Stacey Blog

Indianapolis, born, bred and raised thriller author, Stacey Carroll is known for her unique perspectives on life and fiction. Influenced by Anne Rice, Stephen King and the Grimms Brothers, combined with the pure hatred of Disney endings, her novels are equally gritty and sexy with well-developed, realistic characters.

Additional influences on writing are her degrees. She has a Masters in HRD, a Bachelors in Aviation and a Computer science minor. All of these factors and her experience in flying Cessna 152s, 172s, King Airs and Piper Senecas have resulted in fiction novels that feature satisfying mature content emphasizing the characters.


If you would like to know more about blogging or how to blog, check out these books from Amazon:



If you’re a freelancer, you have probably been bombarded by all those free tax software and filing commercials, and you are probable wondering if completing and filing your taxes is really free. The short answer is NO! for the majority of tax software companies/.  I actually found a couple that may truly be free, but it's not the tax software companies that you hear about all the time.


The Biggest Offender and False Advertiser: TurboTax


Free Free FreeFreeFree


Laugh Laugh LaughLaughLaugh


 TurbotaxfreeThis image to the left is what TuboTax wants you to believe - That you can prepare your taxes and file your federal and state for FREE.  Unfortuantely, if you are a freelancer, this statement is not true.  It only takes looking at their list of exclusions to determine that you are not covered by this:


Situations not covered in TurboTax Free Edition include:

  • Itemized deductions (Schedule A)
  • Business or 1099-MISC income (Schedule C)
  • Stock sales (Schedule D)
  • Rental property income (Schedule E)
  • Credits, deductions and income reported on schedules 1-6, such as the Student Loan Interest Deduction

If you dig a little deeper, you'll actually be quite offended.  The very first FAQ question, tells you how this service that you cannot use is being paid.

How does TurboTax make any money?

Customers with more complex tax situations will file with our other TurboTax products that provide all the right forms and guidance they need. 


Yep, that's right, you, my freelancer friend, are paying for these "free" filers with the super expensive tax software that you will be forced to purchase.

If you are wondering just how expensive your taxes are going to be this year if you choose TurboTax, just take a look at this:

Turbotaxself employed


Your self-employed tax software will cost you $89.99 right this second, if you choose TurboTax.  That is only to file your federal.  The state is an additional, unlisted fee.  This is also the most expensive tax software, and Turbotax won't let you choose another one because you have 1099-MISCs and business income and expenses.  They are basically charging freelancers what they would charge larger businesses that aren't sole-proprietorships.  You're also paying for that free tax software you can't use.


Free Free Free, my tail end.  NOT FREE






H&R Block - Is Their Free Software Actually Free for FREElancers?




While H&R Block does offer a FREE tax software package, it doesn't include the ability to add 1099-MISC or business expenses.  You must have W-2s only, and you may have retirement income, social security income and student loan interest.  In other words, it's not free for freelancers, and once again, the self-employed must purchase a much higher level of tax software.  if it makes you feel better, it's not the highest priced taxed software, it's the second highest priced tax software at $79.99 ($104.99) and $36.99 per state. In other words, you are going to pay a minimum of $116.98 to file your taxes.  Hope you paid your quaterlies, caise YIKES, if you also owe.






TaxAct: Is TaxAct's Free Tax Software Actually Free for Freelancers?

Again, we have a resounding NO!


While TaxAct does offer a free version of thier tax software, it's not for freelancers.  It's for people who have W-2 income and no business expenses or income, and they certainly don't have any 1099-MISCs.  What's intersting about this one is that you can be married, but you cannot have kids or dependents.  That's $.9.95.  

In fact, their basic software line-up doesn't even include a tax software package for freelancers.  It stops at Premier+, which is $34.99 plus more for each state. 


So, where is the software for freelancers?

TaxactfreelancerIt's under a different menu item called "Self-Employed Taxes", but it's definately not Freefreefree.  It's $49.99 and $39.99 per state, which means as a freelancer, you will be forking over a minimum of $89.88 to file your taxes this tax season.  If it makes you feel any better, they've actually lowered this price.  It was closer to $80 just to file the federal last year.  It was an additional $36.99 to file the state, and so far, these guys are the cheapest, but they are still a far cry from all those freefreefree commercials.





Jackson Hewitt - Are These Guys Free for Freelancers?

