June Writer’s Life: My GLAMOUR piece and Q2/YTD totals [#yearofwriting]

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So it’s officially been 6 months since I started my #yearofwriting challenge. It’s been a really interesting road since then. At the beginning, I hired a writing coach to reach the next level of my career and ended up spending a lot of time pitching new stories. In fact, one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve achieved is that I have already been published in 17 publications this year (which was one of my top writing goals for 2017). So woo hoo!

In June in particular, I have FINALLY been published in one of my dream publications: GLAMOUR! That’s been a really huge accomplishment, really, and it’s a piece that I absolutely love (about how I got engaged with a $35 engagement ring and basically about the new trend to go away from diamonds in creative ways). Other than that, I also wanted to share my Quarter 2 totals as well as the 6-month check-in of how my writing has gone this year. It’s fun to track, so check it out below.

What was published: 

Romper, specifically: 

Look at all of that! I didn’t have quite as many freelance pieces published this month as in the past, but my Romper writing has officially increased to 3 pieces a day (3 times a week) and that’s pretty intense. I really love everything that I am writing so far, but am especially proud of the “My Body, My Choice” piece for Ravishly. It’s something that I feel very strongly about, that needed to be said, and that I have had a lot of positive feedback on.

How much I wrote: 39,077 words

How much I made: $2302

Well, and I am sure that this is because I have been doing more for Romper this month, my word count definitely increased this month. So exciting! However, I had less of an income because I didn’t put myself out there that much (in terms of pitches) in the month of May, so I had less to write this month.

Pitches sent out in June: 5*
Pitch rejections: 2
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0

*1 editor received 4 pitches, 1 editor received 5 pitches and 1 editor received 8 pitches… so this could also be 19 instead.

Here’s the thing about pitches this month and last month, which subsequently made me make less money this month: I am okay with it. My writing coach actually warned me about this, how if I slack off on pitches one month, it is likely to affect my income the next month.

It’s true, yes, that I have had a lot less pitches going out since I started writing for Romper. It’s also true that I have made less money from those particular pieces… BUT I am also really happy with having regular work (and thus regular income) from Romper every single week. It’s now a huge chunk of my overall monthly freelance writing income, along with a little bit still from Mom.me and MamásLatinas.

In the coming months, I’d like to strike a little bit more of a balance and have some more pitches going out… but for now, I am happy to be writing tons for Romper, Mom.me, and MamásLatinas and less for other publications. After all, I already accomplished my BIG goal of having a byline in at least 17 publications this year, so that’s a huge win for the year.

That doesn’t necessarily mean I want to slack off on my pitches, but it does mean that I can take it a little easier and give myself a break because the reality is that I wouldn’t even have the time to take on too many new freelance pieces even if I tried.

Quarter 2 totals: 

How much I wrote: 91,014 words
How much I made: $6,860
Pitches sent out: 12
Pitch acceptances: 4

6-month totals: 

How much I wrote: 138,508 words
How much I made: $10,410
Pitches sent out: 78
Pitch acceptances: 14

So in looking at these Q2 totals and my YTD totals (aka the 6-month check-in), I am astounded by the fact that I have written basically two novel’s worth of work. That’s seriously CRAZY to me!

Considering that this time last year, I was writing here and there and basically haphazardly (while working full-time as an editor), this is a huge turn-around for me. I’m still working mostly as an editor, but finding the time to exercise my writing skills has really been amazing these past six months.

As you can clearly see, I definitely made more money and have written a lot more in Q2 and that’s mostly due to Romper. However, with this new job and reaching the 6-month mark of my #yearofwriting, I have decided to take a look at my writing goals for 2017 and I may be editing them some. Stay tuned…

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May Writer’s Life: My first month at Romper was huge [#yearofwriting]

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Hello there, May. In my fifth month of the #yearofwriting, I’ve done spectacularly well.

As I announced last month, May 1st was the start of my new Lifestyle Writer role at Romper — a part-time gig that involves writing mostly about sex, love and relationships for the millennial moms site.

