January’s Writing Theme: New Year, New Plans

It’s a new year and like most you may be making plans for the year or the next few weeks or months. Let’s make 2019 great and hold each other accountable. List something you are trying to accomplish this year below so we can encourage you on your journey!

Example: Some of the things I have planned for this year are… to relaunch my paranormal romance series. (All seven books are written) I also have some fun and creative things planned that I will keep as a surprise. I’m already working on one and you’re going to love it!! 

So what is one thing you have planned for 2019?

A Story Grows as a Plant Grows

Spring is upon us and we are beginning to ready our garden for seeds/spuds. Yep, we are adding potatoes to our garden this year!! I can’t wait! Since my little man loves gardening and all things that breath life, I am dedicating this post to him. Not to mention it’s his birthday today, so Happy birthday buddy! If not for him, my thought process would have skipped over this topic and on to the next. Anyway, as we are deciding on seeds and what to plant where, my author mind took hold and contemplated as I often do… how a story is similar to a plant and how it grows. Here is what I’ve noticed: fall-maple-maple-seed-40026

The Seed:

The seed in the story is, and you’ve probably guessed this… the spark of inspiration. That first initial thought of “Wow, this could be something great!” or “I’ve got to write this down, this would make such a great story!” And you’re probably right! 😉 food-3040891_640

Germination:

This is where your story gets interesting, where it takes root as you write notes, plot, gather ideas for characters, settings, plot, conflict and the journey your characters will explore. The story will stretch it’s roots creating the beginning of something awesome! macro-2266158_640

Growth:

As plants need nourishment, so to does the author. As a plant battles nature with weather, animals, and even humans, you to will discover the hardships of writing your story. Doubt, distraction, writer’s block, discouragement are all things we face as writers, but as the plant holds firm, you will too. Find encouragement in others, inspiration in words and enjoyment in your characters, your setting and your plot twists to keep you motivated. Some plants may take days to flower while other take months or even years, but they WILL flower. sun-flower-2656285_640

Polination:

This is the part of your story where you get down to the nitty gritty. As bees pollinate the flowers, you must go from place to place researching your story further with interviews, history, occupations, folklore, or whatever topic is in need of researching for your specific story. Enjoy this journey and have fun with it! nature-2310598_640

Reproduction:

Reproduction is the act of bring things together to create a new and exciting being. In the same sense, you bring all the components together from your notes, research, interviews, and more to create a new and fascinating tale. The journey of the characters, the realism of the settings, relationships and conflict as they move along their path create something people are dying to read! jamie-street-253819-unsplash

Spreading the Seeds:

Spread the seeds! Are you ready to enter the realm and start again with a series or did you discover a new tale while writing this one? Keep going with characters your readers love and create their story. Create your tale so that readers are coming back for more and sparking that seed of inspiration in others writers who dream to be where you are.   What do you think? Ever sit and think, “This is so much like writing!” What have you noticed around you that you could relate to the writing process? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts.    SaveSave

How Writing is Like a Puzzle

I received the best birthday gift from my husband last month and after putting it together I thought about how it relates to writing. Obviously, from the title you would guess what it is my husband got me, but you’re probably thinking, “Really, Kelly? You couldn’t possibly be that excited over a puzzle.”

Well, I am about to prove you wrong. This wasn’t just any puzzle. It was a 1000 piece Sherlock Holmes and the Speckled Band – A mystery jigsaw puzzle. This was the best gift because for one, I love Sherlock Holmes and two, not only was it a puzzle; it contained the story and required you to put the puzzle together in order to solve the mystery of the Speckled Band! The best part… the puzzle was not that of the image on the cover so we had absolutely no idea what the picture was. Of course we had some clue from the story, but no picture to go off of. Three of us, my sister, husband and I spent eight hours straight putting this puzzle together so we could solve the mystery! We had a blast!!

Now, why am I blabbering on about this puzzle and how much I enjoyed it? Well, as the title suggests, it got me thinking about how writing is like a puzzle. So, let’s get started.

So, how can writing be related to puzzles?

Buying and Opening the Puzzle:

In this case the puzzle was a gift, so even better! Anyway, this would represent that moment of awe inspired revelation that you found a new idea for your next great novel. That initial excitement and enthusiasm for the newest story growing in your mind. Now that you have it home you open it to find it neatly packaged, but in a mess of pieces. What to do next?