Buahahahhaa NO.


These are the guys you actually see all over Walmart.  I think.  It's actually been a while since I've been in a Walmart store.


jacksonfreelancertaxJackson Hewitt does offer a free software package, but it's for single people or couples with no children who have incomes under $100,000.  You can only take the standard deduction, and they only accept W-2s and unemployment as income with their free tax software.


Freelancers must purchase their $49.99 (1$09.95) package.  State filing is charged at $36.95 per state.  This makes them slightly cheaper than TaxAct, but not by much, and the minute they stop their sale, they're the most expensive tax software so far.  Definately not Freefreefree.



Other Tax Software Companies


Credit Karma: Free Premium Filing

It says it's free.  In order to find our more and if it's actually FREE for freelancers to file, I'd have to create an account.  It does say it works for individuals who have a side-hustle.  The end conclusion is - I don't know if this is free for freelancers.  If you've used this as a freelancer or tried to, let us know how it worked in the comments.

Liberty Tax: Premium

$52.47 for Federal

State Additional - Not listed

Free TaxUSA: Deluxe

It looks free with the state being an additional $12.95 for the Deluxe version.


End result: You can find extrmely cheap tax software solutions as a freelancer, but they aren't with the big three or four.  You'll probably have to go with a lesser known tax software provider in order to get affordable tax software. Is that a good idea?  The choice is up to you.


This is a pretty common scenario. You’ve scoured the Internet or the content mill where you want to hire your writer, and you can’t find any good samples. You’re either seeing no samples or small excerpts of other pieces. While it is frustrating, it’s quite common. Freelancers tend to sell everything they write, so if you don’t see any samples, you can reasonably assume that they’ve sold everything. That’s not a bad thing, but how do you figure out your chosen freelancer’s writing style if they don’t have any samples?

1. Dig a Little Deeper

If you’re looking at a freelancer’s business website and not a writer profile on a content mill, take a look at the pages. A professional writer is going to maintain a certain level of quality across their website. Read a few articles. While this probably won’t give you their specific professional writing style, it’ll give you an idea of their standard writing style, which is still helpful, especially if you want a very relaxed tone.

2. Look for a Prewritten Content Section

Even if they don’t have any full samples you can read, most freelancers will have some type of Prewritten Content Section. These are articles that the writer wrote on various topics in various industries so that clients can view most of the article then purchase it hassle-free. Reading the 25 or 30 percent of the prewritten article can give you a good idea about your prospective freelancer’s writing style.

3. Ask

If you really can’t find enough content to determine the freelancer’s style, ask. Some freelancers do keep samples on their computers that they will send out to clients when asked, or they may have bi-lined content on other sites where they can direct you (The latter only works if you are using an independent freelancer that’s not bound by the TOS of a content mill to not provide you any contact information, not even thier real names.). Other freelancers don’t have any samples available because it’s all been purchased. It really depends on the freelancer. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

4. Order a Sample Article

If you really think the writer is going to work out, but you want to make absolutely sure, most writers will accept paid test orders. This is typically an article topic of your choice between 500 and 1,000 words. You can expect to get anywhere from a 30 to 50 percent discount on the sample order with no obligation to purchase future articles. If you love it, you can order more articles at full price. If you hate it, well you can continue your search for a freelance writer.




If you’re looking for blog posts, webpages and articles that you can share on your website and through your social media channels, you might be wondering what the difference is between content on demand (prewritten articles) and custom content. The truth is that there isn’t much difference. Either way you choose, you will still get high-quality content that is plagiarism checked and free of horrific grammar and spelling errors, and in most instances you are still purchasing 100 percent rights to the content. This means you can treat it as if you wrote it.

Custom Content

Custom content is content that was written specifically for you and/or your business. When you order custom content, you choose the topic, the keywords and the length, and you provide directions and information for how you want the content written and what specific items you want included in the topic. The freelance writer then writes the article, blog post or webpage according to your directions and input.

Benefits of Custom Content

  • You choose the topic, title and content details.

  • You get to communicate with your content writer at your leisure.

  • You’ll get exactly the content you need.

  • You get a certain number of free revisions.

  • Your content is checked for accidental plagiarism.

  • Your content is proofread and free of spelling mistakes and grammar problems.

  • Your content is thoroughly researched.

