Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method ~ Excerpt

(12)swiss (1)By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2018

From the INTRODUCTION

Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method covers the simple techniques you’ll need along with the best type of equipment you should have to bake lovely macarons. You’ll also learn how the weather makes a difference, why you should invest in a digital kitchen scale and oven thermometer. I’ve spent lots of time, money, and hard work to get these recipes right. They are all unique and some are more suited to those who like their macarons sweet and others who enjoy their macarons with a little less sugar and are more classically flavored.

The Swiss method is for any level of baker providing you carefully read each recipe thoroughly along with the helpful suggestions.

When you have the ingredients weighed and sifted, the egg whites separated, and the baking trays lined, it’s time to bake macarons, Swiss style.

Official Description:

Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method

3DBakingSwisscover2This unique cookbook is designed for bakers of all levels. Follow each carefully detailed recipe and bake stunning macarons that will impress any dessert lover.

Helpful information includes the best ingredients and equipment to stock your kitchen, resources, tips and troubleshooting, plus the easy macaronage technique that will save you time and energy.

With a photo of each recipe, Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method, offers everything you need to bake beautiful and delicious macarons. It features 20+ new tried-and-tested macaron recipes.

Some of the flavors include Minty Chocolate, Speculoos [Cookie Butter], Raspberry Cheesecake, and Apple Spice macarons.

Available at these fine bookstores.

Amazon link: Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method
PAPERBACK LINK: Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method
Amazon UK:
 Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method
PAPERBACK LINK: Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method
B&N/Nook:
 Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method
iTunes: Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method
Kobo: Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method
Smashwords: Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method

baking macarons the swiss meringue method cookie butter speculoos macarons
Speculoos [Cookie Butter} Swiss Macarons
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Book Trailer

Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes Recipe Tutorial & Video

Copyright 2017-2018 by Lisa Maliga

Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes Recipe Tutorial

For lovers of chocolate and coconut! The virgin coconut oil and organic coconut palm sugar make these cupcakes healthier and more delicious. This recipe is from the book Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide by Lisa Maliga.

coconutchocolatecup9

CHOCOLATE COCONUT CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:
1/3 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped [3 oz.]
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup organic coconut palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons virgin coconut oil [3 oz]
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons [fresh] lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla

Makes 12 cupcakes

Oven temperature: 350 Fahrenheit/177 Celsius

Directions:

Place the chopped chocolate and sifted cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Pour the hot water over the mixture and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes.

Add hot water to chocolate chunks and cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. The rack should be in the center. Line a standard-size muffin pan with liners.

Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly.

Whisk the virgin coconut oil, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla extract into the cooled chocolate. Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth. DON’T OVERMIX!

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake until the cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch, 17 – 19 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool completely.

 

Coconut Frosting

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
Shredded coconut for sprinkling [optional]

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:
With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter. Add coconut extract, vanilla and cream.
Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.
Pipe onto cupcakes and top with a sprinkling of shredded coconut.

VIDEO TUTORIAL:

baking chocolate cupcakes and brownies a beginner's guide by lisa maliga

Amazon linkBaking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginners Guide

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Blue Velvet Cupcakes Recipe Tutorial & Video

Copyright 2017-2018 by Lisa Maliga

Blue Velvet Cupcakes Recipe Tutorial

Get ready for any holiday or happy event with these delectable blue cupcakes topped with yummy cream cheese frosting. This recipe is from the book Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide by Lisa Maliga.

This recipe has a slightly different color than the one featured in my book as I used another  brand of gel food color. If using AmeriColor food gel, you’ll only need to add several drops rather than an entire bottle of conventional gel coloring. The color of these cupcakes turned out to be turquoise rather than sky blue.

bluevelvetcupcake318

 

BLUE VELVET CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:
2 cups granulated sugar
8 ounces unsalted room temperature butter
2 Eggs [room temperature]
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder [sifted]
1.5 Tablespoons blue gel food coloring
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Makes 24 cupcakes

Oven temperature: 350 Fahrenheit/177 Celsius

Directions:

In a large bowl cream together the room temperature butter and granulated sugar.
Add the eggs, one at a time.

in a small bowl mix 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and blue food coloring. when thoroughly mixed add to the large bowl and mix well.

