My new obsession (which isn’t that new)

My newest obsession which is really a spin-off of an old obsession – time management – is decorating my planner. For….y…e…a…r…s, I’ve struggled to find the ideal planner. I have purchased enough planners throughout the years, that I think I have broken some laws and yet nothing seemed to work. Or last. I would soon grow bored with them. I’d spot a newer shiner version and wham, I’d be transferring ALL my data over. Then a couple of months later, I’d spy one that I thought I’d like better. That would fit my life better. I was like a gerbil in a wheel chasing the prefect chocolate cake doughnut…

THEN….came 2016. My focus of the year is to ‘reinvent’ myself. For the last couple of years I have been trying to force myself into a cookie cutter. It’s not worked well for me. As a part of me being me, I looked at what ((I)) wanted in a planner… not what others did.

I don’t need a planner with hourly blocks, my day just doesn’t flow like that. My crazy day job is…well…crazy. What I need is a place to track daily writing goals, weekly deadlines, and commitments. A place to log appointments. And somewhere to track to bills, spending, and other boring life details. I needed a planner that was shiny – all the  time.

Here is what I came up with 🙂 Every Sunday, I decorate the week with a theme that varies. On the pages themselves write the books I plan on reading that week (this helps me stay focus and not waste time drooling on the my stack of TBR). Set goals. Put in appointments. List journal topics.

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This week

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Last week it was all about life

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Another example

 

 

I have found that by combining the ‘boring’ this is what I need to do with the creative part of my brain I’m three months in and I’m still loving it. While I know this won’t work for everyone, actually it probably won’t work for anyone but me. But isn’t that the point of a planner – it works for YOU.

So what makes your planner prefect for YOU?

When you a teaser what is that you look for? A sneak peek at the romance? This week’s Tuesday Teaser comes from Kick Start – my hot motocross 😀 And is a ‘tension’ teaser….

Danger was what Jada Anderson and Dezmond Blance thrived on. They thought flying through the air on a dirt bike was the ultimate high.  Until they fell in love….then they find themselves racing against a murder.

Danger was what Jada Anderson and Dezmond Blance thrived on. They thought flying through the air on a dirt bike was the ultimate high. Until they fell in love….then they find themselves racing against a murder.

The blurb ~
Jada Anderson had known from the beginning it would only be a three week hook-up. Nothing more than twenty-one days of great dirt bike riding, nights spent drinking bat bites, and making awesome love. So she left without a word on the twenty-first morning.

Dezmond Blance has the chance to take his career as a motocross rider to the next level. He’s been invited to compete for a spot on one of the national top ranked teams. After a great ride, he’s ready to celebrate but he’s missing one thing – the woman who stole his heart weeks earlier. To his surprise Jada is there to congratulate him.

When he wakes the next morning and finds her gone, he thinks she’s done another vanishing act until his mechanic’s wife comes up missing to. Now both men must race to find the women they love before the next try-outs.
Danger was what Jada Anderson and Dezmond Blance thrived on. They thought flying through the air on a dirt bike was the ultimate high. Until they fell in love….then they find themselves racing against a murder.

Dez....sigh

Dez….sigh

Here is a suspense teaser ~
Dez hit one of the hills too fast and at the wrong angle, causing his bike to twist under him.

“Shit,” Rose whispered as Jada sucked in a deep breath of the gritty desert air.

Jada curled her fingers into a tight ball as Dez landed on his extended left leg. He pulled the bike in position and continued to ride. Had he broken his leg? She knew he’d ride as long as he could, the adrenaline pushing the pain into a small box to be dealt with later. Tears filled her eyes as she worked her bottom lips between her teeth.

 

 

donuts

What I spent February buried under…

The last full week of March. While it was a much better month than February on both a personal and professional level, I still had tons of crap to deal with from February. It was as if I spent February drowning in a sea of donuts, I had all the weight and sugar coma to deal with this month.