  • Your content is 100 percent formatted and delivered to you (usually as an email or Google Doc).

Cons of Custom Content

  • It’s pricey. Custom content can cost as much as $2 a word, depending on the experience level of your freelance writer, word count and instructions.

  • It can take a long time to get your content. Many professional freelancers are booked days if not weeks in advance with prior content orders.

  • Rush jobs are typically charged at higher rates, meaning if you want to be next on the schedule, you’ll pay a premium to move ahead of other clients and their orders.

Content on Demand (Prewritten Articles) 

Content on demand or prewritten articles can be a convenient option for business owners, bloggers and website owners who do not have a lot of time to wait for their content and aren’t afraid of tweaking the content to fit their needs. This type of content is written by the freelance writer on the topics of his or her choosing. Then, they are made for sale on the freelancer’s website or other websites that sell prewritten content. This content still typically comes with 100 percent rights and it’s plagiarism checked and free of spelling and grammar mistakes.

Pros of Content on Demand

  • It’s ready to be purchased right now.

  • It’s typically much less expensive than ordering a new custom article specifically written for your business, blog or website.

  • You don’t have to talk to anyone. Once you pay and download the article, you can adjust it as you see fit.

Cons of Content on Demand

  • The content usually needs adjusted to precisely fit your needs.

  • Professional rewriting and adjusting the content costs an additional fee.

  • Your specific topic may not be available.

  • The precise information you want included in the article may not be there.

How to Choose Between Custom Content and Content on Demand

Choosing between custom content and content on demand will depend on your budget and your specific needs. If you are simply looking for basic content to fill space on your website or blog or have limited funds for new content, purchasing a premade article, blog post or webpage will work just fine. If you have a specific topic, formatting requirements and specific details you want included in the content, you’d probably be better off ordering a custom article and paying a little bit more.

If you need fresh content for your website or blog, you may be wondering if your chosen freelance writer or writers write the type of content you need. The good news is that most freelancers provide a list of topics and examples directly on their websites or in their content mill profile so that you can quickly check to see if they write on your topics.

Finding a Content Mill Writer

Many content mills, including Constant Content, Content Writers, CopyPress, nDash, Prose Media, Scripted, Steady Content, Textbroker, Upwork, Writers Access and Zerys, encourage their writers to fill out their profiles in detail. This means that upon searching for a specific set of writers and viewing their individual profiles, you will be able to see the content topics they write, the types of content they write and their preferred rates.

The challenge to finding a good content mill writer is the volume of writers available. Searching “construction” or “HVAC”, for example, may gives you results for 100s of writers, and searching through them may be a time-consuming task. However, once you find your preferred writer, you should be able to get your content written in a timely manner.

Finding an Independent Freelance Writer

Finding an independent freelance writer that isn’t part of a content mill may be a slightly more difficult task. You’ll have fewer to choose from as a whole, but the quality of your results depends on your Search Engine search skills and your willingness to page through results that may not be entirely accurate, depending on the search engine’s algorithm.

For example, searching “construction freelancers” pulls up a list of content mills not independent freelancers. The same is true if you search for “HVAC freelancers”. Needless to say, this doesn’t help you find an independent freelance writer that you can communicate with and work with to create your ideal content. Another option is to search your city, using a search term like “Indianapolis freelancer”. This should give you a good list of freelancers in your local area. Then, all you have to do is view their webpages.

The ideal independent freelancer will have lots of content on their website, including topics they write, prices, frequently asked questions and examples. They may even have on-demand content that you can purchase and use right away.

If your independent freelancer doesn’t list your particular topic, but it’s close to a different topic or industry that they do have listed, you can always email them or contact them via their contact form.


Some of you may be wondering what character or who is Shadow Conn.  Shadow Conn is a character I created more two decades ago.  She made her first appearance in a telnet chat room sometime in the late 90s.  From there, I played her in the Camarilla (White Wolf) live action LARPs.  She is actively played in Vampire New Orleans, which is an online PBEM RPG.  She is also the character template I use for all my female main characters in my novels.  She's currently a character in the Blooddoll series.  She was the template for AVIA CONN BAYS in the AVIA series, and I still very much play her today in her original and advanced forms.


But here's the original, offical Shadow Conn character biography from 2003.