Add the flour, salt and buttermilk alternating between the two ingredients so you don’t get any lumps.

In the small bowl, add the baking soda and vinegar. They’ll react together by fizzing up. Add to the large bowl, mixing well.

Scoop into cupcake liners.

Bake on center rack. Rotate pan midway through baking.

Bake for about 25 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ or powdered sugar
Dash of fresh lemon juice
Sprinkles for decorating [optional]

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:
Beat softened butter and cream cheese on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes until completely smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and beat until thick and creamy.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

VIDEO TUTORIAL:

baking chocolate cupcakes and brownies a beginner's guide by lisa maliga

Amazon linkBaking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginners Guide

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Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide–An Excerpt

Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

by Lisa Maliga, copyright 2017=2019

My second cookbook has just been released after months of testing various chocolate cupcake and brownie recipes. It was so much fun baking these sweet treats and learning more cupcake decorating techniques. For example, I tried the swirl method and was able to come up with this:

peppermintswirlcupcakes2
Peppermint Swirl Cupcakes

I’ve also learned how to make my own sparkling sugar and the various ways to core cupcakes. So, if you love chocolate goodness, keep on reading!

Chapter 1 ~ About the Ingredients

Your cupcakes and brownies can look and taste better than any found in a bakery. What you put into your batch of cupcakes is up to you and your budget. Are fresh eggs and butter available to you? I’ve been able to use farm fresh eggs in many of my batches of cupcakes and brownies. Those hens are free ranging and while kept in a coop at night, during the day they amble around several acres of pasture and eat natural food from the ground as well as organic chicken feed.

Use whatever ingredients you have in your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator for your first batches of brownies and/or cupcakes. Don’t invest a lot of money in ingredients or equipment if you only plan to make the occasional dessert. But once you make brownies and cupcakes from scratch, get creative and try new brands of chocolate, butter, or any of the other ingredients to learn if you can taste a difference. Oftentimes you’ll find some sweet [I couldn’t resist that pun] deals on the ingredients at your grocery store so you’ll spend less money on finding out what you like to add to your chocolaty desserts. Baking isn’t just science–it’s also art.

As the recipes in this book are all about using the most natural ingredients, as well as the best tasting, virgin coconut oil is recommended. This tropical oil is easier to use in oil form rather than solid. Coconut oil is coconut butter at temperatures below 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the weather, I can let it sit in the sun to melt or if it’s hot enough then measuring it is always easier. Virgin coconut oil gives cupcakes natural moisture and you won’t taste the extra coconut.

Amazon Kindle: Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

Amazon Kindle UK: Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

Paperback edition: Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

3DBakingcupcakes book&Phone

Results for the Guess the Mystery Berry Contest!

Copyright 2017 by Lisa Maliga

mysterymacswhitebackgroundThanks to everyone who entered the first ever Mystery Berry Contest. It was a fun contest to run and I enjoyed reading the responses and guesses. 

Here’s the page where the contest and comments can be seen:

https://lisamaliga.wordpress.com/contest-guess-the-mystery-berry/

 

The two people who correctly guessed the answer were entered in the  Random Name Picker.

1st prize ~ $25 Amazon gift card plus the mystery berry recipe.

WINNER: robeader

2nd prize ~ eBook edition of BAKING FRENCH MACARONS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE plus the mystery berry recipe.

WINNER: Mary Rieves

To the winners: please contact me with your email address so you can receive your prizes. You can either leave it in the comments section, or contact me directly at: lisa_maliga@msn.com

Have a berry good week & Happy Baking!

mysteryberryjam1
Mystery Berry = Boysenberry

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“Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide” Now Available in Paperback

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

acaimacaronsmed

I’ve owned and read many cookbooks over the years. Some have been leather-bound tomes dating back almost two centuries. Others have been spiral bound and contained gorgeous color photos. As a teenager, I used to look at the cake decorating books, admiring the artistry behind each unique design.

Until this year, I never thought I’d write a cookbook. Sure, I’ve shared recipes before, as soap is made in a kitchen. But soap is easier to make than macarons and even a small bar lasts a lot longer than these delicate desserts.

