Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Business Chat with Ben Franklin!

This topic is PERFECT for January, the month of resolve, one-words, plans and goals!

Here's a Franklinism to start us off:

Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.

Now that might appear negative, but I think Ben was referring to the human tendency to want more... In Isaiah 56 the prophet laments how the lack of satisfaction prevails, and that's such a good lesson for us to grasp. I think it came through to me in that quote from Charles Ingalls: "Enough is as good as a feast!" I can't read or hear that quote and not smile! And having a competitive nature, I've learned to run roughshod over ambition. As long as I control ambition, we're okay... but when I let it control me, well... trouble starts!

"1776" is one of my all-time favorite movies... I love it THIS MUCH!!!!
An author is a small-business owner. 

As a business owner/professional/manager, we get bombarded with decisions that affect our annual bottom line. Dozens of little decisions can add up to costly business expenses, so January is a good time to examine costs vs. effectiveness. We've got the "books" out, doing taxes and we've got clear vision of the balance sheets.

When I was first offered contracts, another author laughed when I estimated my projected earnings. I wasn't offended, I was puzzled.... and then she told me my financial outline was impossible, that writing little books would barely break even. Even when I showed her my estimated figures of sales x royalties x #of books she scoffed.

Real numbers don't lie. (Darlings, this truism is not to be confused with statistics which can be twisted, shaped, referenced in multiple ways to build a case for or against just about anything these days!) But math is still math, addition still works and I knew I was right. My goal to make a solid living writing delightfully affordable category romances is blossoming daily.

And yes, you can still get your copy (if you don't win one!!!) of this delightful 4 Star (Romantic Times Review) novel HERE!!!!!

No matter how beautiful your work/your story(ies), publishers need to cover a bottom line or lines fold. (We saw this happen this past year with B&H and Summerside Press). And while I'm crazy sad at seeing two lovely Christian lines fold, I have to say that working with Summerside editors and Anna Schmidt on "Love Finds You in the City at Christmas" (Come on, you knew I'd get a shameless plug in here, didn't you????? Really, it's me, it's to be expected!!!!) was an absolutely wonderful experience. Guideposts and Summerside had/have a great staff and marvelous insight. I was truly blessed to have that chance.

Now here's the thing, chickie-chickie babies!!!! We're all different. God has modeled us from various cloth and life has wielded our sculpture with its own hand, therefore none of this is written in stone. It can't be because our business and our cause-and-effect are individual.

We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. (Ben Franklin)

Certain expenses are a given for most of us:

Computer (and maybe a back-up in case one is down for repairs?)

Internet service (minimize this by working in a library/coffee shop/mall, etc. As long as you don't spend money there, which may or may not be considered downright rude in the coffee shop!)

Internet Back-up (Mozy, Norton, etc. in case a worm/bug/virus wipes your files clean)

Website (Hosting and domain name can go from minimal cost right up to hiring professionals to build/maintain your website, this can be a several thousand dollar differential)

Blog (Hosting, possibly free i.e. "Blogger")

Internet presence  FREE... (You can find this by "Googling" your name... if other things come up on that first page, you should heighten your internet presence by writing more books, blogging, guesting on blogs, did I mention writing more books???? Oh, yes! I see that I did! )  BIG GRIN HERE, and a reminder to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!!!

Paper (Most of us catch more repetitiveness and issues on hard copy, but that might be my age talking)

Ink (To use with aforementioned paper)

Postage (For contests/editors/agents who request hard copy)

Envelopes (I use free ones from Post Office and send via Priority Mail)

Food/Drink of choice:  (For me it's coffee and broccoli slaw!!! But you're fooling yourself if you think you can work effectively and be longing for a Diet Coke and none is in the house... or that you're hungry and decide you need Oreos and must go to the store. Those are stall methods, and you're better than that!!!!)

Ongoing courses, either online or via craft books, to stretch your knowledge and application. This can be a small price (we're offering Night Classes here for great prices, HERE'S THE BIG LINK TO OUR NIGHT CLASSES!!!!)   Please note how easy I made that to see! You're welcome!  (BIG GRIN!!!)

Janet Dean reminded me that business cards are a good thing.... Which means I should order new ones because mine are ancient.

Books to read: Mary Connealy wants you to know that this can done through purchasing or library borrowing... and that it is ESSENTIAL that she read so much!!!! To keep up with the market!!!! :)

Also from Mary: 
"Fan for summer--Space heater for winter--my office (enclosed porch) seems to have faulty duct work. Grrrrrrrr....... I've proposed selecting a different office, My Cowboy seems to think I'll be messy and turn a tidy guest room into a war zone. He thinks this BASED ON NOTHING."

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.  (Ben Franklin)

Specific to unpublished authors:
(non-expense items listed first):

Knowledge of who's publishing what, this is your homework. This helps your focus and drive. There might not be much expense in learning this, if you use an up-to-date library... or it can be the cost of books X number of books. I did the Good Will Hunting library route and incurred very little book expenditure because money was tight. And it worked. I love Will Hunting. And I love "Edward" from Pretty Woman because he taught me that sleep is not as essential as we make out.... and I BELIEVED him, LOL! And of course there's Ben's take on that subject, a real-life man that I love beyond belief:  "Plenty of time for rest in the grave!"

I love that Franklinism!!!!

Self-discipline even though unpaid AS YET!!!! (Gotta trust in God, in the future and go for the gold at your pace. It will all come together, but like the Polar Express, ya' gotta "B-E-L-I-E-V-E"!)

Increase that web presence

Items requiring expense for unpublished (as yet!) authors:

Writing contests sponsored by publishers and/or writing groups: (some of these have costs, many are now online with electronic entries, cutting your cost substantially). These provide opinion/critique from numerous sources, an invaluable tool if you truly want to improve your craft AND a chance to final and win a spot on a targeted editorial desk. This is what brought the Seekers together, a mode and method (note the mathematics I'm throwing your way!!!!) proven true.... and we're all grateful for the outcome!

