"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's Back! The 3R's Series Returns for 2018

On information overload?
Don't know where to start to move you forward in your writing goals?
Want to work "smarter, not harder"?
Pen & PROsper has got you covered.

From what's hot in online reads, to resources, to reviews on products and services beneficial to today's writers.
So, if you're on board, let's get busy.
























If one of your goals this year is to beautify your home or office, plants are a great way to accomplish this. Plants provide color, visual appeal and style.
Both artificial plants and live ones have their advantages; I have both in my home. 
The images you are viewing now reflect a lovely, artificial plant that adorns my basement. I received it from Thermaleaf.com Fire Retardant Artificial Foliage. What I dig about it is that it requires no maintenance, complements any decor, and can be placed in interior or exterior spaces. 
It looks much like my live ones.
I would rate it ****1/2 stars out of 5.
The only thing I would change is the base container. I would have liked something a little bigger with a warmer tone. But, overall I'm betting you would be pleased to have your very own.
For a vast array of styles, sizes and price ranges, visit Thermaleaf.com.
This ends this month's edition of the 3R's. Wishing you a wonderful, progressive writing week!
Comments? Questions?




Thursday, January 11, 2018

Is There a Disconnect in Your Brand Messaging?


Today's savvy scribe recognizes the importance of building a writer's platform through strategic branding. It's a great way to stand out and stay relevant in a sea of many.
And it's more crucial now than ever before.

Here’s a vital statistic to consider: according to Statista.com, the number of bloggers is expected to reach 31.7 million in 2020.
With this type of competition, bloggers will need to make sure that their brand messaging is clever, credible, creative and consistent.

In other words...It's not just what you say, but how you say it that matters.
Which brings us to the essence of today's post.

Before we address how to become more effective and successful in your brand messaging, let's explore what it is.

According to ErvinandSmith.com: "Your brand messaging strategy is a combination of several branding elements. It defines how you plan to position and differentiate your brand within the competitive landscape by communicating a unique value proposition through a unique brand personality. In short, your brand message strategy says what’s special about your brand and it’s personality."

Translated? Brand Messaging takes into account your blog design, your slogan, your social media profiles, your business cards, your products, your writing style, your mission statement and your overall public image.
It's how you communicate with clients, readers and potential investors.

Now let's look at how inconsistencies and irregularities in brand messaging can sabotage your efforts, compromise your image (and adversely impact your bottom line).

Overpromising and under-delivering

It's a simple mistake that I witness far too often in my online reading. And one that is easily rectified.Your blog's "About Page" states that you update your site 3X a week. But, really it's more like once a month or whenever the mood hits you. Which is totally your option. But be honest about it.  If not, it  "communicates" that you're either not reliable, not fully committed, or you have problems with counting. Don't set up unrealistic expectations. Granted, sometimes things happen that are out of our control that may prevent us from posting: illness, death, holidays, etc.
Still, try to be reliable as much as possible in building your brand. Reliability breeds trust.
Trust breeds good business.

Mixed messages

On your website you boast that you make a good buck in your practice. And that you can help other writers to do the same, if they sign up for your blog updates. Yet, you claim in your writers' submission guidelines that you "can't afford to pay for guest posts at this time."
Huh? If your business is flourishing and you advocate for writers being paid for their talent and time, why not be part of the solution, rather than the problem?
Those that talk the talk, need to walk the walk.

Being more promotional than helpful in your interactions

Not recognizing the concept of W.I.I.F.M. (What's in it for me?) 
There's a lot of "noise" on the Net. And your goal is to be heard above the chatter. True?
One way to achieve this is to offer readers resources, needed answers to their pain points and entertainment value for their time. Don't just sell like hell.

A "bland" brand

Failing to inject humor where applicable; being fearful of addressing controversial topics; not being original in your writer's voice or blogging approach.
For example, when I first started out, I tried to please EVERYBODY. I sought to avoid anything that might alienate others, including: religion, relationships, opposing views, etc.
Then I realized that one of the best things about being a scribe is presenting one's own individual perspective and life's experiences. Some will dig me. Some won't.
But, in the lyrics of Sammy Davis Jr.: "I've gotta' be me."
You should be you, too.  :-) Just make sure that your humor is tasteful and that you respect differences when engaging with others in public forums.
Remember...Vanilla is great as a flavor of ice cream. A "vanilla" brand? Not so much.

For bodacious branding that resonates and connects with today's busy readers, follow these four timely tips. "Say what you mean and mean what you say."
Thanks for reading, folks.

Thoughts? Agree or disagree?

Image: Pixabay.com



Monday, January 8, 2018

How to Effectively Search for Freelance Jobs in 2018

Welcome back, readers!
It's a pleasure to have you join me at Pen & Prosper in 2018.
It promises to be an informative and exciting year.

