5 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

resolutionsAnother year dawns tomorrow. And while I don’t typically make resolutions for the New Year, I thought I would list some resolutions that might appeal to the writers out there.

1.) Start (or Finish) your novel – Have you been kicking around the idea for a novel? Or maybe you have already begun one but haven’t finished it up. This is the year to get motivated and start writing. (For tips on starting a novel, click here. And for tips on dealing with writer’s block, click here.) Set realistic writing goals and stick with them!

2.) Stay on task – Do e-mails and Facebook distract you from working? Or maybe you get caught up in marketing your books? Can you find any reason to procrastinate? Make this the year that you learn to stay on task. Make your resolution specific. Don’t just say you will “procrastinate less.” Resolve to set a timer for 20 minutes and work until the timer stops. Or vow to write for an hour BEFORE you do any marketing or checking of email.

3.) Find time to write – Maybe distractions such as Facebook and e-mail aren’t your problem. Perhaps it is the fact that you are working a full-time job, raising a family, doing charity work, volunteering at your kids’ school, taking care of your elderly parents or a host of other responsibilities we all take on as adults. It often becomes hard to find time to dedicate to writing, but most of us can easily carve out 30 minutes to an hour for writing. Get up earlier or dedicate the time after the kids are in bed for writing. Even a few minutes here and there can add up.

4.) Become a better writer – You are never too old to learn something new. Even if you have several published books under your belt, there is always something new you can learn. Take the time to read a blog or a book on writing. Heck, just take the time to READ! The more you read, the more different styles and genres you read, the better your own writing will be.

5.) Increase your marketing – Sometimes promoting your novel (and yourself) is hard. You would rather be writing…or even editing than figuring out how to market your book. Now is the time to plan your Facebook page, blog or web page or to set up a marketing campaign. Again, be specific. You want to post twice a week, send out 10 tweets or appear on 4 blogs a month or whatever you think will help your marketing plan.

So whatever your writing resolutions or goals, just make them simple and realistic. And most importantly, write them down and keep them posted above your computer so you follow through! Happy New Year everyone, and may 2016 be an awesome year for you and your writing!

 

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My last update on the 52 week organizing challenge

I began the 52-week organizing challenge last January, and now it comes to a close. Is my house more organized? Yes! Have I completed every challenge? No!

Some weeks have been easy with little or nothing to do. But some of the tasks have been huge and while I started working on them, they are not complete. In fact, I am considering doing the challenge again next year, so I can finish some of the challenges I didn’t complete or skipped. The challenges are not in the same order each year so maybe some of the incomplete challenges will hit me in a less busy time, or maybe I just need to buckle down and tackle those I put off.

Anyway, here is how it has gone since September….(If you would like to catch up on the rest of the challenge click here to see my other updates – intro to challenge, update in March, update in June, update in July & update in September.)

IMG_4034[1]Master Bedroom (Oct 5) – OMG. This area needs some work. The bookcase was done earlier in the year, but my dresser tends to be a dumping ground for so many things. I did get some of it straightened up, and I did clean off my nightstand. Baby steps here I guess.

Basement (Oct 12) – Yeah! A free pass. We have no basement!

Garage (Oct 19) – Another free pass for me. We have a garage but that is my husband’s domain, so I am not organizing it for him.

Attic (Oct 26) – Again, with the free pass. We have an attic but store nothing in it so no organizing for me. Loving October! (OK – so I should have spent the month catching up on other challenges that I didn’t finish but that didn’t happen.)

Jewelry and Accessories (Nov 2) – This week sets out to organize jewelry, hair accessories, scarves, ties, belts and sunglasses. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry or hair accessories and have pretty much no scarves, ties or belts and only one pair of sunglasses. This should have been an easy challenge but sadly, I didn’t finish sorting the small amounts of jewelry I do have.

IMG_4035[1]Shoes (Nov 9) – Whether I have a lot of shoes would solely depend on your definition of a lot. I have about 20 pairs, including boots and sandals. I had recently paired down some of my older pairs so this challenge was pretty easy. I didn’t like the shoe rack I had in the closet as it didn’t hold more than 12 pairs of shoes, so I bought a new one that works perfectly for me.

Cosmetics (Nov 16) – Again, here I go with not having a lot to do this week. I have very few cosmetics, but it was good to get rid of (and replenish) the old ones. And I bought a second makeup bag, so I could separate the stuff I use daily with the special-occasion items.

Kids’ Closets (Nov 23) – In June, I organized the kids’ rooms and closets so that I could paint their walls. Since I had recently done this challenge (and the one for next week), I decided not to so this challenge now. It will probably need to be done when the challenge rolls around next year.

Kids’ bedrooms (Nov 30) – See my above answer about the kids’ closets.

Toys & Games (Dec 7) – Again, this was done during the summer, so I didn’t have much to do this week. Definitely will need to do this next year.

Holiday Decorations/Gift Wrap (Dec 14) – The decorations were already up, so I guess I will have to weed through all my ornaments and decorations when I take them down after Christmas. I did clean up my gift wrap bins and bought another one that held those extra-long rolls that wouldn’t fit in my wrapping paper storage bin.

China, glassware, crystal and silverware (Dec 21) – I already have a fine china storage unit so not much to do this week, which was good because it was Christmas week and very busy at our house. I also don’t have real silverware, so I got to skip that one too.

