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Jessica Dzubak by Jessica Dzubak - 2w ago

So you may have noticed a little re-branding going on with my website lately.

I’m super excited to do this little makeover and slowly start the process of moving away from my hard-to-spell, hard-to-pronounce, silent-consonant last name that belonged to my ex-husband.

That’s right. Ex-husband.

You see, we couldn’t have got a divorce before I started my freelance business, filed with the IRS, created a website, the whole nine yards. No, that would have been too easy. And who likes easy?!

Apparently the process to change the name of your business OR file a doing-business-as is a little complicated, and would involve filing papers, paying fees, creating a new bank account, you get the picture. And, as someone who hopes to hear wedding bells again in her future - I’m not ready to take that plunge just yet.

So in the meantime, my re-branding is utilizing my middle name - lynn. I’d love to one day become Jessica Lynn Writing Services, but for now, you’re stuck with my hard-to-spell, hard-to-pronounce last name.

I apologize for any confusion and hope to get this all cleaned up one day in the (near) future!

-J

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Literary mastermind and the person I’d give my left kidney to have a beer with, Stephen King once said,

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

As with most things, I’m inclined to agree with the master of horror.

I probably spend more time reading than I do writing, because reading is the thing I can do just about anywhere. In the dentist’s waiting room, in bed when I can’t sleep, on the couch when my boyfriend is cooking (the scene in my apartment just minutes ago…).

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that I am reading more ‘like a writer.’ Reading has always been a pleasurable activity, stimulating and stress-reducing. But it’s also been productive in shaping me as a writer. I read a variety of genres and authors, but recently have come across an author whose books slightly resemble what I envision my “style” to be. Racy, without being trashy; dramatic, without being ridiculous; tense, without being overly so; romantic, without being cliche.

So as I’m reading book 3 in a 4-part series, I’m forcing myself to notice why I like her books so much. I’m noticing how she strategically ends a chapter right when I want to know more, or how she changes character POV or switches timelines.

I’m paying attention to how she describes her characters, what makes them so relatable and non-irritating. What sorts of plot-twists does she employ that stick to the overall plot and theme, but still throw a wrench in and keep the reader hooked and engaged?

Since reading these novels, I’ve been able to come up with some plot twists and character development ideas for my own work - simply because of what I notice while reading.

Reading like a writer takes time and practice, and it is something I’ve only just started to do - and I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember, back in the first grade when I wrote my own rendition of a Cinderella tale.

Reading like a writer doesn’t take the fun out of writing. In fact, it adds a certain intrigue and excitement, I think. I look forward to reading more by this author and exploring others to hopefully enrich my own work, and I think this is a valuable skill and tool that all writers, experienced or not, should be using. (Besides, do I really have to convince a bunch of writers to read? I think not…)

  • Find other books/authors/stories that share similarities to your own work.

  • Pay attention to what you like about them. Was it the changing of POV? Cliff-hanging chapters? Frequent plot twists? Complex characters? Lots of dialogue? Split timelines?

  • Start thinking about how you could incorporate those elements into your own work, with your own personal style, voice, themes, etc.

  • When you’re finished reading a story or book, don’t forget it. Critique it, make notes if you have to, really force yourself to analyze it - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  • Always be thinking about how you can add dimension to your plot and characters - and how you think other authors have been able to do this well.

  • Always ask why. Why did that character do the thing? Why do they feel this way? Why do want it to end this way?

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Goals. Plans. Dreams. Resolutions. Whatever you want to call them, we’ve all had ‘em. We’ve all started the year out with enthusiasm and hope, only to be left disappointed every December. (that good old dream of fitting in that one pair of jeans that haven’t fit since high school, am I right, ladies?)

In the beginning of 2018, I was in the midst of the most confusing and difficult time in my entire life. I was faced with challenges I could’ve never dreamed of, I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, or what my future held. My goals and resolutions for 2018 were quite different from previous years, and I’m proud to say I’ve held true to some of them.

For 2019, I want to continue my trend of “Think, Feel, Do”, but first I’m going to lead with a quote by a woman who inspires me, Ms. Barbara Corcoran, that I believe sums up all of my goals for the upcoming year:

Insecurity is a wonderful motivator.