Preparing the Puzzle:

Now, if you are anything like me (and I know some of you are), you open the pack and the sorting begins! The what seems like endless searching for edge pieces while the rest are filtered back into the box for later. Those edge pieces are your guide, your starting point to the finished product. Much like writing a story, the outline or planning stage comes first. You construct the base or starting point for your puzzle or story to begin and then take off running.

Proceeding With the Inside Pieces:

Now, it’s time to dig in and start forming the puzzle with the inside pieces, but where to start? Do you organize the pieces by like object depictions or do you dive in looking for whatever fits along the edge where you are currently sitting? In this case since we originally began with four people, (my nephew ducked out to play video games before to long) we each took a side. Unfortunately, I took the side with really dark pieces and had a really hard time finding the right pieces, so I decided to look for all the pieces to an object in the top corner and was able to gain momentum. As you move through your story, you start with a flourish of excitement and enthusiasm for the new ideas brewing in your mind as you do a puzzle searching for those first few pieces that will start you on your journey to the finished product.

Ugh, Those Annoyingly Frustrating Pieces:

You gain momentum and for a while you cruise along finding piece after piece, but then you hit a snag an you get stuck working on a section that is all floral carpet and every piece you need looks the same! As with puzzles, you may hit a snag in your writing with a difficult scene, event or even chapter. You struggle to find the right pieces to keep your momentum going or the right action, words or story arc. You syphon through the rest of the pieces to search for the ones you need, but it is no use. Your brain is just to worn staring at this section of the puzzle and you need a break to you gather your thoughts.

New Perspective:

So, you decide to take a break, switch spots (to which your sister finds all the pieces I was struggling and frustrated with within a few minutes :/) or ask for advice from a trusted ally. Taking a break and coming back will give you the rest you need to return with a fresh mind, and a new perspective. You could also move onto another area of your story and work there, then come back when you are ready to tackle it again or ask for advice. You could post your situation on forums and discussion sites to get suggestions and thoughts from others. This is where, when you are finished with your manuscript, beta readers are immensely helpful.

Finishing the Puzzle:

After eight long hours of working to find the right pieces, switching spots and perspectives several times, we finally finished the puzzle! The accomplishment was a collective sigh of relief. The same goes for finishing that first, second, fifth, or twentieth novel, a sigh of relief and elation. It is finally done, finished and the puzzle was ready to be solved. Your manuscript ready for the editor or if you added your editor to the last phase of a new perspective, ready to publish! Now, on to the next puzzle… I mean story!

Looking for a puzzle to enjoy? Try this one from my store. Or see others here as well.

So, what do you think? Could a story be similar to a puzzle? Let’s here your thoughts. Comment below!

My 2018 Goals

It’s getting to be the end of the year and I’ve been working on plans for next year.

While thinking of what I really wanted to do with my business and how I want to move forward with my books, I find myself realizing that my goals from last year were… well, dull. Though they fit my business there was really no depth to them and to the business itself. If I want to make writing my career, I need to be more specific and defined with my goals for my business and my books.

My thoughts here are to keep myself accountable to my goals and my business by publishing them for others to witness. I did come a tad short from my goals last year as my fourth book will be published by the end of January. I realized I pushed myself to do to much without a team to keep me focused and motivated as far as my business is concerned. So without further jabbering from me, here are my goals for 2018.

Books

Publish 3 Novels by 12/31

  • Though my goal last year was to publish four books, I have written four, but will be unable to complete the last as the holidays and the need for much required rest has taken presidents since I have stretched myself further than I can go within the last few weeks. So for 2018 I have reduced my number of published novels by one to give myself the needed rejuvenation required to keep motivated and productive throughout the year.

Read 12 Books in Genre by 12/31

  • With keeping up with reading I have surpassed my goal for this year and will repeat it for next year to keep the inspiration and imagination flowing. What better way to stay creative that to read those who have come before you?

Read 6 Books NOT in Genre by 12/31

  • This I have not kept up with this year, though I have read a few books not on my genre. I intend to keep reading so that my creativity is at it’s max for Inspiration as well as continued education on the industry.

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

  • There are some parts of being an author that I have really slacked on and wish to remedy as soon as I’m able. This area would be one of them. I plan to gather a dedicated group of people who would like to receive ARC of my book to read and reply with suggestions. I am offering this to anyone interested, and you could be the first. Click HERE to let me know you are interested.

Find an Editor I connect with by 6/30

  • Here is another that I am in need of. I understand the importance of hiring a professional editor and funds have not been enough to accommodate this need. My hope is to remedy that this year and hire a professional editor to edit my books to create a better reading experience for my readers.