Conferences (National, local, regional, genre specific) (Writing classes, industry information, networking, agent and editor appointments.)

College classes or local classes focusing on writing/publication/website-building, etc.

For the published author:

Contests for published books (fees/cost of books/shipping)

Conferences (National, local, regional, genre specific, these prices can range from a few hundred to an easy $2,000. Choose wisely. Deb Giusti did the best blog I've ever seen on this here in Seekerville:  LINK TO DEB'S BLOG ABOUT CONFERENCES!!!!

Ongoing classes 

Promotion of books (Newsletters, Facebook ads, Book launch services, books purchased for give-aways, bookmarks)

Gifts for agents/editors 

Amazon Prime Account (this is optional, but I love mine. It gives me perks I use as an author and as a person.... Hey, you know what I mean!!!)

And from the wisdom of Connealy again:

Gas for trips to booksignings/writer gatherings

Lap Desk...second lap desk...third lap desk...My laptop was hot. Now it's winter, plus my hot flashes seem to have eased and I quit using a lap desk and just use my lap. Money wasted, closet full of lightly used lap desks! (Ruthy note:  SIGH..... 'Sall I'm sayin'..... SIGH!!!!)

Tetley's Earl Grey Tea with draw string bags. (Hey, it's an indulgence!) Ruthy note: (This is a delicious tea and a worthy indulgence, must go order some because the drawstring bags are that cute, although I'll do Mandarin Orange Spice if they have it. I like Z-I-N-G with my tea.)

Camera bought on a whim because I was going to a cool museum and I forgot my camera. And everybody has a camera on their phone now (except me) so no one wants my camera. Does anyone need a camera?  (Ruthy note: I will bet dollars to donuts she has a camera on her phone and has NO CLUE HOW TO FIND IT OR USE IT.... But that's just a guess, of course!!!)  :)

Elliptical makes a nice luggage rack. (On this topic we totally concur, only mine is a treadmill... Do you know how many cute shirts and unmentionables you can DRY on a treadmill??? Mind-boggling!!!! 

Well done is better than well said.  (Ben Franklin)

Feel free to add in other basics or necessities I'm overlooked when you comment. And today I'm giving away (SUCH A DEAL!!!!) a "Chat With The Crazy Author" phone call to one very brave person who mentions they want in on that deal..... :)   And a download of a Ruthy book to two folks who are longing for a sweet read! Let's stock those e-readers, but let me know in the comments, okay?

Here's your homework: Your task is to be a good money steward. A good money steward doesn't throw money away recklessly and a good business person weighs cost vs. reward for everything they do. Remember, being frugal is not the same as being "Scrooge".

If money is tight, look at the must-haves and deal with those. (I did that for many years and I have no regrets, zero, zilch, nada, nil).

And even if money isn't tight, examine the reasons behind your choices. If a $1500-$2000 conference isn't affordable, why do it? What is in it for you? If there is no professional advantage to it, is there a better way to use those funds? Depending on which stage of writing you're at right now, your internal response to that should vary.

I view published author contests very carefully as well. My nature prefers to give away books to lots of readers than to worry about winning/placing in contests. Remember my unpublished contest goal wasn't to win, it was to get a spot on an editor's desk. That mission has been accomplished multiple times, and I could not be happier. Here's an amazing story that helps keep things in perspective for me:

Check out this cool video from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" helps the Phillipines!!

If you need your laptop upgraded, do you buy the $400 HP or the $1250 Mac because you heard it's better? And then when a kid spills soda on it (happened here, I can testify to the fact that DIET SIERRA MIST and laptops are not a good mix!!!) you might let them live.

Note: MIGHT.  :)

Choices surround us. Being frugal becomes easier every teeny, tiny step we take. Wisdom and courage should be part of the prayerful process of setting/keeping/polishing a budget. Wisdom to recognize the necessary and the courage to take charge of our business and personal lives.

Hey, stop inside, tell me what I forgot and then grab some of these amazing Snickerdoodles!!!! I had a hankering for them and couldn't resist!!!!  The coffee is on!


Ruth Logan Herne lives in upstate New York where lake effect snow likes to bury her and a house full of munchkins on a regular basis. Every now and again she pokes her head up to check the weather, then retreats to her writing hole where she writes sweet, evocative books that make folks smile and sometimes cry... and she's okay with both!  Visit her at, here in Seekerville or on Facebook at Ruth Logan Herne. 


  1. Yes, Ruthy, please put my name in the cat dish for one of your books! Or two, or how ever many you are giving away!(I have Running on Empty). I love your post....hope it doesn't scare any writers to be away, cause I need them to feed my addiction! Thanks!

  2. Oh my goodness gracious - I haven't read anything else in this post yet, but you have a picture of one of my most favorite scenes from a most favorite movie.

    Love the wit of Franklin in 1776, but I had such a girlhood crush on John Adams. And if I still do, what does it matter cause he's long dead, so that makes it okay, right?

    Now I shall go back and mine for pearls of Ruthy wisdom.

  3. It's 11:43 pm here. Does that translate into Keeping Ruthy Hours?

    I am always amazed at how early you rise. And I have this picture of you in my mind, perched at your desk at 5 a.m. in snowy NY while I'm at my desk at 4 a.m. in frozen Chicago. There we are, both pecking away at our keyboards. I don't often have your morning dedication, Ruthy. My Dad always called me a night owl. But if I do awaken super early, I take advantage of that time now. You've inspired me to use those morning minutes and they will forever be Ruthy Hours.