Character Name:

Shadow Conn LeSombra Tenebroso



The Tenebroso Dynasty

Hierarchy Position:

Personal History:
In 2010, Shadow turned 108.  Long gone were the leather pants and weaponry that made her look like a tiny assassin.  In their place were the trappings of the gloriously filthy rich.  Most of her clothes bore no brand name and those that did were heavily tailored to her very small frame.

She found her way to New Orleans in 2002, and in eight years, she could boast some major accomplishments.  She was Bonded to the Tenebroso Elder and not for money or power, though he had both - She loved her Bonded.  She was Regent.  She had cleaned up Europe to point of a finely tuned machine and she didn’t openly war with any Tenebroso.  Though, whether that was her personality, her Bonded, her position, or her scary scary abilities, no one quite knew.  If asked, she probably would have responded that her blanket is better than their blanket.

Shadow was born to darkness in Terre Haute, Indiana. Her Sire moved her to Indianapolis, Indiana shortly after her embrace. For the first few years, she was under the care of her GrandSire, Jacques LeSombra Dark and had very limited contact with the man who actually made her. But that ended after 10 years.

Shadow stayed with her Sire for another 66 years. During that time she was beaten, drained, tortured and made to be nothing but a vampiric blood doll for her Sire's amusement. After all, this had been how it started, this would be how it ended. Shadow finally grew extremely tired of the abuse. She began to coerce the servants into letting her out more than once a night and she began plotting. Plotting for her freedom. Plotting to escape. Anything was better than the hell she was currently experiencing. Towards the end her Sire's humans started helping her escape at night to feed. Sometimes they just let her feed off them as long as she didn't kill them. They also began to plot with her.

Shadow snuck into her Sire's chambers early one evening before he awoke. The previous night she had drunk from many inebriated men knowing that her Sire would then feed from her taking in all of that drunken blood. While her Sire was still in a deep, drunken sleep she staked him through the heart with a pencil she found on his desk, and drained his blood completely, taking in all of his power. She then cut off his head with his own silver sword and burned his body along with the rest of his haven. The flames shot 100 feet in the air thanks to the humans leaving canisters of kerosene laying around for her easy use. The deed actually made the papers and the national news. The police are still searching for the arsonist in Indianapolis.

The drinking of her Sire's blood was both a blessing and a curse. Along with his advanced power over shadow manipulation and his knowledge, she also took in all of his thoughts and the atrocities that he had done throughout his life making her already nightmare filled days even worse.

She fled to New Orleans as a runaway, unaware of her family line or even that of their history. Her Sire had never bothered to tell her who she was or where she came from. She was nothing more than an accident. The only sign that she might be something more than a runaway is her unconscious and untrained manipulation of shadows far beyond that of any Tenebroso currently living.

The nightmare filled days are gone. Intense telepathic intervention by Cade solved that problem.

When New Orleans died in a fiery demolition of Werewolves and Believers, Shadow fled with Cade to San Francisco. Deciding instantly that she didn't like San Francisco, she left after spending less than 24 hours in the city. Her destination for the next two years was Terre Haute, Indiana. She went back to her hometown. During that time, she spent her nights researching her past, her Sire, and her Grandsire. There was no one that could help her with this task other than herself - and so - she dove into it. When she finished, she had everything she needed, and 10 bank accounts.

It was a little fraud and a little help from the Devious Queen of the Tenebroso that brought Shadow back to New Orleans six months before anyone else knew that it was reopening to the Vampires. What Shadow did then is subject to speculation, but the rumors of darkness and cool death surfaced. What happened to the King of the Tenebroso? Shadow doesn't know and doesn't care. She was never told and never asked. She was on her own assignments. The only thing that is known, is that whatever Shadow did, it earned her the position of Regent and six trips overseas to forcefully re-secure the businesses they had almost lost.

Upon arriving back in New Orleans, Shadow had hoped for a calm night. Instead, she was ordered by the Queen to kill Marek Tenebroso, Cade's Childe. For hours, Shadow attempted to garner Cade's attention, but aside from staring at her attire and collar bones, she couldn't manage the task. Finally, using the Bond, she asked for his help only to be delayed and denied.

