Adventures & Journeys

Tools for Writers

Tools for Writers

In the field of writing, there are so many tools out there for you to choose from. One could get lost in the sea of information, systems, and apps that are available to help those aspiring to write, edit, research and more.

As you journey on this path to becoming a great author, you will try all the things to get down a system for yourself. Writing programs, apps, the dreaded editing (unless you like edits, then contact me because I hate them with a passion) revising, and more. What you find is that some things that work for others, will not work for you.

Each of us has our own mind, our own way of seeing things and processing them. What will help me may or may not help you, but in the chance that it might help you or you find something you might want to try, I’ll list what I use below.

This post may contain affiliate links. This just means that I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you decide to purchase any of the products discussed in this post.

Writing

 

 

Writing

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Word processors used to write your drafts. Really they are the devices we use to create journeys, adventures, horrors, and more to intrigue, create emotional attachments, and provide an escape from the real world.

Scrivener

Like many others, I use Scrivener to write my novels. With a binder setup, it’s easy to keep things organized they way I like whether thats in chapters, scenes, parts or whatever.

I can also use their outline feature and notecards to keep everything organized and easy to find. If you’d like to check it out, you can go HERE to find out more.

4TheWords

This isn’t just another word processor, it’s a journey in itself. Trust me, if you want to go on your own journey as you write this is the site for you.

It has timed writing as you defeat monster, collect objects and join others in global quests where you write with others to defeat the same monsters. It’s great!!

Inspiration/ Creativity

Creativity

Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay

The places or things you do to create that spark of thought that will propel you into the next story, the next chapter, or next scene.

Pinterest

The number one place I go when I need inspiration on any aspect of my story, whether it’s characters, setting, or whatever. There is so much talent, images, and inspiration being posted to this site. It’s a wealth of creativity and great place to find inspiration.

Movies

Another place I go to find inspiration is movies. I love watching movies and will unconsciously choose some based on characters or abilities so my mind can see what others have thought of. You never know when that one thing you’ve been looking for will hit you like a ton of bricks, so keep a notebook handy. It’s a great way to get a visual aspect on story, characters, setting and more.

Games

Oh, this is one of my favorites. Our family loves co-op and strategy games so we have a lot of ‘European Games’. Our favorites are PowerGrid, Caylus, Cleopatra, and my personal favorite Shadows Over Camelot.

Games, like movies can provide inspiration for many aspects of your story if you tune into specific aspects. You can get ideas for character, setting, even story, but you can also get a feel for strategy, materials, and the path your pieces travel as well. It’s amazing how you can find creative inspiration from the games we play.

What are you favorite games and movies? What are the ones you come back to again and again?

Prompts

This may not give you as much for specific inspiration, but could give you the spark you’ve been looking for. There are many, many prompts out there for many different voices. You can check out my Pinterest Page for Prompts or just give it a search and see what comes up. These are fantastic for story, dialogue and more!

Brainstorming/Mind-mapping

Mind Mapping

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

We all need a way to get our thoughts out and on paper (or within an app). Those creative ideas aren’t going to stay in our heads forever, right?

Notes

There is nothing more simple than having a spiral or notebook with just that, notes. You pour all your thoughts and ideas into that stack of bound paper (or looseleaf if that’s what you have) and work from there, returning when you need that one piece of vital information. Searching and scavenging for what you need because you didn’t organize them enough to know where the darn thing is.

Unless you are extremely organized and put into sections with tab, then I commend you. It crosses my mind, but I haven’t done it yet.

MindMeister

This is a free app (for 3 maps) that allows you to create visual maps, organizing them in any way you wish to suit your needs. You can do one for characters, another for setting, another for plot and so on. The possibilities are endless with this!

Features:

  • Collaborate anywhere
  • Simple Project Management
  • Choose your Mind map style
  • Share your mind map with others
  • Mind Map Presentation
  • Templates
  • Add Images, Video and more
  • History Mode
  • Import and Export

Scapple

I personally haven’t had much experience with this, but from what I see, it’s similar to MindMeister. It give you what you need to get your ideas out and connect them in a way that suites your needs and the needs of your book. The best thing for those of you that use Scrivener – you can connect your notes to Scrivener! Awesome!

 

Features:

  • Write notes anywhere
  • Connect notes using drag and drop
  • Completely freeform
  • Stack notes in columns of related ideas
  • Create background shapes to group notes
  • Customize the appearance of notes
  • Move and arrange notes easily
  • Full Screen Mode
  • Export or Print your ideas
  • Drag Notes into Scrivener!

Productivity/Focus

Focus

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

Writers and authors are always trying to find more focus while working to get their next story complete. It’s the way it’s been for years, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you can find that focus to get the most out of your productivity, then you would be set, right?

I have a whole post on focus, which you can find Here! How to minimize distractions and regain focus to get things done.

For me, I’ve tried to use productivity apps and other things to stay with my deadlines, but I haven’t found the one for me. What works for me, and I cannot stress this enough, (obviously) is the creativity of 4thewords.com. If you haven’t tried this site, I dare you to try it. I’ll even give you my code for a free month to try it out: OSUBW81786

Another app I’ve heard of are Write or Die, but I can’t see myself using this because I would be devastated if my words started disappearing if I couldn’t meet my goal. It’s terrifying really, but if it works for you, by all means, use it!

More apps are:

There are so many more apps if you put in a search for productivity apps, I can’t tell you what to choose. You’ll have to try them and decided what works best for you.

Organization

These are also Productivity apps, but I’ve placed them here because they are also great tools to keep everything organized and together. A place where everything is there, in that one place for you to find quickly and easily.

Trello

Yep, you knew I was going to say that. Trello is a great tool to keep all your things organized and in one place. With board, cards, and the ability to attach anything to those cards, it’s an easy way to keep things separated that need separated and those that need grouping in their prospective areas.

It’s great for keeping track of multiple aspects of your writing. You could have one board for world building, one for characters, one for settings, images or you could use one board and use separate lists and cards to keep things in one place.

You choose how you want to organize it. That and you can also use it for personal, business, or daily routines or tasks.