Think:
  • Trust more

  • Stress less

  • Be more mindful

Feel:
  • Own it

  • Channel insecurity into motivation

  • Grow and enhance my relationships

Do:
  • Graduate with MSN

  • Improve budgeting (and actually stick to it!)

  • Decrease debt

  • Increase professional assertiveness

  • Exercise minimum of 3x/week

  • Finish 1st draft

  • Continue to grow freelance business

  • Do more of what makes me happy (dog time, baking, reading, family, friends)

  • Read more books (duh)

So how do I get there?

Notice how this year I didn’t say “lose weight” (!). What I did say was: exercise at least 3x/week. What that will do is 1) get me healthy, 2) get me fit, 3) get me strong, 4) get me toned, you see where I’m going with this.

Having goals isn’t about micromanaging the heck out of every day in order to achieve them. It’s about breaking them down into smaller, bite-sized, achievable things that in the end get you where you want to go. Instead of saying “save money”, I want to improve my budget and stick to it. If I do that, I save money.

I’m not perfect - some of my goals are broad and vague, but that’s okay. The goal is to accept imperfection, right?

I’m imperfect and I own it.

This past year, I’ve learned more about myself than I could have imagined. I’ve also learned that my life is a form of organized chaos, and if I embrace it - things go a heck of a lot better than if I try and fight it. I keep my chaos organized with the Erin Condren Life Planner, which I have been using for years and absolutely could not live without. (I am not affiliated with EC at all, I just simply love love love this planner and it’s worth every penny.)

So my challenge to you - is to think about how you can own it. Think about what you want to achieve and what steps you need to take to get there.

Stick To Your Goals:
  • Break bigger goals into small, bite-sized steps

  • Write them down

  • Review your goals frequently throughout the year

  • Make your goals visible in your home, office, wherever you spend your time

  • Be realistic

  • Own your mistakes and “failures”

  • Reward yourself!

What are your go-to tips for creating attainable goals? What goals did you accomplish in 2018? Comment and share!

I wish all my readers safe and happy holidays!

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Jessica Dzubak by Jessica Dzubak - 2w ago

As a side-hustle freelancer, the word “no” isn’t a big part of my vocabulary.

But I’m here to tell you, if you want to be sane enough to enjoy your successes - learn how to say no.

So many of us are people-pleasers, right? By day, I’m a Registered Nurse. My entire career is based on helping others and people-pleasing.

In my freelance business, I want to please all of my client’s. I want to find out what they want and deliver even more than they asked for. In my job, I want to take on every project and I want to kill it in everything I do.

I’m going to share something here that my boyfriend told me when we first started dating, and I’ve found it to be applicable to so many things:

He said, “Just because you can do everything (alone), doesn’t mean you should have to.”

I love being Wonder Woman, don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of my multi-tasking, my ability to meet ridiculous deadlines, and my (sometimes annoying) hyper-organization.

But I’m learning to say no.

Figure out your priorities.

Note: I said your. Not your family’s, not your husband’s, not your boss’. Your priorities. Your priority might be more time with your family, but that’s still your decision. That’s how you want to spend more of your time. If your priority is to spend more time marketing your side-hustle business, then by all means say YES to those late-night SEO research sessions.

Know your worth, then add tax.

We’ve all seen the quote floating around on social media - and I wish I could give credit to whoever came up with it. Because it’s wonderful. Whether it’s determining rates for your side business or how many overtime hours you’re going to put in this week… know your worth. Determine what that bottom line is for you, and stick to it. Don’t leave it up to others to tell you what your worth is either, that’s all you, baby.

Avoid the snap decisions.

I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of the “reflexive yes”. Whatever it was, I’d take it on. ‘I’ll figure it out later,’ I would tell myself - knowing full well I wouldn’t have time for it and I would end up regretting that simple one-syllable word. If you have the option, take some time between the ask and your response. Even five minutes can be beneficial. Those five minutes you can reflect on whether or not this fits in your priorities, if it is a reasonable ask (remember that whole self-worth thing?), and if it’s something meaningful to you. Sometimes we take things on with minimal reward or return on investment, but we do it because it is meaningful to us. That’s okay! What’s the point of a life full of meaninglessness experiences?

