Monday, September 19, 2016

International Talk Like a Pirate Day: A Look Back to 2012

When I first moved to Asheville, I got a small blogging gig with a local beer blog. It was a lot of fun, as were the two guys I worked with. But, like all good things, it came to an end. The former link is no longer active so the blog itself went away without a record of any of the work I did for them.

In 2012, Asheville Brewing Company released a coconut porter on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I covered the event for Beer City Guide. I turned this in to my editor who promptly said, "I have no idea what to do with this... so I'll just publish it." His voice sounded skeptical. So, to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I present to you my pirate speak review of a beer that came out 4 years ago. 

Probably not the same beer.
I attended the release party for Asheville Brewing Company’s latest special brew on Wednesday, September 19th. In case you were unaware, September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. No, really…that is a real thing. So in honor of the event, the beer, and International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I thought I would bring you this review in Pirate. The following is for your reading pleasure.

Fer International speak Like a scurvy pirate Day, Asheville Brewin' Company released their newest special brew, th' aptly named Coco Booty, a moniker chosen from a Facebook Contest. Thought ye might think it was a chocolate porter, Coco Booty be actually a coconut porter. I have to admit, I be not a fan 'o some 'o th' kookoo bananas trends in brewin'. Many people disagree wit' me but I absolutely hate smoked beers 'n sour beers, which be all th' rage right 'bout now. That bein' said, I didn’t expect to like a coconut porter. I don’t hate th' taste 'o coconut, but I just wasn’t sure how it would come out. I had an opportunity to give a go' Catawba Valley’s Kin' Coconut Porter a few weeks back 'n found it not bad, but probably not somethin' I would drink a lot 'o. (Turns out it be considered a Sprin' Seasonal , who knew!) But what 'bout Asheville’s coconut porter? I liked it a lot more. Th' coconut was sweet 'n extra prominent but th' porter was well balanced wit' some chocolate notes really highlightin' th' coconut flavor. I was a pretty big fan. 

However, I reckon Asheville Brewin' Company really missed a great opportunity when it came to th' release 'o Coco lovely booty. I showed up at th' Coxe location right 'bout 4pm 'n sat right below at th' bar to give a go' a pint 'o th' new spiced rum. Th' place wasn’t extra busy 'n a lot 'o people didn’t even be knowin’ thar was a special new beer on tap. Th' event had be announced on Facebook, but thar wasn’t much 'o an event to shout 'o. Th' bartenders had access to some scurvy pirate hats, toy scurvy pirate swords 'n, me favorite accessory, a rusted hook fer a hand. 'N while they played around wit' these items, I reckon Asheville Brewin' could have done a lot more. How 'bout hostin' a full on parrrty? Invite th' town out to dress in their scurvy pirate finest. What do ye mean ye don’t have a scurvy pirate costume? I do. Doesn’t all ye pirates? Hell, tie a bandana around ye head 'n wear a stripey shirt: instant scurvy pirate! Have gift aways 'n costume contests. Show some scurvy pirate movies on th' movie screen. International Speak Like a scurvy pirate Day shouldn’t just be celebrated quietly. It be all 'bout th' spectacle. 

Since th' newest beer was bein' premiered at both locations, fer all I be knowin' thar was an amazin' scurvy pirate parrrty at th' Merrimon location that I simply missed out on. I had planned to wear me scurvy pirate costume but at th' last minute decided against it because I didn’t spy wit' ye eye much on th' Facebook page that suggested costumes were happenin'. 'Tis be a shame; I would have liked to have dressed up. 

To sum it all up for you in plain English: I was surprised how much I liked the Coco Booty but I was disappointed that there wasn’t more of a production around the release and International Talk Like a Pirate Day. 

Note from 2016: Turns out, while this beer is no longer in production, the Catawba King Coconut has since turned into one of my favorite summery beers. I really enjoy coconut porters these days. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Don't Waste My Time: The Art of Respect in Business

The call was scheduled for 1pm. At 1:15 I sent an email wondering what happened. I received an out of office reply back. Apparently, the call wasn't going to happen as scheduled.

This wasn't the first time I found myself waiting on a meeting.

