This Month’s Writing Theme: Lesson You Learned…

It’s the last month of the year and we are heading into a  new year. So for this month’s writing; tell me about something you learned that changed the way you think about writing.

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Example: This may sound silly, but I did realize how connections with others would streamline your writing. 

I’ve met some wonderful writers and authors that have helped me in ways no one else could. I needed someone who’s been in my position to give me advice and they are so cool about answering my questions and giving advice. 

If you’re in the same position, find a group of authors who will give you advice, encourage you and allow you to read there awesome fiction! 😉 Nothing better than learning from those who are successful. 

Our Traditions… What are yours?

Traditions

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Traditions are everywhere during the holidays and we are no exception. Though some may find our traditions silly or unique, they are ours and we will continue them for years to come; passing them to our children and our children’s children.

What Are They?

Well, I’ve touched on this as well as reasons for and the importance of traditions in another post you can find HERE. Today I want to tell you about a few we have in our family and I would love, love, LOVE to hear some of yours so comment below or send me a message!!

Reason For Our Traditions

Honestly, some of our traditions started by accident and continued from there. Perhaps it was a treat and was asked for year after year. Perhaps it was something we just always did naturally as the night wore on…

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Whatever the reason, I’m glad we have traditions to pass down to our children that show compromise, love and a willingness to come together no matter the circumstances. My and my husband’s families are quite different, but we’ve been able to blend them so that each of our traditions are still present for everyone to enjoy.

Importance Of Tradition

I’ve touched on this in a previous post as well, but the importance of tradition for us is massive. We are able to bring things to light that our children may not have known about their families, the differences as well as the similarities. It teaches them that even though we come from different families, we’ve come together as one to share in the events that we believe are special to us. Not just the ones that appear during Christmas or Thanksgiving, but during any time of the year.

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What stories can you tell your children about these traditions that they didn’t know about? Do they know how they started? Who started them and what they stand for? 

Some Of Our Traditions

Here is the part you’ve been dying to know, I’m sure.

Since it is the holidays, I’ll focus on those and perhaps I’ll update this throughout the year with our others as they happen.

Thanksgiving:

Every year on thanksgiving we spend time with our family, usually his side because mine is larger and everyone has their own things going on. We usually host, but this year his little brother hosted and it was wonderful. We had a great time with our nieces and their side of the family.

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When all the eating is done and cleanup is finished, everyone had gone home. We settle down with some hot chocolate (glass bottles of Coca-cola for my husband) and put our Christmas tree up while we listen to Christmas music.

Yes, I know its still Thanksgiving and we are very thankful. Thankful that we have each other present to participate in this tradition that been in my life since before I was born. My children are experiencing something I loved as a child.

Christmas:

Now here is what you’ve all been waiting for, right?

With our two families coming togethers and some other complications, we have 3-4 Christmas celebrations beside our own. We schedule a day to meet with all my sisters for a sister Christmas, which is scheduled whenever we can get six sisters together. We see my parents on Christmas Eve, his family on Christmas day, and my family has an extended family party too.

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But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about. One of our traditions came by accident when our middle sister couldn’t think of what she wanted for Christmas. My parents would ask her and she would say she didn’t know.

So, my dad being him, did something that would create the best tradition we have ever had. That one act had created years of creative enjoyment for all his daughters to enjoy and it will continue for years to come.

What is it, you ask? What did he do that would spiral us into a creative tradition that we all love? Well, he grabbed a large box, some rubber bands, and one of those rectangular fruitcakes. He taped the fruitcake to the rubber bands, stapled the rubber bands to the inside of the box, wrapped it and had fun asking people to guess what was inside it whenever they came over.

To be honest, I thought it was a bunch of small bouncy balls, but the great thing was that we all laughed when we found out what was inside. And don’t worry, that wasn’t the only gift she received that year.

The Christmas Fruitcake:

That was the year of 1998 and every year since it is passed to another sister to disguise and re-gift to another sister for the next year. Yep, it’s the same one from 1998 and yes, it’s been wrapped multiple times in plastic wrap and duct tape.

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It’s one of the things we look forward to every year and gives us another reason to see each other, cause really? Who wouldn’t want to see what you could do with a fruitcake.