It's already off to a great start: this morning I received the news that Pen & Prosper has been recognized once again as a "Top 100 Blog for Writers."
Thanks so kindly for your readership, recommendations and support.
For those interested, you can read more here:


Today's guest post provides tips and techniques to enhance your search for work and achieve some of those writing resolutions.
So, if you're on board, let's get busy...

It can be a bit daunting initially setting out as a freelancer; often people don't know where
to start. Even those who have been at it for awhile can find looking for clients to be challenging. Where should you look for assignments? How do you identify reliable job leads? Well, first thing you’ll need to do before you embark upon your journey, is get your portfolio together, polish up your writer’s resume and begin searching online for jobs that best suit your talents and skill set.
With this in mind, here are a few insider's tips to effectively search for freelance jobs in 2018:

Use Keywords

Use a variety of keywords to search for jobs such as:
· Write for us
· Freelance writers wanted
· Writers needed
· Looking for writers
· Contributors wanted

You get the idea! You can mix these searches up as well to find different results. "Write for us" is a good one to use, because it will bring you to pages that hire contributing writers on an ongoing basis. These seekers will be more likely to have time to consider your offer seriously. Remember that pages use a variety of terms to call for freelance writers; so make sure to do several searches to get maximum results. You might have to comb through a few pages too to find what youre looking for.

Use Job Boards

Job Boards can be a great place to find freelancing jobs! They are a very competitive forum, though. Check back every day for new jobs and create strong, tailored pitches. There are plenty of great job boards out there, but here are some popular ones you'll want to start out with:


Blogging Pro

Freelance Writing

The Write Life


Narrow It Down To Your Niche

Whatever your niche, make sure to include it in your search. If you're a travel writer, for instance, be sure to include the word "travel" in your searches; it will help narrow down your search and you wont have to spend hours looking through ads for technical writers.

Advance Your Search

Use the advanced settings in Google search to look for results in the past week and past month. This will ensure that you find the most up to date jobs. Theres no point in scrolling through ads from 4 weeks ago that have likely been filled by now.

Take Your Time

Know that it is going to take a good bit of searching to find a suitable job that is just right for you. Dont take the first few jobs you find, allow yourself to be selective and dont sell yourself short and take something thats beneath you. Also avoid jobs that only offer "exposure" and a link back to your blog as compensation for your articles. Translated? This is code that you will not be paid anytime soon.
Know your worth.

Best of luck!


Sarah Talty is a freelance journalist from Ireland, with a demonstrated history of working in the publishing industry. Skilled in writing, editing, and proofreading. Strong media and communication professional, in the process of completing a Journalism and New Media with English degree from the University of Limerick. She can be contacted here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pen & Prosper's 3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide!

"Tis the season to be jolly!"
And there's no better way to add joy to the holiday than through thoughtful gift giving.
Whether you're in the market for items to present to a fellow writer, or undecided as to what to ask Santa for yourself, today's list has got you covered like a blanket.

In no particular order, here's what Jen recommends to provide "warmth" to those you care about, this winter.


Books are to writers what rain is to plants: they help us grow. And the options are unlimited. Choose from writers' reference guides, romance novels, or even poetry books. You can't go wrong here. If you're seeking guides to help you blog better or earn a bigger income, I hope you'll consider titles from my popular Ebook series. To learn more, or to order, check out what's available here:


Today's journal entry can become tomorrow's blog post, or anthology story, or poetic piece.  And journals are great for both men and women. Need I say more? Score yours at Amazon.com or your local Dollar Tree Store.


This little item packs a lot of punch. I ordered it from Figis.com to provide nature sounds to help improve my quality of sleep on those restless nights.
This multi-media night light features sound effects, an alarm and more.  Sweet dreams to you!


Adult beverages are the perfect accompaniment to holiday dishes and can add more joy to family gatherings. Here's a helpful guide to better inform your choices. 

I love the versatility of decorative throws. And you will too. They can be used to accessorize your home, or to cuddle under while you watch TV and sip tea. I purchased this leopard version to place in my home office to add a little style and oomph. Prices range from about $9.99 to $59.00 in an array of colors, fabrics and sizes.


Teas are economical, reported to have health benefits, and come in an assortment of flavors and herbs. 
I highly recommend Celestial Seasonings.


There's something to be said for the care, time and creativity it takes to give lovin' from the oven.
 I should know; I enjoy making these personal gifts and receiving them.
Make it something chocolate to double the pleasure. For an extra added touch here, it's often nice to bundle them in a pretty basket with specialty coffees and flavored syrups.
Armed with these timely suggestions, you're sure to be a big hit with the family, friends and co-workers on this year's gift list.
"Ugly sweaters" optional.
Here's wishing you and yours a bright, beautiful Christmas filled with your heart's desires.
Thanks so much for your readership and support to Pen & Prosper in 2017.
Please note: I will be on blog break for the holidays until January 16, 2018. 
Your turn.
What's on your wish list this Xmas? What did I miss? 
Anything appeal to you on this list? Curious.
Image credits:
All photos by Jennifer Brown Banks


Friday, December 8, 2017

The 3 R's Series Rocks More Writing Leads & Reads!