Scrivener

As far as organizing your book and only your book, Scrivener is the place I go too. I love that I can keep my scenes, chapters, research and can add any documents and even websites as references right within the program. It’s fantastic!

Storage (Electronic/Harddrive/USB)

Want a way to keep your thoughts and ideas organized in a way that you can take it with you or keep it on your desktop? Try Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Docx/Drive for electronic storage. If you are the kind that likes backups for backups, you could keep files directly on your computer or on a USB drive.

Putting my drafts on a USB is something I’ve thought to do, but haven’t done yet. I’ve lost copies and versions that I know I’ve changed, but can’t find the draft I changed. Any one else have a problem like that?

Reference

References

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Every author/writer has their list of references in their toolbox. There are a few that I turn to that I always head to when I need information.

Searches

When I need information on a specific topic there are two places I head too and I bet you can guess where those places are. Yep, you guessed them, Pinterest and Google. These two places are a wealth of information. Yeah, you chance that what you’re finding isn’t true, but it came from the internet so it must be, right?

Just kidding! Even with all the lies out there, it’s the job of the writer to research multiple avenues and discover the truth. We are like journalist in that fashion.

Dictionary

There is always that one word your brain just can’t seem to remember the definition for and it happens more frequently than you might think or notice. That’s why having a dictionary handy, so you can look up that infernal word and find out if you’re using the darn thing right.

Thesaurus

Like the dictionary writers run into what I like to call their ‘favorite’ word. It’s that one word they use over and over again within their manuscript. You know which word that is and a thesaurus is a great tool to diversify your vocabulary so you’re not repeating or becoming redundant.

Editing/Revising/Proofreading

Editing

Image by Anne Karakash from Pixabay

So, you’ve finished your manuscript and are now ready to move onto the next step, editing your work. I gotta tell ya, this is the part I absolutely hate, but it’s a necessary evil. Here are some tools you can use to make the process easier.

ProWritingAid

This program is great for finding errors in your writing. It will also help with style, errors, finding the right words, and punctuation. For a full list of features, click Here.  It’s been a great help to me (when I don’t lose my current copy of my project) and it could be what you’ve been looking for.

Beta Readers

These are people who will read your story for the soul purpose of giving you feedback on your writing. As much as you may hate to hear what others have to say about it, it’s necessary to take their suggestions into consideration. These are those who represent your readers, and you want your story to resonate with them. You definitely don’t have to take every suggestion, it is your story after all, but just consider it. Don’t ever take their words in a negative way. It’s hard to take criticism and trust me, that is something I need to work on myself.

Editor

Another ‘tool’ that will help is an editor and a good one. You want to do your research for this one. An editor is an invaluable part of your editing process. They catch what your beta readers didn’t and can give you advice on how to improve your manuscript.

Other Apps

Though I haven’t personally worked with any of these apps, they are worth mentioning because I’ve seen and heard others who recommend them highly to others. Take a look and see if any fit your and your writing style.

Publishing

Publishing

Image by MorningbirdPhoto from Pixabay

When you’ve gone through your manuscript, had other eyes on it, revised it and it’s the best it can be. Double check you have the right copy, trust me the last thing you want to do is publish the wrong draft of your story. Been there, done that, it’s not pretty. Here are some places to consider publishing or at least the two that I use.

Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing)

Well, I bet you were going to guess this one, but they are the biggest retail site out there and one of the easiest to publish your book too. They provide everything you need to get your book out to the world including formatting to ebook and paperback and helping with cover design. You can check them out Here.

Draft 2 Digital

With Draft2Digital, you are able to enter all your information once and publish to multiple stores, which now includes Amazon. They’ve also created an easy way to list your books and share them with the world on social media. If you haven’t taken a look, you can Here. You won’t be sorry!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many, many  tools for the writer/author to utilize and there are many more that I haven’t listed. Take what you like from here and use what fits you, leave what doesn’t.

From one aspiring author to you, I wish you the best of luck on your journey. Keep at it, don’t stop, forge ahead and succeed!

 

Focus

Focus

Nothing gets me more irritated then when I can’t focus on what needs to get done. So, what really is focus and how to you keep ahold of it or get it back when you lose it? Let’s get right to it.

Word Focus

Dictionary.com

Wiki

  • A point at which reflected or refracted rays of light converge.
  • A point of a conic at which rays reflected from a curve or surface converge.
  • The fact of the convergence of light on the photographic medium.
  • The quality of the convergence of light on the photographic medium.
  • Concentration of attention.
  • The exact point of where an earthquake occurs, in three dimensions (underneath the epicentre).
  • The indicator of the currently active element in a user interface.
  • Most important word or phrase in a sentence or passage, or the one that imparts information.

What is Focus and Why you need it?

Eyes

We are going to focus on the ‘concentration of attention‘ meaning of the word. This is the act of concentrating your attention on any one thing. In order to focus on that one thing you must put aside the other things vying for your attention and keep trained on that one thing.

There are times when you need to get a project complete, research done, or that nagging chapter you need to finish; this is where focus is going to get you through to that last step (or to the next one). There are always times you want to stop, take a break, or quit all together. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times where you NEED that break, but don’t let it take hold so much that you forget why you’re trying to focus and continue in the first place. Take that break, but Keep Going, you can do it!

How to find/be focused

Cameras

Although, your mind is capable of focusing on more than one thing at a time; I mean, come on, who doesn’t love multitasking. The only problem with that is your split mind is trying to concentrate on too many things at once and you’re not getting as much as you could be getting done, complete. You need to focus on one task, goal, etc at a time in order for your focus to really work as it should.

So, in order to find focus you should concentrate on one thing at a time. The trick to it, is that you don’t move onto anything else until that one goal or task is achieved. You may want to spread your thoughts and move to more projects, but when your focus is split, it’s hard to get multiple things done.