If you’re interested in seeing what we’ve done with this fruitcake, you can check out my Patreon Page. I update it every year with the latest disguise. We couldn’t remember all of them when I decided to start keeping track, but will from now on.

To not leave you hanging, I’ll give you a few things we’ve done.

~ It’s been baked into a birthday cake (my and my twins birthday is close to Christmas)

~ It’s been put in a bear you have to squeeze for it to poop it out.

~ It’s been literally mailed to another sister

~ Buried in a box of coal (I was the lucky one to get that one!)

~ Buried in a box of Crackers (They had snacks for a long time!)

What are Your Traditions?

I would love to hear about your family traditions! Do you have something unique that you pass around as we do?

Favorite Writer/Author Gifts

It’s that time of year again where everyone is struggling to find the perfect gift or perhaps you haven’t even begun to think about the holidays.

Well, I’m here to give you a hand. I’ve written about Writer Gifts before and you can check those out here, but I feel I should add to that with some new items Writers and Authors may like as well as book lovers! Us authors would be nowhere without our lovely readers that keep us sane and encourage us to continue providing fantastic stories!

Note: No affiliate links are contained within this post. All thoughts and opinions are solely those of the author and provided for your benefit.

I’ve decided to create some categories this years for gift ideas so bear with me.

Let’s get started:

Tools:

These are things that every Author or Writer could use. You may have to do some digging for some of these, but it’ll be worth it. I promise you.

Subscriptions:

Find out discretely what they subscribe to in their business… writing programs, classes, etc and gift them some subscription time.

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again, If you, er, they haven’t tried 4thewords.com, they gotta try it. Fight monsters by writing words and collect awesome stuff. What could be more fun?!

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Check it out on me, enter this code to get a month free: OSUBW81786 

Software:

Has the writer in your life been hinting, or just plain out blabbing about a some new software or gadget they want?

Well, here’s your sign… you would make their day by gifting it to them!

Have they always wanted to get Scrivener? The Hemingway app? or even upgrade to Pro-writingAid? This is the perfect time to surprise them and show them that you do indeed listen when they talk. 😉

Books

Have they been raving about a specific book? Have they been telling you, you need to read one they thought was awesome?

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Buy them the paperback to add to their library. Even better… get it signed by the author! Bonus points!!

Or you could just look at their amazon wish list, they always have books on there. Whether it’s books they’ve saved to read or ones they want to learn from. Go ahead, take a look.

Small Tools:

Now, you may think the author/writer in your life has plenty of these, but I’m telling you right now that they could always use more. No matter how large that bin of pens is.

Us authors and writers are picky when it comes to our writing utincels. Sometimes one pen will work and the next time we pick it up, it just doesn’t feel right. We’re crazy like that. So here are some things we are always looking to get more of…

Pens/Pensils:

Like I mentioned, the more of these the better. Make them colored and you add more bonus points! Anything to make our dark and dismal lives in front of the computer a little more colorful.

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One thing I found interesting is this Attachable pen case! They can use on just about anything. Any writer would love this!!

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Markers/Highlighters:

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Again, the more the better and the more colors the better. If you can get scented ones that would be awesome too! Let them write with their favorite scent permitting the air. They’ll find a reason to write if they could write with their favorite scents!

Journals/Notebooks/Spirals:

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Like the others these are a must have for any writer/author. The more the better. We may never fill one completely, but we’ll feel better knowing we have plenty of space to write those random notes, inspirations, story ideas and more.

Comfort:

If the writer/author is anything like me, they want to be as comfortable as possible whenever they can. Why not help them out with that? And If they are even more like me… the warmer the better.

Foot Hammock:

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What better gift than to allow them to put their feet up while they are working, right? This is just the thing!

 

Book Rug:

The best thing to add to any writer/author’s office. What could be better than a rug they’ll love?

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Travel Bag:

The perfect thing for the author/writer on the go. Something to hold everything they could ever need AND keep it organized. It’s a dream come true!!

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Mugs:

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There are SO many mugs out there for writers/authors. Ones about writing, ones about books, ones about popular novels, but you could take this a bit deeper and scan their FB. See which authors are providing some awesome swag and purchase one from their favorite author!