How to turn new clients into repeat customers

Choosing a Domain Name for your blog

Become a successful International Freelance Writer

Seeing Beauty in Today's World

5 Savvy ways to make Money with your blog

When is it okay to Write about Personal Stuff?


Writers Helping Writers

Writers' Workshops, Conferences & Programs


Chicago Writers Association*Let's Just Write!




While browsing the vast selection of titles at one of my local video outlets, I came across a movie that definitely had promising potential. This flick featured Vince Vaughn (of which I am a huge fan). 
And it offered a bonus of a fun holiday theme.
How could I go wrong, right?

Read on. 
In the true spirit of couple-dom, Reese Witherspoon and Vaughn end up making the rounds to visit a quartet of relatives for Xmas (hence the title)-- once their exotic vacation plans fizzle out.
In the process, they find their resilience (and commitment) tested through kin-folks who fail to understand the meaning of boundaries and good taste.

Though the storyline was cute and relate-able, it really didn't deliver. 
The "funny" felt forced, and so it ultimately fell short for me.  

In all fairness, there were a few funny scenes and interesting moments, but overall, I wasn't impressed. So, unfortunately I'm gonna have to rate this movie 2.5 stars out of 5.

This wraps up this edition of Pen and Prosper's 3R's series.
Thanks for reading, folks.

Image credits: Popcorn-Pixabay.com
Book- Freedigitalphotos.net

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Food 4 Thought Friday-Be Less Busy!

Life is so uncertain. Unpredictable. Unrelenting in its many lessons.
The last time I published a post here, I was excited about holiday plans, social events, and the anticipation of a big holiday "spread" that would undoubtedly spread my waistline with the ease of butter.
But, I've never really been a calorie counting-salad eating-diet Coke drinking chick.
Why start now?  I was on cloud nine, "as visions of sugar plums danced in my head."

Then it all changed. In 72 hours.
I got a call from my mom that my brother died unexpectedly.
I can't begin to tell you how that rocked my world. How it changed my perspective.

As is human nature, I immediately began to reminisce.  I thought of all the good times.
I remembered all the plans that Pete and I  "tentatively" had, but never quite found the time to get around to.

He loved my cooking! We were supposed to get together at his new place soon, where I would whip up some comfort food and share some laughs.  Also on the list was a plan to attend local real estate seminars (of which we both shared an interest). But, I got busy. And so did he.

I'm sure you can probably relate. In these fast-paced, hectic, demanding times, we find ourselves trying to fit more in than can reasonably be accommodated; particularly if we factor in restful sleep and self-care. But, take it from me, we must make time for family, friends and loved ones.

If I could do things over again, I would do it differently.
Unfortunately, real life doesn't provide a "rewind" button. Bummer.

So, the moral of the story here?
Be less busy. Make sure that your activities and routines reflect your values.
Spend less time on Facebook and more on cultivating real conversations that create real bonds and future memories.

Put your cell phones down at the dinner table.
Cherish each day. Tomorrow is not promised.
And tell those near and dear to you that you love them. While you can.

I love you Peter...Rest in peace.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Thoughts of Thanks and Year End Reflections...

It's been a challenging year for many of us in many ways.
From horrific acts of violence witnessed on the news, to political chaos, to natural disasters, to personal trials and tribulations.

Still, when I woke up this morning to see the vast difference in the weather, the falling leaves that colorfully decorate my front yard, the peaceful calm, the transition of the season, I am reminded of the beauty and divinity in nature, the daily blessings (big and small). The things we may take for granted, if we don't "Stop and smell the roses."

Sometimes when we're mired down and buried under the rubble of life, it's hard to remember the good things--to see the hope and promise in tomorrow. And yet we must.

Instead of focusing on all the negative things going on around us, I invite you to join me in celebrating the richness of life, moving forward.
As we embark upon the holiday season, let's give thanks for liberty; for family and friends; for good food and laughter; for bargain sales; for the joy of children; for creative gifts; for love's passion; for the therapy in music; for chocolate; for health and shelter; and most importantly, for our Saviour.

In this same spirit of gratitude, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Each. And. Every. One. Of. You. For your readership, comments, questions, suggestions, engagement, business support, social media shares, and words of encouragement through the year.

It means more than you know.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful, bountiful, blessed, safe Thanksgiving season!


Please note that Pen and Prosper will be on a brief break until December 1st.
I look forward to re-connecting.