  4. Hey Ruthy. Thanks for the post. I still have a long way to go because I still need to finish my book but its getting there slowly but surely.... It takes time and its a slow going process.

    I would love to be entered to win one of your books...

    And when you said a phone call with "The Crazy Author" are you meaning you?

  5. Ohhhh, wonderful post!

    My frugality grew out of necessity (yeah, poverty was a daily reality). But we practice voluntary simplicity now.

    Live simply, so that others may simply live.

    There are the people who say, "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine". not good. The there are the "what's mine is mine and what's yours is yours". That's more accepted now.

    For us, we strive for "what's mine is yours and what's yours is yours". It sounds like insanity, truly. But it works for us. We are open handed with ou belongings and our wealth. Not just the surplus, either.

    As Mother Theresa said, "Give of your substance, not your abundance." It's easy to give of the extra, off the top. Not so easy to dig deep and live life without clutching at pennies.

    So, our frugality has a purpose, and that is to be ridiculously generous.

    Now that I've completely confused you, I am off to write!

  6. No, Virginia, that wasn't confusing. Well said. And Ruthy, count me with Mary amongst the fans of 1776! Using old Ben was a great approach to Discuss frugality--and Charles Ingalls, too? Well done! Loved it! And would love more crazy talk too! I wish I could get up early as you do, but this insomnia means that I usually sleep in until six. Oh well, off to wait it out!

  7. First, yes the phone call with crazy author is me.... who else would grasp that moniker willingly???? :)

    Marianne, you're in on the book drawing! And you know us, Marianne, we are writing addicts!!! We Cannot Stop!!!! And there isn't a day I don't thank God for that and for readers just like you because you are so totally worth it!!!

  8. Mary Curry good morning! And good luck with that mining business, LOL! Pearls of wisdom are scarce sometimes. I'm low on oysters lately. :)

    Lyndee!!! I love the image of working together 500 miles apart! That rocks. I think that's why I love 1k1hr because it connects me to people all over the globe and we can support each other. Laugh, talk, make fun of Mary. Whatever it takes! So yes, Ruthy hours are pervasive, it seems. And that's a good thing!

  9. Cortney You've come a long way, baby. You started a book.... you're working on it regularly... and your goal is to FINISH THE BOOK, and that's awesome! Go for it, honey. I promise you it's a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and it gives you impetus and thrust to move to the next one. SUHWEEET!

  10. VIRGINIA!!!!

    My frugality grew from the same roots, but it really took hold once I realized how easy it is for people to start clinging to earthly stuff. So we embrace a similar mindset, of doing without because there are so many folks in the world with nothing.

    That lesson from the video, of a guy who could have made a name for himself by doing the BEST TRAILER and instead asked for money to help in Tacloban???? Wow, that resonated with me. It's so easy to forget and get comfortable.

    Someone asked me the other day about faith vs. works. I said "Why make it either/or? Embrace both!"

    I love your Mother Teresa quote. What an example of giving she set for all of us. Just thinking about her makes me smile!

  11. Piper, good morning! And thank you, I'm glad you liked it! It's always hard to talk money because we tend to take money talk seriously... or ignore it altogether.

    But business owners should first be the captain of their own ship. And the captain's got to make tough decisions, so this made sense to me.

    AND PIPER!!!! I love the common sense approach that Charles and Caroline took to things in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. What a wonderful bunch of lessons learned. I've kept those lessons with me for decades so she must have done something right to have reached so many of us with the simplicity of their lives!

  12. A lot of authors are just having a blogger account as its free and you can do alot with it. (as for those expensive web designers there are cheaper people trying to help authors and just cover costs, its something I want to get into) I already have created the graphics for a few blogs and do it for a very reasonable price and will help new bloggers to know how to use it also.

    Ruthy I like frugal. I am a reader but I also have expenses. At the moment lots of medical expenses. I just got a new computer in Nov. I was so happy to get one under 500, it has all I need and more and is half what my old one cost. I couldn't have afforded a dearer one. I do that with other things as well I look for bargins and I shop round. Been lucky the past couple weeks have sold some creative memories supplies and it will almost pay for my next physio appointment.

    No need to add me to the cat bowl woops I mean my name I have your books.

    I have to say some of the church people go out to lunch on a sunday. I dont partly cos I just cant justify the cost. Some understand but others say you cant make a meal for the cost. is over ten dollars now and I can have say tuna and salad for under two dollars at home. at them moment I cant have either but when I can.

  13. Heard from the specialist today well I rang. I have a tentative appointment for Jan 24 but was told the dr has to look at the list as there are more on the list than appointments and its very possible mine will be one of the ones cancelled and changed to either Feb or more likely March. I was set for op in feb now it may be as far away as april or may.
    I also have to have another test tomorrow for another issue which is freaking me out slightly. MOre because the dr didn't tell me all the info about the test and that it may include a needle biopsy. I am praying all will be right but in the back of my mind I am a little scared. would appreciate prayer.

  14. As usual, a dose of Ruthy starts my day out with a :D Great suggestions throughout, for all of us. I have these awesome books, so no need to toss my name in the dish. Just stopping by to say hi!

  15. Great tips, thanks Ruthy!

    Last year the light bulb finally went on about the writing contests. Before that I was confused when the feedback I received conflicted. As in judges found totally different things to comment on, both good and bad.

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Great money/budgeting advice! I once had a writer that told me you have to spend money to make money...and I'm thinking...HUH????

    THAT will just get you further into debt. HA! I do realize a writer has to have a computer, internet, the essential tools before earning an income, but many of the non-essential can wait.

  17. Jenny, got you covered! Both with prayer for complete recovery, no nasty surprises and calm finances.

    You know, it's hard to not stress over money but at the risk of sounding blase, it might be easier for those who've done without often. I think like anything else, it's a practiced art.