Ways to Focus

Focus Tunnel

  • Stop Procrastinating – Get to that thing you’ve been putting off.
  • Turn off Notifications – Better yet, put the electronics in the other room so you won’t hear the phone ring or notifications from your favorite game.
  • Create a list – Stick to the most important first. – Commit to one thing at a time
  • Create Deadlines – What motivates better than having a deadline?
  • Make the Choice – You have to make the choice to focus on what, when.
  • Keep Calm and Forge On – Keep going, Forge ahead to the next goal.
  • Minimize the Noise  – As much as you can
  • Create a Plan – Stick to it.
  • Don’t compare Yourself to Others – only you know how you can do better.
  • Create a Reward System – who doesn’t like rewards for doing well?!
  • Work on Full Screen – To minimize distractions
  • Create a Routine
  • Measure Your Progress – See where you’ve come and where you want to go.
  • Enjoy the Process – Love what you do!
  • Embrace Failure – It’s going to happen, learn from it and Forge On!

Final Thoughts

So, now that you have some ways to focus in your toolbox, go and get back into the rhythm and harmony you were once at. And don’t forget to love what you do, because there is no greater feeling than rising every morning to do what you love doing the most.

Featured Organizing

Organizing Your Novel

Everyone has their own processes and systems to keep things organized and together as they write, but what if you’re just starting or are in need of a fresh start with your organizing? Keep reading and you’ll find some ideas I’ve dug up for you because, well, I’m in the same boat.

Let’s take a look at what I’ve found…

Electronic Organization

I’ve found that quite a few have used an electronic system for keeping their stories organized. Let’s dive in and look as what others are doing.

Trello

With Trello you have different boards, cards, lists and more, it’s no wonder many turn to Trello for their organizing needs.

You can create different boards for every aspect of your writing, from settings to characters to world building. You can even have a board for personal, homeschool, work, or whatever you need. It’s quite amazing how you can organize your thoughts, events, projects and more within Trello.

Trello

The best thing is that you can do this in any fashion you wish. If you want each book to be a board, you can. If you want each aspect to have its own board, you can. It’s really up to you how you organize and work the program to benefit you as a writer.

It’s also great for planning and keeping track of blog posts, social media, and any other project you have. As in the image above, you get a glimpse of my week at a glance.

Some Features:

  • Project Boards
  • Tasks Cards
  • Subtasks Checklists
  • Task Assignees—Give tasks a clear owner, so everyone knows who’s responsible.
  • Column Titles
  • Due Dates
  • Due Times
  • Add Attachments
  • Comments
  • Drag and Drop Workflow
  • Collaborate
  • Add Power-Ups 
  • iOS and Android Apps
  • Syncs Between Devices
  • And More

To see more features and pricing, click Here or Here.

Evernote

Here is one I haven’t used in years. I actually hated this program with a passion and I couldn’t tell you now why it was that way, but while researching this topic I found that a lot of people really enjoy using it.

You are able to create different binders with which you can add notes for each aspect of your story from characters, settings, checklists, etc.

Evernote Organization

I tried it, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to add a note without duplicating another. I would have to toy with it longer than a few moments to figure out how to use the newer features since the last time I toyed with it, but I can see how this could be a good program to use for your writing.

Using it as a binder, you can add sub-binders and notes to keep all your notes together. Like Trello, you can add images, clips from the web, sync between devices and more. Check it out to see if it would be something that could help you.

Some Features:

  • Save
  • Organize
  • Sync Text, Images, And Clips From The Web
  • Search Notes
  • Clip Material From The Web
  • Annotate Uploaded Documents and Images
  • Collaborate With Others
  • Chat With Teammates (Requires Business Account)
  • Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Web Apps 

To see more features and pricing, click Here.

Asana

Asana is similar to Trello in that it is a simpler version. You don’t have as much micro managing as with Trello or Evernote, but you can create different teams which have separate lists for each item, but it could be helpful for separating aspects into To-Do lists or even note lists. You can add attachments to each card and move them around as you please.

Asana

Use them as a checklist for each area of your writing and you are able to have teammates and assign tasks (Like with Trello or Evernote), you just need to decide which is perfect for you.

Some Features:

  • Projects
  • Tasks
  • Subtasks.
  • Task Assignees
  • Sections
  • Due Dates
  • Due Times
  • Start Dates
  • Attachments
  • Likes
  • Tasks in Multiple Projects

To see more features and pricing, click Here.

Scrivener

I use this program the most for my writing and to keep things organized. I love that there are pre-created sections for each thing, along with preloaded templates for your use. You can add your notes, images, etc to each section or note for use later.

Scrivener

To be honest, I never thought of this as a way to plan your novel until I began thinking hard about it. It has everything you need to keep your thoughts, images, notes, etc in one place. You can connect websites to refer back to without even leaving the program. The only it may not contain is a calendar for scheduling, but you can even create a folder for marketing, promotion, blog posts, social media, and anything else you want related to the project. It would be all in one place with your writing and it’s available to sync between devices, which is awesome!

More Features:

  • Binders
  • Subsections
  • Text Editor
  • Styles
  • Import
  • Corkboard
  • Outliner
  • Templates and Icons
  • Screenwriting
  • Tools for Non-Fiction
  • View Documents Side by Side
  • Full Screen Writing
  • Set Targets and Track Progress
  • Metadata
  • Collections
  • Choose Your Tools 
  • Print/Export/Publish
  • Snapshots
  • Autosave and backups
  • Write Anywhere

To see more features and pricing, click Here.

Paper Organization

You always have the option to go back to paper and pen/pencil, but what do you use to organize your ideas, thoughts, and other aspects of your writing? Let’s take a look below to find out.

Binders

Binders are helpful for organizing your thoughts. You would write everything out by hand and organize it in whichever way that suits you. Within the binder you could have tabs and folders to hold anything that reminds you of your story, separating different sections and areas of your writing to create the perfect system for you.

Binder

Each tab could correspond with an aspect of your story with notes on each one for you to refer to as you write. You could use the folders as a way to keep the physical things you collect pertaining to your story. Perhaps you’ve collected shells because your story takes place on a beach or buttons because your character collects them.

Notebooks/Folders

Organizing Folders

As with binders, you can have separate spirals for each aspect of your writing or you can use one for each novel/series. They make some handy tab stickers for your use to separate each section and if you were using folders, you could fill them with whatever you need for each area along with using a filing cabinet to keep them all organized.

