Behind the Scenes at Orozco Ink

... and I'm going to post more writing samples ...

For 2018, I promised to post more writing samples and to not be so self-conscious. I'm not going to make any apologies or belittle the writing, either.

This is from the Catalyst for Cats newsletter. I do volunteer work with this fabulous all-volunteer nonprofit.

Happy New Year! Happy New Chair!

Happy New Year! Here's to hoping 2018, aka the Year of the Dog, is the best ever.

Even with the ash of the Thomas Fire still evident, my 2018 is off to a fine start.

Example: On Tuesday, Jan. 2, I ordered (online) a new office chair, which was scheduled to arrive between 8 to 10 business days. On Wednesday, Jan. 3, the chair arrived late afternoon. I thought it best not to tackle assembling the chair after a full workday, so it sat, unopened, in its box until Thursday morning, when I figured I would get out all the parts and read the directions. Then start putting it together on Friday.

"Friday? Why wait?" you might ask.

Because I'm really not very good at this sort of thing. Nor is my husband. Definitely neither of us enjoy it. Furniture assembly is probably the closest we've come to divorce. Really and truly. Infidelity, nope. Fiscal fights, nope. In-law misunderstandings, a wee bit. Unfair distribution of labor in regards to household chores, more than a tad. Whose turn is it to be Designated Driver, sometimes ...

Well, you get the picture. So I figured, best to take it slow and easy. Maybe get some special snacks for Friday to associate the assembly with pleasantness.

Yesterday (Thursday) I took out all named 7 parts and 7 pieces of hardware (including supplied Allen wrench). The five steps of directions seemed easy enough, so I thought, "Go ahead, give it a whirl. You can stop anytime as you are so far ahead of schedule with the early delivery and assembling starting a day early."

Within 30 minutes, my new snazzy red leather-lookalike chair was ready for me to plop into and start working. And here I am telling you about my wonderful start to 2018.

Hope you have as nice a start to the Year of the Dog as I did.

BTW, the chair's official name is Dorado Office Chair. It comes in a choice of colors. I ordered it from Costco.

And, I must point out, as it's in my line of work, there should have been eight parts listed with directions of six steps. They forgot the thingee (black plastic) between the base and pneumatic cylinder   solely decorative in function, I believe. Even with that gaffe, assembly was a breeze. Sooo much better than IKEA!

Writing for a Living

I recently finished two big projects. It's a good feeling to have wiped the slate clean. There's more time for the little things like not hurrying through a newsletter or spending a few minutes tidying up my office.

On the flip side, I'm on the hunt for a new work project. A billable new work project. My bread and butter is clear and concise writing, such as journalism, copywriting, corporate communications, and other straightforward prose. My style translates well to social media, too. Brevity has its rewards.

Keeping the faith is the most important thing I can do while looking for more work. The actual "looking" part isn't difficult or distasteful, though it can be a challenge to remain optimistic the closer the first of the month and all the due bills inch forward. If you hear of anything, please keep me in mind.

Here are some other going-ons:

First, I feel funny, in a loser-ish sort of way, returning to my blog after such a long hiatus. You know, like I'm a fraud or an amazing opportunity to beat myself up real good doesn't come around that often 
-->  better seize it! That's why I find writers like Linda Menesez and Alexandra Franzen so helpful. Give 'em a click, you also might benefit.
Second, the new issue of Carpinteria Magazine is expected on the streets Nov. 17. 

Read it here if you can't pick up a print copy. Hope you like it.

Birthday cake. 
Third, I had the opportunity to eat cake TWICE today. The first was a birthday party at lunch for a colleague. The other was a retirement party for a colleague this afternoon.

Fourth, as way to keep Orozco Ink circulating in cyberspace I nominated the business for the Seven Day B&W Photo Challenge that is so popular on Facebook. Let me know if you think that is tacky. I'd appreciate it. You can follow my challenge here.

Looking forward to writing more often. Thanks!

Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer

Here's how I'll be spending the first Sunday of June: 

The Plaza Improv Players will be performing “Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer” at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 4 at the Plaza Playhouse Theater, 4916 Carpinteria Ave. in downtown Carpinteria. Directed by Tom Mueller, this salute to the season is a one-hour unscripted, unrehearsed show using the tools of improv. Tickets are $10 and available at the box office from 2:30 p.m. day of the show. More info, call Tom at (805) 794-7467.

I'll be performing. Thinking on my feet. Scaring myself to death. And loving every minute of it. Would love to see you there. 

When work is slow

Magazine cover shot by Glenn Dubock. 
Work is slow. Or should I say, "It has stopped."

Carpinteria Magazine just hit the streets. There's a short lull until we start revving up for the next issue. Additionally, there's been some client attrition in my business. It happens.

Today I find myself facing a day of no billable hours. In many ways, a day without deadlines is something to be treasured. In other ways, a day without deadlines is nerve-wracking.

Here are some of the ways I handle a downturn in billable hours:

  • Freak out. Fully and completely. Typically lasts less than a few hours.
  • Regroup. Embrace the huge cache of "free time" to take care of non-billable items such as follow Real Simple magazine's advice on "Easy Ways to Make Your Office Happier" and tidy my email inbox.
  • Hunt. Troll Web sites such as MediaBistro, JournalismJobs, and, of course, Craigslist, among other platforms. The hunting is kind of fun, though it's a lot more fun when I'm not so hungry for work. 
  • Market. Update social media and engage. Send an email to prospective clients about what I do. Attend meetings of professional organizations of which I belong, such Association for Women in Communications, Santa Barbara chapter.  

My desk pre-organizing. Not too bad, but better now. 

I have been lucky that paying work usually shows up before I've had time to thoroughly enjoy some non-billable time. Today I keep the faith that that will happen again. And it will, as long as I keep up my end by doing what I need to do to get more work and by keeping the faith.

Sustainable Blogging - an idea whose time has come

Here's an idea whose time has come: Sustainable Blogging. This is not my idea and take no credit whatsoever. 

Credit goes to Cooperative Wisdom authors Donal Scherer and Carolyn Jabs, who blogged about it. Click here to read it. 

My takeaway from the post is that we are all so overwhelmed, not only with everyday life but also with the digital bombardment that accompanies us everywhere. Is it really necessary to post for posting's sake? Wouldn't it be better to have something of value to say or share? 

Your takeaway probably will be different, but I guarantee it will be of value. Click here and take a couple of minutes to read the Sustainable Blogging post. 

I liken the idea to the Slow Food movement, which started in response to fast food. Slow Food is about purposefully taking time to make a delicious and nutritious meal and then savoring the effort. 

Pictured above is Ava. I got stuck finding suitable artwork for a Sustainable Blogging post, and Ava fit the bill. 

Getting Ink in a Newspaper or Magazine

Carpinteria City Beach in January 2017. 
This probably isn't going to make me popular with people who sell print advertising. I thought it worth sharing, anyway, because I'm frequently asked about how one goes about getting ink in a newspaper or magazine.

Here's part of an email I sent answering someone who recently asked me that question. 

"Regarding the local newspapers, of course, any of them would be happy to sell you space to run an article praising your business. 

The trick is to make the article sound more OpEd-ish and tailor it to the newspaper's readership. Then the paper may run it as editorial rather than advertising. You don't pay and, more than likely, they don't pay you. 

Here's what I suggest: 

  • Create a list of newspapers/magazines/outlets and check the editorial guidelines. 
  • Decide which ones you want to target. 
  • Massage the article to fit the newspaper/magazine/outlet. 
  • Call the editor(s) to say you're sending the article. 
  • Send the article. 
  • Follow up with the editor(s).
  • Pray. 

There's no guarantee that the article will print, but it might. 

If nothing else, you'll have started a working relationship with newspapers/magazines/outlets and a database. You can send news items on a regular basis, such as a second office, you've hired a new salesperson, your product won an award, and so on."