    Now mind you, I like having fun! But like Jenny said, I'm okay with refusing things that might be fun to keep myself comfortable with being careful. It's so easy to s-l-i-d-e off the careful scale and get jaded.

    Ruthy. Jaded.

    That would make me sad!!!!

  18. Ruthy, that's a lotta' information! Thank you. :-)

    I'm printing it out so I can sit with a hot cup of coffee at break time and enjoy the read.

    Lots of pondering fodder in this post. :-D

  19. MIA!!!!! I MISS YOU!!!!!

    Mia and I keep trying to get together and we've been thwarted to date...

    But we will persevere! And that's a dinner I will happily pay for!!!!

    Thanks for stopping by, kiddo! God bless you!

  20. Jackie, good morning! Contests can be so confusing, can't they? And yet I used to cling to the judges who "saw" my efforts... and I would take heart by the ones who pointed out flaws nicely.

    I kinda sorta just tossed the snippy judges into the bin, don't you know???? :)

    You know how folks say "listen if you hear it from more than one judge."????

    Great advice. And sometimes I would have to walk away from it, and come back after the BITTER PILL OF ABJECT, HEART-CLENCHING, GUT-WRENCHING DISAPPOINTMENT lessened its ugly hold...

    Okay, Melodramatic, to the max but you know what I mean. Coming back to it I usually saw they were right and then I fixed it and moved on.

    But Mary Connealy NEVER, EVER DESERVED A "1" IN A CONTEST.

    Of course she's over it by now.

    I'm sure of it.


  21. Mary Hicks it was way too long, wasn't it????

    But if you SEARCH real hard, I mean like magnifying glass hard, you might find a nugget of something worth (not your whole break, surely, maybe like a MINUTE of your break, I'm not a bit insulted....) reading and savoring...

    And most likely it will be a "Ben"
    quote, LOL! And I'm okay with that!

  22. Virginia, I like your standard of living, and God knows when we are happy to be generous with the material things he blesses us with. :-)

    What a wonderful example you are to your children.

  23. Ruthy, NOT! I loved it! I skimmed eagerly, knowing I would save it for a treat later, at my 'treat' time.

    How can I know these things if some generous person like you won't tell me???:-D

  24. Ruth's, the Lord has really been talking to me lately about a more simplified lifestyle. I think your post was another nudge from Him. I'm a slow gal, but starting to get the hint! I would love love love to have my name thrown in the cat dish. Just don't tell the Westies.

  25. Ruthy
    haven't seen 1776, but would like to (haven't seen a new film since my little guy was born, so i'm seriously behind on up-to-date films). i do love the wisdom of ol' Ben. he had loads of common sense (which appears to be not so common these days...).

    please place my name in the cat dish for all listed prizes - especially for the phone call with crazy author (crazy like a fox). i was uber blessed by the phone call i won with Debby - so imagine how blessed i could be with some talk time with you???

    i'm saving this post because there isn't anything like living frugally and being a good steward with everything God has provided - money or talent or otherwise!

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Seekerville!!!!!!!!!

  26. So many things spoke to me in this post. But Mary saying hot flashes will eventually ease up made my day! :D

    Thank you for the heads up about these expenses. Some of my biggest expenses are Post it notes and those cute colored index cards (I need an intervention).

    Please put me in the drawing for the phone chat and Ruthy books!!

  27. Oh, WOW, Ruthy -- LOVE those Benny quotes!! Now there's a man after my own heart ... :)

    I needed this because I'm definitely not much of a businesswoman, so this is good for me.

    Have you seen the movie, Walter Mitty? After watching that video, I'm inclined to. I remember LOVING The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye -- one of my favorite movies, and I like Ben Stiller.

    Jenny, saying one for you right now, girl, and, of course, still have you on my prayer hit list. :|


  28. Oh RUTHY, you are full of wisdom today. Great advice.

    VIRGINIA I love what you said. "So, our frugality has a purpose, and that is to be ridiculously generous. " That is so all of us here at Seekerville.

    Another expense item for published authors. Money to buy author copies: for contests, giveaways on blogs, giveaways on Goodreads, etc. And just plain giving away. So fun.

  29. Oh forgot. Pass the snickerdoodles. Those are my favs.

  30. Super-comprehensive list, Ruthy! Great advice as always!

    JENNY, it's just awful waiting to see the doc when you're worried about your health! Praying things go well with your test and that they keep everything on schedule.

  31. Jenny, praying you can stay on the Jan 24 list and for the very best outcome.

  32. LOVE the Ben Franklin quotes, Ruthy! And can you believe I've never seen 1776? Must get it and watch it.

    I've been wanting to get Amazon Prime, and now you've given me permission. Thanks, Ruthy!!! :-)

    Your list seems pretty complete, Ruthy. In fact, I can't think of anything else. While it's true that you have to spend money to make money, you really don't need to spend a ton of money to write a book. When I was a teen, I wrote books on a cheap typewriter. Even though I remember very little about those books I wrote, I'm sure they were the precursor to what I'm doing now. And it was fun, and I had nothing else to do. :-)

    "You can rest in the grave." I need to remember that every afternoon when I look at the clock and think, I have just enough time for a nap before the kids get home. ;-)

  33. MELANIE, I have never regretted signing up for Amazon Prime. I think Tina initially convinced me, and it's been totally worth it. I've more than earned back my annual fee with what I've saved in shipping costs--and I order A LOT from Amazon (not just books)!

    Also with your membership, you get a wide selection of free streaming movies and TV shows. Our grandkids love it when they visit!

  34. Great post, Ruthy! Love the Seeker inputs. :)

    This is the first I've heard of 1776. When was it released?

    Prayers continuing for you, Jenny.