Ask yourself why.

Are you saying yes because you want to impress your boss? Are you doing it because you have a real interest in the project? Are you saying yes because you need the money? There are a multitude of reasons why we take on projects or jobs. Maybe you have an opportunity to work with a highly respected client, and it’s important to you to build a relationship with them. Maybe you feel passionate about a certain project and want to be a part of it. Whatever your “why” is, figure it out and stick to it. If you’re struggling to come up with a reason why - consider saying no.

What are your tips for saying NO?

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Literary mastermind and the person I’d give my left kidney to have a beer with, Stephen King once said,

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

As with most things, I’m inclined to agree with the master of horror.

I probably spend more time reading than I do writing, because reading is the thing I can do just about anywhere. In the dentist’s waiting room, in bed when I can’t sleep, on the couch when my boyfriend is cooking (the scene in my apartment just minutes ago…).

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that I am reading more ‘like a writer.’ Reading has always been a pleasurable activity, stimulating and stress-reducing. But it’s also been productive in shaping me as a writer. I read a variety of genres and authors, but recently have come across an author whose books slightly resemble what I envision my “style” to be. Racy, without being trashy; dramatic, without being ridiculous; tense, without being overly so; romantic, without being cliche.

So as I’m reading book 3 in a 4-part series, I’m forcing myself to notice why I like her books so much. I’m noticing how she strategically ends a chapter right when I want to know more, or how she changes character POV or switches timelines.

I’m paying attention to how she describes her characters, what makes them so relatable and non-irritating. What sorts of plot-twists does she employ that stick to the overall plot and theme, but still throw a wrench in and keep the reader hooked and engaged?

Since reading these novels, I’ve been able to come up with some plot twists and character development ideas for my own work - simply because of what I notice while reading.

Reading like a writer takes time and practice, and it is something I’ve only just started to do - and I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember, back in the first grade when I wrote my own rendition of a Cinderella tale.

Reading like a writer doesn’t take the fun out of writing. In fact, it adds a certain intrigue and excitement, I think. I look forward to reading more by this author and exploring others to hopefully enrich my own work, and I think this is a valuable skill and tool that all writers, experienced or not, should be using. (Besides, do I really have to convince a bunch of writers to read? I think not…)

  • Find other books/authors/stories that share similarities to your own work.

  • Pay attention to what you like about them. Was it the changing of POV? Cliff-hanging chapters? Frequent plot twists? Complex characters? Lots of dialogue? Split timelines?

  • Start thinking about how you could incorporate those elements into your own work, with your own personal style, voice, themes, etc.

  • When you’re finished reading a story or book, don’t forget it. Critique it, make notes if you have to, really force yourself to analyze it - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  • Always be thinking about how you can add dimension to your plot and characters - and how you think other authors have been able to do this well.

  • Always ask why. Why did that character do the thing? Why do they feel this way? Why do want it to end this way?

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Jessica Dzubak by Jessica Dzubak - 3w ago

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about going for your dreams and how to stop making excuses.

Well, it’s about time I start practicing what I preach.

School’s done, I got promoted, life is good. I have no excuse not to put all my efforts into my manuscript and finish this first draft. It’s all well and good to imagine success, to envision the feeling of finally completing something, of receiving a publication offer, (or really, just hearing from someone that you don’t suck), but none of those things will happen if I don’t actually finish the damn thing.

And last time I checked, thinking about it doesn’t exactly put words on pages.

So, I’ve decided to pull out all the stops and utilize every outlet possible to keep me on track and give me some accountability. I’ve decided to change up my website a little bit and shift towards what my goals really are, and that is to finish my manuscript and get it published. I know, I know…a website won’t bring me all my hopes and dreams. But it’s a start.

Wish me luck, friends.

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Goals. Plans. Dreams. Resolutions. Whatever you want to call them, we’ve all had ‘em. We’ve all started the year out with enthusiasm and hope, only to be left disappointed every December. (that good old dream of fitting in that one pair of jeans that haven’t fit since high school, am I right, ladies?)

In the beginning of 2018, I was in the midst of the most confusing and difficult time in my entire life. I was faced with challenges I could’ve never dreamed of, I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, or what my future held. My goals and resolutions for 2018 were quite different from previous years, and I’m proud to say I’ve held true to some of them.

