"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Sunday, April 14, 2024

How This Blog Once Landed Me a $1000 Monthly Gig!


“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.”--WILL SMITH

Let’s face it: for many of us, blogging is truly a labor of love.

What compels and sustains us week after week, month after month, year after year is not the expectation of great fame and fortune, but the simple desire to connect with others and share our passion, pain points and experiences.

“There is strength in numbers.”


When I started blogging back in June of 2009, at the urging of a New York agent (who turned down my book proposal but praised my writing ability), it was with a great degree of reservation. You see, I have always been more “cerebral” than social; I’m typically more at home with concepts, theories and project management than people. 

So, I didn’t know if I had the personality or “voice” to command an audience and a regular following. Particularly with so much competition and ongoing online conversations.

Still, I have always really enjoyed helping people and I have a broad knowledge base and experiential background from which to draw. Not to mention, the reminder that the New York agent suggested blogging as a means of building a bigger writer’s platform to increase my odds of acceptance in the future. So, I jumped in, fear and all.


The first two to three years were tough and slow. The word “brutal” comes to mind. Though I worked diligently and consistently, I did not draw many followers. In fact, there were so few that they could comfortably fit in a broom closet. With the broom in it!  I considered giving up multiple times. But, on the plus side was the fact that my followers were loyal and their comments and feedback to my posts were encouraging and inspiring. Additionally, I had invested too much sweat equity to just throw in the towel. I needed to see things through.

The 4th year was a pivotal point in my blogging career. Things started to turn around. A bigger, more recognized blogger included my site in his recommendations of the “100 Best Blogs for the Modern Writer.” 

People began to take notice. This designation increased my visibility, my traffic and my confidence. I was finally considered one of the “cool kids.” 

I received a “top writing blogs” honor for seven consecutive years after that.

To quote a popular song: “You’re nobody until somebody loves you.”


In November, 2020, while perusing my emails, I came across a business pitch. The email invited me to join a pilot program for content creators that paid a guaranteed monthly payment of 1,000 dollars for just a few hours of my time. Initially, it seemed too good to be true. I thought it might be a scam. So, I did what most serious writers do: I researched it. There were no red flags, so I accepted their offer and came onboard shortly thereafter. 

Talk about a game changer! It was categorically one of the easiest, most rewarding jobs I ever landed. 

I was ultimately discovered because of my blog’s quality and consistency.  Somebody was noticing without me knowing. Go figure! So, I encourage you to not give up amid the many blogging obstacles and challenges you will face along the way. The lack of comments. The lack of rest. There is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.


Blogging is hard work, contrary to popular opinion. There are many “moving parts” to a successful career that goes the distance. And unless you’ve done it, well…it might go unappreciated.  But here’s the good news: it only takes one big break or “influencer” to notice you to make a significant difference. Just one.


A perfect example, to illustrate my point here is the dynamic career of Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. As many of you may recall, she was the young African-American poet who recited her poem, “The Hill We Must Climb” and who has subsequently gone viral! She’s everywhere you look. Truth be told, I am very active in the poetry community and the arts scene; yet, I had never even heard of her until the very day she performed at the inauguration. I’m willing to bet that you hadn’t either.

A similar situation happened for Yuwanda Black of Inkwell Editorial, who was able to land a traditional publishing contract due to her informative blog and popular classes and professional services. One person took notice and the rest is history.


The debate continues. Much like the chicken and the egg. But, I can attest that blogging still has value and purpose in this day and age, based upon my many years of experience. 

In fact, this is a great time to have a blogging platform. Why? 

We are living amid a historical gold mine. There is so much happening to weigh in on and address during these interesting times: from education reform; to the global pandemic; to racial policies; to the legalization of cannabis; to political pandemonium.  Don’t just write, right wrongs! 

Though you likely won’t become an overnight success, blogging truly “pays” figuratively and literally.

Have I ever steered you wrong?

Thanks for reading!

Thoughts, readers? What has your blogging experience been like thus far?

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Pen & Prosper Celebrates National Poetry Month

Happy National Poetry Month!
Glad to have you here.

As a prolific poet, and the author of eight books of verse to date, Poetry Month is every month for me. But, I am so thrilled to have a specifically designated time each year to recognize, honor, and give increased awareness to this art form. 

Just curious here. Any poets out there? 

Well, whether you write it or simply like to read it, this month I'll be featuring a few poems, possible interviews, and other info I hope you'll find interesting and informative.

Let's start off with a few selections that I have penned recently. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!




How do I love thee?

Let me count the days,

The ways--

I love thee

From the depths of my soul

From a heart 

That’s full 

And grateful,

Grateful for creature comforts

And blessings galore,

For gifts you’ve granted

I never asked for--

I love you for the beauty of nature

And children’s laughter,

For simple pleasures, 

Relationships I treasure,

For quiet times

We spend together--

I love how I feel your divine kiss

Whenever I listen to music

And experience its bliss,

I love you for wiping my tears

For calming my fears,

I love you Lord

 For always

Lingering near--

How do I love thee?