  35. Thank you, RUTHY. I'm a little restricted in income right now, so it's good to hear someone discuss that in a realistic manner.
    MARY CONNEALY, We love Earl Grey at our house. Preferably in a china cup.
    MARY CURRY, if you like John Adams you would like Barbara Hamilton's Abigail Adams mystery series.
    RUTHY, put my name in dish for author chat.

  36. AW, Mary Hicks, shucks.... See there I was, fishing for compliments, of course!!!! :)

    Sherri, good morning!!!! Glad it resonated with you! That made my day!

    And I brought more Snickerdoodles because we just kept the oven going and going and going!!!! A balmy 30 degrees here today!!!

    OH HAPPY DAY!!!!

  37. Rose, I'm with you!!! I know choices aren't always easy...

    But I think we're fooling ourselves when we fail to see them as choices.

    Good to see you!

  38. Deb H., you're in!!! And you brought up a very good point...

    I was talking money stewardship and you mentioned talents, etc...

    That is so rockin' true. The gift of our talents and time and adding to God's goodness is a wonderful thing!

    Oh what a great addition!!!!

  39. Donna, I love your Post It note obsession!!! I have morphed that to "Sticky Notes" on my computer, they litter my desktop and I still manage to forget things, but what a great tool they are!!!!

  40. Terri, me too. I'm an 100% in your corner. I think God's been talkin', whisperin', nudging a lot of us to embrace simpler lives and I think that's a wonderful thing! When the Holy Spirit nudges (and Sandra wrote a wonderful children's book about this, a book I love reading to my little ones "God's Spirit Within Us".... her simple wisdom in that book speaks volumes.

    It's avalable here: God's Spirit Within Me

    Wonderful book....(cringing, wondering if that link will work but Amazon seems to be fighting with Bitly these days...)


  42. Hi Ruth! I love everything about this post! My husband is quite frugal, and he has helped me reduce expenses as I traverse this pre-published pathway. Your Benjamin Franklin and Charles Ingalls quotes are terrific. Put me in the drawing for books and the phone call, please. But if I win the phone call, you should know I homeschool my six children. We'll have to schedule carefully or background noise abounds! :-)

  43. Totally checking that list, Ruthy. It all boils down to ROI.

    If you don't know what the RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT is, then why are you shelling out money for it??

  44. Mary Curry, I would have never pegged your having a girl hood crush on Sam Adams.

    This is very difficult to wrap my head around.

  45. I missed a Lawman book??? Gotta get that Christmas story.

    I get frugality and tight budgets. I try to keep my editing prices down because I mostly work with aspiring authors.

    By all means, see 1776. If I'm not mistaken, movie came out in 1976 for the bicentennial. I remember it being a school field trip. Tremendously educational and entertaining.

  46. Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. Ben Franklin

  47. In Fairness, My Cowboy just possibly MIGHT base that whole War Zone mess on the current state of my 'office' which is currently FREEZING.

    Fortunately I have a fleece jacket and gloves with the fingers cut out. Plus the Polar Vortex seems to have eased somewhat.

  48. MY FAVORITE BEN FRANKLIN STORY that has nothing to do with this...

    When they were ratifying the Constitution, one of the men was absolutely 100% adamant that ratification would include outlawing slavery. Franklin was strongly opposed to slavery too but he saw they would never get all the states to ratify is it was outlawed. He was key to including the provision that would leave slavery in but would count black people as 3/4 of a man.

    Now, we look back on that and see it as an outrage, that black people were counted as not fully human, but Ben Franklin did this, along with the people he worked with, because the slave owners wanted to count all their slaves in order to give their states more representatives and thus more power, even though there wasn't any change in the world those slaves would be allowed to vote.
    So, by counting slaves as 3/4 of a man it reduced the population of the slave state and gave more power to the free states.
    It was part of the great compromise.
    The minute the constitution was ratified, Franklin along with others began a state by state campaign to outlaw slavery. He hoped they would be able to eradicate it one state at a time, peacefully, but it didn't work out that way. Instead it ended less than 100 years later in the Civil War.
    So we look back on that 3/4 human clause in our Constitution as a travesty but the people pushing that were the anti-slavery people who were fighting for the freedom of slaves and Ben Franklin who was a very influential man was at the very heart of that struggle.

    My point is, we need to be very careful when we look at history using modern sensibilities because the truth is often very different when we realize the setting the past was played out in.

    Mary-History Buff, and Ben Franklin Fan!

  49. Wow, Ruthy, You covered a lot. I was just popping in here to give myself a break from the writing that's not going so well. And now my mind is spinning in a completely different direction.

    Anyway, my first piece of advice? Write books people want to buy so that you end up making more than $1/hr writing. Otherwise you'll be running down to Main Street and filling out a waitressing application. Which speaking of, I think I have an application to go fill out. . . :-)

  50. Oh, and I love how you called the category books "delightfully affordable". That's one of the things I like most about them. So I don't feel bad at all for asking people to buy the books I write, because they're only $5. Asking people to plop down $15 for something I wrote is pretty scary . . . which brings me back to that whole waitress application. Going now.

  51. Cortney it's best, if the word CRAZY is mention, to always assume we're talking about Ruthy unless someone specifically says it's about someone different.



    Not that it bothers me anymore. I AM COMPLETELY OVER IT!

  53. Julie, good morning!!! (well, it's morning somewhere!

    I haven't seen it... It looks good, but when I saw this link to what this guy did...

    The heart of a guy invited to SHOW HIS STUFF for the world to ogle...

    Oh my stars, I wonder if I would ever, ever, ever be that cool. And I sincerely fear I would not.

    And that's a wake-up call, right???

  54. Sandra, good morning!!!! I loved the entire text of Virginia's post, wasn't it wonderful????? But that line you clutched stuck out for me, too....

    I'm reminded of Star-bellied Sneetches. Who cares, really what you have here when our hope is in that everlastingness????

