A Writer’s Training Budget: 3 Ways to Get Free (Or Almost Free) Training

November 14th, 2011

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

library photoI’ve blogged about using a training budget before, but sometimes you may find your budget is hovering around $0. What do you do then? Spend time trolling through other author’s blogs, especially those who offer eBooks (and other types of media) covering topics you’re interested in, and prowling over social media networks. There are three things to be gained from this.

  • Free information from the blog itself— Most blogs are free to read and easy to subscribe to by RSS or email. If you’re a savvy reader, you can pick up how-to info from author blogs whether the author is trying to teach their readers or not. Sometimes it’s obvious, like from Kristen Lamb’s blog in which she teaches on how to build a killer author platform using social media. Other times it’s a matter of noticing what the blogger is not saying. Same goes for other social media like Twitter and Facebook. Find authors you want to learn from and follow them. Read enough blogs, tweets, status updates, etc. and you’ll learn an astounding amount about whatever it is you’re interested in.
  • Discounts are there to be had — I’m one of those people who rarely buys anything as soon as I see it. I hate buyer’s remorse. That means I’ll wait around until the book or service I want goes on sale. For instance, I really wanted to by Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog as soon as I saw it on his site. However, there were no excerpts to read to know exactly what was in the book and I wasn’t sure my budget would handle yet another bad buy. (FYI this eBook is one of the better training buys I’ve purchased in several months.)I waited to buy the eBook until I read a tweet that said a group called the SITS Girls were signing up women bloggers to take the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge and Darren was discounting the price of the eBook for all those who signed up. Jackpot! Not only could I get the eBook at a discounted price, but I would have a large group of women to work with. Waiting can be hard, but it’s worth it when you get what you want at a price you can afford.
  •  Sometimes a freebie is just a click away — Another author I truly admire is J.A. Konrath. He has found a way to make very good money on his eBooks through Amazon’s Kindle store, so, naturally, I follow his blog closely. He also has an eBook called The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, which, like 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, I really wanted. The price wasn’t bad, but, again, no excerpts. Then I discovered that Joe has made the eBook available for free on his website. (Thanks, Joe!) Voila! A little research and I had my eBook for free in a version I can read on any laptop, computer or eReader. That won’t be the case for every book or training series you might want, but it’s worth a little “foot work” to see if it’s out there (and not a pirated version!).


Finding what you need can take some time, but it’s worth it for good training.

Where have you discovered a great deal?


Catch up on the adventure with other books in the Malkin series.

Apprentice Cat CoverApprentice Cat available in paperback and for KindleNookKoboScribd and iTunes.

Buy the .pdf now 

Also available as an audiobook on AudibleAmazon and iTunes.



Journeyman-Cat15percentJourneyman Cat available in paperback and KindleNookScribdiTunes and Kobo.

Buy the .pdf now 

Audiobook coming soon.



Secrets-of-the-Malkin-sidebar-newsletterSecrets of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookiTunes and Kobo.

Buy the .pdf now 




Huntress of the MalkinHuntress of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookKobo and iTunes.

Buy the .pdf now 

Being Positive Is A Choice

June 8th, 2011

Being courteous shouldn’t be an afterthought. Unfortunately, it often is. We are prone to criticize more often than praise, especially those in the service industry.

Consider the stereotype we’ve developed for the DMV folk: sour, nitpicky, legalistic people who would rather make your time there more difficult than go out of their way even a little to help you. Perhaps you’ve met someone like that in other service industries.

We laugh at them on tv and movies. We growl about them to anyone who will sympathize. But how often do we think about what their day must be like?

How often do we take the time to be the positive influence in someone’s life, if even for one moment?

One of my favorite bloggers had this to say about being positive:

The key ingredient that makes the difference between failure and success is attitude. People LIKE positive people. We can’t get enough of them. We love them and want to help them. Their energy refreshes everyone around. Be one of those points of light, and others will want to support you.

It takes no great effort to be negative, but there are no monuments erected to critics. Criticism is easy and it’s lazy. Anyone can find problems, but it takes character and creativity to find a bright side, to look for solutions.
Kristen Lamb

It reminded me of one my daughter’s favorite movies, Ratatouille. The food critic Anton Ego is suddenly faced with the idea that his original critical attitudes were wrong. He chooses to be the positive influence in the end and is much happier for it.

The truth is we can choose to complain about anything and everyone, but it will never make us happier. Being a positive influence in any situation, on the other hand, can lead to a better, more peaceful life.