Friday, December 19, 2014

My Son Wants To Be A Songwriter

My son is a freshman in high school this year and with that comes project after project after project. One of his most recent projects was a personal finance/career research project for social studies in which he had to research information about the career he wants to lead when he graduates high school and/or college. For this project, he had to also conduct a 10 question interview/Q&A with someone in his chosen profession. But what is this profession you ask? Well my son wants to be a songwriter. To make a long story short, with my help my son was able to conduct not one but two outstanding interviews/Q&A's with two wonderful songwriters, which I just had to share. 

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The first interview/Q&A was conducted with Jacob Alan Jaeger. And here goes....

1. What can you do to get noticed? The best way, in my opinion, is to excel in your chosen field of work. Sheer determination and a stead-fast conviction to your craft. Excellence & mastery create a light of their own that comes from inside you, and is something people take heed of. There are, of course, other ways. A lot of “famous” people (musicians, actors, athletes, Kardashian’s, Beiber’s, Cyrus’, etc.) get notice, not from there talents, but controversy surrounding their own lives. Avoid this path: commit to your craft. From there, the doors begin to open.

2. What keeps me inspired? ALL music, new & old.  Other musicians that I know, though mostly those that I do not, living or deceased. The kindness of other individuals on this planet never ceases to amaze and inspire. Nature, in all it’s myriad forms.  Outer space and the unknown. Sounds, ALL OF THEM. Beauty, beauty, beauty. 

And girls.

3. How can I get away from writer’s block? Ehhhhhhhh… 

4. Is there a way to get my songs sent in to professional companies? Oh yes. With the advent of the digital age, it’s now easier than ever to write, record and submit your original material to these companies. Though, getting your material heard by these people is a whole ‘nother story...

5. What can I do to contact professional companies? First you must decide for what reason you are contacting said company. There are many different reasons individuals such as yourself, or myself, reach out. And there are different companies catering to the various needs of the creative individual. Once these are determined, hit the internet and start sending emails. And don’t be deterred by unresponsiveness, it happens ALL THE TIME. Don’t be discouraged. Keep on keeping on.

6. What can you do to get to get started on your way to success? FIRST, and MOST IMPORTANTLY: PRACTICE! PRACTICE!! PRACTICE!!! Secondly (and this too is VERY important and often overlooked), DEFINE YOUR OWN TERMS OF SUCCESS.  I repeat: Define YOUR OWN TERMS of success. In America, and many other places on the globe, we’ve been taught (see: indoctrination) that the amount of money in our bank accounts and our material possessions determine the level of your success (and often the worth of the individual). WRONG. You, and ONLY you, are in charge of this. Figure out what makes you happy, what you want out of life. The sky’s the limit. For real, dude.  Once you have figured this out, start moving. Ideally, forward. Or up

7. Is the field shrinking or growing? The field is growing at an exponential rate, meaning, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with, in terms of growth. Again, we live in the digital age. Access to information is instantaneous and nearly everyone has that access. It’s pushing the creative individual to be MORE & MORE creative or you’re left behind.

8. Is it possible to get your songs sung by professional artists? Yes, absolutely. We’ll need to refer back to question #5. You can go through companies such as BMI or ASCAP, who help artists & register their works, to help insure, though not guarantee, that you are not taken advantage of. This deals with royalty payments, song publishing & licensing. Once your songs are registered, you then have other entities/companies that are set up to help you pitch your songs to other artists and GET YOU PAID. 

9. What opportunities do YOU currently have? Well, YOU tell me. I do not know you personally, but as far as I can tell, you’ve got the world at your fingertips. Go get it.

10. Once I get big, how can I stay at the top? Oh man, I remember when… This is a broad, broad question. Let’s begin with the phrase, “get big.” 

Or rather, please allow me to preface with this: I’m not trying to deter you with ANY negativity concerning “getting big,"“getting noticed” or any ideas of “success,” though I may sound, or perhaps make it sound, harsh or difficult.  That’s only because this business IS difficult and CAN BE very harsh. With the internet, the availability of home recording studios, social networking, and everything else that comes with living in modern society, the numbers of “creative's" is growing and there are no signs of stopping or slowing. We’ve become smaller fish in an ever-growing pond.

And if you’re anything like me, no matter what you are told or have been told, absolutely NOTHING is going to get in the way of you living out your dreams.  Right?

True talent, true excellence, true creativity, and ORIGINALITY, shine within & throughout.  People can’t help but take notice of this. It’s something that money can’t buy. Just look at so many of these “stars,” especially the younger ones, who experience “fame,” or “getting big” too soon. They’re a mess. Self-discipline is a learned skill, something I, and many of my peers, continue to struggle with, on a daily basis. It’s a full-time job, in and of itself. It takes practice, practice, PRACTICE!  That is how you stay “ON TOP.”  That’s what sets you up for “GETTIN' BIG."