Storyboard/Post-its/Marker Board

Post-it organizing

I’ve seen and heard of others who lay out their novels in a storyboard type way. They clear a spot on their wall and start adding post-its for each aspect. They’ll use different colors for characters, plots, subplots, etc. and I can see how this would work as a great visual. You could even take a picture of it to refer to when you are away from your desk.

If you’re the electronic type, I’ve seen some apps that will let you organize post-its in the same way, so you can use both ways if the desire suits you.

Hybrid

The hybrid version is to use a bit of both electronic and paper versions. Perhaps you like the organization of the binder to keep things together, but want a way to take notes on the go. You could use your notes app on your phone to keep notes or the post-it app for ideas that come to you while you’re away from your home and then put the into your system when you return.

You can search your device for the right app for you. Everyone works differently and as one will work well to one person, it may not work for another. Here is where you need to try different things to see what fits you and your style best.

Don’t Forget to Save Your Work

There are times when you need a reminder to save your work in multiple places. The nice thing about scrivener is that it save each draft as a new file. Unfortunately, unless you know where the one you’re searching for is or you rename them each time, there is still a chance you could lose it somewhere. So here are some ways to save your all important story ideas to keep from losing anything in the future.

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • OneDrive
  • ICloud
  • USB Drive/Other External Memory Device
  • Print
  • Amazon S3

What other ways do you save your work? Inquiring minds want to know!

If you have another way of keeping your stories in line and together, let us know in the comments! 

This Month’s Writing Theme: Novel Organization

The reason for taking my break last month was due to some distressing feedback of my first novel and to be honest, my heart couldn’t take it. That doesn’t mean that I’ll be quitting, oh, far from it. I’ve been looking up more on writing than I did when I started and I realized that perhaps if I could get my notes and data for my novels organized, I wouldn’t forget that some events happened or that one of the men I have changed from Nix to Drant.

Yeah, it happens to us all. So here’s your chance to help others that are struggling with their writing and provide some much needed advice.

Book Organization

Example: For this one, I don’t have an exact system, but I am toying with Trello to get my books organized and I’ve thought about using an actual binder for my series. We shall see what works better. 

What are you using to keep your notes/thoughts/stories organized? I would love to know as I know others would as well!

Laughter

Laughing is an every day part of our lives, whether it’s giant belly laughs with friends or small, barely audible ones you hide from your co-workers so they can’t hear you. They can come from anywhere and are known to have many benefits.

But first…

Dictionary

  1. the action or sound of laughing.
  2. an inner quality, mood, disposition, etc., suggestive of laughter; mirthfulness: man of laughter and goodwill.
  3. an expression or appearance of merriment or amusement.
  4. Archaic . an object of laughter; subject or matter for amusement.

WIKI

  1. The sound of laughing, produced by air so expelled; any similar sound.
  2. A movement (usually involuntary) of the muscles of the laughing face, particularly of the lips, and of the whole body, with a peculiar expression of the eyes, indicating merriment, satisfaction or derision, and usually attended by a sonorous and interrupted expulsion of air from the lungs.
  3. (archaic) A reason for merriment.

Types of Laughter

Laughter

You may not be aware, but there are many types of laughter and I’ll touch on them briefly.

Nervous Laughter

I bet you can guess this one. There’s not much explaining to it. It’s the laugh you perform when your nervous and your not sure if you’re supposed to laugh or comment. It’s a way we cover awkward silence or embarrassment. When was the last time you chuckled or laughed at something that was said without knowing how to respond.

Silent/Internal Laughter

You’ll know this one as well. It’s those laughs you keep inside or hide from others. Example: You’re at work and you’ve decided to bring up Facebook or YouTube and view some funny cat videos just to give your brain a break. You don’t want anyone to know what your up to so you keep your laughter hidden and silent.

Or you didn’t find something as funny as someone else and you just give a small chuckle to be polite.

Belly/snorting Laughter

Yep, you know this one too. You know that one person who is outrageously loud and obnoxious when they laugh? That’s a belly laugh and if you haven’t experienced one, then you are totally missing out!

This laugh comes when you are at your most relaxed and your body is willing to let everything out when you find something hilarious. Go on, try it sometime.

Contagious Laughter

This is what happens when you get together with your siblings or best friends. One of you laughs and the rest follow. You can’t help it, but laugh when others around you find something funny.

Cruel Laughter

We all know what this is, right? When you laugh at someone else’s expense. When someone does something to another to make themselves feel like they are more powerful and you laugh at their antics. As it states, it cruel and childish.

Some you may not know about are as follows…

Etiquette Laughter

This is where you laugh to show respect for another. It’s usually forced, but no one ever calls you on it because you’re trying to show your respect for the person who is trying to make you laugh.

Canned Laughter

These are laughs you hear on TV shows and commercials. It’s recorded laughter used to be inserted at a specific time during the production to elicit laughter from the audience. Have you ever laughed at a specific spot in a show because you heard others laughing? Yep, that’s it.

 

Benefits of Laughter

Laughter Benefits

Laughing is proven to provide many benefits to the human body. Below are some of them.

Physical

  • Boost Immune System
  • Deminishes Pain
  • Relaxes Muscles
  • Aid Circulation
  • Protects Against Heart Desease

Mental Health

  • Lowers Anxiety
  • Releases Tension
  • Improves Mood
  • Foster’s Resilience

Social Experience

  • Strenghtens Relationships
  • Helps Defuse Conflict
  • Allows People to Operate as a Team

How to Find Laughter

Baby Laugh

There are many ways find laughs if you take the time to look for it. Here are some ways to find laughter around you.

  • Smile, you never know where laughter will come from.
  • Watch Funny Shows
  • Read Jokes or Comics
  • Check out bookstores for something humrous
  • Go to a Comedy Club
  • Do Something Silly
  • Make time for fun activities
    • Games with friends and family
    • Play with pets/children
  • Gravetate toward the humorous

Now for some fun!