Touchscreen Gloves:

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I’ve seen a lot of people use fingerless gloves, but if your writer/author is anything like me, their fingers are the first to go when cold. So get them something that will keep them productive and a bit warmer with Touchscreen Gloves! I SO need a pair of these.

Fuzzy Socks:

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Dude I am all for fuzzy socks. We have all hardwood floors and man they get cold. Someone just wanna buy me some more? I could really use some. My feet are always cold.

 

Shirts/Sweaters:

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Like the mugs there are so many shirts and sweaters out there that have awesome writer quotes and sayings on them. Any writer would love one!

 

Extras:

Stockables:

Anything they can stock up on to make their lives easier would bring them joy.

Snacks:

I love munching when I write. I always have to have something next to me, so getting a stash of whatever your writer/author/reader loves to snack on would make their day. Especially if it’s their all time fav treat!

Drinks:

Do they love tea? hot chocolate? Monster? La Croix? Get them some to stock up their fridge and if you want to be that ultimately awesome person in their life… add in the mini fridge while you’re at it! 😉

Jewelry/Accessories:

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You’re not going to hear this from me very often, cause I am totally not the whole wears jewelry/make up kind of person, but I may wear jewelry more if it related to books or stories in any way. Look up some awesome ones and add to that girl’s collection. Or guy, you never know, right?

Signs/Decorations:

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One thing we all love are quotes from and about writing. Find some your writer/reader friends love and either purchase them one/some or make it for them. They will love you for it, I swear!

Unconventional:

Those gifts you never would think of as gifts but are THE BEST ones you could give to an author/writer.

Reviews/Compliments:

What every author/writer wants for their career/business are more reviews. Be that awesome person and do something that only takes a few moments of your time and no money. Yep, it’s completely free! Write a positive review on one (or all) of their books.

Go ahead and screenshot it to them, print it and put it in a card, but make sure you show them that you’re thinking of them and appreciating their work.

Critiques/Suggestions:

Offer to beta read or critique their work. Even if you’re a loved one, they will appreciate the gesture and your interest in their work. Offering them some constructive and helpful critiques will keep them on the path they’ve chosen, and show you care for what they believe in. Good going you!!

Purchase Their Book(S):

Now this is probably tied with reviews, but purchasing their books allows them to continue what they love. Providing amazing stories to readers just like you. Add the review and they will love you forever!

 

So, what else could we add to this list? What are you getting your writer/author/reader friends/loved ones this year? Go ahead add to the list. 

 

November’s Writing Theme: Tradition

Traditions are what bring us together and keep us together, especially during the holiday season. Many have traditions they love to share with others, while some have traditions that are passed down from generation to generation.

This month’s writing theme is Tradition. What are yours? Do you like them or loathe them? Is there a tradition you know of that you would like to adopt?

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Example: As an example I’ll tell you about a tradition we have in our family that started the Christmas of 1998. 

Due to one of my sister’s indecisiveness, our father thought it would be funny to play a prank on her for Christmas that year. He got a large box, wrapped it and had everyone shake it to guess what was inside. To me it felt like bouncy balls, but that would be a silly gift for her. 

What was inside… well I won’t tell you, but we have been passing it around ever sense. Each year my sisters and I will gift it to another sister and disguise it within the gift like my dad did. 

It’s become a tradition in our family to pass this thing around each year and come up with different ways to disguise it. 

If I’ve caught your interest and you’re just dying to know what things we’ve done and what it is. Visit my Patreon Page

August’s Writing Theme: Writing Process

The writing process of an author/writer differs from person to person. Some will plan, outline, plot, and develop their novels down to the last quirk, research piece, aim, goal, setting detail, motivation, conflicting action, etc. Files, folder, documents, mind maps, aesthetic board, Pinterest board, Social Media polls all in place and filled with information for their novels, while others fly by the seat of their pants. Those are the ones who don’t plan, don’t map; they sit down and start writing. Then there is revising, editing, and publishing to worry about.

This month is all about your writing process and sharing what you do with others who are endeavoring to write, but have no idea where to start. Share yours below.
Writing Process

Example: When I first began writing, I would outline my story and then start writing. After taking a course by Nick Stephenson called Story Engines. I’ve found that fleshing out story details have helped me immensely with my writing and my storylines. He and fellow author Joe Nassise take you through their process on creating phases, answering questions,  scene list, and so much more. 