    Those silly sneetches had such a hard time figuring that out!

  55. Mary, we were told the "Polar Vortex" (otherwise known as winter by most sane people) would be easing for us too. So what was the temp this morning when I got up to write? -22. Yeah, really nice and balmy. The schools finally gave up on getting nicer weather and opened today, though.

  56. Melanie-baby, ain't it the truth???? I keep wishing I'd kept my old typewriter, just in case some horrid thing wipes out all of our fancy toys...

    Because I'd still want to write.

    But I have paper and pencil. I'm good!!! :)

  57. I love this post!
    I have my old typewriters - they are very difficult to use after using a keyboard for decades but if needs must, they are raring to go...
    And agree - the coffee shop without buying is pushing it a bit!
    As an indie author I've saved by making my own covers, use a wordpress website, and both look professional (well, I think so!).
    Thinking of everyone in the northern hemisphere from down here in summer time New Zealand.

  58. I love this post!
    I have my old typewriters - they are very difficult to use after using a keyboard for decades but if needs must, they are raring to go...
    And agree - the coffee shop without buying is pushing it a bit!
    As an indie author I've saved by making my own covers, use a wordpress website, and both look professional (well, I think so!).
    Thinking of everyone in the northern hemisphere from down here in summer time New Zealand.

  59. Well said Mary.It always gives me chills at that part of 1776 because they knew they were going to have to give up that fight on slavery to get the Declaration ratified.

    And when the Constitution came around, they tried to bring up the slavery issue again and some fought, but the practice of compromise had been established by then, so there's when they put in the 3/5th compromise. History must be considered in light of the times for sure.

    And I'm completely perplexed by the giving of 1s as a contest practice. On the few occasions that I've judged they make the whole point about the use of paper and ink being worth at least a 2, but maybe some don't see those instructions.... Glad to see you are over it! :)

  60. Myra, I love "Prime", too. I love the shipping deals, I love the perks that go along with it and I love that readers can "borrow" books on their Kindles, the writer/author still makes money and the borrower can enjoy a book without worry. That's a Ben Franklin library-type idea right there!!!

  61. Anita, it's an old movie... Like from late 1970s???? (goes to check...) 1972!!!!

    Hey, I was almost a kid then!

    I'd love to see the real musical. Dave and I love this movie, and so do all the kids. And yes, we sing!!!!


    SO FUN!!!!!

  62. Kathy Bailey, you're in! And I hear ya' on the restricted income, kid. You know sometimes I wonder if that "jaded"-ness in some folks is that they don't realize how tough it is to make weekly expenses for some folks... and how risk-edged life can be.

    My son works in Manhattan, helping the Salvation Army. And so many of the homeless families are folks who were one paycheck away from losing it all... and then lost their jobs.

    Now I'd be in there telling them to go west, grab those jobs in the oil fields, change things up!!! But it's hard for folks to leave friends and family.... Although thank heavens our pioneers were tough as nails. I'm so impressed every time I hear a pioneer story because I'm pretty sure I'd wimp out...

    But maybe not????

  63. Hi Ruthy! Thank you for the great advice. You can't go wrong when 'ole Ben is involved!

    I bought a new laptop last summer, a MacBook Air, which IS more expensive than I need for simply writing. Honestly, I was still using a laptop I purchased in 2004 for college. The Word function and music player still worked, so I was fine, right? Well, yes and no. Since the new MacBook Air models were coming out, the "old" model (only a year old) were reduced by over $400 in price. So, hubby and I talked it over, and I ended up purchasing the older model MacBook Air model, still brand new in the package, just not the latest and greatest model. It works fine, and software updates give me the latest.

    I can't even begin to tell you the difference it has made! My old computer couldn't run the Scrivener software, but that is all I use now on my new computer! It has really helped me "see" my story as a bunch of scenes making a whole, instead of one long document I had to page through to find what I was looking for. Plus, I couldn't use the Internet on my old computer, and being connected has saved so much time. I have found that my word count has increased probably triple from what I was doing before I got the new computer.

    (It also doesn't hurt that I use it to make videos through iMovie for my day job as a PR manager, so I can use it as a tax writeoff as well).

    Anyway, I would LOVE to talk to you sometime, Ruthy. Please don't include me in the e-book giveaway. Hubby and I recieved a Kindle as a gift last September, and the number of times we've used it? Um, I just cleaned the dust off of it the other day. We like physical books better :)

  64. Meghan Carver!!!! Oh, I have learned some of my lessons through the school of hard knocks and being somewhat stupid myself, but eventually I learn!!!! And honey, I raised six kids... Do ya' think for a minute I can't shout over your brood????? :)

  65. Just imagine how many Twitter followers Ben Franklin would have had. : )

  66. Tina, that's so true. Of course some returns are objective and some much more subjective. I tend to err on the objective side now because it's measurable. A big, pricey conference would take a heck of a lot of return to make it worth the investment of not just money but time. I don't know about others, but leaving for days and planning and packing... that's writing time I can never get back.

    Now maybe I'd see that differently if I weren't working with kids still. Maybe the measure of time and money lost wouldn't be as clear cut. But you're right, we need to examine the return on our investment from our personal standpoint.

    Did you bring chocolate or grapefruit? I could use a snack!!!

  67. Also, a shout out to MYRA- You mentioned something on here the other day about Scrivener's Word Count function. I hadn't used it before, and hubby showed me where to find it and what all I could do with it. Now I can keep track of writing deadlines, sessions, etc. So thank you!

  68. Hi Ruth:

    Ben Franklin is one of my favorite indie publishers. Here are three of my favorite Franklin quotes:

    Old Ben’s Advice to Women:

    “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”

    (Given his reputation with the ladies, I believe Old Ben tried his best to help women do just that.)