On the personal front, I’ve boarded the diet train…snuck off the diet train…boarded the diet train but then it was buried under an avalanche of Girl Scout cookies. Well, you get the idea but as of 6 am this morning, I was back on it.  And the weather as crept to the point that I can once again start taking Dog on the evil exercise program.

On the writing front, I made my writing goal 78% of the time. So while I’m still way behind on my year to date goals (because of the doughnut hole known as February), it was a step in the right direction.

I’m also planning on a big push this week. Did some ‘pre’-cooking this weekend and spent Sunday night getting my blogs ready.

I’m hoping to end the month on a high note. It has been a struggle to keep pushing myself after February, I was ready to stay submerged in the doughnuts. But thanks to my family and friends, I didn’t.

Hope everyone has a great day and enjoys the last week of the month (and if anyone sees Spring could you send her to Michigan? We need her here.)

 

Time Out from Life

As a full time writer, I don’t have a traditional Monday through Friday 8 to 4 work hours. It’s easy to fall into a seven day work week especially with looming deadlines or a story that I’m excited about AND sometimes that is required. But when it’s not then I need to remember to take time off.

Downtime looks different. Sometimes it’s like it was yesterday. Hubby and I took our grandson up to his mother’s. We spent the day visiting, playing in the snow, and just relaxing.  Other times, if I’m in serious need of recharging, I’ll take entire weekend and read. Or when we have our one month of summer, I love to go to the beach.

The rocker was a gift from my grandmother... love it!!!!

The rocker was a gift from my grandmother… love it!!!!

My favorite place to do pre-submission edits. They listen to all my woes :)

My favorite place to do pre-submission edits. They listen to all my woes 🙂

When I need a break from editing or writing and my deadlines don’t allow a day off, cooking, crocheting, and card making offer a great couple hour escape.

 

Hooker Brownies - so name because they are 'easy and soooo good' ;)

Hooker Brownies – so name because they are ‘easy and soooo good’ 😉

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A thank-you card I made for a friend that included seeds for a butterfly garden

My goal is to make a blanket a month for Linus project

My goal is to make a blanket a month for Linus project

Watching movies or television isn’t really a ‘relaxing’ time for me, which is how I’ve avoided the shows like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Arrow that so many find addicting. My hubby, however, is a big television/movie watcher as is my daughter and one of my sons. Because of my shining object disorder, rarely can I just sit there regardless of how great the show is. During an average 2 hour movie, I crochet, update my facebook and twitter, visit my favorite recipe blogs, and most likely write. So after an afternoon of television/movie watching, I don’t really feel relaxed.

Time out from my writing life not only helps me be more productive but it’s important for my ‘mental’ health (aka my bitch factor).

How do you relax? Do you schedule ‘life time outs’ or do you go with the flow?

To Read Tuesday

It’s February 😀 So it’s a new reading theme. Last month the theme was new authors to me. I tried Greg Keys, Gail Z. Martin, Karen Robards, Jefferson Bass, Sharon Sala, Carrie Willard, Diedre Knight, Jennie Primrose, Jamie Alden, Geneieve Jack, Kerry Kirkwood, Denise Doming, Melanie Walker, and Tracy Falbe. I had lots and lots variety! A couple of these are non-fiction, some are young adult, some are fantasy, some are suspense, and some are romance.

Books are a uniquely portable magic ~ Stephen King

Books are a uniquely portable magic ~ Stephen King

A couple of the books I didn’t finish because they were in 1st person. So far Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is the only 1st person books I’ve enjoyed. This is the authors fault just my taste as a reader. One was a series that I started and loved the first book but not so much the second so I gave up on it.  Overall, however, I did enjoy swimming in new waters and most of the authors will stay on my ‘watch’ list.

This month’s theme is historical for adult fiction and futuristic for young adults. I tried to pick books from different periods. So far on deck I have:

For historical ~

To Steal a Highlander’s Heart by Samatha Holt

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

The MacGregor’s Lady  by Grace Burrowes

Somerset by Leila Meacham (currently reading)

Hall of Secrets by Cate Campbell

For young adult futuristic ~

The Smallest Giant (Children of Time #1) by GJ Winters

Werelove Dusk Conspiracy by LaKisha Spletzer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I’d love to hear what you’re reading and if you have any suggestions shout them out.