It’s honestly been a joy to not only invest more time in actual writing (and get a regular paycheck) but also to write about something that I truly love and find interesting. I’ve learned a bunch and am pretty sure I will continue to do so for as long as I am with them… which I hope will be for a long time!

The only thing that hasn’t happened much, I admit, is pitching. Because I am now pretty busy between my Brit+Co Food Editor job, Romper and my other contributor roles, there’s almost no time for anything else. Still, it’s been super productive. Here goes!

What was published: 

Romper, specifically: 

My proudest moment of the month happened right at the beginning: My Weight Loss Success story published in Women’s Health! I absolutely love that magazine and website, and it was an honor to write about how I have changed my body throughout the years and the way I have been able to maintain a healthy attitude towards my weight. And, of course, my absolute favorite trick to keeping the weight off. But you’ll have to read the story to find that out, hehe.

The other great successes of my month were, of course, starting at Romper and writing a TON because of that. I blogged a bit, too, but I think the vast majority of my writing and income came from Romper.

How much I wrote: 34,450 words

How much I made: $2808

Look at those numbers! Pretty exciting, indeed.

I wrote more than 10k words and made more than $1k more in income in May, versus April. In fact, I wrote almost as much in May as I did during all of Q1. And the same goes for my income. That’s pretty impressive, and I can’t wait to see what my numbers will look like in Q2.

Pitches sent out in May: 2 (one sent to 6 publications, simultaneously)
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 2 (unless you count the 5 that didn’t accept the simultaneous pitch, which you can)
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 2
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 1
Pitch acceptances: 1

As I mentioned before, I didn’t get to pitch much in May… That will likely impact my income in June, which isn’t great. That’s actually something that my writing coach warned me about but, since I am lacking in time anyway, I’m okay with it for now.

Actually, what I am probably going to focus on in June is just pitching the stories that I *really* believe in. With limited time, my priorities come into a different kind of focus. I tried to pitch as much as possible before, and that worked fine… but now I can focus on pitching the stories I very much want to write and pitch them to the editors that I very much enjoy working with. We’ll see how it goes.

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April 2017 Writer’s Life: My new blog & new gig at Romper [#yearofwriting]

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Well, here we are! It’s April in my #yearofwriting adventures and I have not one but TWO big announcements, so let me start with those…

1. I started a new blog, The Cookie Dough Life!

The first week of April was not good for me. I hadn’t slept very well and I was increasingly frustrated about, to tell you the truth, I can’t even remember what. But out of my frustration was born a new blog that I have called The Cookie Dough Life.

While you’re totally welcome to read the full story of why I started the blog (and I hope you do!), here’s the main thing you need to know: Being cookie dough is the realization that I’m not done baking yet… Meaning that I haven’t figured it all out, and maybe that’s okay. Living The Cookie Dough Life is about embracing the fact that life is constantly changing and evolving, and so am I.

And, of course, I am going to take you on that journey. Really, it’s going to replace me writing random stuff on this site, which I am keeping as more of a portfolio site going forward. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, here is my favorite post so far: A year ago, I was single, unemployed, homeless, broke, fat and drunk.

2. I’m a Lifestyle Writer at Romper as of May 1st! 

In even MORE exciting news, I am happy to (finally) announce that I am joining Romper as a PT Lifestyle Writer starting Monday, May 1st! WOO HOO!

I will be covering various topics but, for those that don’t know Romper: They are a parenting site for millennial moms and are the sister site of Bustle (which is for millennial women in general). I’ve been a huge fan and follower of both since their launch, and am absolutely thrilled to be joining the team.

I realize that’s not really an April writing thing, but I did apply, interview for and get the job in the month of April, so I think it should count. Oh, and in case you’re wondering: No, I’m not a mom (yet, in fact, I write about that here) but I know I will be someday and I have plenty of experience writing about mom topics previously. So, needless to say, I am just OH SO EXCITED!