I am the type of person who thinks being five minutes early is actually arriving late. I get increasingly anxious as the clock ticks closer to the meeting time. If I am, through a series of unanticipated circumstances, going to arrive late - or even exactly on time - I call or text and let the other party know where I am and why. I do this for professional meetings. I do this when I am casually meeting friends at the bar. I do this because time is incredibly important to me. And it is more than just a number on a clock. It is a representation of whether or not I respect you and consider your time as valuable as mine.

So - how can you change this in your life? It depends on which side of the clock you're on.

If you're always late:
  • Don't just apologize, create an action item. Know that you've wasted their time and change your approach in the next meeting. If you don't, there may not be any more meetings. 
  • Leave yourself extra time to arrive somewhere. Most people who are late aren't consciously trying to be late. They think they have more time to make it somewhere but don't account for unforeseen issues.  But I'm not the expert. Check out this article to learn more.
If you've been stood up:
  • Continue the meeting as schedule. This only works if there are other parties involved. If you're in a corporate meeting, for instance, simply start the meeting and don't stop or allow late participants to disrupt the conversation. 
  • Weigh the options for rescheduling, or not. You also have to determine if this meeting is critical to you, your career, or your well being. It may be that working with chronically late people who do not value your time isn't a good business move for you. I let the person who missed the meeting set the next time. And, if they fail to arrive for that meeting, I decline to work with them further. 
"Being late is a way of saying your own time is more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you." - Karen Joy Fowler

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Working in My Pajamas: A Freelancer’s Guide to Staying Productive

I admit it. I work in my PJs. I roll out of bed in the morning and go right to work without passing go or collecting my $200. (Though, the $200 would be a nice benefit.) This is a luxury that I can afford now because I work at home.

My pajamas are Doctor Who themed, by the way.

Lots of work from home experts suggest that, in order to learn discipline, you should always dress for the home office just like you would for any other office. I decided I wanted to reject that notion entirely. So, unless I have a face-to-face or a skype meeting I skip the morning shower, keep my hair in a ponytail and work in my pajamas.

And I have found that I am not less productive. 

My work is conducted almost entirely on the internet. I source clients through a variety of online sources. I write in Microsoft Word and submit my content either through email or directly onto my client’s blogging platform. I follow up with those clients on line. Even if I do have a phone call, I may not change out of my PJs to talk.

So, how do you remain productive when you work from home with all the potential distractions? I’ve been working from home since 2012 and I find it refreshing and comfortable. But, besides staying in my PJs most of the day, here are the other things I do to keep up with my work.
  •  Weekly To Do list. Each week, I write down everything I have to do Monday through Friday. I don’t use a special calendar, just a notebook. When I complete a task, I cross it off. I can add tasks as they come up too. Over the course of the week, the page gets filled in with lots of other notes as well.
  • Start with breakfast. Okay, with that weekly task out of the way, I start every day with breakfast and a hot cup of chai tea. 
  • Recognize my own patterns. Everyone has different patterns. When you’re working from home, it is more important than ever to understand and work with them. I am a morning person, so I work best between when I wake up and lunch time. Critical tasks are done during this time frame.
  • Return emails. I also make sure I return any emails that I wasn’t able to respond to when I was away from my computer either at night or over the weekend. I do all of this in the morning so I am not tied up with checking back and forth all day.
  • Apply to jobs and market. For a freelance writer, like me, marketing is just a part of the job. For the most part, clients don’t just fall in your lap. I visit the job boards I like best and try to apply to at least one job a day. I also update my social media.  
  • Work on content. Then, I type. I do research. I type some more.
  • Allow myself minor breaks. While I am typing, I allow myself the chance to check Facebook from time to time. If I have to do laundry, I just go do laundry. I get the mail. I pet the cat. I haven’t found that any of these small breaks impede my ability to perform my job.
  • Save the big stuff as a reward. But, I know there are things I love that would inhibit my productivity, so I save those for when I am done with my work for the day. Those big rewards generally include watching a favorite TV show or going out with friends. 
I don’t have set working hours. When I am done with my work, I am done. I may, if I choose to, work on other projects once I have crossed the last thing off my list, but they are not required.

