Monday, September 30, 2013

Watch Those Minutes

I don't know about you, but when I get on the computer, hours can fly by without me noticing. With my work status changing from part-time to full-time, that dynamic has to change. I've already made some revisions in my schedule:

1. I'm going to bed earlier. On the weekends, I was staying up until after midnight. Most of this time was spent surfing the Net. While it was fun and I picked up some useful stuff, it wasn't worth the time expenditure.

2.  I'm getting up earlier. Mornings are my most productive time of the day. The whole idea is to allow the brain to function at maximum capacity.

3.  Tech savvy I'm not. One of my goals is to learn more shortcuts with Social Media. My Facebook posts automatically show up on Twitter, while my blog posts are tied to my Goodreads Author Page.

4.  Minutes add up. When I have 5 minutes before going to work, I don't sit and watch them go by. I take the garbage out, water a plant, add items to my grocery list, clip coupons, etc.

5.  The laundromat is close to my home, so while my clothes are in the washer, I go home and do some Social Media tasks and have breakfast at the same time. The dryer takes 40 minutes, so I can clean the bathroom, do some writing, pay bills, run the dishwasher or take care of something else that requires more than a few minutes.

It won't be easy, but with careful planning and God's grace, I'll be able to keep up with the important tasks in my life.

Writers & Readers:  Will you help me out? What are some ways you save time?

Photo Credit:  skingolf

Friday, September 27, 2013

All Aboard!

I'm coming across posts on time management, so let's go with that theme today. On one of these blogs I commented that my extra bits of time were devoted to reading. I don't need more time, but rather productive time. Spending time journaling, reading my Bible, and praying when I get up gives me greater clarity and keeps me calmer.

Here are some links to get you back on track:

1. Jeanette Levellie zeroes in on time wasters.

2.  Jill Kemerer talks about producing or frittering away your time.

3.  Jennifer Brown Banks, at Pen and Prosper, discusses strategies for finding time to write.

Writers and Readers:  How do you find extra time to write or participate in an activity you love?

Photo Credit:  timobalk

Monday, September 23, 2013

When I Was a Kid

When I was a kid, I walked 3 miles to school...just kidding! People often ask me how I got started writing, so I thought I'd talk about that today and give some tips on how to encourage your children's interest in the subject.

My academic career got off to a rough start. One of my first teachers slapped a "slow learner" label on me and sent me on that track. Fortunately, my third grade teacher didn't buy into the tag, and I was moved into a more advanced class.

It wasn't until the fifth grade that a teacher, Mrs. Dowd, recognized my potential and did some intense work with me. She helped me exceed my reading grade level, and I was never behind from that time forward. Reading became an exciting adventure, and seeing me with my nose stuck in a book became a normal occurrence.

The jump from reader to writer was a natural progression. Throughout the years, I dabbled in the craft and wrote skits, pieces for children's Christmas programs, Sunday School Curriculum, and Bible Studies. My late husband urged me to seek publication, which led to publishing credits in the non-fiction market. In 2005, I took a leap of faith into the fiction area. The rest, as they say, is history.

I wish the resources available today would have been around when I was a kid. The Internet provides many opportunities for youngsters interested in writing. Here are a few ideas to nurture their budding talent:

1) Find books that match their interests, and keep them well supplied with reading material. I was interested in ballerinas, nurses, and series books. My mother took me to the library often and purchased books for gifts.

2)  You can find online writing courses for children. My fellow Helping Hands Press author, Karen E. Lange, teaches several of these on various levels.

3)  The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference offers a writing track for teens called, "Teens Write." You can check out the conference here.

Even if your child doesn't become a writer, the experience will help them with their other studies. Who knows? They might become the next Francine Rivers or Ted Dekker.

Writers:  Do you see signs your kids may want to follow in your footsteps? How do you aid them in their writing journey?

Readers: Please share how you encourage the youngsters in your life to read.

Friday, September 20, 2013

How Do I...?

A lot of us take on the task of doing it ourselves, either because we have no one to assist us or can't afford to hire someone. Social media is one of those areas for me. I've mentioned a book I read about Goodreads that helped me a great deal.

Here are some links to help you navigate the brave new world of Social Media:

1.  The BloggingBistro shares how to block Facebook app requests and add posts to Pinterest.

2.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation,gives a step-by-step tutorial on how to schedule social media in Hootsuite.

3.  I've selected another post by Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, about Twitter Hashtags.

My Social Media Tip: If you join Pinterest, please set up at least one board with several pins. I personally ignore notifications of a friend joining this platform if they don't have a board. It's like signing a blank check. No thanks. 