 

Finding Reading time…

As a writer, reading has many forms. Some for research (i.e. the articles on keeping spiders as pets, the most dangerous spiders, spiders found in various regions – yes, this was research because I personal HATE spiders but the killer in my current WIP has a thing for spiders), some for improving my craft, some for critiques, so it’s often hard to fit in ‘pleasure’ reading.

I love to read! And I know it benefits my writing. Last year I assigned each month a ‘reading’ focus. I think this did increase my

Books are a uniquely portable magic ~ Stephen King

Books are a uniquely portable magic ~ Stephen King

reading because I had to read at least 2 books in the assigned focus. Besides that, I …..

1. Make Reading a Priority
In most every case, you can make time for what you truly want to have time for.
2. Always Have a Book Handy
I keep a few books I’m working on reading through different parts of the house, my purse, and my car. That way, if I have a few minutes of extra time, I have a book handy to pick up and read.
When I’m headed out the door for an appointment, when I’ll be riding in the passenger seat instead of driving or when I’m going anywhere that there’s a potential I might have some “dead” time, I bring a book along. Sometimes, I don’t even get to crack it open. Other times, I end up having unexpected waiting time and finish half the book!

3. Set Reading Goals
I’ve been amazed at how much more I’m reading when I have clear-cut reading goals in place. Like reading at least 2 steampunk books in addition to any other books that grab my interest with a 3 book a month minimum. I don’t do weekly goals…
This year I’m going to ‘try’ to post the books I’ve read on Pinterest. I have avoided Pinterest with the same diligence as a person would the plague but I’ve been repeatedly told that it’s wonderful….
4. Turn Off the TV and deleted Candy Crush
I’m not a big TV watcher but I did donate HOURS to Candy Crush… I don’t even want to think about the total.
5. Listen to Audiobooks
I do this while crocheting or working one of my other Linus Project blankets unless I need to focus on the pattern or I’m ‘cooking’ on a writing project. But you can listen in the car, while you’re folding laundry, while you’re exercising… any time your hands are busy but your mind is free.

 
These are five things, I’ve done that has increased my reading time. I’d love to hear any of your suggestions/tips.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend 😀

Not following the rules…

I hate following the rules. A rarely leads to B in my world. Heck 99% of the time I don’t even start off at A. My hubby often says “Oh, that rule is for everyone but you right?” It’s not that I think we don’t need rules/laws and that I’m above them. I just need to understand that there is a valid reason for it. Like while I love to drive over 70 I understand that roaring by schools at 75 is not a good idea nor do I.

The lack of rule following holds true for my writing. Yesterday, I just finished my short suspense-romance novella. The plotting/planning for this WIP? I picked names and a place and started writing. The story morphed in my head at least four times while I wrote it.  I’ve tried the plotting/planning thing. Really I have. But my mind just isn’t wired like that. I become bored and disinterested and every story I’ve tried to plot and plan has never taken off.

For the longest time, I honestly believed I couldn’t call myself a writer if I didn’t do some sort of plotting. Even the articles that promote non-plotting ways of writing has the writer do more planning than I do.   So again I would try to force myself into the writer cookie cutter…and fail. This was a sad circle that led to a lot of M&M’s being eaten.

Finally, I stumbled across yet another ‘writing without plotting’ article. Only this one was different. Apparently, Stephen King does NOT plot!!! He starts withOUT an outline!!!! He has NO scene list.  A big sigh of relief.  It’s amazing that I still need that validation but I did.  I need to remember that we all have a slightly different beat that leads us through life (mine happens to be the Banana Boat song and I love this video clip of it from Beetlejuice ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQXVHITd1N4)

Thanks for stopping by!

