Tag Archives: Gift Cards

Guest Post: Sophie Barnes

Hi friends! I hope you consider me your friend. I think of you all as friends. For the obvious reasons, but also because it’s so plain you’re all so much nicer than I am. And who doesn’t want to be friends with nice people? Someone who is stupid, that’s who. And I’m not stupid. Or at least not that stupid. 

All stupidity (or lack thereof!) aside … we’ve got a guest with us today! A guest that showed up! Gold star to her! Who is this wonderful gold star achiever, you might ask, if you didn’t see the title of the post? Sophie Barnes, that’s who!  

A quick look at how I write:

Stories come to me little by little – they’re a gradual process that takes shape as my characters develop and start interacting with one another. When I first started writing, I did take a look at how other writers developed their plots and characters, hoping that I might stumble upon some words of wisdom, or better yet, a well kept secret to success =) As it turned out, they differed as much as their genres, leaving me more confused than ever. Some would make a very structured outline and then proceed to follow this outline step by step, leaving nothing to chance, while others would have a less concrete idea of what to expect, making up the story as they went along instead.

Because of how much easier and orderly it seems, I have tried making a detailed outline – repeatedly. This however, just doesn’t work for me. Sooner or later my characters will move off in an unexpected direction, they’ll have a conversation I wasn’t planning on, and just like that, the whole plot will veer off at a 90 degree angle. I love writing like this – it’s like reading a new book (I have some idea of where it’s heading, but I’m not entirely sure of what will happen along the way). Naturally, writing like this means that there are moments when I get stuck or write myself into a corner that I simply can’t get out of. In these instances, I either have to go back and take the plot in a different direction, or simply put the manuscript aside for a day and hope that a solution will come to me (it often does, right before I go to sleep in the evening, allowing me to get up the next day and write with renewed enthusiasm).

Other than this, my work schedule is a bit sporadic. My days are busy taking care of my two small children (three if I count my husband =)), I don’t have a quiet office that I can retreat to – my desk is at the kitchen counter, so I write on the go. Many people have stared at me in wonder, asking me how I managed to write a book, much less two or three (I’m now working on my fourth) when there are constant distractions all around me. The answer is simple really – lots of hard work, determination and sheer stubbornness =) I love writing, so it’s never been a chore, but rather something that I’m able to savor, whenever a spare momentallows it. Most of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back was written during my children’s
naptime or after they would go to bed in the evening (thus the reason why this book took me two years to complete), but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t working on the book the rest of the time – I was always thinking about the plot. This saved me a tremendous amount of time, since I always had an idea or two ready to go when I finally sat down in front of the computer. The acknowledgement of having it published, with other books following in its wake, is an unbelievably wonderful feeling of accomplishment. A great man by the name of Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” so I did =)

Sophie wants to know what are you passionate about? And I want to know what is a “task” (or something generally considered one) that you love to do? Is there one? Why should you answer our questions? Well Ms. Barnes is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter! 

Swagbucks and Headaches?

Two totally unrelated things, by the way.

I was totally knocked out on Tuesday with a migraine. I got up, almost threw up, and promptly crawled back into bed and spent nearly the whole day there. Yesterday and Today have been a sort of sad recovery.

Nevertheless I forgot that I’d been meaning to share a big money making/saving tip with all of you. Sadly we all missed out on the team challenge, those of you like me, and the others who don’t know about Swagbucks. I’m not going to link to it, because I’d like for the referral link to show. Let me explain – it’s a digital dollar, basically. You get these things called Swagbucks that you can exchange for a number of prizes or items. I pretty much always go for gift cards. To Amazon. So I can buy books. No, I don’t have a book problem, so let’s not talk about it, okay?

WordPress – or at least my site hates Swagbucks. No idea why. However, there’s a promo going on right now. If you haven’t signed up, I’d love for you to use my referral link: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/limecello (you have to copy and paste it, sorry – that whole hating thing…)  It’d be super sweet. Also, if you sign up, please let me know beforehand so I can give you a code for 70 additional swagbucks! It doesn’t cost any money to use. It does have a “rewards” thing – like with credit cards, if you buy through them/their link you get X number of swagbucks, but that’s a “your choice” thing.

I’ve been using it for over two years, and never saw an increase in spam or security. In fact, what actually got me was that stupid writerspace hack. Arrgh. I’ve made a few hundred in gift cards. Based on my last count etc, I’d say ~$500 now? (Yeah  – that’s a lot of books. And shoes.)

I’m also blogging about this because now through Halloween there are these special “Holiday Collectors bucks” and you can get bonus SBs for collecting them. It’s just a search and win site – you use their search engine instead of say, Google, and you’re randomly awarded bucks. Anywhere from 7-50, which you can trade in for stuff. I’ve talked about it before. And explained how it works and how to use it “best.”

See? It’s cute!

So remember – consider signing up. (With my referral code, please!) But before you do – let me know so I can give you the code to enter while registering. (Otherwise I don’t think it works.) And then go and get stuff – gift cards, items for gifts, all the good stuff!

*ETA: I’ve posted the link – and actual link – in the comments! Hah, WordPress, I have outsmarted you!