Before the November 1, 2016, release of Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide, I was trying to get the paperback edition properly formatted. Being on a tight budget, I went to Fiverr and found a formatter who would do a 155-page cookbook with 54 color photographs for $6, including the $1 processing fee. What a bargain! I was skeptical that the newly listed formatter could do the work in less than one day as he promised. A day after the promised delivery time, I received a message. “Hi Lisa, I am high sorry for the delay. I had delay of my new PC yesterday and I cannot continue using the old one. I was highly disappointed the time the agent came in. So, I am greatly sorry for this late delivery of your work.”

A few hours after sending the email, he sent me the .DOC and PDF files. He even changed the name of the file to end with the word GOOD.

The title now read Baking French Macaron: A Beginner’s Guide.

Continuing the singular theme, there was a Table of Content.

The headings were out of bounds and didn’t pass CreateSpace’s interior reviewer. Some of them began on the chapter page. Photos were less than the required 300 dpi. The “good” ones were stretched like in the following example.

cspaceexample
An example of bad formatting

I politely thanked him for his trouble and contacted someone else.

Jackie [not her real name] gave me a rate of $30. That still seemed reasonable. A few hours later, she had finished the project. I was very surprised in the amount of time it took and was naturally suspicious. It was formatted without headings but everything else looked nice; certainly no stretched photos. Before thanking her for a job well done, I uploaded it to the interior reviewer. All the images were less than 300 dpi. I contacted her and she said she’d fix it. A few hours later, I was sent another version. The same thing happened.

For the next four days, it went on. Some of the photos eventually were 300 dpi, others were under that ‘magic’ number. Finally, when all but 7 of the photos were considered good enough, I thanked her and decided to forego a paperback edition. Even if I had a less costly version with black and white photos, it wasn’t worth all the time and aggravation I’d gone through. I couldn’t compromise and publish a photo-less book. I’d spent way too much time and money into making my book the best it could look.

I’d noticed another scam cookbook that was doing well, even though it had no photos and the back cover was completely blank. Some of the recipes had ingredients only—no measurements. That book was selling several copies a day. I was motivated to figure out my photo problems, and eventually I did.

The eBook cover I’d designed was nice, but I knew a professional could do a much better job. Print covers needed strong typography so titles would show up well.

Using my own photos for the cover, I didn’t have to be concerned about copyright issues. I’d been checking out numerous cover designers and I went through their portfolios. I found a very talented artist. The book cover was far better than the one I made on Canva.

Here it is!

Baking French Macarons A Beginner’s Guide

Amazon paperback link: Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide

Amazon UK paperback link: Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide

Barnes & Noble paperback link: Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide

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 baking_french_macarons_a_beginners_guide_3d

Ripping Readers Off: Kindle Unlimited Scam eBooks

Copyright 2016 by Lisa Maliga

Kindle-Unlimited-logo-220x86

Last April, I wrote this article: Don’t Buy or Borrow Kindle Unlimited Rip-off eBooks. 

What’s changed since then?

In July 2015, Amazon launched KU2, which pays authors by pages read. KU1 was a fluctuating amount of at least $1 per eBook borrow. The Amazonians have altered the system for their benefit and the amount per page is less than a penny –.0049 per page or less. If an author wants to make any money, they need to write longer books. And those books need to get read.

Or do they?

Nope, the author offers a free book or gift card or something for nothing and has that clickable link take the reader to the back of the book. Like magic, all the pages are read!

With the KU program, Amazon is like long defunct author’s sites Themestream and the Vines – pay per click companies that went belly up. While some legitimate authors are doing quite well, others are faring far worse than they were in KU1.

One of the main problems I’ve seen in the KU program, and this is in the nonfiction area, are foreign plagiarists stuffing books full of repetitive “information.” Or they upload their entire catalogue into one title. I’ve also seen books where the contents are available in a dozen different languages. Can you guess that the translation is run through an online translator resulting in hilarious errors?