And now on to the rest of the month…

What was published: 

Breaking into three new publications has been pretty fun this month, especially because they were all posts that were very personal to me: The first about being bisexual (even though I plan to marry a man), the second about my fertility fears (a subject near and dear to my heart) and the third about how to party sober (since I’m in recovery).

All of those stories were written last month, with the fertility fears story actually being written in January. Can you believe how long I had to wait for it to publish?! But this happens, and it was still thrilling to see the story live… FINALLY!

How much I wrote: 23,487 words

How much I made: $1750

This has been my most successful writing month BY FAR, I have to say. I basically wrote double of what I had in February and March, and made as much money as I did in January (except that two stories back then were on spec, which didn’t get picked up).

Part of the reason that I wrote so much was also because I am counting my words for The Cookie Dough Life. Maybe that’s a little bit unfair because I’m not getting paid for that so, at first glance, it seems as if I am getting paid less to write more… but that’s not the case, because this writing is personal and just for me.

Pitches sent out in April: 5
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 3
Pitch acceptances: 2 (sort of)
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 6
Pitch rejections: 1
Pitch non-replies: 5
Pitch acceptances: 0

Of course, the story gets a little bit more complicated when you look at the pitches I sent out this past month. Basically, let’s face it: they suck. I barely pitched, and most of it wasn’t until the very end of the month (last week, in fact) and that’s that.

I don’t love the way that looks, to be honest, but part of the reason is because I’ve been busy this month, my organization has recently gone to shit and I was actually doing a lot more writing than usual (as you saw above) which obviously meant a lot less time for pitching.

I don’t love this, but I will say that I wrote four brand-new-to-me freelance pieces in January, two in February, two in March and six in April. I’m pretty proud of those numbers and I guess I just have to live with the fact that in a month where you freelance more than before, are in the middle of a job application (as I was for a while) AND also start a new blog, you just won’t be able to fit everything in. And that’s okay.

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Why Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still important 20 years later

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The proudest moment of my career (so far) happened earlier last month when VICE published my piece titled “How Willow from ‘Buffy’ Helped Me Come Out.”

Not only did the piece go up the morning of the 20th anniversary of the television premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it was also featured at the very top of their website for the entire day. Seriously, that’s a HUGE honor for any writer but especially awesome since it was my first piece for them.

The thing that was even more touching to me, however, is that I was able to honor of one of my all-time favorite TV shows in this very special way.

The truth is that BTVS (as we fans frequently call it) has held a special place in my heart for a very long time. Not only did the show legitimately help me come out, but it generally left an impact on me that has lasted through the rest of my life.

When I first heard of BTVS, I wasn’t impressed. I never really watched it when it first started but got into it at age 16 when a couple of my high school friends became pretty obsessed. Soon enough, I was driving around in my car with friends as we all sang along to the musical episode’s soundtrack at the top of our lungs.

I remember endlessly debating the Team Angel vs. Team Spike situation (#TeamAngelForever), and grieving when the show ended just a year before I graduated high school – which was just a year after I discovered it. In a way, it felt as if BTVS entered and left my life far too soon.

What I didn’t know at the time, however, was how much impact Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Angel and the rest of the gang would have on my life.

It’s no understatement that BTVS helped to solidify some friendships for me at school (and in the years that followed), but the biggest impact that the show had (besides helping me come out, of course) is what many girls and women saw in Joss Whedon’s work – a kick-ass heroine who could be funny, pretty, awkward, loud and all-around awesome.

Although I always related more to Willow (hello, I even have red hair now!) than Buffy, I could still love and appreciate Buffy for everything that she was. She was a great leader and phenomenal title character. The show was funny and quirky and spoke to my adolescent and teen self in a way that I found freeing.

I don’t know how Joss managed to do it, but I felt more and more like myself the more I watched Buffy stumble through life with a wealth of responsibilities. She didn’t always succeed in picking out the right outfit, but she always saved the world.