Family Calendar (Dec 28) – I always do this every year so nothing new for me. I spend hours typing everything into my Microsoft Outlook calendar and will be doing that this week.

And that completes the 52-week challenge! The house is better than it was last year at this time, but I am definitely going to be doing the challenge again next year to finish off our organizing.

 

 

Merry Christmas to all!

merry-christmas-1

Merry Christmas to all the readers of my books and my blog!

And for those of you who might not celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day, Ramadan, Boxing Day or whatever religious celebration you might be enjoying this month.

And if you don’t celebrate any thing, Happy Friday!

Don’t forget to check out my Fantasy Holiday Book Sale – good through January 4th!

Holiday Fantasy Book Sale

To celebrate the holiday season ~ I am offering three of my books either free on Smashwords or at a reduced rate on Amazon.

Please use the coupon codes on  theSmashwords website where you can download these stories in whichever e-book format you need. All Smashword coupons are good through January 4th!

THE HEIR TO ALEXANDRIA

HeirAlexandria_ebookcoverBelieved the descendants of the Gods themselves,
The Alexandria line ensured peace,
Until they were brutally murdered.
But rumor spread a maid escaped with the youngest daughter.

Now as the world rushes toward a period of unrest, the nations’ Kings continue their 200-year-long-search for the Heir to Alexandria – the one person who can bring peace and stability through divine power.

Alista has her own search – for the parents who abandoned her as a baby years ago. When her only lead proves to be a dead end, she heads to the capital with a reluctant escort. Grayson is just following his aunt’s order, but he would rather be on one of his solitary scouting missions for the Landra Guard. However, when Alista unintentionally curses a guard in front of the King’s court, everything changes for both of them.

Now forced to travel to Covington for testing, danger lurks at every turn as a secret society strives to prevent the return of the Alexandria line. Are Alista’s visions of the future enough to save herself and those traveling with her?

FREESmashwords – Coupon Code QP29G

Or get The Heir to Alexandria for only 99 cents on Amazon.

THE SEARCH – a fantasy short story

The SearchFor over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

FREESmashwords – No coupon needed – Barnes & Noble   Kobo Books

Get The Search for only 99 cents on Amazon.

SUMMONED: Book 1 of The Elemental

SummonedFINALAt the age of four, Lina discovered she could start fires with a mere thought – a trait which had died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she kept this Elemental power a secret to avoid being an outcast. That was easy to do growing up in the remote grasslands of Zena.

Now as an adult, she had no plans to leave her beloved homeland. So when a strange urge compels her to travel north to an unknown destination, Lina resists this unnatural feeling. But her plans to stay in Zena are taken out of her control when she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. She fears she will have no choice but to give into the compulsion. When a raging fire prevents her return home, she realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

On her journey, Lina befriends an odd assortment of allies. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces despite the fact that such magic had died out over 800 years ago. Lina reluctantly begins to use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

FREESmashwords – Coupon Code SU37P

Or get Summoned for only 99 cents on Amazon.

 

 

Making family time a priority

It is easy throughout the year, and even more so during the busy holiday season, to be preoccupied with getting your list of chores and tasks done that you forget to take the time to stop and really just enjoy your family.

The things that we don’t get accomplished during the weekday get pushed to the weekend. And before you know it the weekend is over, and the work/school week starts over.

But spending time as a family strengthens your bonds. It allows you to reconnect as a family. However, you can’t assume it will happen. Too often family time can fall through the cracks. You need to set aside specific time for family. Mark it down on your calendar and make it a priority.

Here are some suggestions of activities for family time.

Eating together

My husband is not a fan of eating at the table as a family. He liked it better when he and I just ate in front of the TV. But I know that eating together away from the distractions of TV and video games is good for our kids. It allows us to slow down and reconnect. It teaches the kids how to have a conversation with each other. Often we use family dinner time to share what happened in our day or talk about upcoming plans. (For tips on establishing family meal times, check out this website.)

Family Outings

Swimming with dolphins during our trip to Grand Cayman.

Swimming with dolphins during our trip to Grand Cayman.

Often, I go places with the kids when on summer or school breaks. We head to the children’s museum, the zoo, the park or the pool. But the times that I think mean the most to them are the ones in which my husband joins us. We don’t often go places with all four of us but every once in a while we go somewhere as a family – Six Flags Amusement Park, Comicon or bowling. And I know those memories stick with the kids as they often talk about them.

Family Vacations

My husband doesn’t always relish the thought of traveling with the kids but every year we plan a family trip. Sometimes it is just to the beach for a weekend, and sometimes it has been to Disney World or a cruise. These times are great for building memories (or pulling your hair out if you are my husband.)

Movie Night

For a while, we instituted a movie night. We rotated who picked the movie, but it was set that every Friday we would have pizza and watch a movie together. It worked for a little over a year but now the kids argue too much about which movie has been chosen that we have reduced movie time to monthly.

CIMG0693Not interested in watching a movie together? You might consider game night instead. Or even family gardening time or take a martial arts or archery class together. Even just a family walk after dinner can be a great way to get some exercise and spend time together.

The main thing is to remember to set aside some time and spend it with your family. Turn off the electronics, look up from your phone, ignore Facebook and just enjoy the moment with those you love.