And it’s oh-so worth it. The joy I receive from my instruments, the community of creative friends & family that surround me, the smiles on the faces of the people that we perform for, the MUSIC that I get to make, makes it all worth the while.  I feel myself very successful, though my material possessions are few and my bank account even smaller. 

So, that being said, ONWARD THROUGH THE FOG, little man!

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The second interview/Q&A was conducted with Steven Bryan and here it goes....

1.  What can you do to get noticed? Write songs that come from the heart. Write thousandsof songs. Put on a killer live show. Play everywhere. Fail. Fail again. Never give up, you’ll get better and better. LEARN YOUR CRAFT. There’s no short cut. It’s not easy, but you’ll get there if you REALLY want it. Never take “no” as an answer. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. If you don’t, no one will. Be confident. Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you’re not good enough. You can, and will, it’s just a matter of when.

2.  What keeps you inspired? You shouldn't be seeking for inspiration. Inspiration simply happens. Your everyday life is an endless source of inspiration. A true artist is constantly inspired. You just need to grab it before it goes.

3.  How can I get away from writer's block? A writer's block is your brain trying to say: "Hey dude, it's a bad day, let it go". If you feel like you're going nowhere, it probably means that you don't have to. Don't force yourself; cause nothing great will come out of it. Some of the best songs I wrote they took no more than 1 hour to write.

4.  Is there a way to get my songs sent into professional companies? Electronic Press Kits (EPK’s) are widely used today, but they cost money. Soundcloud is a great tool. And it’s free. Upload your songs and send the links via email. Don’t waste your money on envelopes and stamps. They never open unsolicited mail.

5.  What can I do to contact professional companies? Ask them if they are currently looking for new material, and if so, what type. Ask them if it would be OK to send something in, and who the best person would be to send it to. Ring that person a few days after sending it. Ask them if they received it, and if they might be interested in your work. Then leave it with them – don’t pester or harass. (Most) of those guys are really busy folks and receive hundreds of submissions each week. Also, write “thank you” notes if it’s a pass. You never know what the future holds and it’s not clever to burn bridges at this stage. Be patient. If your songs have some potential, they’ll get back to you. Before doing all this, please consider registering your works with ASCAP or BMI and/or the U.S. Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov).

6.  What can I do to get started on my way to success? You know that girl you can’t stop thinking about? Well, she is your muse, and you still don’t know it. Write her a song, and then another one. That’s how it all starts. John Lennon and Paul McCartney didn’t know they were going to be The Beatles when they started writing their songs. They just wanted to write about that girl…

7.  Is the field shrinking or growing? The music business has changed over the last few years. Drastically. Listeners don’t buy cd’s anymore, and why should they bother? Music can be found everywhere today. Free of charge. Mp3’s, Youtube and Spotify changed the game forever. But they are not the enemy; they can still be your friends. The World Wide Web has given everyone the opportunity to showcase his or her talent to a potentially endless audience, everywhere in the world. Your goal is to gain new fans, so that they can come to a gig. Put on a great live show, play as much as you can, and you’d be surprised of how many cd’s you can sell in one night only. And you know why? Because you’re amazing. And they had a great time. Buying a cd (or a t-shirt) is their way to say thank you. It’s a memory from a great night out. They’re going to tell their friends, and next time you’re going to sell even more merchandise. That’s how you build your fan-base. That’s how you get noticed.

8.  Is it possible to get my songs sang by professional artists?  Of course it is. But you can't do it yourself. You need a music publisher. Music publishers are like record labels for songwriters. Their role is to exploit your songs in terms of pitching, demonstration, and even administration of royalties. Once you have a bunch of songs ready to go (preferably your best ones), simply record some acoustic demos (vocals plus piano/guitar), look for music publishers online and get in touch with them.

9.  What opportunities do I currently have? The sky is the limit, really. Don’t believe those who say that the music business is failing. It’s not. People listen to music like never before. Just the world has changed so much from a technological standpoint over the years. Once it was the tape cassette. Then it came the cd. Now it’s the Internet. Music is not a piece of plastic. It’s an experience. Music fans still pay $100 or more to go and see their favorite acts. That will never change. So they stream your music for free on Youtube? As long as they listen to it, fine. If they love it, they’ll follow you and eventually come to a show. That’s what you have to aim for.