Within minutes of her last plea, Marek was dead, but not by Shadow's hand. Accusations flew. Screaming matches ensued. Her own Bonded accused her of Betrayal. However, Shadow remained concrete in her words. She did not kill Marek Tenebroso. In fact, she hadn't killed much of anything. The reports had flown in to Carolina - royalty dead, king potentials assassinated. Yet, nothing pointed towards Shadow. Evidence mounted. Shadow even brought back the evidence of Gastone LeSombre Tenebroso's death - a ring. Yet, she swore to Cade that she had only killed a handful, and her reasons were not of the Queen.

Betrayal. Staunchly stubborn in her answers, Shadow maintained her innocence.  The stress mounted.  Finally, unable to tolerate anything else, the appearance of Victoria Tenebroso sent her over the edge. Cade was her Bonded. In a flash of rage, bones were broken and Victoria was thrown from the Plantation. Surprisingly, Cade exited with his mistress, leaving Shadow alone with Joost and Giselle. Neither understood.

Giselle refused to believe that her Sire had shoved Shadow, gripped her, yelled. None of it. Joost and Shadow knew the truth.

Chaos and hours later, a mental yell from Giselle prompted Cade's return to the mansion. Unable to console Shadow or himself, Cade retired to bed.

Still distraught, Shadow spent hours on the phone with Sean only to fall asleep atop Cade. Denied at sunset and still upset, Shadow exited the Plantation to spend quiet time with Sean. Their location was a new art gallery. Shadow loved art. She loved paintings and statues and quiet. However, all the silence did nothing to alleviate her upset. Growing more withdrawn, she stepped outside only to be returned to the gallery by Sean.

Sulk evident, Cade finally turned his attention towards his extremely unhappy Bonded. The misery had to stop. The separation was killing them. Suddenly, Shadow found herself exactly where she belonged, Cade's arms. Exited to the limousine and a securely tucked away blanket, Shadow finally relaxed. She was home with her Bonded.

 It didn’t cure things, but it helped.  She no longer worried about sleeping in an empty bed.  It didn’t happen.  The affairs slowed considerably.  The turning point was in Cade’s office.  She’d come downstairs because she wanted to talk and she really wanted a hug.  She expected a pat on the head maybe a kiss.  She got several kisses, and they did talk.  It was business oriented, but it was something.  Then, they did something they hadn’t done in years.  The sex was brutal, destructive to the furniture, and intensely satisfying.

In the coming weeks, their lives slowed.  They had time to talk or argue as they were want to do in the beginning.  Communication was ridiculously hard for both of them.  It took them a couple weeks to resolve all outstanding issues.  The rest of the time was spent in the bedroom with brief exits to take care of matters that could not wait.


Why am I posting this here now after 23+ years?  Because someone is actively trying to commit intelectual property theft by stealing this character.  I am working on trying ot figure out who this entity is and on getting legal representation.

Let me start of by saying that in 2014, I downloaded AutoTweetNG and loved it.  Aparently, I had no problems installing it or configuring it to send tweets and facebook posts.  That old review (that I don't remember writing) prompted me to try it again.  Either lots has changed since 2014 with this peice of software, or my needs have dramatically changed.  One of the two, because my overview of this program is not nearly so glowing. 



If you are like me, you have a lot of social media posts to get out, and you need to be able to schedule them far into the future.  The typical solution is to use something like Hootsuite or WoopSocial, but if you have a Joomla site, the most convenient way to do this is by installing a social media scheduler that you can use from the backend.  I will tell you right now that this is going to be an extremely difficult if not impossible task.  There are actually very few autoschedulers for Joomla available, and if you are looking for a free auto-scheduler, the only one you are going to find that might be worth a damn is AutoTweetNG.  Unfortunately, it's not all it's cracked up to be.


AutoTweetNG - Joomla Extensions Directory

The first thing you need to know is that the description is misleading.


Straight from JED: Social Autoposting. The social media content management tool. Simply, AutoTweet NG auto posts your content to social networks.

When you read that you are going to think - Fantastic.  I can load up all my social media accounts, including facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn and get all my articles posted really quick!


Not so Fast.

You will get it installed really quickly.  Then you are going to start configuring your social media channels.  You're probably going to do Facebook first, then Twitter, then you're going to get ready to install your third social media account.  You won't be able to find the "New" button.  It disappears after you configure your first two channels.  That's right.  You only get two social media channels with the free version.  If you're like me, you'd prefer to post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.  I had to pick my best two, which are Twitter and Facebook.  It's not ideal, but I can live with it just to get a scheduler on the backend of Joomla rather than going to WoopSocial or Hootsuite.