Let me count the days,

The ways--

I love you

For loving me

In my imperfection,

For your constant guidance

And protection

Without question,

I love you Lord


You take the best


Combine, incorporate

With exacting measures,


Follow directives,


A heaping helping

Of love,



Hover over,

Say a silent prayer,

That your

Painstaking efforts

Will ultimately yield


You can be

Proud of,

And hope

It rises


Enjoy your day!

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Friday, March 29, 2024

Paris Without Her* A Review by David M. Litwack

 As we conclude Women's History Month, I wanted to share a timely review written by David M. Litwack. Hope you enjoy. Comments welcome.


“Grief is a cruel kind of education. . . . You learn how much grief is about language, the failure of language and the grasping for language.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

So that it’s through language and by language that Gregory Curtis attempts to re-balance his life—after the death of his wife of thirty-five years. That is his struggle as portrayed in this moving memoir.

Paris Without Her is about rebalancing. Rebalancing one’s life. Greg is the lead actor in this drama. The drama of retraining himself to face the world. He admits as much. As if he is training himself through and by virtue of this recounting. To face the world again without her. 

So he courageously admits to what some might describe as a weakness—to being drawn over and over to the place where he and Tracy were once happiest. His recounting, this diary, pits him against the grief of his own lost past. Periods of melancholy acceptance punctuated by unexpected sightings of her. In Paris.

In fact, several times Greg faces the ghost of Tracy and the happiness they knew in Paris: “I would occasionally believe I caught site of her . . .” he writes, as when he climbed out of the metro or when a noise or flash of light had him believe “ . . . in the first instance, that it was her. It didn’t seem unusual for her to be alive and in Paris.” 

But most moving is the passage where he dances with her, or with her ghost, at a traditional open air Parisian dance, a bal musette. His arms around her—around the memory of her. Paris and the Parisian dancers swirl around him. Everyone seeming to understand what the moment must mean to him. 

In Paris, but not really without her.

A kind of spoiler alert: 

I attended high school with Greg in Kansas City. We were acquaintances but then lost track of each other for a good number of years. We separately developed our fascination with Paris and French literature. I think he was the quicker one especially in making the connection between our “mundane” adolescence in Kansas City and our later, joyous time in Paris. I myself lived a fairly long time in Paris and each day that I stepped out of my apartment and into the city’s lights was as if I’d stepped into a museum. Peopled with des santons. His perambulations took me back to those days and those places. And in reading Paris Without Her it was almost as if he was performing one of his magic tricks for me where, with his extraordinary accuracy of detail, he recalled for me the sights, sounds, and scents—of his and her Paris. 


David Michael, Michael David (as Mother would have it—his parents couldn’t make up their minds) grew up on the Kansas/Missouri state-line. The tension deriving from his ambiguous naming and breeding location might explain the eclectic mix of folk, international, and country selections that he offers. He’s a wanna-be songwriter noted for, among others, Rock ‘n Roll Nation, El Wahid, and Leavin’ Sara Lee…or soon will be. In the meantime he writes kids’ books; he writes espionage novels; he writes technical stuff; and he romantically proffers his love only to Donna Lu.

Image credit: Pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

10 Ways Writers Can Achieve More in 2024!

It’s no secret that for most writers, a major pain point is earning equitable, consistent income for our craft. And with the increasingly high cost of living these days, it is a real concern.

But here’s the good news. If you’re diligent, resourceful and determined, you can still be profitable in today’s economy as a freelancer; particularly with the growing demand for content creators. Hello?

With this in mind, here are 10 timely tips to keep your writing business in the black and achieve more in 2024!



Add to your bottom line by adding to your knowledge base. That’s right. The more marketable skills you acquire, the more valuable you become to potential and existing clients. Did you know that you can now take many FREE and low cost classes online at popular sites like UDEMY.COM AND COURSERA.COM?

Get in where you fit in.


Think like retailers. Last year, while shopping in stores for Christmas items, I was surprised to discover numerous bright, bold, in-your-face red displays for Valentine’s Day already. Plan early. Promote your new book before it is actually released on Amazon. Pitch editors for seasonal articles way in advance. Remember, “the early bird catches the worm.”  


Make your time online count. Don’t spend endless hours reading frivolous Facebook posts or watching cat videos gone viral. If your activities are not moving you forward in your goals, or enhancing your bottom line, you’re losing out in more ways than one. “Time is money.”


Online scams are abundant. And if you’re not careful, you could be the next victim. Here’s how to avoid the likelihood of this happening. Seek work from reputable websites like Writers Weekly and Pro Blogger. Google potential clients to see if there are complaints and negative reviews against them. And make sure that any writing assignments are clearly outlined and established through a legal contract. Pay attention to the fine print.


Sometimes searching for creative work can seem like an endless, frustrating scavenger hunt. Simplify the process. Try sites like FLEXJOB.COM and PROBLOGGER for less stress.


If you’re a blogger with a decent following, you can add an income stream by selling your books on your site; accepting Ad placements; or becoming an affiliate partner for other writers or service providers. It’s one of the best ways to earn passive income and to “work smarter, not harder.” 


