Calling All Writers: New Site To Help You Earn Money Writing!

This last month I’ve been really busy working on a number of new projects. But there’s one that’s pretty much ready to show you now (since most people reading this are friends or fans). It’s a new blog on how to earn a living with your writing. Basically, as a writer with an Internet connection these days, there are many different ways you can earn money. So, I thought I’d help to showcase all of these different types of jobs you can do, and mix it up with writing tips, blogging tips, marketing advice and ideas on publishing books. In short, this is a site for any writer who wants to write for money.

I also decided that I wasn’t going to start as a solo venture. The site is my idea and essentially my problem, but from day one I’ve had Mark O’Neill, the former Managing Editor of MakeUseOf.com, on board. For now it’s just us two, but I hope to grow the team in the future. I’m, also working on another project with Mark, but it’s not ready to show you just yet. Stay tuned!

Allow me to introduce: WriteRevolution.net


If you’re a writer, come and check it out. Hopefully you’ll learn some useful tips you can use to make a bit of money. If you’re not a writer, send it on to a friend who might like it. It’s still very early days yet, so we could use a bit of promotion. :)

Unequal Childhoods - Annette Lareau

Concerted Cultivation Approach To Parenting

I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and have just been blown away by the chapter that discusses concerted cultivation as being more useful to children than any form of innate genius (this article explains concerted cultivation better than Wikipedia). I have read about similar approaches to concerted cultivation in parenting, but never before has the results of this approach been made so clear to me. I am convinced it is worthwhile and I really must try to keep this in mind as I bring up my kids.


Now, the concerted cultivation idea is not just about kids doing lots of extra-curricular activities, although that has its place. I do believe kids also need to have time to just muck about and be kids, getting bored and seeing what they do with that. The activities are only a part of the concerted cultivation idea, and ultimately help the kids by letting them specialise, excel at things, see their needs as important, socialise broadly and see different aspects of society. All important, yes. The rest of the concerted cultivation approach is about the way you speak to your child, and the way you teach them to value themselves, value their opinion, and most importantly to assert their wishes and feel valued and entitled to respect. The most important aspect, I feel, is in teaching kids to see adults as their equals, offering explanations and teaching them to negotiate.

In particular, I noted from Annette Lareau’s study that one child was coached by his mother before a doctor’s appointment. She asked him if he had any questions for the doctor and making it clear that he should be assertively asking the doctor questions while he was there. Another result of this grooming is that the kids grow up to believe that interactions with adults and institutions can be tailored for their needs – ultimately, that there is a point to negotiation and discussing issues. They become their own advocate.

They could also become whiny, and unable to think of anything to do when they get a spare moment (as Linda Quirkle has written about). I guess there’s a middle ground between this and the Slow Parenting/Forest Kindergarten approach, which are also very promising ideas. However, even Linda Quirkle seems to see that being confident with authority and verbally accomplished is a better advantage for the child’s future than being able to entertain themselves easily.

I have previously thought similar things myself on occasion: the kids whose parents were always looking for scholarships got scholarships, unsurprisingly compared to the parents who didn’t look, even if the latter parents/kids could have used the money. But now I see it’s more than that. It’s also that these children know that the scholarships exist and that they may possibly be eligible. That they may actually be entitled to it if they ask for it.

Outliers: The Story of SuccessOutliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Halfway through reading this, I was struck by the importance of concerted cultivation in parenting and went on a bit of a rant on my blog. I may soon need to read Annette Lareau’s Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life.

Also, this book features in Marc & Angel’s 40 modern non-fiction books everyone should read, which is a really good list. I made the list in Goodreads here: Marc & Angel 40 NonFiction.

View all my reviews


Queen for a day

The WAHM Life: It’s Bipolar

I have two kids now, and I’ve been meaning to get back into a more regular blogging habit for my own blogs. It’s difficult. Right now I have a toddler in my lap. Earlier I started writing on the couch and the baby kept slapping my laptop screen (touchscreen – I knew that was a bad idea). Let’s face it: I live in a zoo and I’m housed with the monkeys.