Things You May Not Know…

May Not Know

  1. People are 30 times more likely to laugh while in groups than alone.
  2. Rats are ticklish
  3. It’s hard to catch your breath while laughing because your diaphragm spasms
  4. Your brain can tell the difference between deliberate and unintentional laughter, it’s impossible for you to surprise your own brain
  5. Laughter is contagious
  6. Tickling and laughter is a form of communication between parents and children
  7. People you know are funnier
  8. Laughter requires precise timing – comedians do this very well
  9. Laughter is attractive
  10. You are almost guaranteed to laugh watching someone else try to fight laughing

Now that you’ve gained so much information on laughter, go out and enjoy the benefits of laughter in your own life.

Update

Progress Update

As I like to do every quarter, I like to tell you how I’ve been progressing with each of the things I had planned to get done this year. It keeps me focused and provide me with accountability when I’ve got others who are seeing what I’m doing and how I’m progressing through each item. How are you doing so far this year? I’d love to hear how you’re progressing on your goals.

Let’s get to it…

Books

Series

I’ve had betas go through my first story and let me tell you, I was not expecting the responses that I got. It’s hard to see, but a necessary evil. I can tell you I felt so deflated by what I saw that I haven’t written a word since. I made it though a few chapters, but knowing that my story had so much that needed fixing created this deep whole in me that I decided to take a break from editing to clear my head. Yes, it’s part of the process and yes, I realize that they are going to see things that, no matter how many times I read through the thing, I will keep skipping over because I know my story. There have actually been a few who stopped reading it because of how much work it needed.

I’ve run it through an editing software and re-read it several times. I feel like there was some sort of mistake and they received an earlier copy of my manuscript, but I can’t seem to find my most recent one. As I read through, I know I changed a few things that are still in the copy I’ve sent out. I know now that this is going to take me longer than I intended since I now have to go though my manuscript once again, but I will not give up. I’m too invested in these characters to see them set aside. You have know idea what they’ve put me through! It may take me longer, and I may be taking a break, but I will get back into it and they will be re-launched.

Books

Stand Alone/Possible Series

With my stand alone and next possible series, you’ve probably guessed they are put on hold until I can get my head on straight and get through the edits for Raylynn’s story. I’ve completed both the stand alone and the possible book 1 of another series, but have put them aside for now to focus on getting my head through edits for my conquer series. Those of you who can write and produce these things within a few months, I commend you! How you do it, I have no idea, but I hope to get my series back up and out relatively soon after coming back into editing.

To Be Read

I guess my down time had caused me to not read either. I’ve recently gotten back into my reading list and I feel good about that. Besides, how are you going to find inspiration without reading and learning from those before you? Right?

Short Stories

As with everything else, this came to a screeching halt as well. Though I have plenty of material in mind to use for this. I just couldn’t get into writing these past few weeks in order to get anything remotely close to a story down. It’s still there, still in the plans and I hope to get back on track as the warmer weather revives my frozen limbs. Yes, I hate the cold and are more productive when the sun is shining and the weather is warm.

Beta Readers/Arc readers

You have no idea how grateful I am for those of the readers that made it all the way or even part of the way through my story. I realize now just how hard it was to get through and I also understand why those of you who didn’t finish. I will be doing some major work on this series and hope I’ll be able to get a few others to read through it once I’ve fixed all the mistakes I’ve made.

Reading

Editor

You guessed it. I haven’t even looked for an editor since receiving my manuscript back from betas. It’s not even remotely close to being ready for an editor to look at. Until it’s ready, I’ll be putting this on hold as well. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and re-evaluate things to be sure you’re producing a valuable product for your readers.

Edit

Communication

Blog

Here is one area I’ve kept up with and I’m moving forward on. Every week I’ve produced a post for your reading pleasure on inspiration and writing. I’ll continue to do so as the weeks go by.

Have a word or writing topic you would like me to write about? Go ahead and leave me a comment and I’ll add it to my list! Tell me what you would like to see here!

Communication

Connections

I am still posting daily to my social media and I’ve gained some momentum here. I still have plans to provide more so if you have any questions, things you’d like to see, or whatever else comes to mind, let me know and maybe I’ll post something. If you would like to see what I’m up to, go ahead and visit my sites! Facebook Twitter Instagram Patreon

I love connecting with others so let me know what you’d like to see and I’ll do what I can get you a peak into my life as a writer!

Business

New Products

As I mentioned in my plans, I’ve been thinking of expanding my business to more than just novels. I would like to provide items that would be fun and helpful for writers and readers alike.

I have some digital products in mind as well as physical products. I’ve got some in mind and a few that are in the works. I’ll be doing an extra blog post on those as they become available. If you want to be notified when all that is happening, you can sign up for my newsletter HERE!

Business Products

Video

Unfortunately, this is still in the works and I’m hoping to get it up and running with regular videos as soon as possible. I plan to have it going by the end of March.

I know some like video better than reading a blog, so I would like to provide more ways to connect with you as readers than just written words. Again, I’ll let you know when that becomes available!

Other Items

Educational

Every year I try to complete a few education classes, courses, books that will help me to improve my writing and skills. I’ve been reading and researching to no end. My ‘Must Reads’ board on Pinterest if full of things to look at.

Guitar

Art/Music

Now that I’ve taken some time to myself my goal is to draw and play my guitars more. I may not be doing these things as much as I wanted, but I’m making some time and that’s progress in itself.

Final Thoughts

Now, I know this post is not very upbeat, but there are always going to be some down points and this is one of those for me. I’ll get back up and flowing, don’t worry. How are you doing with your goals this year? Let me know in the comments. Are you struggling with something as I am or are you plowing along, full steam ahead?

Harmony

Harmony

Harmony, the thing we strive for, but rarely achieve. We may get glimpses of it, but then it slips through our grasp as everything falls apart around us. Of course, we won’t always have harmony in all things, but there may be some things we can do to create a closer relationship to harmony. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at what harmony is…

Dictionary

1. agreement; accord; harmonious relations.
2. a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity.
3. Music .
  1. any simultaneous combination of tones.
  2. the simultaneous combination of tones, especially when blended into chords pleasing to the ear; chordal structure, as distinguished from melody and rhythm.
  3. the science of the structure, relations, and practical combination of chords.
4. an arrangement of the contents of the Gospels, either of all four or of the first three, designed to show their parallelism,mutual relations, and differences.