For 2019, I want to continue my trend of “Think, Feel, Do”, but first I’m going to lead with a quote by a woman who inspires me, Ms. Barbara Corcoran, that I believe sums up all of my goals for the upcoming year:

Insecurity is a wonderful motivator.

Think:
  • Trust more

  • Stress less

  • Be more mindful

Feel:
  • Own it

  • Channel insecurity into motivation

  • Grow and enhance my relationships

Do:
  • Graduate with MSN

  • Improve budgeting (and actually stick to it!)

  • Decrease debt

  • Increase professional assertiveness

  • Exercise minimum of 3x/week

  • Finish 1st draft

  • Continue to grow freelance business

  • Do more of what makes me happy (dog time, baking, reading, family, friends)

  • Read more books (duh)

So how do I get there?

Notice how this year I didn’t say “lose weight” (!). What I did say was: exercise at least 3x/week. What that will do is 1) get me healthy, 2) get me fit, 3) get me strong, 4) get me toned, you see where I’m going with this.

Having goals isn’t about micromanaging the heck out of every day in order to achieve them. It’s about breaking them down into smaller, bite-sized, achievable things that in the end get you where you want to go. Instead of saying “save money”, I want to improve my budget and stick to it. If I do that, I save money.

I’m not perfect - some of my goals are broad and vague, but that’s okay. The goal is to accept imperfection, right?

I’m imperfect and I own it.

This past year, I’ve learned more about myself than I could have imagined. I’ve also learned that my life is a form of organized chaos, and if I embrace it - things go a heck of a lot better than if I try and fight it. I keep my chaos organized with the Erin Condren Life Planner, which I have been using for years and absolutely could not live without. (I am not affiliated with EC at all, I just simply love love love this planner and it’s worth every penny.)

So my challenge to you - is to think about how you can own it. Think about what you want to achieve and what steps you need to take to get there.

Stick To Your Goals:
  • Break bigger goals into small, bite-sized steps

  • Write them down

  • Review your goals frequently throughout the year

  • Make your goals visible in your home, office, wherever you spend your time

  • Be realistic

  • Own your mistakes and “failures”

  • Reward yourself!

What are your go-to tips for creating attainable goals? What goals did you accomplish in 2018? Comment and share!

I wish all my readers safe and happy holidays!

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Jessica Dzubak by Jessica Dzubak - 3w ago

This Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be grateful for.

I know, I say that every year - but this year is different. This year, for the first time in about 4 years, I am able to spend all of the holidays with my family. My 16-hour-night-shift days are behind me, and I’m incredibly grateful for my job that allows me to enjoy my holidays and weekends again.

But that job didn’t just fall in my lap. I had to work for it.

When my entire life was falling apart, I realized I wanted to make a change. A big one. I wanted out of shift work, out of the chaotic emergency room, and out of constant exhaustion. The problem was, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. It was like being back in high school, trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up all over again.

So what did I do? I hustled. I applied to a variety of nursing jobs and reached out to contacts I had. One of those contacts told me about a job opening at her organization and put me in contact with the Director.

After my first conversation with the Director of the department, I was sold. The job sounded perfect (as perfect as jobs could be) and I was definitely qualified for it. It was everything I wanted in a job and more.

All of this was happening around the holidays, but I was persistent. It took several follow-up emails, long phone calls, and two interviews (one with the entire organization!) but I landed the job and started in March.

The entire process took months, but I’m grateful for every moment of persistence and hustle. I learned what it was like to work for something, to have to prove why you’re the best person for the job (the woman I was competing with was actually more qualified than I was and had more experience, but I was told I nailed my interview).

I’m grateful I didn’t settle for another job I would’ve hated in the end, and I’m grateful I didn’t stay put in my old job just because it was easier than trying to find a new one. I’m grateful I pulled myself out of the ugliness that was my life this time last year, and I’m grateful I found my inner hustle.

On a more personal note, I advocate for never settling in every aspect of your life. I learned this lesson the hard way, but with the crumble of my marriage came the beginning of a new phase of my life. Now I’m in this amazing phase of self-discovery and growing a (relatively) new relationship that’s turning out to be everything I have always wanted.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, be grateful - and never settle.