I’ve tweaked it to suit me and I’ve haven’t looked back. It’s a bit pricey, but well worth it. They also have a program called Your First 10K Readers that takes you through getting your first 10,000 readers. Although, I haven’t implemented all of there methods, it may be very helpful to you. 

Here is the basic categories for my process: 

  • Premise Worksheet
  • Final Premise
  • Initial Scene List
  • Single Sentence Summary
  • Scene Questions
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Rough Story ArcPreparation Phase
    • Mini Goal
    • Reactive Phase
    • Mini Goal
    • Proactive Phase
    • Mini Goal
    • Conclusion Phase
  • Synopsis
  • Product Description

I also have a very detailed worksheet I use to flesh out my characters that is three pages long. 

Now, even though I do this, my characters ~ like small children aways seen to veer from the path I choose for them. So, yes there are some things that aren’t in the finished product that are in my plans, but that’s the way writing it. 

Just for fun, let’s add in what changed throughout your story as you wrote it.

Example: I had one of my characters change occupations a quarter of the way through, not like she quit and changed, but out of the blue, one minute she’s a secretary and another she’s a nurse. I’ve also had new characters join the story when I had no intension for another character to enter the book at all. 

What does your writing process look like? What changed throughout your story that wasn’t intended? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below!

Planning the Rest of the Year

Half of the year has gone… And it’s time to revisit, adjust, and plan the rest of the year.

With all that’s happened this year, my goals and plans have changed drastically. Things in life highjack the scene where you tumble down a rabbit hole so big you feel there is no end. But I’m determined to salvage what’s left of this year!

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I sat down a few days ago and looked at my plans realizing I’m months behind schedule for which I am eternally apologetic. We as authors never intend for life to throw curve balls, tornados, tsunamis, or earthquakes that swallow you whole to where if you decide to climb out your emerge bloody, sore, and exhausted, but victorious.

Writing/Editing/Revising/Publishing…

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After revamping the rest of my year I realized if I work hard, I can still publish the books I planned if I can keep focused and push through the difficult life of being a mother, wife, animal parent, and author at the same time. 😉  Writing, editing and revising are my top priorities as far as writing goes, right now. Don’t worry, my regular posts and newsletter are the few things I’ve been able to stay on top of.

4thewords.com

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I cannot recommend this site enough. Since I love fantasy, quests, and stories this site has done wonders to keep me going the last few weeks. I know I’ve mentioned it before and I’m mentioning it again, cause it’s freakin’ worth mentioning. If you haven’t checked it out, you must do so now!!

Climbing from the hole and emerging from the train wreck that’s been my life the last few months.

I’ve now created a schedule and so far I’m on track to do as my plans are laid out. I’m very happy with my progress these last few weeks and will continue to strive for my goals as I provide quality content and fantastic stories for you, my readers.

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Since I’ve been traversing this long tunnel, trying to find the light at the end. I’ve been a bit slow at posting, but my goal is to keep trudging through the sludge that has taken over my brain. It’s time to forge ahead, find a better way and keep going.

So if all goes according to plan; I’ll have another book out with updates to previous and a surprise at the end of the year. We shall see, so keep an eye open for that. 🙂

In the mean time, enjoy the Conquer the Darkness Series; join my newsletter to get bi-weekly updates, writing fun, and more.

Book Lineup

What about you? What have you been up to?

Reply and tell me how your writing has been going. Has it been a total train wreck like mine where even wizards and giants need help putting it back in line or are you cruising smoothly along enjoying the scenery and cocktails? In which case, I’m completely jealous and perhaps you can stop to pick me up on your way?!

 

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June’s Theme: Summer Activities Your Characters are Enjoying.

For this month’s theme, I thought we could do something a bit different. Instead of writing about what you are doing for the summer, I thought it would be fun to tell what your characters are doing for the summer. Are they traveling? Are they working? Will they be taking some much needed time off? What will they be doing the hot days of summer? Give your character’s story below!