WIKI

    1. Agreement or accord. quotations 
    2. A pleasing combination of elements, or arrangement of sounds.
    3. (music) The academic study of chords.
    4. (music) Two or more notes played simultaneously to produce a chord.
    5. (music) The relationship between two distinct musical pitches (musical pitches being frequencies of vibration which produce audible sound) played simultaneously.
    6. A literary work which brings together or arranges systematically parallel passages of historians respecting the same events, and shows their agreement or consistency.
 

Finding Harmony

Some think you will never have harmony between things like life and work, but since your life is part of your work, I believe you can find harmony within each area of your life.

Spirit

Heart
  Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay
You, as a person, are in search of harmony in every aspect of your life, but have you really thought about what’s going on inside? Have you stop to think about the harmony you have within you and what you could do to keep your thoughts and feelings in sync along with everything else? What can you do to balance those thoughts and feeling within you that are now out of wack? Well, I’ll give you some suggestions.

Take a Break

When you feel overwhelmed, tired, and have not motivation to continue. It’s time to think about taking a break to calm and rejuvenate your mind and body. There is nothing more important than what you do for yourself to stay energized and healthy. Sometimes taking a break, whether short or long, can help put your mind back in the right direction. Deciding to take a break can be difficult and I encourage you to do so when needed. You may feel like work and life will just pile up while you’re gone, but if you put things in place before you go to keep things running, and know that some of those things you’ll still have to deal with when you return; you’ll find it’s not as bad as you think. You would have gotten that much needed R&R you needed and you’ll find that work/life did not crumble without you.

Listen to Your Heart

You have always had that passion for that one thing, right? Every time you have a minute to think, your mind goes back to it. You sit and wonder why you never pursued it, picked it up more, or listened when your heart begged you to move toward it. No matter what that thing is, your heart is crying out for you to listen to it! Take some time to really listen and then go after what your heart is passionate about, even if it’s for small amounts of time. Schedule it in so that your heart is as happy as you are. You’ll be thankful you did. Your heart is a powerful organ, it’s where your center is. Where everything you love is placed. Not physically, of course, but you understand what I mean. Don’t forget to listen to your heart, it’s what’s keeping you on track.

Know Your Purpose

You only have one life and you don’t want to spend it constantly worrying about what people say, how others are going to react, or if you’re doing the right thing at every turn. It’s going to cause you to lose your mind if you’re always worrying about the little things. When you know your purpose, you know what you’re doing is right and you don’t care one wit what others say or how they react. You are doing what you are meant to, you’re following your heart and showing the world that your passion is worth fighting for. There is nothing more satisfying than completing something you’ve worked so hard to achieve, especially if that something is what your heart has been pulling at you to follow. Go after it!

Health

Health
Image by silviarita from Pixabay
Like most, if not all things in your life, your health is important. Really, it is! You may not want to think about it, but if you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to stay in the harmony you’ve created. So, let’s talk about it quick.

Exercise

Yeah, no one likes to hear that they have to exercise, (trust me, I’m one of them) but it’s true. Even though I have a hard time sticking with any one exercise program, I always feel better and feel like I get more done when I’ve work out. If you want to get to the technical side, it’s a way to boost your mood since your body releases endorphins that create a happy mood. Not only will you get stronger, more flexible, but your able to clear your mind while you exercise to create better flow in that mass we call our brains. It’s so full of stuff that’s important and things that aren’t, that they are starting to mingle together and this is a great way to untangle them.

The Mind

Your thoughts and how you think through problems are also important to every day life. Keeping your mind sharp and your thoughts free of negativity will help you create harmony within yourself, but more of that below. Exercise the mind along with the body so they can work together, not against each other.

Communication

Communication
Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

With Yourself

Another thing you don’t want to happen is to finish the Reeces because then you would be out completely and that is just not right! (I’m joking… maybe) Anyway, I lost my thought, but it’s back. Have you ever thought Wow, I’ve gained a lot of weight. Man, that was stupid of me. I should really start wearing makeup, I might be able to hide some of those blemishes? What you say about yourself is only harmful to one person… yourself! Learn to love who you are. You should only want to exercise to feel better and stay fit, not because you’re trying to fix your weight. You’ll never stick to it that way. What you’ve done may have not have been right, but use it as a learning experience and as for the third thought, really, do you need makeup? You were born with no makeup and you were beautiful. If you don’t want to wear it, don’t. You’re still beautiful.

With Others

Now, there are those words and phrases you say to others and as with yourself, you have the choice to voice them or not. Though thoughts hurt just as much. The words you say to others not only hurt you, but the people you’re speaking to or about. Those relationships you have with others, whether close or just passing smiles on the street are important to you and your growth as a person. You need others around to show you compassion, to learn from, and to love. Yes, there are times when you need to be on your own, but you can only do so much to lift yourself up. Those around you will do the same if they are treated with respect. You will receive the same when showing your considerate side. Your thoughts and how you use them with words and actions are a powerful force. Whether you are using them for yourself or others, they can harm or empower, crush or lift. You get the picture. Thoughts you use against others and yourself should not have the chance to surface. By taking breaks when needed, exercising, and generally thinking before you speak, you should be able to clear your mind enough to bring forward the person you truly want to be. One that lifts up and empowers, not one that crushes and harms. When your mind is clear of all the frustrations, anger and other bad emotions, you let the light shine on your words. Let your words work for everyones benefits!

How to Gain Harmony Within Your Life

Friends
Image by Мария Ткачук from Pixabay

People

This one may be obvious, but those you talk to and those you interact with are looking for positivity within their day. Why not provide that small bit? Why not give them some positivity, something to brighten their day instead of bringing it down or not doing anything at all. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll receive by just giving someone a smile or a polite greeting. If you feel you could do more, why not give someone an encouraging word or if you see them struggling and know how to help, do so. Don’t just walk by knowing they are going to continue to struggle. Not only will you feel good about yourself, which helps you, you’ll feel good about helping another and that helps them. See win-win, but don’t look at it for the benefit of you. Look at it for the benefit of the other and by default you will gain happiness and harmony with those around you.