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Jessica Dzubak by Jessica Dzubak - 3w ago

As a side-hustle freelancer, the word “no” isn’t a big part of my vocabulary.

But I’m here to tell you, if you want to be sane enough to enjoy your successes - learn how to say no.

So many of us are people-pleasers, right? By day, I’m a Registered Nurse. My entire career is based on helping others and people-pleasing.

In my freelance business, I want to please all of my client’s. I want to find out what they want and deliver even more than they asked for. In my job, I want to take on every project and I want to kill it in everything I do.

I’m going to share something here that my boyfriend told me when we first started dating, and I’ve found it to be applicable to so many things:

He said, “Just because you can do everything (alone), doesn’t mean you should have to.”

I love being Wonder Woman, don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of my multi-tasking, my ability to meet ridiculous deadlines, and my (sometimes annoying) hyper-organization.

But I’m learning to say no.

Figure out your priorities.

Note: I said your. Not your family’s, not your husband’s, not your boss’. Your priorities. Your priority might be more time with your family, but that’s still your decision. That’s how you want to spend more of your time. If your priority is to spend more time marketing your side-hustle business, then by all means say YES to those late-night SEO research sessions.

Know your worth, then add tax.

We’ve all seen the quote floating around on social media - and I wish I could give credit to whoever came up with it. Because it’s wonderful. Whether it’s determining rates for your side business or how many overtime hours you’re going to put in this week… know your worth. Determine what that bottom line is for you, and stick to it. Don’t leave it up to others to tell you what your worth is either, that’s all you, baby.

Avoid the snap decisions.

I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of the “reflexive yes”. Whatever it was, I’d take it on. ‘I’ll figure it out later,’ I would tell myself - knowing full well I wouldn’t have time for it and I would end up regretting that simple one-syllable word. If you have the option, take some time between the ask and your response. Even five minutes can be beneficial. Those five minutes you can reflect on whether or not this fits in your priorities, if it is a reasonable ask (remember that whole self-worth thing?), and if it’s something meaningful to you. Sometimes we take things on with minimal reward or return on investment, but we do it because it is meaningful to us. That’s okay! What’s the point of a life full of meaninglessness experiences?

Ask yourself why.

Are you saying yes because you want to impress your boss? Are you doing it because you have a real interest in the project? Are you saying yes because you need the money? There are a multitude of reasons why we take on projects or jobs. Maybe you have an opportunity to work with a highly respected client, and it’s important to you to build a relationship with them. Maybe you feel passionate about a certain project and want to be a part of it. Whatever your “why” is, figure it out and stick to it. If you’re struggling to come up with a reason why - consider saying no.

What are your tips for saying NO?

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Let me just say, I love tees & totes.

Concert tees, ones you steal from your boyfriend that are 10 sizes too big, that one ratty shirt you’ve had since elementary school because hello, nostalgia! I love tees so much, that I once tried a (nasty) beer that shall be remain nameless just for the free t-shirt.

The only thing I love more than tees & totes, is books.

So naturally, I was super excited to discover literarybookgifts.com.

I love supporting small businesses, especially when they offer a wide variety of unique, quality products. Literarybookgifts is just that.

My most recent order to this shop included two tee’s and one tote.

Ladies on left, Mens on right

Tee’s: Ladies fit - Darwin’s Tree of Life & Men’s Fit - Kafka, Metamorphosis

The tee’s are printed on quality cotton fabric with designs as advertised. The men’s tee fits true to size, however the ladies run very small. I ordered a large, and it’s a super slim fit that doesn’t fit like a typical large. I suggest ordering a size or two up, or choosing a men’s design if you prefer looser-fitting tee’s.

Tote: Little Women

Now, as an owner of way too many totes, I admit my expectations were quite high. I have to admit, I was impressed with this tote. It’s roomy, without being too large that you feel like you’re carrying a suitcase around. The material is thick and quality, giving the impression it won’t tear with the slightest use. The image is lovely on a pinkish background.

So the next time you’re having a ‘treat yo self’ day or you are searching for the perfect gift, check out literarybookgifts.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a special coupon code!

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