually, local museums have days that are free/cheaper. Check your local city's offical page. You'd be surprised.

5. One word: Netflix. They have a free trial on their site. After that, plans are starting at only $4.99. As you know, from my post from last week, going to the movies is expensive! Instead, you can have the movies delivered to you at a fraction of the price. When I was laid off, I would watch a movie almost every day (we have the 3 movies at a time plan). It was a great way to stay entertained and catch up on all the movies I never saw.

6. When shopping for groceries, be smart. Look for things on sale, buy meat/veggies in bargain sizes and use coupons. You'd be very suprised how much you can save with a few coupons and price checking.

7. If you go out to eat, try Happy Hour (if you're old enough for Happy Hour). You'd be surprised how cheap and how many items are available during happy hour at a fraction of the price.

8. Most important, this gives you time to write, write and write. You can never spend too much time writing. I wrote half of my current book while I was off work. If you don't use the time wisely, you'll regret it once you're back to work.

9. A lot like #9, this also gives you a ton of time to read! I was a reading machine while I was off of work. Now that I'm back at work, I miss having so much time to read.

So, if you're going through hard times, how are you keeping busy? What are your tips to saving money, but still having fun?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Author Visit Number 1

Here’s a sequence shot of me proudly displaying my gift from the library for visiting the teen book club. My yellow lab, Willow, sniffed for quality control. The mug reads: Books with Bite @ your library.

I could blame the snowy, cold weather, or the girls basketball practice at the high school – but whatever the reason, I enjoyed my time hanging with the small but mighty group at my first author visit.

And so it was that I talked about writing vamp/were stories to two guys and their mother (Who, I think, also worked at the library.). Ah….teen book club author visit number one – how will I ever forget you?

Today was a gradual introduction to this new world of writer-on-the-road.

The world of technology glitches when showing booktrailers on a projected screen, which leads to momentary loss of the ability to breathe, only to resolve mysteriously in the nick of time.

The world of typing up a list of newbie writer resources (print and online) and photocopying 40 too many.

The world of singing a tune on your guitar and pausing half-way through to apologize for its “girlyness”.

So what if I didn’t really speak with anyone in my target audience? The most excellent hosting librarian, Tanya, took my list of resources and is going to purchase them for the library. And the guys’ mother is thinking about writing a book one day – so who knows…it’s all about planting seeds, right?

And – I also got one hell of a cool mug out the deal.