When I read the recent issue of Entertainment Weekly featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz on the cover, I was thrilled to travel back into the Buffyverse to read how the cast (all except Giles!) reflect on the show 20 years later and what it has meant to them. Joss even calls Buffy and Angel the greatest love story ever told, so take THAT, #TeamSpike!

A lot has happened in the world since the show first premiered on March 10, 1997. But while it may not be the happiest place right now, it’s important to recognize all of the positive changes that have happened too. For me, the biggest (and happiest) is the nationwide legalization of gay marriage.

I remember doing a big report on gay marriage and civil unions during my senior year of high school, in Fall of 2003 just after the show ended, when very few states even wanted to talk about that kind of thing. And now it’s nationwide law! That’s amazing, truly.

For the past year, I’ve actually been re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my boyfriend Adam. It took us almost 11 months to get through the show, but it was sooooo worth it to share something I truly love with the person I love most in the world. Being a big Joss Whedon fan already, he loved it of course.

But more than that, watching the show with him this past year served as a great reminder for me about why I loved it in the first place. Of course, like most devoted fans, I’ve gone through the entire series 4 or 5 times already. Watching it all once more was a joy and, as the 20th anniversary came and went, I’m glad to have spent time with the Scooby Gang once more.

After all, if it wasn’t for them, I might have never come into my own as a proud bisexual woman as early as I did. And that’s something I will forever be grateful for.

To read my piece “How Willow from ‘Buffy’ Helped Me Come Out” on VICE, click here!

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Here’s what happens when a writer has too many ideas

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So if you’ve spent any amount of time around me in real life, then you probably know one thing about me: I get easily excited.

I don’t know if I would consider myself a super impulsive person, but I’m not not an impulsive person. I think my life partner Adam would probably disagree with that statement, actually, as he’s mentioned my impulsivity a few times here and there (and by “few” I mean… maybe many).

What I consider myself, actually, is an ideas person.

I get ideas all the damn time, about any variety of subjects. My chosen career of writer and editor is actually pretty perfect for someone who has too many ideas too much of the time, but it can also be harmful. The problem with having too many ideas is that I can easily jump from one to the other, and still see the value in all of them.

Here’s a perfect example: About a year after I graduated college, I decided that I wanted to write a book.

No, let me rephrase that… For as long as I could remember, I’ve been one of those writers who felt like having a book published, as in something I can hold in my hands with my name on the cover and available in every Barnes & Noble, was the ultimate accomplishment. So I always knew that I would write a book someday, and sometime in 2008 I decided to try my hand at it.

Maybe it’s because I have always done well in school or because my best form of learning is in the classroom (as in, though lectures), but I signed myself up for a chick lit writing class. Chick lit, as in contemporary women’s fiction, was my primary reading at the time so this seemed fitting. I had a story in mind, and I worked on it during the class.

The only problem? Well… in a writing exercise that asked us to switch our voice either to very young or very old, I discovered that I absolutely LOVED writing young adult fiction. Shortly after, I took a YA writing class instead. In fact, I took three of them in a row in the year of 2009.

And here’s where the real problem of my life comes in: TOO. MANY. IDEAS.

When I sat down to focus on the chick-lit-turned-YA-novel story, I got another great YA idea that I became utterly obsessed with. I loooooved this new idea, and ultimately drove myself crazy going back and forth between the two. Eventually, life got busy due to a new job and a new blog (several blogs ago now) and I dropped the book.

A few years went by and I decided to write a memoir. The problem? Yup, you guessed it: Too many ideas! Because at the time I was blogging about my weight loss journey, I wanted to write a memoir about growing up overweight, going through a gastric bypass and what has happened since. But then I also had this other idea about writing a memoir about my upbringing, because I am half-Russian and half-Cuban and people’s reactions to hearing that is always “OH! How did THAT happen?!”, and make that into the next great American immigrant story.

Well… I haven’t gotten any further on either of those ideas than I did with my two big YA novel ideas.