What inspired this article was a review request from an author: someone who had been “University” educated, and an expert in various fields dating back to the early 90’s. A quick search revealed nothing except the author’s books in various Amazon stores. Here’s the email:

As an avid buyer and author on Amazon, I want readers to feel they are getting value for money and would recommend to their friends and family. I feel this book meets that requirement.

 I was hoping you could review a books and leave an honest review.

If you are interested I can send you the book as a gift free of charge.

 I saw that the title wasn’t unique and when looking at the author page I noticed:

“She has a passion for sharing his experience…”

Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner? Nope, someone who just didn’t care about proofreading their bio or who wasn’t too fluent in English.

There are many excellent titles in the KU program. But I’m going to point out potential rip-off titles that are often plagiarized from websites, blogs and Pinterest. By reading this article, you’ll learn how to avoid downloading or wasting your time and money on rip-offs and supporting scammers.

If you’re a reader who wants to learn how to bake cupcakes, wouldn’t you want to read a book by someone who has baked the recipes and can provide photos along with helpful tips? I want that! A few weeks ago, I mistakenly downloaded a scam book. At first I thought, oh goodie, 600 pages of cupcake recipes and information—all for 0.00. Wrong! 600 pages of drivel, NO pictures, and recipe after recipe of things I didn’t want to bake. The few cupcake recipes were so generic that one of them listed cake mix. I deleted that eBook.

Spot Those Scammy eBooks

Here are some things to look for when shopping at Amazon.

kindle unlimited logo * No author biography

If there’s no bio, there’s no way of knowing how much knowledge they have pertaining to the subject they’ve written about. There won’t be an email address, website, Etsy page or social media information such as Twitter, Pinterest or Face Book. They have no blog or newsletter.

kindle unlimited logo * Fake Author Biography

Some of the scammers have gotten smarter and include biographies and even pictures or illustrations of themselves. Read it carefully and you’ll see it’s false if no professional training is indicated. Or they might mention a school or university. How is the bio worded—in proper English or does it read as if it was translated from another language?

kindle unlimited logo * Common American Names

This is another way to lure borrowers and buyers—by using familiar surnames like Thomas, Brown, Mitchell, White, etc. It’s also how those from other countries make names seem more acceptable than their own. Authors who use several pseudonyms may do so to avoid detection. It’s also a way of using a name like a keyword – to attract more borrows and sales.

 

kindle unlimited logo * Poor Translating

Foreign authors may have run the manuscript through an online translator resulting in unintentionally hilarious reading. My favorite was the one about heating your soap over a “weak fire.” Some of the faux fiction scam books have incredibly bad titles.

kindle unlimited logo * Offer FREE Bonus/Gift at the BACK of the eBook

This encourages you to click the link and get the page reads. You won’t be able to miss this offer as it’ll be shown in very large and colorful fonts. It may appear more than once.

kindle unlimited logo * Very LONG eBooks

KU1 featured scamlets of 50 pages or less. Now the less is more motto has been replaced with the more [pages] the merrier! One trick I discovered is seeing lengthy books enhanced by offering the book in a dozen different languages. You can also bet that a professional human translator doesn’t translate, as that would be very expensive and time consuming. Ultimately, no one benefits.

Another method is for the scamming “author” to take several books and rearrange the order so the book becomes bloated with excess pages. You get a bundle of books you [probably] don’t care to read.

kindle unlimited logo * LONG Titles Stuffed with Keywords

Example: Homemade Body Butter: 25 Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes To Keep Your Skin Smooth And Feeling Moisturized! (How To Body Butter, DIY Body Butter, Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes).

kindle unlimited logo * Enticing Cover Photo of the Product[s]

A rip-off will be revealed if the featured product[s] recipe and photo aren’t included inside the eBook. For example, a stack of oatmeal soap on the cover, yet there is no oatmeal soap recipe in the rip-off title. Also, most rip-off eBooks won’t contain any photos.

kindle unlimited logo * If recipes are included, they may be in a mixture of ounces, grams, tablespoons and teaspoons, which is very confusing for the reader.

kindle unlimited logo * No medical or legal disclaimer. No safety precautions.

kindle unlimited logo * The name on the cover may be spelled differently than the name on the book’s Amazon page.

In order to avoid being ripped off, please use this article as a checklist.