10.  Once I get big, how can I say at the top? Be true to yourself. Don’t play someone else’s game, cause people are going to call your bluff. Don’t follow whatever the trend happens to be at the time, cause by the time you’ll get there, the trend has already changed. My motto is “Be yourself, and be very good at it”. If you live by this, you can’t go wrong. Also, surround yourself with your childhood mates. They’ll never fail you. Oh yeah, and listen to your mum. She always knows better. :)

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Aren't you just blown away by both of these interviews/Q&A's? Impressive is all I can say. They are both truly outstanding, inspirational, and informative. Both Steven Bryan and Jacob Alan Jaeger are wonderful individuals and my son and I can't thank them enough for taking the time to help with his school project. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anne Taintor's Gifts Make the Holidays Fun, Festive, and Fabulous {and a Giveaway}

I love Anne Taintor products, especially during the holidays because Anne Taintor's essential gifts make the holidays more fun, festive, and fabulous. If you have a savvy, witty woman in your life who is impossible to shop for (and would love a good laugh), Anne Taintor products will make the perfect gift.


You can buy a box of Anne Taintor's boxed holiday cards for all the women in your life. They are sold in boxes of 10  and measure 4 1/4" w x 5 1/2" h. They are sure to bring smiles to all your nearest and dearest. Available in several different styles and full of nostalgic holiday charm, a touch of attitude, and don't forget glitter, you can't go wrong with these boxed holiday cards. My favorite caption is "the mistletoe wasn’t the only thing that was going to get hammered." I bought some of these boxed holiday cards for my co-workers one year and they were a big hit.


Or you could buy her knee socks since they are all the rage these days. The fabulous images on Anne Taintor's socks were hand drawn by Anne herself. They measure 14" heel to top and will keep your toes warm, trendy, and gorgeous. My favorite caption is "if you’re going to kick ass, you need kickass shoes." If she doesn't like knee socks, get her a pair of crew socks. I have a pair of  Anne Taintor knee socks and they are definitely festive and comfy. 

Or how about one of Anne Taintor's popular mini trays or hostess trays? 
The hostess trays measure 14.25" x 6.75" and the mini trays measure 5.5" square. They are versatile and great for both serving or for decor. She can keep one in her kitchen for serving snacks, appetizers, etc. and keep one in her bedroom for holding jewelry, loose change, etc. The possibilities are endless. I have some Anne Taintor mini trays that I use in my kitchen for so many different things. They are made very well and endure whatever I put them through.

This is just a tip of the iceberg. Anne Taintor has so many more great products to choose from, including a limited edition 30 Years of Laughter Scarf that celebrates 30 years of women laughing together. Well, what are you waiting for, head on over to Anne Taintor right now and pick up a few gifts from the original vintage humor company. Or you could just enter my giveaway below for a chance at winning two Anne Taintor mini trays.  

Connect with Anne Taintor
Website:  http://www.annetaintor.com/ 
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/annetaintorinc
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=anne%20taintor

Giveaway
One Precisely Mine reader will win two mini trays from Anne Taintor.





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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review of NuNaturals {and Giveaway}

*Disclosure: NuNaturals sent me a box of their products for free to try with absolutely no obligation whatsoever to post a review (positive or negative) on my blog or anywhere else for that matter.*



NuNaturals belongs to the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA) and has over 24 years of experience providing nutritional supplements and uses only the highest quality herbs and nutrients to make their products. You can see a complete product listing here. You'll also find full descriptions of all NuNaturals products and their respective prices. NuNaturals was kind enough to share some recipes with me and send me a box of their products for free so that my family and I could have some fund creating healthy innovative recipes from the comfort of our home. There are also tons of recipes right on NuNaturals site using their products. 

I'm not used to baking/cooking with healthy products such as the NuStevia White Stevia Powder that NuNaturals sent me so it's very important to note that 1/64 of a teaspoon is as sweet as 1 teaspoon of sugar or 3/4 of a teaspoon is as sweet as 1 cup of sugar. I didn't read this fact beforehand when trying my first recipe so I learned the hard way. Since I'm a newbie at doing things the healthier way, I suppose I'm entitled to at least one screw up. I've found that my favorite way to use NuNaturals products so far is in smoothies. NuStevia White Stevia Powder, Flavored NuStevia Liquids, and NuStevia Syrups enhance flavors and add sweetness to whatever smoothie combination I make.  

Try blending about a cup to a cup and a half of frozen kiwi, strawberry, orange, and banana, adding about a cup of 2% milk and/or low fat vanilla yogurt, a few drops of Liquid NuStevia Orange, and a packet of NuStevia White Stevia Powder for a fruity treat. Or you could try blending about a cup to a cup and a half of frozen banana, about 1/4 cup of peanut butter, about 1/2 cup 2% milk and/or low fat vanilla yogurt, about 1/4 teaspoon of NuStevia Cocoa Syrup, and a packet of NuStevia White Stevia Powder for a treat that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.  