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

  • Another area that has been lacking this year. I would like to find like-minded people interested in the same Genre to participate in a critique exchange for our stories. Here is another opportunity to find a critique partner. Click HERE to find out more.

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

  • One more item to participate in: My plan is to create a Street Team and Review Team for my Novels as they become available. If you would like to be a part of that when the time comes, Click HERE!

Communication

Post 26 Blog Posts Every Other Week in 2018

  • My goal is to provide you, the reader with insightful and useful information throughout the year. 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.

  • Another goal is to provide more communication with you, my readers; with advice, encouragement, and more.

Business

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

Grow Business by 25% by 12/31

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

Start Using Video in Marketing by 6/30

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

Create 100 total items for store by 1/31 and continue with 5 more per month after January. Visit my store, FictionJourneys!

Try out New list of Marketing Ideas and record results.

Revamp Webpage and Pages by 3/30

Extras/Other

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

Complete 3 Educational Courses by 12/31

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

How About You?

What are your goals for 2018? 

What things do you want to get done this year? Care to share to keep each other accountable? I’d love to read what your thoughts are. Comment below!

Planning for 2018

No affiliate links or bribes were accepted while planning or writing of this post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely those of the author from their experience.

This year has been a year of learning, change, forging on over mountains with determination and falling to valleys of procrastination. With the year a few months to a close, I have decided to begin planning 2018 sooner rather than later.

With my form of planning and always wanting the shiny new ‘thing’, I decided shortly into the year to go back to some programs and implement others that have worked well for me the last few months.

Planning Start

First of all, I’ve signed up to receive a lot of email newsletters that most I probably don’t need, but some stood out and one I took to heart, by Meera Kothand. In her Plan Intensive One Week Challenge, she goes through steps to organize your thoughts, plan out your goals and steps to reach those goals and scheduling them into your planner so you can keep track and move forward toward your business/personal goals. Though I worked through it in more than a week, I found it massively enlightening for my goals and where I wanted to see my business in 2018.

What I love about Meera is the fact that you can reply to any of her emails, ask her questions and she will get back to you. I’ve personally asked her questions while going through her Plan Intensive Challenge and she responded within manner of hours to a day or two later.  To find out more about her challenge click here.

With that being said though I have my books, emails, blogs, etc planned. Now I just needed somewhere to keep everything…

Software Implemented

Last year I mentioned a few apps. On called Pad 3, which I still use for notes, but after a while I realized I was just not the type of person to commit to writing everything out even on my Ipad all the time and for me there was never enough space in the calendars to keep things nice and orderly. The other was 17Hats. I liked this one well enough too, but I couldn’t quite get the hang of it and connect everyone to it that’s on my team.

Asana

Solution: I worked for a company that shall remain unnamed and we used a program called Asana for tasks and communication. As much as I hated the thought of using a program I had used while working for a place I didn’t enjoy. I found myself coming back to it. To my surprise, it has saved my life and my business. The layout is completely different from when I used it back then. It allows me to create different projects with different board within the projects for different tasks or just use a task list. I can also connect my team up to five members for free and haven’t had a need for the upgrade so that is always a plus.

I have even created projects for my personal, home and my kids homeschool to keep all my tasks all in one place and they are in separate projects so they don’t feel like any of them are overtaking or interfering with another. Though this program does have a calendar I do take the time to add my blog posts to my desktop calendar to keep them updated regularly.

Planner

I also keep a planner that I update daily as well as a journal I try my best to write in daily. The planner is handmade by me and the pages were printed until I needed toner and then decided to just draw out the pages so I wasn’t spending $90 plus for a toner cartridge when we plan to get a new printer anyway. As I mentioned before, I feel it is a waste of time to site and write out every tiny detail, but I’ve managed to make my pages simple enough to be copiable within a few moments.

Within my planner I have a section for Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly tasks, notes and whatever else I want in there. The one thing I love about my planner is that I created tabs for business items I wanted to keep with me. For my books I created a tab and within it I have notes on characters, settings, plots, and a short outline so I alway have it with me even if I decide to write instead of working on a computer. Another section keeps my blog plans as well as my email newsletter plans and another tab just for compiling from Scrivener so I remember how I want my books compiled when I go to publish them. This is the one thing I am really glad I created myself as it is updated daily and everything is in one place for me to view whenever necessary.

YNAB

Another app we invested in is YNAB, which I have spoken about before and seriously if you are looking to get your finances in order. This is the app you need. It has taken us almost three months to get the system down, but it is completely worth it. Right now my husband and I use it for our personal finances, but I have deeply considered using it for business since you can create more than one budget! It does have a price of $50 a year and they allow a free 34 day free trial.