I hope you'll give the above a try. Your business deserves some ink. 

Out with the old, and that means resolutions

Happy New Year! May 2017 bring you everything your heart desires.

I'm looking forward to a year filled with enjoying my writing. So, I've decided to let go of resolutions of how I am going to post all sorts of Facebook updates, blog bits, and all other social media stuff.

The pressure is off, which means I will probably get around to doing the stuff. LOL. You know, reverse psychology.

Here a few notes I received this month. I want to share them, not to brag, but to demonstrate how a few sentences can really make my day.

Here's to a wonderful 2017.


Has it really been since July 15?

You can thank Alexandra Franzen for this blog post. One of her recent pieces opened with something like "I haven't done a post in 80 days ..." It made me feel a lot better about being so lax about my own communications.

Recently, one of the best, and I mean the best, writing tips/nudges/inspiration came from Sara Caputo, principal of Radiant Organizing. And when a productivity expert sends me something, I read it. It's a post from the blog Barking up the Wrong Tree about, well, about writing. Read it. You'll laugh, and you'll laugh more.

In other Orozco Ink news ... 

Recommended reading!
Here's a cool thing about my work: I get to be involved in other people's cool projects. I was part of the proofreading team for Cynthia Hamilton's book Finding Ruth, which was just published. Cynthia notes that Finding Ruth is a tribute to her mother, who held her family together at all costs, who showed dignity and strength when most people would’ve fled. What she learned by fitting together disjointed memories and facts has made her love and appreciate her mother more deeply than ever before. I recommend Finding Ruth

My husband and I took a month-long vacation and visited Sweden and Italy. Actually, it was 32 days. If so inclined, you can check pictures of the fabulous trip on my Facebook page

My vacation journal. 
"Cooperative Wisdom" is the book on my nightstand. The timing could not have been more perfect with the U.S. presidential election just ending. The sub-title is "Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart." (See what I mean about the timing.)

This is from the book's  Web site: Cooperative Wisdom explains how cooperation breaks down in settings from boardrooms and family rooms to volunteer organizations and public agencies.
Written as a spirited exchange between an acclaimed ethicist and an inquisitive journalist, the book introduces five social virtues that crack open stubborn problems and reveal cooperative solutions. 

The inquisitive journalist is Carolyn Jabs, whom I know from the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Association for Women in Communication. I'm sure I'll be writing more about the book when I finish it. 

•I'll be in an improv show next Sunday, the 20th at 3 p.m. at the Plaza Playhouse Theater. It's been a while since I've performed, but it's guaranteed I'll have fun.
Improv Showcase on Nov. 20. 
Here's more info: 
Just in time for National Absurdity Day, is the Improv Showcase. Under the direction of Tom Mueller, this one-hour unscripted, unrehearsed show highlights the tools of improv, where just like in real life, the players make it up as they go along. Tickets are $10 and available at the box office starting 2:30 p.m. day of the show. There are no pre-sale tickets. For more information, call Diane at 805-284-5404.

Thanks for reading. Nice to be in touch again. Let's enjoy the day!

Love to Write, Love to Read

Love to Write, Love to Read
A Girl Scout troop visited the bookstore recently. Being surrounded by so many readers makes my job very enjoyable.

Date: March 14th, 2012
By: orozcoink

I guess it is no surprise that someone who makes her living by writing also loves to read. I love to read all kinds of stuff: contemporary fiction, biography, plays, newspapers, cereal boxes … whatever has words. That’s why it is so great that I have a part-time job at a book store. The Curious Cup bookstore in Carpinteria, to be exact.

It is not like I get to show up for work and read through my shift. There are customers to help and books to shelf. Nonetheless, being surrounded by the bound pages filled with written words is great. I’m constantly making mental notes about what I’m going to read next or who would like what book. It is quite inspiring.

This is when I laugh at myself when I’m at work — when I see a book and think to myself “Geez, I could have written that.”

Well then, why didn’t I?