Monday, March 31, 2014

To-Do List or Wish List?

As a kid, the arrival of the Sears Catalog was akin to the changing seasons. Mom and I would sit down and go through it page by page, commenting on items we liked.

At Christmas, their Wish Book made me dream of dolls, toys, clothes, and decorations for our house. While it gave me many ideas, only a small percentage of things on my personal Wish List found their way from Sears to our mailbox.

At times, my To-Do List seems more like a Wish List. At the end of the day, numerous items roll over to the next day's list. The recurring items like writing, the gym, laundry, and grocery shopping have to get done. Special projects in the house and for marketing rarely get a check mark.

Here are a few ways I manage those items that languish on my To-Do List for weeks and months:

1)  Break the job into bite-sized pieces and take 15 minutes to work on it each day or several days a week. My guest room was becoming a catch all, so one morning I took 20 minutes and de-cluttered. The next step was to clean out the closet. I knew several items needed to go into the garbage, so I'd grab a few and discard them on my way out the door.

2)  Guest Posts and Interviews - These are great ways to promote your books or writing talents. Some bloggers require you to answer 12-15 questions. Whew! That takes a lot of time. A guest post requires coming up with an idea, writing, editing, and submitting it along with pictures, book covers, blurbs, and links.

I try to get a reasonable amount of lead time, and then go to work on the project immediately. Once I decide on what to write, I open a Word document and jot down notes. Questions for interviews are also transferred to a Word document. I'll answer a few questions each day until it's finished. The one thing I NEVER do is wait until the last minute. I get it to the blogger as soon as possible.  It's a great stress reducer.

How does this affect my To-Do List? I have each of those parts listed. Even if it carries over to my list for weeks, I can check off individual items and see I'm making progress (or not making progress).

3)  BIG Projects - Writing a novel is a big project. Spring cleaning is a big project. Planting a garden requires a lot of work. How do I keep these moving along without letting my house have 3 inches of dust or laundry piled to the ceiling?

A separate list for each item can be helpful. Granted, one has to actually look at the list and maintain it. This is not my strong point, so it takes more discipline.

Some projects I've pared down to the bare essentials. The garden will be limited to flowers this year. While I love growing vegetables, they require far more attention than easy-care blooms. (I make sure the flowers I pick work well for my planting beds and are drought tolerant.)

Writers and Readers:  How do you keep your To-Do List from becoming a Wish List? I could sure use more suggestions.

Photo Credit:  Fanginhoon

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Little Soul Food

Although not full Italian, it's the nationality I relate to most. The sight, smell, and taste of the food make it my favorite cuisine.

While feeding the body is essential, it's just as important to feed our spirits and souls. Today's links are from some devotional bloggers I visit on a regular basis. Bon App├ętit!

1.         Maria Morgan compares us to Olympic Athletes in this post.

2.         Alisa Hope Wagner, at Faith Imagined, asks us if we're carrying burdens that are too heavy for us alone.

3.         Rhonda Schrock has a way of expressing things that hits the target of my heart like an arrow. In this devotional she encourages us to ask the Lord for divine appointments.

Writers and Readers: What are some of your favorite devotional blogs? Please share.

Photo Credit:  brokenarts

Monday, March 24, 2014

Is There Anything Too Hard for God - Guest Post by Amber Schamel

Have you ever had a problem that you just can't fix? You've tried everything, but have nothing to show for it? I had one of those situations last week.

I was copying some CD's for a non-profit when the robot duplicator stopped working. I had shut it down the night before, and when I came back the next day, it wouldn't turn on. Tech support had told me that the motherboard or CPU was about to go out, and when it did, it would cost a lot of money to get it fixed. I spent 30 minutes plugging, unplugging and fiddling with cords, switches etc . trying to get it to turn on, but to no avail. 

Yesterday, I was at my wits end. I needed to fulfill an order, and it still wouldn't turn on.  I stopped, bowed my head and silently prayed.  Lord, we really need this duplicator to work. The non-profit doesn't have the money to replace it, and we're using it to encourage people in Your word.  Please make this thing turn on and work properly.

Did you know that Jesus fixes computers?

I flipped the switch, and the duplicator immediately sprung to life. I haven't had any problems with it. It made me wonder why I hadn't prayed about it long before! Thus the infamous words of the song:

"Oh what peace we often forfeit!
Oh what needless pain we bare,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer."

Some may say, that is a very small thing. Why would God care about that? But you know what, sometimes God's greatness is shown by how small of things He can do. This little thing He did for me was a great reminder of the power of a faith-filled prayer, and that NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR GOD.

Check out Amber's book, The Healer's Touch, at

What do you need God to do in your life? Is it too big? Is it too small?
Jeremiah 32:27
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Springing Around the Net

After the awful winter we experienced, I can't wait for the forsythia bushes, azaleas, lilacs, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and all the flowering trees to bloom. Spring gives me a burst of energy like no other season.

I've visited many blogger friends and found some great tips to jumpstart your creativity and be more productive. Enjoy!

1)         Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, gives pointers on how to stay on track when writing an article.

2)         Danny Wong, at Shareaholic, talks about why they gave up using press releases and now use blog posts to get news to the general public.

3)         Blogging Bistro has an articled on how to craft a killer blog post.