Part of the reason for that is because life is busy and I haven’t made the time to focus on any personal writing outside of occasional blogging (that first weight loss blog led to a food blog and led to my portfolio site, which I wanted to write more on last year… and kinda sorta maybe did but didn’t). And now I’m here.

But where is here, anyway?

In a few weeks, it will be the one year anniversary of me moving out of New York City and moving back to Southwest Florida, where I grew up (more on this soon!). One of my goals when moving down here was to a) take my freelance writing career further and b) finally start working on that book again.

The only problem is I wasn’t totally sure which book. Eventually, I decided to work on Moscow Chica, my memoir and now similarly-named Medium publication and the theme of my newsletter.

But you know what happened in my mind when I finally decided to focus on this? MORE DAMN IDEAS!

I went back-and-forth for a while on whether Moscow Chica is the memoir I should focus on, or if I should still do the weight loss one first. I occasionally entertained the idea of going back to one of my YA novels and, finally after the election, I felt that the immigration story is the important one to tell at this point in history.

And I was totally happy with my choice for a while… a short while.

Then came more ideas. Last year, I tried to blog on my portfolio siteabout a project I called Map Your 30s, which was essentially a bit of what I am doing here but more focused on my age… in that I had just turned 30 and wanted to talk about all of the changes that are still happening in my life… because nothing should be “settled” by a certain age. That was a fun idea but I didn’t actually sustain it for very long, unfortunately. Again, I blame the life changes and a little bit my excitement to start (but not finish) things (more on that later too, I’m sure).

Here is where everything comes full circle.

This year, I decided that this was my #YearOfWriting and I was going to focus it on ALL THE THINGS. I planned to freelance more than ever, put a book proposal together for my memoir and so much more.

One of my biggest goals, actually, was to write for 17 different publications and I’m almost there. So far this year, I have been published on 10 (online) publications and have 5 more in the works. I’ve even got tentative pieces with two others… which would soon enough get me to my goal. So YAY for that.

This whole “too many ideas” thing is definitely good when it comes to my freelance writing career, and I think it’s one of the things that has made me a good (and successful) journalist. But the problem comes in whenever I try to do pretty much any kind of writing in my personal life.

You’ve already heard about the two YA novels and the two memoirs, but there’s more. Honestly, so much more. A few weeks ago, I wrote the beginning pages of another YA novel that a few friends saw and loved. And I also started this new blog…

That’s right, after ALL of my failed attempts at keeping up a blog (Healthy Latin Food being the most memorable), I somehow decided that it was a good idea to try one more more time and last week launched this here The Cookie Dough Life.

I’m really excited by the prospect of this blog, actually. It’s basically for me to have a fun place to talk about whatever I want… from relationships to career stuff to health and life and basically anything else I want to talk (or write) about. And that’s how we got here.

Last week, when it first launched, I explained exactly what the whole “cookie dough” life thing means. And since then I’ve stayed silent. Partially, it is because I have been afraid and unsure of what I wanted to say next. The big “Hooray I Have A New Project!” excitement wore off a little, and I am now faced with an empty blog and no content and, of course, a million ideas.

Sometimes when I have a million ideas, I jump right in. And other times, I freeze. That’s what has been happening to me for the past week, so I thought… What better way to really start this blog than by admitting to all of that mess in my head?

Since career is something that I actively plan to talk about on CDL, here it is: I’m a writer and I have too many ideas.

That’s often very frustrating, I know. Well, maybe you don’t know… but I sure do. Yet despite all of that, the only way forward is to just keep going forward. To be honest, today I don’t know what that means. I am not sure if I am going to go back to focusing on Moscow Chica or one of the YA novels or something else entirely.

I’m not even sure if this blog is going to be The One I Keep Up With Finally, or whether these are all words going into the void that will be erased from the internet in a year (in so much that anyone can ever truly erase anything from the internet, anyway).

But the one thing I know is that I have too many ideas, and I can’t wait to share them all here.

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