Now You Are ready to Test This Bad Boy!

You're going to write an article and click Save and AutoTweetNG is going to send it to the "request queue."  It's going to take a few minutes.  Some estimate that it can take as long as three minutes for that new post to go out to social media.  You can also force it by clicking the "yes" in the request queue.  That will send it immediately.

If you managed to configure your Facebook correctly, your post will go through to both Facebook and Twitter or whichever two social media accounts you chose.

And you are going to think - Fantastic!  It works.  Now, you're going to start digging into the details.  The first thing you are going to want to do after you've confirmed it sends posts is to get rid of the warning at the top of your AutoTweetNG screen that says; "You're using basic yadayada, please allow Cron Jobs."  It has a link, so you're going to click that link.  It will take you to the module.

At this point, you are going to start looking for Cron Jobs and the Red/Green button that allows Cron Jobs to run.  You are not going to find it.  It's not there.  I actually emailed them to ask where that button was to enable Cron Jobs and was told it is not there.  For those that don't know Cron is the repetative task thing.  You need this in order to scan the page for new tasks to complete.  In this instance, you want it to find all those posts you scheduled and trigger them to send.

Wait? What!?

You go back to the AutoTweetNG description and read it again - autoposts to all your social media accounts.  Well, you already know that it won't post to all your social media accounts.  It's going to post to two, and now you've just figured out that you can't schedule social media posts. So, maybe you dig a little deeper.  You click on the full descripotion and read it - Manually Publishes.

You're frustration level has probably gone from 50 percent to 150 percent by this point.  That's because it probably took you a couple hours to configure your Facebook, and if you didn't already have an app in Twitter, you also got hit there too.  You've spent hours on this application!  I spent a day and a half on it before giving up and cursing the fact that I didn't see those two words "manually publish" when I reviewed the features the first time.  had I seen that, I would have known that this program was never going to do what I needed, so part of this is my fault. In that long mess of a list, I missed the two most important words on it.

But You're Going to get It to Work Anyway!  You Can Beat My Skills!

NOW!  Let's say you are super determined to get this thing to work properly because you've just wasted a whole heck of a lot of time on this application.  I mean, you've waste so much time on it that you are starting to think about the hourly wage at your job and how much you could have earned if you were working instead of fucking with this thing.

There's only one way to do it.  You have to buy it, but buying it isn't so simple.  It's not a $25 or a $35 program.  It's a SUBSCRIPTION!  That's right.  You are gonna paypaypaypay for this thing, and you are going to pay out the ass.  It is $39 for a 6 month subscription and $72 for a year, and you will pay that forever if you want full functionality of this thing.  And you WILL be tempted to buy this after spending so much time configuring it and fighting with it just to prove that you didn't waste your time.  Resist the urge.  This is not a good way to attract customers, and it is not a good way to keep customers.

I made a mistake in downloading this software.  Please do not make the same mistake I did.  I know how important it is to get that social media presence.  I know how important it is to post multiple times a day.  Unforuntatly, after many days and hours of looking, I can honestly tell you that there is no program that's going to do this for you in the backend of Joomla.  Just go to WoopSocial.  They offer unlimited posts for free.  If you want analytics, you have to pay for that.  However, Woopsocial is going to get those posts scheduled for you and send them.





The Importance of Book Reviews from a Readers Perspective!


The feeling of cracking open a new book that you are excited to read is one that goes unmatched. It is one of the best feelings in the world. Unfortunately, if you are anything like me, sometimes you purchase books based off of the description or author and end up a bit let down once you start digesting the story. It is easy to get sucked in by marketing propaganda and buzz, but your fellow book lovers have no problem spilling the truth. Before you buy, make sure it will satisfy! There are tons of sites and apps out there for sharing your opinions on literature, but some rise above the rest. Here's a list of five book review sites that will not let you down: 


(Sponsored by Amazon)

(Sponsored by Amazon)


Writing and Editing Books on Amazon












Coffee Mugs for Writers on Amazon



Journals for Writers on Amazon








Tablets for Writers on Amazon



 (Sponsored by Amazon)