4)         Karen Lange, at Write Now, posted a review of Julie Klassen's book, The Dancing Master.

5)         Cheryl Moore, a writer who loves to crochet, gives some wonderful ideas on re-purposing old sweaters.

Writers and Readers:  What are you reading right now? If you're working on a crochet/knitting/craft project, please share. 

Photo Credit:  lance1

Monday, March 17, 2014

Generous or Stingy? Part II

In Part I, we looked at ways writers can be either stingy or generous with each other. Now, we're going to focus on readers:


1.  With review copies - Writers who won't provide at least a pdf to a reviewer.

2.  With praying for their readers - Writers who don't think about the needs of their readers.

3.  With quality - Writers who sacrifice quality for quantity.


1.  With appreciation

What does this look like? A) Thanking readers who take the time to write a review (if they know about it), B) Doing special giveaways, C) Thanking readers when they share news about releases and other events.

2.  With consideration -

What does this look like? A) Promoting a reader's blog when they have you on for a guest post, B) Meeting their deadlines for promos or guest posts, C) Following their blogs by email, as well as supporting their social media activities.
3.  With studying your craft -

What does this look like? A) Taking the time to improve your writing techniques. B) Either studying on your own or taking writing classes at a college, online, or at a writers' conference, C) By responding to reader queries about your work.
Writers:  What are some ways you can make a difference in another writer's life?

Readers:  What are some ways authors can make you feel special and appreciated?

Photo Credit: Adamci

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sprinting the Net

I don't have time for Internet marathons these days, but I can manage a sprint. I try to take 10 minutes a day to hit several blogs. It's one reason I like signing up for email updates. The links come right to my inbox and make it easy to pop in on my favorite blogs. Here's what I found recently:

1.  Novel Rocket had a post by author DiAnn Mills on what to do when your character is too perfect.

2.   Letters Across the Page tackles the subject of disorganization. Whether we're writers or readers, our lives can benefit from clearing out the clutter.

3.  The Write Conversation talks about recognizing God's provision. While we all enjoy posts on writing, reading, and a variety of subjects, feeding the inner man is just as important.

Writers and Readers:  What subjects draw you most when surfing the Net?

Photo Credit:  lusi

Monday, March 10, 2014

Generous or Stingy? Part I

While we've all heard about Scrooge in The Christmas Carol, stinginess can go way beyond money. I thought about the ways generosity and stinginess manifest in writers. Here are a couple of lists on the subject:


1.  With compliments - The writer who never encourages someone else.

2.  With time - The writer who refuses to do anything that doesn't benefit them in some way.

3.  With guidance - The writer who sees a fellow traveler struggling with issues he/she has conquered, but doesn't share the solution.


1.  With gratitude  - A writer who expresses appreciation.

What does this look like? A)  Thanking people who "Like" their author page on Facebook, B) Writing acknowledgements in their books, C) Passing it on to the next writer in line.

2.  With thoughtfulness - A writer who thinks of others.

What does this look like? A) They do a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or their blog. B) If they're close, purchase their books and/or send a small congratulatory gift.

3.  Returns the favor - A writer who reaches out to those who've helped them and supports the other person's goals.

What does this look like? A) Following their blog. B) Tweeting about their successes, C) Liking their author pages. You get the idea.

In the next post, I’ll talk about stinginess and generosity with readers.

Writers and Readers: What are some of the ways authors can be generous with other writers?

Photo Credit: sciucaness

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Round-Up

Time management frustrates me. There, I said it. Apparently, I'm not alone because bloggers are talking about the subject. Here are a couple of links to give you some ideas, as well as a how-to on creating pre-made Tweets.

1. The Recovering Church Lady shares her experience with having unlimited writing time and getting nothing done. Are you a procrastinator? This post is for you.

2. Have you ever seen those great pre-made Tweets in a blog post? Blogging Bistro gives directions on how to add these to your posts. I want to try this.

3.  I'm seeing discipline as a recurring theme as I'm skipping around blogs. Positive Writer has a guest post on the subject.

Writers and Readers: Do you find you're more productive when you're on a schedule? Please share.

Photo Credit: Shadowkill

Monday, March 3, 2014

I Need Mental Health Days

I like routine. And lists. Most of all, I like mental health days. What are mental health days, you ask? Permit me to elaborate:

1.  A day where you do something for fun - NO RESEARCH ALLOWED! I like to wander around antique stores and malls, check out flowers at garden centers, go to craft shows, hunt for grocery bargains (or any kind of bargains for that matter), and hang out with friends.

2.  A day where you read to your heart's content - NO RESEARCH ALLOWED! My favorite authors' books have sat on a staggering TBR pile for so long that they're turning a pale shade of yellow. Here I come Julie Klassen, Jody Hedlund, Kathi Macias, Sarah Sundin, Cathy Gohlke, and many others.

3.  A day when I sleep until I naturally wake up and then spend a leisurely hour in the Word of God - NO RESEARCH ALLOWED! The spirit and the body enjoy rejuvenation.

Why do I keep stressing "NO RESEARCH ALLOWED," you ask? I need to give myself permission to live life without tacking on something writing or work related.

Writers and Readers:  What does a mental health day look like for you?

Photo Credit: Susan J. Reinhardt