Summer Activities for Characters

 

Example: The characters of Conquer the Darkness are all enjoying some much needed time away from the group and with their mates in different destinations. Raylynn, Jynx and their son Jordan have gone to the mountains of Colorado to frolic in the woods. Blessing and Knight have returned to their home town to check up on his law firm and her bookstore. Jazzmine and Brady, well, are still getting used to being together so they have decided to stay at the West Branch and make sure things are continuing as they should. Cloe and William have decided to go south and visit the sandy beaches of Florida while the triplets continue to search for answers between playing video games. Much to Noreline’s dismay. 

So what are you characters doing this summer? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below!

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Events For Readers

As an author I am alway thinking of ways to engage my readers, to give back to those who support and read my work. Well today I wanted to give you, the reader, more than just books to read.

After doing a quick search, I realized there are so many events for readers and writers alike and I want to share some with you.

Conferences:

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Title: Readers & Writers

Locations: Seattle, WA & Tampa, FL

Dates: July 14 (WA) & August 25 (FL)

About: Meet Authors and Models from all over the world with an after party to enjoy

For More Information:readerswritersevents.com

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Title: Penned Con

Locations: St. Louis, MO

Dates: Sept 20-22

About: Keynote Speakers, informative panels, workshops, book signings with over 150 authors, parties, and so much more!

For More Information:Pennedcon.com

Retreat:

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Title: Christian Fiction Readers Retreat

Location: Rockville, Maryland

Date: 2018 is closed, Registration is open for April 5-6, 2019

About: This is a one day event gathering of Christian Fiction readers and authors. There will be featured speaker sessions, author panels, breakout sessions, prayer & worship along with author signings.

Meet and chat with authors, eat food, play games, enjoy giveaways and free books!

For More Information: Christian Fiction Readers Retreat

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Title: Reader Appreciation Weekend

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Date: 2018 is closed, April 2019

About: This is a one day event for readers to meet authors, have lunch, play games, and possibly a party or two!

Meet and chat with authors, eat food, play games, book signings and more!

For More Information: Reader Appreciation Weekend

Book Fair:

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Title: Book Lovers Convention and Book Fair

Location: Reno, NV

Date: May 15-20

About: If you are an author, reader, or anywhere in between there is something here for you to enjoy. From crafting your writing, to book events, to themed parties, there is something for everyone!

For More Information: Book Lovers Convention and Book Fair

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Title: Book Expo America

Location: New York City, New York

Date: May 30 – June 1

About: More business related for meet and greet for authors, booksellers, distributors, literary agents, publishers and more. Build relationships that last!

For More Information: Book Expo America

Other:

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Title: Romance Writers of America “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing

Location: Denver, CO

Date: July 21

About: A two hour free event, where the public is welcome to purchase books for a good cause.

For More Information: RWA “Readers for Life” Literary Autographing

Create Your Own:

There are many ways you can create your own reader events. Here are some I’ve thought of:

Book Clubs – These are pretty self explanatory as we have seen, heard or even participate in one.

Book Parties – Whether is a lunch party or a themed party based on a book, genre, or story, these can entertain readers for hours.

Giveaways – Also self explanatory, but you could always get creative and offer something unusual, but still book related. Perhaps an object used in the book or crazy author swag.

Scavenger Hunts – This is something I enjoyed greatly. Authors come together to create a scavenger hunt for readers to participate in for prizes. They can search within a series, within blog posts, or within the author website if a single author is performing the event. Have your readers find words to create a short story, a popular sentence, or anything else your creative mind can come up with.

Game Day – Something my family does each weekend is play board games. Search out games that are within the same genre, location, characters, etc . and play games to have some fun. One of my favorite games is called Shadows Over Camelot where you have to work together to defeat different battles from the tales of King Arthur. (One of my favorite tales!)

Extras:

Looking for more? I’ve got you covered! There are so many more than I could list here so below are links to many more for you to enjoy!

Romanced Redefined

African American Literature Book Club

Book Events By State

13 Literary Events for Readers

Know of any more events for writers to add to this list? Any other ways to engage readers with fun activities? Comment below, I’d love to hear about it!

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May’s Writing Theme: Where is Your Progress At?

Since we are one quarter into the year, I thought we could write about (and analyze) where we are, where we are going, and what we have done to get us to this point. So for this month we are writing our progress on whatever you have going on right now. Writing related or not. We are here to support you!