Free Money? Almost!

*ETA: I took out links for now because wordpress isn’t playing nice, but I’ll add them in if/when I can figure out what’s going wrong. In the meantime, I listed them all out in the first comment 🙂

On Swagbucks:

If you follow me on twitter (which I think is how many of you found me), you’ll know I talk about Swagbucks every so often. It’s something I discovered sometime in February, 2009. Thus O_o holy cow – just calculating, I’ve made around $450 (in gift cards) from them. In less than two years, for doing nothing. (Well, almost nothing. Seconds of clicking, really.) Proof? You’ll notice that’s a screen cap, and how long the page goes by the size of the scroll bar. I’ve also conveniently included links to everything linkable that I talk about.

In the two years since I joined, I haven’t noticed any sort of increase in spam, or any security risks. My email hasn’t been hacked, and so on and so forth. Just to let you all know, because I know that’s often a concern – and a very valid one.

What is a “swagbuck”? Well, basically a virtual dollar that you trade in for stuff. Obviously I gravitate towards the Gifts & Rewards Cards. Aside from a few sweepstakes (called “Swagstakes”) that’s where I spend all my Swagbucks. Yes, it sounds stupid, but hey, it works. “Swag” to me is defined as “stuff we all get” – probably because I spent so long in school and discovered it while in school. There almost is a free lunch when you’re a student.

You can win swagbucks by searching via the swagbucks search engine (based on google and yahoo and ask?), finding codes which are released almost daily, watching videos, and a few other daily tasks. I’ve actually timed it, and you can get a minimum of four swagbucks a day – which takes less than a minute. (I think it was like 49 seconds… both times I timed it. Yes, I actually do put thought and preparation into these posts!) Searching wise, you can enter anything. Many have a random search bookmarked, and click it a few times a day. Sometimes you get bucks, sometimes you don’t. For the denominations, anything from 7-50 swagbucks may be rewarded on any given search. Also, if you don’t trust the links (which I don’t if they’re “sponsored links”) – I just run the search then type in the url. I seem to visit the same places over and over so they’re already there anyway. The links are also listed – like a google search, so click through at your discretion. I don’t tend to like the videos as much because many seem to be older youtube videos, but what I do like is the meter- which tells you how close you are to winning swagbucks. You have to watch X number of videos. And… if you leave it on in another window and check back every so often, it’s an effortless way to make 5 or more swagbucks.

The four tasks are as follows: 1) Refreshing the toolbar/simply having it installed 2) Answering the Daily Poll question [the day of] 3) Checking the “Trusted Surveys” – you don’t even have to complete any [most people screen out of most anyway, it seems, or at least my age demographic – but those are extra. I’ve gotten a few] and 4) Going through the No Obligation Special Offers, aka NOSO – I don’t do any of them, I just click “skip” as many times as it takes for me to get my buck. (And yes, I included the skipping time in the 49 seconds.) If my math is right, even if you only do those four things every day you can make $20 a year. Which, somehow when I was doing it mathematically is around $9/hr. But you know, don’t hold me to that, because I’m definitely not a mathematician.

As I stated, there are a number of ways to “win” swagbucks. Personally, I would caution against the do X for swagbucks “Special Offers.” E.g., trials of magazines, or downloading or installing whatever toolbar (outside the swagbucks one). I’ve done fine without, and those “free trial” types have a way of biting you in the ass. You know the horror stories about people getting like $300 bills for supposedly free magazines, etc. But if you want to go ahead and do them, by all means – go for it!

If you want to, you can friend Swagbucks on Facebook – where if there are codes, users often post hints… or on the Twitter account. There are also other twitter accounts such as WeLoveSwagBot which tweets a link to anything potentially a code.

I know other people use swagbucks too, to varying degrees. It takes a tiny bit of effort to figure out, but I feel like this post sufficiently explains it so you can go forth and win. At least enough to make joining worth it.

There’s also a “Shop and Earn” section, where if you click through from the swagbucks site, you get X number of bucks for Y number of dollars. I generally use this if I’m buying from a place where I don’t get any sort of extra cashback bonus from my credit card. It’s nice because iTunes, Target, Macy’s, Barnes & Noble, Newegg, and a hundred+ other stores are part of the program. And, if you buy some sort of electronics from Newegg, you can really rack up the shop and earn bucks. What’s even better is sometimes there are coupons listed.

*Disclaimer/Note: I would really really really love if you used my referral link (http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/limecello). You don’t have to, but if you sign up it’d be a nice thing to do. And we all know the universe eventually rewards those who do nice things, right? Anyway, what do I get from it? I get matching swagbucks for the first 1,000 bucks you earn via searches. So, translated into gift cards, you’d be giving me ~$10.00, at no cost to you. I don’t see any of your personal information, or what you searched, or anything. It’s just a little way to share the love.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments, or if you want me to respond via email say that. I’m happy to do the best I can! Oh, and yes, I realize the swagbucks look absolutely goofy and spammy. I have to say, when I started, the site looked different, otherwise I never would have considered it. It seems the larger swagbucks get, the more cartoonish it becomes. But, I’m not going to complain about it too much, because the gift cards keep rolling in. <3