NuStevia White Stevia Powder can also be used in tea, coffee, cereal, yogurt, or anything that needs sweetening. Pure Liquid NuStevia can be used in sparkling water, lemonade, tea, yogurt, coffee, etc. NuStevia Cocoa Syrup can be used with ice cream, coffee, or milk. Actually, the possibilities are endless. NuNaturals has many more products, including baking ingredients, herbal extracts and dietary supplement liquids, sweeteners, and much more to help you live a healthier lifestyle. 

How do/would you use NuNaturals products?

Connect with NuNaturals
Website:  https://nunaturals.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/NuNaturals
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/NuNaturals

Discount
Precisely Mine readers will receive discounts on all orders placed at www.nunaturals.com. When you get to the checkout page, enter the discount code BLG0615 and you will receive a 15% discount on your entire order (excluding any other discounts). This discount will remain effective until June 30, 2015. You will also receive free shipping to the continental US on all order exceeding $35 after discounts. 

Giveaway
Four (4) Precisely Mine readers will win  a bottle of Cherry Vanilla Flavored Stevia Liquid, a 50 pack box of NuStevia White Stevia Powder packets, a bottle of Cocoa Syrup, and a bottle of Mint Cocoa Syrup, in addition to a FREE bonus product (ARV $54). 






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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our First Real Christmas Tree


I've wanted a real Christmas tree for years so this year my boyfriend finally caved in and we headed to Lowe's and picked out our first real Christmas tree. We got us a Scotch Pine for less than $18. We got a new tree stand there as well. In the past we have always decorated our artificial trees with ornaments mostly made by our kids at school, church, scouts, etc. but since our kids are getting older we wanted to decorate it a little differently this year. We used our clear lights as usual but we also decorated it with some blue and silver holiday ribbon that we bought at Lowe's and added some blue and silver ornaments that we bought from Big Lots (which are hard to see in the picture). We had some white ornaments that we added as well. We completed our tree by topping it off with a blue star from Big Lots. I really love the way it turned out and I think we'll go real from now on. Now all we need is a nice tree skirt and some presents underneath the tree and we'll be all set.  I think we'll give our artificial trees away to someone who needs them, along with a boat load of old ornaments, decorations, etc. This will not only help out another family but will help us stay more organized as well. 

What about you, do you put up a Christmas tree? Real or artificial? How do you decorate it?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Susie's Hope DVD Review and Giveaway



About the movie:  Based on the true story that successfully passed Susie’s Law in North Carolina, which seeks stricter punishment for animal abusers, Susie’s Hope brings to life the inspirational relationship between pit bull attack survivor Donna Lawrence and Susie, a pit bull-mix puppy found beaten, burned and left for dead. Recognizing reflect and abuse were to blame for the tragic attack that nearly claimed her life 10 months earlier, Donna resumes the battered animal and accepts her as family. Together, they learn to heal, love and forgive as they lead a historic effort to seek justice and protection, not only for Susie, but all animals. Starring Emmanuelle Vaguer (40 Days and 40 Nights), Burgess Jenkins (Remember The Titans) and Andrea Powell (Ender’s Game, The Twighlight: Breaking Dawn Saga: Part 2), Susie’s Hope is an incredible story of love, loss and redemption.
Watch and share the Susie’s Hope trailer here!

About Susie:  Susie was found nearly dead in Greenfield Park in Greensboro, North Carolina on August 20, 2009. Just a puppy, Susie had licked the face of her owner’s newborn baby. Her owner became violent—she was beaten so severely her jaw was broken. That wasn’t enough, though. She was then set on fire and left for dead. Incredibly and against all odds Susie survived. Donna Lawrence adopted her two months later. Susie is now a trained therapy dog and event won the American Humane Association’s American Hero Dog this year!


What I thought about Susie's Hope:   I found Susie's Hope to be a heartwarming and sometimes heart wrenching story. It's a very emotional story about neglect, love, loss, hope, forgiveness, and determination. I have to warn you though that it is a tearjerker. I have to warn you also that this movie may be a bit too graphic for some younger viewers but otherwise it's a great inspirational family movie. It's a must see for animal lovers and activists. Some parts of the movie are even told from Susie's perspective, which helps to tell her story. It has a great cast. I have never heard Susie's story before so I was really rooting for a happy ending, which did happen with Susie's Law being passed. Susie truly is a hero in my opinion. At the end of the movie, you can find out ways you can help other abused animals like Susie. 

Giveaway
One Precisely Mine reader will win a copy of Susie's Hope on DVD. 
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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”