Writers and Readers:  What Social Media site gives you the most problems? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Google+? Could you share some of your own observations/tips?

Photo Credit:  iceKitty37

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Big Reveal

When I have time to watch television, one of my favorite shows is Home Makeover. They select a family or a person with a desperate need for a more functional space. Each family member is interviewed, and then the workers set out to make their dreams come true.

Part of the fun includes sending the family off on a vacation. The host contacts them a few times and feeds them small progress reports. The many special surprises and meaningful touches on the house are reserved for the big reveal at the end of the show.

These folks know how to tell a compelling story. Our stories can achieve the same effect by:

1)  Raising questions in the reader's mind.

2)  Resisting the urge to tell the character's history in the first 30-60 pages.

3)  Revealing backstory in bite-sized pieces rather than expecting the reader to swallow the character's motivations like an entire steak.

By the end of our book, the reader will be looking forward to "the big reveal" and anticipating our next adventure.

Writers:  How do you keep the reader engaged in your story world?

Readers:  What keeps you turning the pages?

Photo Credit:  sundesigns

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Scenic Route

We're going to take our time today and mosey down some scenic Internet roads. After a tough week, I needed laughter and refreshment. How about you?

I did stumble upon a neat post about run-on sentences, so I'm including that as well.

1.  Chatty Crone serves up some humor to give you some stress relief.

2.  Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, gives a great lesson on run-on sentences and how to fix them.

3.  Susan, at WritingStraight From The Heart, talks about the great deal she found at a thrift store. Ah, bargain hunting - now that brightens my day!

Writers & Readers: What small pleasures brighten your day after a difficult week?

Photo Credit:  MaRabelo

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway!

I'm doing a giveaway of 2 AUTOGRAPHED PRINT BOOKS ON GOODREADS! The deadline is 9/25. 

Here's the link:

BTW, the giveaway is open to those in the U.S. AND Canada. :)


Monday, September 9, 2013

Keeping My Head Together

The first time I saw a grouping of these Allium flowers, I knew they'd be one of my favorites. Huge blooms and the purple color make me sigh like a girl in love for the first time.

During the whole process of signing a book contract, getting an agent, and launching my debut novel, my life became a whirlwind. Now, what day was I on Jen's blog? How soon did the edits have to be finished? It became obvious I needed a way to keep track of the many details that fill my days.

For a planner to work, I needed one thing. It had to fit in my purse. During a shopping trip, I made a beeline for the stationary department. The selection ranged from fancy/expensive to small/cheap.

As I dug through the piles, I came across a compact calendar and knew it was the perfect choice. Why? It had a picture of a purple Allium. For me, half the battle is remembering to jot down dates and refer back to them on a regular basis. It may be silly, but the memory of that photo makes it a pleasure to check my planner.

Maybe now I won't forget any important dates.

Writers and Readers:  How do you keep important dates from slipping by without notice?

Photo Credit: Ayla87

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hitting The Trail

With the weekend approaching, I'm ready to hit the blog trail. Why don't you join me? I'd love some company.

1.  Brian Hutchinson, at Positive Writer, talks about the biggest mistake some bloggers make and steps to correct it (or avoid it).

2.  Multi-published author, Jane Kirkpatrick, guests posts at Seriously Write. You can produce a yield (harvest) in your writing life even before publication. Every day can be special.

3.  Laura Christianson, at Blogging Bistro, gives detailed instructions on how to embed a Facebook update on your blog.

Another great hike around the Net! I hope you enjoyed it.

Writers and Readers:  What types of blogs would you like to see featured here? Writing tips? How-to's? Social media? Devotional? Book Review? This blog is about you and what you enjoy!\

Photo Credit: nkzs

Monday, September 2, 2013

Turn Those Captchas Off!

I don't like watching commercials. Yes, they're necessary to keep programming on the air, but I still have a choice on whether or not to watch them.

Captchas prevent SPAM, a form of advertisement. Yet, they present difficulties for those with sight problems. They're also an annoyance, and discourage comments.

So, by popular demand, I'm turning off the CAPTCHAS. Instead, I'll be moderating comments. I hope you'll be patient because they won't show up on the blog for hours. My schedule is unbelievably tight, but I promise I'll do my best to get them posted as quickly as possible.

Thanks for your feedback on the subject. I hope this change will make it easier for you to participate in the discussion.

Writers and Readers: Do CAPTCHAS stop you from  commenting on blogs? Please share.

Photo Credit:  ColinBroug