Also, read what author Ann Christy has written about this topic. She includes in-depth analysis along with screenshots of some flagrant examples. http://www.annchristy.com/anatomy-of-ku-scams

 

Out of the Blue: A Novel ~ Meet Sylvia’s Mother

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2014-2015

out of the blue a novel by lisa maliga

It all began in the summer of 1979 …

Sylvia Gardner is a naïve library clerk who lives with her dysfunctional mother in Richport, Illinois. Vivian tells her daughter not to trust men because they only want to use her. After being dumped by her first boyfriend, Sylvia falls in love with an English actor after watching him on a PBS drama. Researching Alexander Thorpe’s life and career for two years, she saves her money so she can visit him in his Cotswolds village. She stays at the Windrush Arms Hotel, soon discovering they share a secret connection.

Complications ensue when Harry Livingstone, the hotel’s drunken proprietor, takes a fancy to the young American. As in her dreams, Sylvia and Alexander get together – but with unexpected results.

In this flashback scene we learn more about Sylvia’s mother.

Her mother would’ve disliked Alexander, even though he was a well-known actor. She would have referred to him as a dissipated old lecher for he was a man. An older man. And of course since he was a man, he wanted to get his rocks off. Vivian feared her daughter would wind up as unhappy as she had been once she got married.

After all, her mother had married an older man—Fred Gardner was almost a dozen years older than Vivian. But after the divorce and the move into the apartment complex, Sylvia found a small beige photo album when moving boxes in the garage. She sat down on a lawn chair and opened it up. A smiling Vivian looked at the camera. It was taken from the waist up and she recognized the canary yellow polyester minidress that her mother had bought back in 1969. It was always worn with white vinyl go go boots. Her dark hair was center parted and hung in loose curls just past her narrow shoulders. Her mom looked a lot younger in that picture. She turned the page and saw a bearded man standing next to Vivian. His long hair was thick and curly. A folded red bandana was wrapped around his head. Who was that man?

If you’d like to read more, OUT OF THE BLUE: A NOVEL is available at the following online bookstores:

Paperback: Out of the Blue: A Novel
Paperback UK: Out of the Blue: A Novel

Amazon Kindle: Out of the Blue: A Novel
Amazon Kindle UK: Out of the Blue: A Novel
B&N [Nook]: Out of the Blue: A Novel
iTunes: Out of the Blue: A Novel
Smashwords: Out of the Blue: A Novel
Kobo: Out of the Blue: A Novel

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Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes

Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes lisa maligaBy Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2015-2016

When I first began crafting melt and pour glycerin soap, I was always more interested in what went into the soap rather than how creative or unique it looked. I still like to make a variety of shapes and colors, but I’m more intrigued by what additives improve melt and pour soap. I think I’ve succeeded in using the best types of soap bases on the market that are good for all skin types and don’t cost much more than standard melt and pour soap bases. Best of all, none of them contain sulfates!

What’s it about?

If you want to make the most natural soap without using lye, here is a way to craft organic and sulfate free melt and pour glycerin soap at home. In less than an hour, you can craft lovely organic, sulfate free and eco-friendly Castile soaps with these carefully tested recipes.

This eBook contains:

* Organic, sulfate free and Castile melt and pour soap bases: facts and tips

* How dangerous are sulfates, surfactants and propylene glycol?

* Is your fragrance phthalate free?

* Original, tested step-by-step recipes

* Photographs of all soap recipes and soap bases

* Melt and pour mishaps

* What to look for in a supplier

* Where to buy links

* African black soap information

eBook Links

Amazon version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
Amazon UK version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
B & N Nook version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
iTunes version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
Kobo version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
Scribd version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
Smashwords version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes 

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Writing for Pennies: The Dawn of Internet Writing

By Lisa Maliga 

© 2001-2015

writefor$I’ve been an Internet Writer since 2000. I began writing articles for a company named Write for Cash, which bought nonfiction on just about any topic imaginable and paid a one-time fee ranging from ten to twenty bucks. The articles were input into the major search engines and were there for all to see. A byline was optional. Three months later, I was able to view some of the articles I’d written and at the very bottom was my name, along with the keywords I’d supplied in order for it to show up efficiently in the engines. By year’s end, the company posted a ‘closed’ sign on their site: “We have temporarily stopped accepting new proposals and articles so that we can focus on publishing our backlog of articles.” I scrambled to find a new writing opportunity.