    Ben’s Advice to Pantsers:

    “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

    Like Voltaire, Ben thought it was better to plod along on the right path than to go fast down the wrong one.

    And this advice Ben has for all writers:

    “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

    Just imagine what would happen if you did both!

    I might add this, “It is not simple living that leads to happiness, as so many of the poor can attest, but rather it’s in having desires that are simple to satisfy.”

  69. RUTHY—I loved all your wisdom—shared in such a fun way—in your post. Business tips are always helpful.

    One thing I did last year was purchase a MacBook. the computer I had before that went into the shop three times in the first nine months I owned it. That meant 2-3 weeks each time that I had no real way to work on my writing. Plus I began to wonder what each little sound, click, or clunk meant. And if I was about to lose everything.

    I researched and prayed, and consulted the hubby. We decided to invest in the MacBook, and I'm glad we did. It's been wonderful to work with and reliable. And the plan I purchased to get help with it has been invaluable. Sometimes, it's worth it to spend more for the reliability and peace of mind. I'll probably keep this for a number of years.

    With contests, I am learning I don't need to enter every one that comes my way. I like your goal of getting onto the editor's desk. Mine has been to get good feedback. I also look at who the final judges are to see if it's worthwhile to get my work in front of them.

    Please put me in the cat dish for all your drawings today. Thanks for making me smile!

  70. Thanks all.

    Ruthy another better name for frugal is being a good steward.

    Im not worried about money as I know God provides and he has been for me.
    We never had alot but I didn't know we were considered poor. I saw mum and dad be good stewards with there money never using credit and if we couldn't afford something we saved. It put me in good stead as an adult. I think you are right when you have had little you tend to manage better.

    I am not worried about the gall bladder but a little nervous about todays test cant go into details here. More so cos the dr didn't prepare me for what she actually requested. But I will be right God knows the answers and has gone before me so good, bad or indifferent he already knows and will be there for me.

  71. Excellent timing with the start of my etsy shop. Lots of things apply.

    Why did I decide on an etsy shop to supplement my income? A lot of my research is actually on ebay. Lots of lost history. So my focus on preserving folks past in a decorative way is a natural outlet.

    And the plot bunnies, as Piper likes to call them, are definitely hopping.

    But I must keep good records, as you mention. And choose my writing conferences and contests wisely so all my side spending money is not eaten up!

    It's hard when you are aiming to write rather than already publishing. But, that can change in an instant, whether through a CALL or the decision to self-pub.

    Peace and thanks, Julie

  72. >> Mary-History Buff, and Ben Franklin Fan said:
    My point is, we need to be very careful when we look at history using modern sensibilities because the truth is often very different when we realize the setting the past was played out in. <<

    Oh, Mary, as a historical writer this is a subject near and dear to my heart ... don't judge the past by the present. There's often so much more than appears on the surface. I'd venture to say there's always more than appears on the surface.

    Okay, returning comments to Ruthy's post topic now :-)

    Nancy C

  73. STEPHANIE!!! I love the word count feature on Scrivener! I just enter the date I want to finish by plus total word count goal, then check the days of the week I normally write, and Scrivener does the rest. It will simply divide out the word count for the average daily output I'll have to meet, or it will keep running tabs on what I need to write each day to stay on track. Handy, handy!

  74. Praying for you Jenny! *hugs*

  75. Ruthy! Ruthy! Ruthy! I have said this at Seekerville to the point of cliché ... this could not have come at a better time for me. So much wonderful info. I'm re-evaluating all kinds of things as I get closer and closer to self-publishing. Writing time is soooo important to me. My major exception -- I judge three contests that helped me immeasurably with my writing.

    I don't recall this being mentioned. Expense-wise, I keep track of mileage to my local chapter meeting. It's an hour's drive one-way (and interestingly also takes an hour the other way). I keep receipts for the lunch I have during that meeting (I'm never at that restaurant other than for a meeting).

    Would love to have my name thrown in the cat dish. Just have to figure out which RLH book I don't have.

    Nancy C

  76. Love the whole living simple theme going on here. That's my style. I did upcycling when it was just trash diving. :-) And this Canuck has learned a lot about Ben Franklin, so thanks for the American history lesson everyone!

  77. Patricia, you missed the Christmas book!!!! I'm tossing your name in, girlfriend!

    And I like that you keep prices down. I'd rather keep prices reasonable (and I employ this with my independent novels, too) and make less over greater sales and get my work in more hands.

    That math formula has "Ruthy-Approved!!!" all over it!

  78. Connealy, I saw that Polar Vortex wave on by.... And I bid him/her/them farewell...

    When did winter become so dramatic??? I'm kind of weirded out by that.

    The haunting music... The background drum, anticipating trouble...

    Oh my stars, I was kinda laughing. Was I the only one who raised a brow over that whole thing?

  79. Mary, I love that writing quote of Ben's. I didn't want to go too over the top, but it's another fave....

    And you're right, (I saw Piper agreeing above!) the compromise for slavery was a tough go for a lot of folks....

    My claim to abolitionist fame is that the farmhouse I live in was built by abolitionists in 1854. They signed the first anti-slavery petition in this part of the country.... and we had an underground railroad station 1/4 mile up the road, an underground passage from the schoolhouse to the little white church, beneath the road... and then on to the railroad going through Parma. Harriet Tubman used to pass through my town on her trips north to Canada.

    God bless that woman and her raw courage.

  80. Naomi!!!! I waited tables for 11 years....

    I gotta tell you, folks meet my customers and co-workers in stories all the time! And one of my customers brought me a Brother Word Processor back in the day to help me on my writing career!!!! How stinkin' sweet was that????

  81. Naomi, cha-ching on the crazy weather nonsense!!!!

    Raising a cup of auld lang syne to winter!