No matter how great your writing and editing skills are, you’ve got to get the word out in order to get business in. That’s a no-brainer. Keep in mind that marketing doesn’t have to be labor intensive or expensive. It can be sending email blasts to people who might need your services. Or sharing your business cards at a writers’ conference. Or even sending out relevant, interesting Tweets on Twitter. The key to success is being creative and consistent. Remember the K.I.S.S. Principle.


There’s great validity to the expression, “sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Build your network. Last year, for example, I joined ALIGNABLE.COM and garnered work with a new client for an ongoing project in just a few days. “It works if you work it!” 


This may seem a little odd to mention here. But as a veteran freelance writer, I can attest that it has real value. Several of my best clients have materialized as a result of referrals from writing colleagues that I have helped in the past. One recommendation resulted in thousands of dollars in pay as a ghostwriter.    


Turn your freelance articles into updated, abbreviated blog posts. Turn blog posts into information products. Get the idea here?


Earning cash for your craft will be made much easier in 2024 by following these timely strategies and staying focused on your long-term goals. Success is within your reach. YOU. GOT. THIS.

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Pen & Prosper Celebrates Women's History Month


They Say We Hold up/Half the Sky

They say we hold up half the sky,

Yet, every day

daughters sigh

mothers cry,

Misogynistic rants

tear us down.

Boundaries are set:

“You can’t do that yet!”

Hold your head up,

square those shoulders.

Let your smile shine through.

Be your own you.

Don’t apologize,

Just strategize.

This is your day;

this is your time.

Princess, you can cross that finish line!

(C) Yasmin Morais


Yasmin Morais was born in Jamaica, lived for a while in Canada, and now resides in the United States. Her poems have been published in Nursing Science Quarterly, The Potomac, Pen and Prosper and Gotham Writers. She also self-published her first poetry collection, From Cane Field to the Sea. Her second collection, Questions in Jamaican Patois, was published in fall 2023 by Finishing Line Press.

To showcase the works of Caribbean poets, she created the blog, Poets of the Caribbean: poetsofthecaribbean.blogspot.com

She enjoys traveling, badminton and running in her spare time.

Monday, February 26, 2024

In Fullness of the Word* A Book Review

In Fullness of the Word is a valuable collection and keepsake representing the myriad beauty, history, depth, tapestry, and lineage of people of color, expressed in poetic form.

Over 20 Black Poet Laureates, from across the globe, whose lives intersect through their love for the written word, their humanity, their commonality of experiences as Black Americans, come together, producing a harmony akin to a seasoned church choir. 

This makes me proud to provide this review for Black History Month, both as a fellow poet and a Black woman. Take it from me; poetry is much harder than it looks. Scouts honor.

From page one, until the book is done, readers will be engaged, enlightened, entertained, and empowered. This creative "gumbo" will leave readers "full", through the diversity of voices and viewpoints. Themes range from love gone wrong; to creative frustrations; to protest pieces; to motivational poems; and even some cleverly crafted Haikus.  

Edited by Rhea Carmon, it contains nearly 200 pages (including interesting bios and photos) from the accomplished and talented contributors.

There were so many excellent selections, it would be difficult to specifically list all of them that stood out here today.

But here are a few:

We Have a New Dream, by Henry Jones states: "Silence is an echoed form of acceptance which allows the hatred to spread." Pg. 148  

In the poem Fix, Kim B. Miller writes: "You are not a broken people repair kit. They can heal without you." Pg. 2

This anthology resonates with broad readerships, as it is as much about the human experience as it is about the Black Experience.

I rate it 5 ***** stars.

Image credits: Book cover Henry L. Jones
Pen and Paper: Pixabay.com

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Pen & Prosper Celebrates Black History Month


Welcome back, readers!
It's a pleasure (and a blessing) to have you here for another year of information, inspiration, and resources for writers.
I appreciate your readership, comments, and support.

Happy belated 2024!
As many of you are aware, February marks the national observance of Black History Month. A time to honor, highlight, reflect and remember the myriad contributions of people of color globally, for centuries.  

BHM evolved from “Negro History Week,” initiated by noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Every U.S. president, (since 1976) has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Being Black is not a pre-requisite for celebrating Black History.

1. Check out a movie at your local theatre that features Black themes, Black characters, or addresses Black social issues.
My recommendation: Bob Marley, ONE LOVE or American Fiction 

2. Visit your local library and find a book of poetry or novel written by a Black author. Read and embrace it. Expand your horizons.
My recommendation: Toni Morrison or Jill Scott

3. Become familiar with a different/delicious cuisine, courtesy of a soul food restaurant near you. Or explore the array of mouth-watering recipes offered by talented online chefs and home cooks. Bon Appetit!
My recommendation: Divas Can Cook!

4. Update your playlist for 2024. Listen to and enjoy some great music provided by the "Motown Sound" or the numerous hot singers and musicians on the entertainment scene. 
My recommendation: John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Tems, H.E.R.

Become enriched.
For more information and suggestions for BHM activities, visit

Thanks for reading.

Image credits: Pixabay.com 
Black History Month website