penniesThemestream’s web site was brought to my attention. With 1,700 categories, many of my rewritten articles and several unpublished works could be placed on that site. The paltry two cents per click was bargain basement, but maybe if I posted a few, I’d earn something. I didn’t expect to be moving into a mansion or buying a Ferrari, but maybe there was a possibility of getting my work noticed.

themestreamAromatherapy was a popular topic and as the hits grew, I added articles and recipes about bath and body products. Unlike Write for Cash, I was could post short stories and essays. I never lost track of one important factor: it was vanity publishing. This was even more obvious when I finally sold a story to a paying [online] magazine and the editor suggested some revisions. Was I grateful? Yes! On Themestream I rarely received constructive criticism. I’d find 😉 and thank you notes on my comments box beneath the article. My ego was routinely massaged with kind words and trite phrases.

In addition to writing, I was also a promoter. The Lisa Maliga Advertising & Publicity Agency was unofficially launched as I surfed message boards, posted free classifieds, contacted friends and relatives, submitted each article to the major search engines, and used my new web site as a veritable linking system to my articles. One of my recipes was continually racking up the numbers and I promoted that one further by using link exchanges with fellow crafters.

The expert Themestream Writers/Promoters wrote about writing more articles, which would increase clicks and revenue. I did, sometimes posting as many as three or four articles per day. Two months later, I had almost 80. Not all were bath and body recipes, although those continued to receive the most reads. There was a problem with my missing paycheck, which I was to have received in early February. I contacted the accounting department, only to be sent a form email. My doubts about the legitimacy of the company in Silicon Valley intensified as I noticed that after midnight the clicks were minimal or nonexistent. As I’d been contacted by people in such diverse locations as Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and South Africa, all places where at midnight Pacific Standard Time it was daytime for them, my nocturnal observations turned to suspicion.

On February 28, 2001, the death knell resounded throughout the Themestream community as a memo from the editors arrived in our mailboxes. It began by complimenting us, but around paragraph five the purpose became clear: “…we are implementing a significant change in how we compensate our contributors. Beginning March 1, 2001, 12:01 a.m. PT, Themestream will only pay for articles that are read by registered users.”

The memo assured the contributors of one thing: look elsewhere to earn money as writers. This affected every contributor. Especially those of us who had tried diligently to promote them utilizing every honest means cyberspace offered. While I didn’t mind surfing message boards in search of a person who needed a new craft idea, there were other things I could be doing with my time. Writing my new novel was one of them, yet it was put aside in order for me to act as an online cheerleader of my works in order to earn money.

I launched into the third part of my writing online adventure. I heard from disgruntled Themestream writers about The Vines Network, which paid up to three cents a click. As the labyrinthine site required lots of mouse movement to read an article, let alone publish one, the various ad banners that popped up informed the viewer/writer that someone was making money.  I posted about 20 of my articles, as I owned full rights. I was “posting” not “publishing.”  Payment for reading and rating articles, discussions, and creating new vines all guaranteed more income. After a few days, I ventured into my ‘info’ section to check my revenue. The number of page views was impressive – 997!  Wow, that was more than most of my articles over on Themestream. The earnings were less than stellar – fifty cents! I decided that no more articles would be posted on vanity sites. Like the article I had sold to a real e-magazine that paid me before it was published, I knew that writing for pennies didn’t mean navigating streams of themes or big bucks advertising vines of confusion – it meant writing for legitimate online and print publications.

I could relate to the late Jim Thompson, author of “The Getaway” and “After Dark, My Sweet” who wrote in his autobiography [“Rough Neck”] “I have many sharp memories of that winter in Oklahoma City. Of writing two novels and selling neither. Of selling 300,000 words of trade-journal material and collecting on less than a tenth of it. Of distributing circulars at ten cents an hour, and digging ditches at nothing per.” That was written during the Depression.

Have things really changed?

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