  82. Ruthy, such a great post about planning and choosing what you really need.

    And now I'm dying for a treadmill for my unmentionables and other clothes drying! LOL

  83. A research trip (disguised as a fun family vacation of course), to upstate New York has always on my wish list, Ruthy.

    All the stuff you've about where you live (and Debra Marvin talks about on Facebook too), makes me want to go sooner rather that later.

    Just not in the winter. It's too cold up there then.....:)

  84. Joanne, hey to New Zealand!!!

    Yeah, laugh at us with this cold spell, but I hear the flowers are so beautiful after a tough winter!

    AND.... I loved seeing New Zealand in The Hobbit! GORGEOUS!!!!!!

  85. Loved the post today Ruthy! I read it before going to work today and was almost late getting there. Not that I'm ever really late as I always work at getting to work 1/2 hour before I have to start so I can read a book or my Bible.

    I would love to have my name thrown in the cat dish for a "Chat with the Crazy Author". :) Thank you for the opportunity.

    I would love to be thrown, well my name anyway into the cat dish for a book too. I think I'm missing a couple of your earlier books. :(

    May you have a blessed evening! It's snowing once again in Indiana!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  86. Hi Ruthy! Great post!

    The only book I don't have of yours is the Summerside one.

    Off to copy this!


  87. Ruthy, I love your common sense advice.

    My parents owned their own small business and I heard much of this growing.

    Love it. Thanks for the reminder.

  88. Stephanie, you're in!!! And I hear you about the Mac.... and I've had my share of o-l-d computers, you know, the kind with the mice running the wheel inside to give us an Internet connection???

    Myra will love that you're using Scrivener!!!! She will happy dance over that one and I'm a firm believer that whatever works for you as an author is the way to go, the task to grasp.

    There's that individuality popping up again! But isn't it fun to see the difference between a slog computer and an up-to-date operating system???


  89. Mary, I will remember that lol

  90. Vince!!!!

    You're so right, Old Ben was the first indie publisher and he's withstood the test of time. Go, BEN!!!!!!

    And I love that last quote, it speaks to the heart of the matter about simplifying life....

    Although while I do that, I don't weaken my goals. I love having adjustable goals, plans and ideas.

    But I do like embracing a "less me" life. If my crazy-big ego can stand it, of course!!!!

    Good to see you, my friend!

  91. Nancy C. you're so right... mileage can be used and deducted for anything writing related. Great point!

    And I'm all about listing lunch as a necessity. I love food!!!!

    Missy, the treadmill works well, but hey, for like $12.99 you can get one of those wooden folding racks at Walmart.... Way cheaper than the treadmill.... sigh.....

  92. Can you believe I was here early this morning and wrote a great comment filled with wit and wisdom, and then our router gave out and I LOST IT!!!

    Tried commenting from work, but never found enough time to drop into the conversation.

    Thought about commenting when I came home for lunch, but hubby and son were home discussing various methods of deer jerky making, and what we were going to have dinner, and what did I think about hubby getting a root canal? C'mon, really? I had to choose Ruthy or root canal??

    So, Ruthster, I would buy the $400 HP over the $1200 Mac because I'd be scared to death to break the Mac!!

    And I love conferences, but if I had to go with the most bang for the buck, I'd much rather go back to this quaint little house in Lyons, NE with my bestest buds and write thousands of words.

    And I plan to give away books to commenters on blogs and Facebook friends rather than compete with thousands of books in contests.

    I'll be eternally grateful for unpubbed contests bringing the Seekers together. If you're unpubbed, polish your work, enter contests with editors/agents as the final judges and get your mss out there!!

    Whew, what a day!!

  93. Great practical stuff to ponder! Thanks, Ruthy!

  94. Audra, hey!!!! I had to stop back and see if there were any late night cuties and yes!!!! It was YOU!!!!

    I love that we think alike in so many ways! And yeah, I like that little house in Lyons. And Mom's cinnamon rolls. I did miss the wifi, though.....

    But the company was BEST EVER.

    You know, I love the old-now-new notion of reader's luncheons. That's a fun premise for me, to just hang and talk to folks. I can handle that kind of marketing!

    Common ground stuff I'm good at. Putting myself on a pedestal? Naw, just not me.

    We're of the race that knows Joseph, the norm. I love it that way.

  95. I always LOVE Ruthy posts! And a Ruthy post with good ol' Ben Franklin is perfect!
    Lots of wisdom in here, Ruthy (from you AND Ben) so I'm sure I'll be re-reading.
    I must confess I'm much better at managing my money (the small amount there is) than managing my time, so I'm really working on that area this year (especially my time spent writing!).
    And I've probably already told you this, but I LOVED The Lawman's Holiday Wish---in fact, if I could ever get close to caught up on my TBR stack, I want to RE-read your book (yes, I enjoyed it THAT much!).
    Hugs from down south, Patti Jo :)

  96. I'm so late, Ruthy! Sorry. Forgive me, please.

    Great blog. Great topic. Make it work for you, right? Don't stretch the pocketbook too far. Do what you can and don't fret about what you can't do. Did Ben say that? No, I did. :)


  97. I think that it is often a matter of priority & necessity when it comes to outlays.

  98. Ruth,
    This practical post was a great reminder as we begin another year on our writing journey.
    Cindy Huff

  99. Ruthy,what an interesting post with all the comments. Where are you in upstate NY? My mother was born in Brooklyn, but had relatives in Camden, Syracuse, and Bernards Bay on Oneida Lake. Loved trips there as a child -always during the summer, though. Didn't get to see the beauty of snow there.But we had it this week in indiana, too. Didn't get out of the house for five days.

    Please enter me in the books and phone drawings. Thanks for the time you put into Seekerville. I'm new as a reader, but really enjoy it.