This weekend was filled to the brim with non-writing activities. It’s rare I can’t spend anytime writing/editing or planning the next week’s blogs. Occasionally, I’ll plan a weekend or extended weekend off to recharge but this past weekend wasn’t planned so I feel behind the eight ball to speak today.  AND of course, I have two looming deadlines. I need to polish a short romance novella and get it to the editor by the 27th.  The next in the adrenaline junkie series is due in November and currently it’s no more than a bare outline. And I have my two space operas that I’m currently working on.

I struggle with two aspects of projects ~

1) the beginning and

2) the ending.

Now I can rock out the middle. I’m not one of those writers who get the mid-way blues ie I’m sick of my characters. The fear that makes starting and end a project is the same – what if this sucks??? I think this fear is partly what keeps me from becoming a plotter. If I spend all the time working up a detailed outline, I would have myself convinced that it’s pure garbage. I’m usually about 1/3 of the way in before I can stick my tongue out at the fear. Then it’s smooth sailing until I hit the last 1/3. Then fear returns loaded for a war. I almost always stall completely out at this point. After a few days of moping thinking that all the time I spent writing on this WIP was for nothing, I put on my big girl panties and get a share size bag of M&M’s (that I have NO intention of sharing) and finish it.

I’m still in the beginning stages of my space opera novella and novel. So last week was slow going but by the end of this week fear will be lurking in the corner waiting.

What did do instead of writing??? Spent the day Saturday with the cutest 2 year old in the world – my grandson Charlie.

He didn't like the idea of rolling his pumpkin down the hill

He didn’t like the idea of rolling his pumpkin down the hill

We're making cookies for daddy after the pumpkin roll

We’re making cookies for daddy after the pumpkin roll

Saying Good-bye

Two for Tuesday
summerAs sad as it makes me I do believe that summer is quickly ending… Ole man winter is already dating Mother Nature (this is not a good hook-up). So as I pick out my fall nail polish (I’m leaning toward Opi’s Muir Muir on the Wall) and stalking the clearance rakes for mark down flip-flops, I thought I’d share for this Two for Tuesday some of my favorite summer two’s.

Favorite two things to do:
#1 – spending time at the beach
#2 – writing (due to the ex-day job – I would do most of writing in the summer months)

Favorite two summer foods:
#1 – Strawberries – I don’t care where they come from in the winter NOTHING can beat a fresh Michigan strawberries (strawberry shortcake is my favorite way to eat them)
#2 – Brat burgers – sadly since I’ve been on the diet train for the summer I haven’t been able to enjoy these as in years pass

Favorite two summer drinks:
#1 – Strawberry shortcake martini – whipcream flavored vodka, cake flavored vodka, and a splash of strawberry pop – need I say more???
#2 – Big B’s Chocolate chip frozen Latte 🙂

Two best 2013 summer events:
#1 Daughter (who is in the Navy) received State side orders and will be in CA for 2 years. Much easier to visit when an ocean and the dateline isn’t included
#2 Son #1 finished college and has a ‘done with college’ job

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite summer things are…

To Read Tuesday

I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite reading places. Now I can read almost anywhere… sitting in the car waiting, in the doctor’s office waiting, and the ER (which I’ve visited enough over the last 2 weeks with hubby they know our names on sight). But if I plan on taking some time and read there are a few spots that are my ‘favorites.’
During my weekend reading retreat I spent most of it on my front porch wrapped up in fuzzy blanket (because it was only in the 50’s and rainy). But if the weather allows I like to sit outside in the summer months under my favorite tree. And if I need to ‘escape’ the dust bunnies, the laundry monster, and everything that demands my attention, I pack a backpack and walk to a little used park about a mile from my house.
Here are the pics of my favorite places…

Don't judge our lack of grass :)

Don’t judge our lack of grass 🙂

The rocker was a gift from my grandmother... love it!!!!

The rocker was a gift from my grandmother… love it!!!!

My park escape...

My park escape…

There are places I can’t read (or write)… the coffee shop and the local Barnes and Nobles… for example ~ I can’t resist the urge to people watch. Also I can’t read in bed. Once my head feels a pillow under it my brain instantly thinks I need to go sleep 🙂

What are some of your favorite reading spots?