Where is

 

Example: For my example this month I will refer you to my blog as I have already given my progress for the quarter there. My Progress So Far… Check it out to see where I am and where I plan to go to reach my goals.

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My Progress so Far…

One quarter gone… Where did the time go?

We are now one quarter of the way through the year and I thought it would be a good time to review my goals and see where my progress is at. So let’s get right into it…

Books

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Publish 3 Novels by 12/31

  • I would like to say that I am progressing here, but it is definitely slow going as I am in the process of revising book one of the Conquer the Darkness Series due to a publishing conflict.
  • Book 4 is still in the editing stages due to the revision of book one
  • Book 5 is being written, though slower than I would have liked.

~ Some life events took precedence this quarter and I’ve gotten a bit behind here, but never fear, I’ll get back on track bringing you awesome stories and fantastic content!

Read 12 Books in Genre by 12/31

  • So far I have read three of the twelve books, so I am behind one book. The last book I read was really hard for me to get through and caused me to put it down for several days at a time before picking it back up.

~ Now that I am through that one, I’m ready to pick another and forge ahead!

Read 6 Books NOT in Genre by 12/31

  • One down, one in progress and four to go!

Organize a group of Beta readers for my books by 4/30

  • Again I’ve done research and have a goal of getting qualified readers for my Beta group, but have yet to gain actual people to be in the group. So, now I ask you… would you like to be a part of my team? Gain free ARC of my books? And read some awesome fiction? Click Beta Readers if interested and lets go on an adventure!

Find an Editor I connect with by 6/30

  • Uh! I haven’t even thought about this for more than two seconds! Still one of my goals, but my writing comes first and since I’ve lost time on that all my thoughts are on catching up. Hopefully, my next report will be better on this front.

Organize a Critique Group who enjoys my genre and will give productive feedback by 3/31

  • Yet another area I’ve worked on very little. I’ve signed up for Scribofile, which is on-line critiques of your work, but you have to critique and gain points before you can publish your own work to be critiqued.
  • I’ve also started a Wattpad account and have submitted a short story. Head on over to check it out and tell me what you think!
  • Otherwise, that’s as far as I’ve gotten on this. Comment below or click Critique Partner if you’d be interested in being a critique partner for Paranormal Romance/Fantasy books.

Create and Implement Street and Review Team for Books by 4/30

  • Oh my goodness! Does the chaos never cease? Hopefully, I can get my butt into gear since I took nearly a month off for family reasons. One more thing to add to my list of things to do and very soon. If interested please sign up here.

           

Communication

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Post 26 Blog Posts Every Other Week in 2018

  • Luckily, this is one area I’ve excelled at. I haven’t missed a post yet!
  • Have a topic you would like me to elaborate on? Comment below and I will add it to my list!

Be More Communicative on Social Media and Online: Comment on Posts and in forums, Post advice, comments, thoughts and questions on social Media.

  • I’ve started posting irregularly on my social media accounts, but I’m starting to get better at being on there regularly. More to come!

Business

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I’ll keep these as a list as they don’t nee much explanation:

Grow Business by 25% by 12/31

~ Going Up!

Create New Products and Useful Printables for Readers and Writers – 2 by 12/31

~ Working on! You’re going to love these!

Start Using Video in Marketing by 6/30

~ Lots of video training, may get this up before scheduled!

Create/Participate in 2 Big Events for Readers: Haha, I have thoughts, but what’s the fun in ruining the surprise here! 😉

~ Research and development are underway!

Create 100 total items for store by 1/31 and continue with 5 more per month after January. Want to visit my store, click HERE!

~ No where even close to 100 products, so I’m doing what I can and I’ll keep moving to gain more.

Try out New list of Marketing Ideas and record results.

~ Working on and progressing well!

Revamp Webpage and Pages by 3/30

~ New site is up and most pages are complete, just a few more pics and tweaks to go!

Extras/Other

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What better way to keep up with your skill than to lean more about it?

Complete 3 Educational Courses by 12/31

~ I’ve complete three already and it’s only been four months!

Schedule Time to Work on Drawing and Take Art Classes (Once a Week)

~ This was going well, and I hope to get back into it soon!

What About You?

What About

Are you reaching your 2018 goals? 

Are you completing and accomplishing the tasks you set out to do? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s keep each other accountable!

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