Work, Home, and Play

Your work is part of your life, so why you feel you don’t have balance between these two is a bit mind boggling. It’s part of your day and yes, you can bring work home, you can also bring home to work in your words and actions, but that is life. Keeping them separate is just going to cause more stress. Why not work as if they are one and the same. Schedule work as part of your day, as it is part of your life. Try not to talk about the two in their prospective areas if you want, but sometimes it’s necessary to gain a different perspective on a particular situation. Talk about it with those of your family and your co-workers. If they agree to leave the two separate, then try your best to do so. Otherwise, lean on those you trust for advice, jokes, and more. It’s not worth your frustration to keep the two separate when they are two very important parts of you. As for play, well you need this in your life to relax and have fun, to release the stress of work and home life. Make sure you have enough in your day to keep the flow of things going smoothly. Find others that will make you laugh, that will brighten your day, and those you can hang with after work to give you some time away from home and work. Your family is a great resource for this. As spring comes around, my kids and I create a list of all the things we want to do during the summer months. Let me tell you they can come up with some pretty awesome things! Go ahead make a list and mark them off as you complete them. Plan them into your schedule and have fun!

Electronics

Here is another area you may need to find harmony with. We use electronics all the time, sometimes all day. You may not think about it, but how long are you really spending on your electronics. I have to admit, since playing Rise Of Berk ( I love HTTYD!) I’ve spent a lot more time on my ipad than usual. Not only that, but I bet you’ve lost a lot of face to face contact with others, and I mean the in-person kind, not the FaceTime kind. Have you ever seen the ad where everyone is on their phones walking and there is a small child trying to walk though them. The child then stops and watches as person after person falls off a cliff because they are too focused on their phone. The child then sits down and cries for those who forgot the personal relationships and fun without electronics. Perhaps you feel you need to schedule time to get off the electronics each day and spend time with friends or family. Or maybe you are just fine with how you are with your electronics and you like the solitary life you are living, who knows, but I encourage you to Think. Think about those connections you once had or if you were born with a phone attached to you, think of what it would be like to spend the day without one. No, it’s not devastating and you’re not going to miss anything you can’t catch up with later. Spend some time with others face to face and you may just find that you enjoyed their company and you may not have even thought about checking your FB, Twitter, or Instagram notifications. Go ahead, give it a try. I dare you!

Final Thoughts

So if you really take the time to think about it, harmony is how you create it and what you do within your life to keep ahold of it. No matter what you do, seek out the balance between the things you love (and/or need) and learn to live.
Spring Break

(Spring) BREAK

March and April bring a whole new perspective to the word ‘break’. As the days wear on and things are now becoming mundane and ordinary we feel underwhelmed (or overwhelmed), uninspired, and are in need for the chance to refresh our minds and bodies. To calm the raging monster within that’s telling you it’s time to take a break from life and just relax and rejuvenate your soul.

Why You Need A Break and Why They Matter

 

working hard

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Image by rawpixel on Pixabay

There are times when your mind and body are no longer in sync with each other, when you may be just going from day to day, doing the same things. You’re not as excited for the things you used to get pumped about and in order to get that exhilarating feeling back, you need to relax and let go of the things that are attacking you at the moment. You need to let them slide away to leave you with a clear mind.

You and your body need rest and relaxation to refresh not only yourself but your mind as well. Running on like the energizer bunny is only going to create a cranky, irritated soul with resentment and overwhelm. As with sleeping, you and your body need time to just do nothing for very little; to do something that doesn’t take a lot of thinking and something you consider fun. Not only do you need to relax, you need to preoccupy your mind with things that don’t relate with work, the house, or anything else you normally stress over.

Signs It’s Time to Take a Break

Other than just feeling like you need a break, there are signs that tell you it’s time to step away and get some much needed R&R.

Frustration

                                                                                                                                                                                          Image by punttim on Pixabay

Overwhelmed

One of the first ones, is the feeling of overwhelm. Perhaps you are trusted to do more at work, but you also have to worry about the house, the kids, and anything else that comes along that needs your attention. And although you may have a system down to take care of each item, you feel like you’re falling apart. Trust me, I have had that feeling. One minute you’re rolling along a smooth road, everything is getting done and you’re getting ahead, then something comes along and now your road is bumpy. Everything is starting to pile up and your sense of accomplishment is now a sense of dread.

Tired/Insomnia/Irritable

As with overwhelm, that smooth road brought excitement, accomplishment, and the strength to keep moving forward, but that bump you hit (who knows what that was back there) is now bringing you every other bump you would have not otherwise noticed. With all the bumps and divots, you are now feeling tired all the time. You’re no longer sleeping well and you dread getting up in the morning to even do basic things.

Things begin to irritate you, those tiny things that should be brushed off as natural habits or actions are now getting on your nerves to the point you may be snapping at those you care about. That is not the way you want to live your life, right?

No Motivation/Ambition/Unfocused

That speed racer that was forging ahead at full steam, is now searching for any reason to not continue with what has to get done. Your motivation, ambition and focus to complete tasks and get ahead seems so far away that you’ll never catch up with the trailing rope behind the train of tasks. Your mind is wandering to all the things around you, rather than those that are right in front of you, and your attention is taken up by all the little things that could be put off for another day. What once felt like an easy ride has now turned into one of struggle and a fleeting grasp at the rope. One you may not have the strength to pull yourself back up to the train.

Mistakes/Regret

When you’ve run yourself to the point where you are making small mistakes all the time, ones that you regret, but can’t really control. (You could if you weren’t suffering, but when things reach this point, it’s nearly impossible to control.) That’s when you know you need to take a break. Speaking from experience, I’ve been so overwhelmed, tired and unmotivated that I began making small mistakes that just added to the pile that was growing, which caused more mistakes, more regret and a lot of frustration. Continuing as I was, was not an option. I needed a break!

Health Concerns

This could just be eating more of your favorite junk food, or maybe you skip a meal because you’re just not hungry. Perhaps you pick up a bad habit, like smoking or drinking to make yourself feel better or to take the ‘edge’ off. (That is not going to help, trust me and it may cause further health problems) When you start making bad health choices like eating a lot or nothing at all, you refuse to get even a walk in and your body is reacting to the stress in unusual ways; that’s when you know there is something wrong and you NEED a break.