That is how I stay productive during the day while working from home. What works best for you?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Big Boat of Nerdery

February was marked by a lot of travel. At the beginning of the month (and technically, also the end of January) we spent nearly two weeks in Austin, Texas. I had never been to Texas before and found the city delightful.

But then, we went on an event called the JoCo Cruise. It is a strange week on a boat with 1100 of your closest nerdy friends and a whole bunch of Famous People (TM).

In fact, I will not bore you with a play by play of our week, but I will point you to the blog of one of said Famous People (TM), author John Scalzi. Because, yeah - the boat was like that.

Now, I am back in Asheville and creatively rejuvenated. Expect more blog posts soon.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Review and 2016 Goals

Last year, I wrote a post about my 2015 writing goals. I thought I would check in on those goals and see where I really ended up this year. Let's take a closer look.
  1. Publish two personal stories that I feel could help others.  Yep, I did that. There were two stories (three total posts) on The NotMom about some experiences I had in 2014 that I thought would be helpful to others. One was about my own medical challenges that year (part one and part two). The other was about my cat's. You will all be pleased to know that 2015 was a great year in terms of health and both of us are doing well. 
  2. Apply for blogging awards. This I did not do. I still feel a little weird nominating myself for anything. However, a friend nominated me for Childfree Woman of the Year and I was awarded that honor for 2015. 
  3. Be of service to others. This one may be the hardest to judge. I believe that I provided consistent, quality services to my clients. I have also been active in local politics here in Ashevlle, including my work with the Asheville Small Home Advocacy Committee. And, I helped launch the NotMom Summit
  4. Focus on some of my personal projects. But this, I did. I published the booklet Your Job Search this year, which is available on Sure, I probably could have done more work on my own projects, but every little bit counts. 
So what do I want to accomplish for 2016?

As I mentioned in last year's post, I like to assign a word to my year that helps me frame what I am going to do. 2016 is going to be a year of Transition. All good stuff, but stuff that will be revealed over the course of the year.

As for my personal goals, I'll take a stab.
  1. Write more fiction. I haven't written much more than a short story in many, many years. But I was recently invited to a local writer's group and that has given me the motivation to revisit a novel idea that I had. In fact, it is expanded from a short story I wrote a few year's ago.  I'm not going to rush it, but I would love to have a first draft done by the end of the year. 
  2. Get more customers. Marketing doesn't come naturally to most people, especially writer-types who tend to be more introverted. But every writer needs more clients, so I am going to focus on some additional marketing this year. Id' also like to update my branding to reflect what I am doing now.
  3. Sell more books. Speaking of marketing, I need to apply that to my three book titles too. For Your Job Search, I need to focus on high schools, colleges, and staffing agencies. I need to figure out how to get it into the right hands. For How to Drink Craft Beer, maybe beer tourism organizations who often have some non-beer drinkers along for the ride. 
  4. Speak more. I would also like to have more speaking engagements. I really enjoy sharing our tiny house story with others. I also really loved the work I did with the NotMom Summit. I would love to do more of that in 2016.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My New Book For Job Hunters

Write what you know, they say.

So I did.

After 15 years' experience in recruiting, I managed to store up a lot of knowledge about job hunting and resume writing. I reviewed countless resumes, and interviewed multiple people a day. I checked references, made job offers, and followed up on employee performance. I'd say I know a thing or two about how to be a successful job seeker.

Over the years, so many people have asked me for feedback on writing their resume or interviewing at their dream job, so I thought I would put it all together in my new 55-page booklet intended for anyone who needs advice on job hunting. It is perfect for high school and college graduates or someone looking for a refresher course in the basics.

It is available in both paperback and Kindle editions at 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Photo, New Direction

As you can see, I have a new photo. It was taken by the wonderful Gabriel Craft. Gabe made a trip up to my tiny house and was kind enough to snap a couple of photos of me that I could to use for my blogging and professional sites.

That being said, I am looking at making some changes to my personal brand after the first of the year. After the success of the first-ever NotMom Summit I want to expand to add speaking and event assisting to my stable of business. But, of course, blogging will still be my bread and butter.

Join me on my Facebook page to help me with some redesign ideas over the next few months.