My life these days is always-on, yet so fragmented. Sleep is something that happens in 10-min to 3 hour stretches between 10pm and 8am. If I am sufficiently rested I drag my butt out of bed at 6am and start working (my best work time for the day). When the kids are up they take up 99% of my time and energy, with me being the entertainment master, bum cleaner, food-giver and comforter. Sometimes I can sneak a moment while they’re awake to get some work done. I check work email on my phone while feeding and try to do as much as possible like that.

I try to do as much housework as I can while the kids are up and about, even if it means putting the TV on so I can do dishes. When the kids are asleep or at creche I get my work done. I can’t stop to rest. Sometimes when I have just the baby I can read or watch a bit of TV while I’m nursing. That’s my chill time.

My relaxing time away from work and housework is always spent with the kids. My break from the kids is while I’m cleaning or working. And when the kids fall asleep or get preoccupied with some toys I need to change gears and get on with the most appropriate task ASAP.

The baby hasn’t really spent much time away from me, either, as he hasn’t taken well to milk from a bottle. He’s just started creche, which means the amount of times he’s spent 3 hours away from me in his 13 months of life is steadily increasing from its previous high of 3 times. Tomorrow I’ll be away for 7 hours – let’s hope he’s okay!

Anyway, you can see why I haven’t felt blogging really featured in my life much lately. Apart from blogging for work, that is. So blogging for myself? Uh, it took a backseat. Sorry. :)


Lately though I have made a few posts here and there. On Vegemite Croissant I ranted about the hilariously NSFW things English people say in French accidentally. On Smange Cuisine I have finally started to document the food I make, starting with an awesome hot chocolate and the easiest pulled pork recipe you’ll ever read.

That’s all I’ve got time for. My life is fragmented. My blogs are fragmented. Keep up if you like. :)


Finished Cataloguing Our Book Collection Online!

I’ve finally finished cataloguing our books in Goodreads (here’s me). Apparently, we have over 4000 books! Woo!

So, that’s not a huge number by some people’s standards, but if you consider that we transported them from Australia to France and that I’ve now familiarised myself with every single ISBN… I think it’s plenty (for now). Cataloguing these books has been a side project of mine for most of the past year, so I’m very happy to have reached the end of it. We also went so far as to scan the covers for about 1000 books which were old or rare enough to not have covers online already.

The reasons behind cataloging all our books are many and varied, but the important ones are:

  • Now we know exactly what we own, we won’t (often) accidentally buy books we already have. This is a big problem when we’re shopping in Australia or England  - or even in online sales. You need to be able to check quickly!
  • If we ever lose our collection in a fire or some other disaster, we know what we used to own and can work on buying the good books again.
  • We can work on building the collection and buying missing books in series.
  • We can keep our wishlists alongside what we own, so when we buy things they’re automatically removed from the wishlist.
  • Because Goodreads lets us view intersections of “shelves”, we can cross-reference our wishlist and books we own with best-of lists in order to work out what we should buy next or read next.

I’ve already added some excellent best-of book lists to Goodreads, so our cross-referencing lists are very useful. For instance:

Because of the sort options available on Goodreads, we can sort according to best ratings or the number of people who have read it. So, we can get a community feel for how popular the book is as well as the best-of book list’s idea of what is a good book. Also, when you finally click on the book, you can check out what everyone actually says about the book.

And yes, being in France means that most of the books we read will be books we own and if we want to read something new, we’ll probably have to buy it. Yes, we might read some French books from the library or borrow something from an English-speaking friend. But that’s occasional compared to most of our reading.

Ultimately, finishing the cataloguing means my free time can be spent READING the books, which I’m pretty darn excited about. So, this is the list of books I’ll be ultimately focusing on reading this year. Plus, I’ll read whatever interesting books cross my path in the meantime. I’m looking forward to a great year of reading.

Some vaguely interesting stats on our books:

Anyway, I’m excited about it — it was a really big project and took up a lot of my time and now it’s DONE. Yay!


A bit about me

I’m an Australian in France, trying to travel and make sense of it all. I’m a pretty easygoing person who likes just about everything and then can’t fit it all in.

I’ve got all sorts of personal blogs you can read if you like. Try smange.com, Alcorn.id.au, Twitter, Facebook.

Flixter and Trakt will show you what I’m watching, Goodreads will show you what I’m reading, while Last.fm will show you what I’m listening to.

There are links to most of my sites and social network profiles at About.me/Smange.