I will be trying out this program next year for my business finances, so I will let you know how that goes as things progress.

How about you? Have you started planning for next year? How are your plans going if you are? Drop a comment, I would love to see what you use and how you plan your year!

My Year Plan



All of the thoughts and opinions herein are that of the author and were never influenced by any of the mentioned companies. 

This year I am determined to put systems in place to accomplish my goals. If I took a glance at last year I would have one word for it… disappointing.

This year my goals as outlined HERE are well on there way and I can safely say that even though we are not yet through January, I am ahead of schedule with my posts and well on my way to reaching my goals.

I wanted to share how I planned out my year with you so that perhaps it will give you insight to my planning process and how I endeavor to succeed this year.

I feel very disorganized when I have to use a multitude of programs for my schedules, plans and written notes so I did some research and came across one app that does almost everything I want! Unfortunately, there are a few things that it does not do so I had to find another program for the rest of my needs.

UPAD3

I recently came across an app called Upad3, which after using it for a few weeks, I absolutely love. I can use their preloaded templates to plan my day, week ,month, year, write notes, add pictures, websites, create folders, etc. It has really created a space for me to see all of my notes, agendas, and inspiration all in one place. It works with the Apple pencil on the Ipad Pro which is another thing I love. Writing with the Apple pencil provides a sense of writing on paper and i can have it saved to refer back to. (Sometimes I like to see my own handwriting instead of typed words.) The shot below contains an image of my folders and how I am currently using this app.

As you can see I have a folder for Business, Personal, and Daily. Within those folder there may or may not be other folders. For example: my Business folder has internal folders labeled Projects, Organization, and Notes. Though, I really hate to spend money on apps like this, 5.99 was really worth it for me.

Although, this does have many calendar templates for use, it does not integrate with other apps so if you use another calendar you will be doing double duty having to enter it here. I find my google calendar works better since I can create deadlines and alarms for projects and items that need done by a specific time or date.

 17hats

I have also started using 17hats for business and product planning. Although, I will use Upad3 for notes on my projects I keep track of the phases of my projects in 17hats. This also comes with a calendar to plan and create deadlines which I was able to integrate with my google calendar so that I can see my projects on any device within or out of the app. This program also has it’s own to do list, an area for you to keep track of leads, projects, contacts, create invoices, view workflow and bookkeeping. You can integrate other apps (although few at present) with this program as long as you upgrade to one of their paid programs (except for google calendar), but as of right now I am ok with the free version. Customize the background to fit your own tastes and work within an environment of your making.

Have any apps or programs that you couldn’t live without? Tell me about them. I am always trying to simplify my life for as little money as possible.

My Goals for 2017

So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2017:

Goals

  • Publish four short stories by December 31, 2017
    • Stories are my passion. I love the characters, the journey, the settings, quests, character growth, surprises, twists, and everything included in a good story. My hope is that you love my stories as much as I do.
  • Read 12 books in my chosen genre by December 31, 2017d
    • Not only is ready my chosen genre enjoyable, it can be inspirational, enlightening, and can cause a sense of peace when reading the words of a fellow author.
  • Read 4 books not in my chosen genre by December 31, 2017
    • I am usually only interested in my chosen genre, hence the reason for choosing it, but I realize I need to branch out!
  • Post 26 blog post with interesting, useful or entertaining information by December 31, 2017
    • More is always welcome, right. I’m just starting so I don’t want to overdo myself. My goal is to become more connected with my readers and provide information that inspires and assists others with their dreams while I am following my own.
  • Complete 3 educational courses
    • Continuing education is a way to hone your skills, flesh out a project while learning something new. You can never go wrong with learning more on your chosen industry.
  • Grow my business by 5% by December 31, 2017
    • I’m starting slow, feel free to give me pointers! I have been working on this business for the last year, probably longer, but this year I want to get serious and begin growing it to the level I believe I can accomplish and further!
  • Publish novel by June 30, 2017
    • I have really been working on this novel for the last 15 years on and off. It is one believe in. I have recently been heading back to this novel with edits and rewrites. My goal is to finally get this novel published by this summer! Wish me luck!

These are my main goals for this year and I have spent the time to plan ahead with some posts and story lines as well as creating deadlines for each. If I can accomplish all of my goals by the end of the year, it will be the best birthday present I could give myself since it is the day before!

What are some of your goals for 2017? What encouragement would you give a fellow writer?