If you get this far, I urge you to take a really hard look at what you are doing and fix it. This is not where you want to be, trust me. Yes, I’m speaking from experience. I was so overwhelmed, letting everything get to me that I barely ate anything for weeks and ended up in the hospital because my body was reacting to no nourishment. I knew I needed a break and it resulted in me leaving my job. Now, I don’t suggest you leave your job, but for me it was the right decision. When your health is declining, you need to take a moment and think about whether you just need a break or you need to leave in order to get better.

 

Ways to Take a Break

The first thing you need to do is decide if you are in need a shorter or longer break. That is something you need to decide, I can’t tell you which you should choose. You should have in inkling of which you should do.

Break

                                                                                                                                                                                           Image by jplenio on Pixabay

Now let me list all the ways…

_____cations

These are all the, you know, vacation types. Vacation. Staycation. Play-cation. Whether you need to get away, you want to stay in the area or at home, or if you want to do something to have fun. Do what you deem best.

Relax

Create a list of all the things you find relaxing and do them all. Take a bath, read a good book, take a nap, walk in nature, listen to soothing music, you get the picture here. Whatever you find relaxing, go for it.

Activity

Though you may not find it relaxing, there are those of us who need to move or do something. Find a way to expend the energy that is still relaxing, like taking a hike, playing a board game, fly a kite or even coloring with crayons! I love to color with my kids! That is something that is relaxing for me.

Motionless

Here is where you will sit still or hardly move, but I promise you’ll still find it relaxing. Try star gazing, watching the clouds, or even meditating or getting a massage. You never know how relaxed you’ll feel after watching the clouds as the roll by.

No Electronics

I know, I know, your whole life is on that device, but we are trying to get you to not stress and to relax. Those notifications can live without you for a short time. If you let those around you know that you’re going to be unavailable for a time, they should get along fine without you. Turn them off and find out just how much quiet and relaxation you can enjoy.

Events

Going to events or attractions can be relaxing as well. Places like the aquarium, the zoo, farmer’s market and museums can bring you peace while learning and seeing something new or what you haven’t seen in a long time.

Final Thoughts

Everyone looks forward to spring break, but have you thought about what you NEED and what kind of break you should take? If you’re like me and need some much needed R&R, try some of the things from this list. May you find peace and relaxation when you need it most.

Know of any other ways to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear them! 

March’s Writing Theme: Breaks

Though we’re only three months into the year, it’s the time we all take a break, relax, and have a bit of fun. For some of you Spring Break it coming up and you’re readying yourself for a much needed R&R.

So, for this month we are going to talk about what we are doing for Spring Break. Are you going somewhere? Going with someone? Having a staycation? Are you getting more hours in at work? Or working on a project for school?  What are you doing for spring break?

Breaks

Example: As much as I would love to travel for spring break, to a place nice and sunny, we are not. We’ve decided to spend some time with family and visit my sister and her kids. Hopefully, if we are lucky, we can take advantage of her pool. If not, then there’s always games and movies. What’s better than relaxing and hanging out, laughing and hanging fun? 

Calm

Calm

As we move into spring (hopefully sooner rather than later), we think of ways to calm our souls from all the activities of the holidays. Yes, I know it’s been a few months, but everyone needs some time to rejuvenate and center themselves. Calming your mind and body is essential to life, but first…

Wiki

  • Peaceful, quiet
  • (Of a person) Especially free from anger and anxiety
  • (Of a place or situation) Free of noise and distraction
  • (Of Water) With few or no waves on the surface; not rippled
  • Without wind or storm

Dictionary

  • Not showing or feeling nervousness, anger or other strong emotion
  • (Of the weather) Pleasantly free from wind
  • The absence of violent of confrontational activities within a place or group
  • Make someone tranquil and quite; soothe.

 

Being calm or taking the time to calm your body and mind can be exactly what you need to start living a better life, release stress, and tension. So, I’m sure you’re asking how you can calm yourself enough to get the results you’re looking for. Well, read on, my friend, read on.

Ways to practice Calm

Physical

The act of moving your body and muscles to release tension and produce the calm your looking for.

Exercise

Exercise

Exercising may not be what you think would calm you, but it does. Pushing yourself in an exercise releases endorphins, which boosts your mood naturally. Now if you want to do something a bit more physical in your exercise like kickboxing or punches, you can take out some frustration in a safe way to calm what’s raging within.

Yoga

Yoga

The number one exercise that people use to recenter and calm themselves. The smooth, flowing motions of these exercises can be used to relax the muscles and the mind, release the days tension and help you to refocus your thoughts.

Sleep

Calm Sleep

Your body’s way of rejuvenating and regenerating your mind and body. Making sure you’re getting enough sleep is essential not only to your bodily health, but also to your mind. It needs that time to relax completely and be ready to face another day.

Mental

Your thoughts and mind need calm just as much as the rest of your body.

Refocus

Focus

Taking some time to refocus your mind and thoughts on the things that are important allows you to discard and/or place on the back burner the things that are of little priority. Sit in a quiet area and relax yourself. Think of the things that are important to you and how you can accomplish those things.

Meditate

Meditate

As with yoga, this can relax you and calm your mind enough so that you are a functional human being. Sitting or laying down with a clear mind can help you calm your muscles and your mind. There is not greater feeling than rising from a well rested meditation, knowing that you are now ready to face whatever may come your way.

Other

Aromatherapy

Calm

Scents and snell are a power tool and using them to create a calm and relaxing atmosphere is one of the bests. If you have a favorite scent, use it or find another that promotes relaxation and a sense of calm. Use it around your home, or even in your office with mini diffusers. Stay calm all day long and keep fight the good fight.

Music

Music is also another powerful tool. Choose something that isn’t loud and obnoxious, something that is going to help you relax your mind and your muscles.

Limit/avoid the Harmful

Things like stress, and those things that will cause stress should be limited or avoided; things like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, stressful confrontations, etc. Yes, I know avoiding or limiting these things can be hard, but you can do it.