How big are satisfying rewards?

How big do rewards need to be to give you satisfaction?

Do you ever finish a project that takes forever and think, now what?

That’s me.

A Bride’s Journey to the Colorado Territory is done… at least the first round of edits are finished. There are many more times to go through it. I had a big plan for when the book was ready to purchase and that looks like it will be on July 30th. At this time, I’m not sure if my plan will be possible with traveling or finances.

I have been thinking it was hard to get to the end of that book. I was working part time at the preschool and then being at home has taken an emotional toll I didn’t expect. After all, I am an introvert and love being home. That took me by surprise, and I had to adjust. Then an extended family member came down with Covid-19 and was on a ventilator for a long time and didn’t make it.

Big rewards didn’t seem as fulfilling any more.  

So what’s a writer to do?

Do it anyway.

First, let me say that small celebrations when you complete a difficult task are important. The thing is they don’t have to be giant expensive rewards. One thing I have always known but have come to understand well these past few months is the importance of what I have.

Sure, I’d like a new laptop. That would be an amazing reward, or maybe a keyboard that doesn’t stick on the letter zzzzzzz—even though I haven’t pushed it. Or someone to clean my house—like deep clean it, outside and inside windows, and baseboards that I never seem to get to.

I took a step back and thought about the small things I could reward myself with that I could use and enjoy. A teacher appreciation gift I received contained an envelope of zinnia seeds. I love flowers! All I needed was a warm day to plant them and we had frost last week.

Today I planted them! I can’t wait to see them grow!

The other thing I’ve been wanting for quite some time but didn’t get was a set of measuring spoons with the ‘donk’ spoon. That’s 1/32! I’ve been using pure stevia instead of sugar for a long time. It came from Trim Healthy Mama with a tiny plastic spoon. The handle broke, and I’ve kept on using it. I decided it was time for a reward. I ordered the spoons. They were under $10.

But why would you care what I choose to reward myself with or that I did?

Because I want you to do the same.

You might be homeschooling like my daughter-in-law who is doing an amazing job even though it’s not what she loves. She is a numbers person and an engineer. Every Friday she should honor her work, even if it is with a book and a soak in her tub. I don’t know if she does that, but she should.

Maybe you started a garden and you have no idea what you are doing, but you did it anyway. Reward yourself! Get a glass of tea and sit outside and admire the beautiful work you did.

Or perhaps you great at sewing and now you’re making masks. Not something you love, but you are putting your skills to work. Reward yourself! Spend some time sewing something you love—if your shoulders and back can take it! I have a friend who has made over 85 masks in one week. I hope she does something to make her smile.

Not every reward has to cost a lot of money. Think about it. What can you do for yourself that would give you a feeling of satisfaction? An ice cream cone? That’s my husband’s favorite reward. A bike ride? A walk in the park? What about phoning a friend?

Tell me your ideas in the comments. We can all benefit from growing our reward list along with our to-do lists. Because life is difficult and no one else can pat us on the back right now for a job well done.

Possible new Christian book for you in all genres.

This one is great if you have Kindle Unlimited as the books listed are all available with the KU subscription.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/christianfictioninku/rne006n9jo

D is for Done

For now, that is. It’s been a crazy ride since I started A Bride’s Journey to the Colorado Territory at the end of December.

Being stuck at home in mid-March thought I’d write every day and have it finished by the mid-April.

My brain said not so fast, you need to process a few medical issues you have and then there’s this virus issue that is going to plague your mind way more than you expected.

I’m not going to lie and say I miss leaving my house and seeing people. I’m not built that way. I love being home and can find lots of things to do or watch–I’ve attended way too many webinars since being home.

The thing is, I eventually settled down by doing research. Since A Bride’s Journey to the Colorado Territory happens in 1865 and my characters Cornelia and Jake are traveling the Oregon Trail I had to figure out what it would be like.

I do know–sort of. We had an RV for a while and loaded up the kids and took the trail. It was easy except for the “stop touching me” and “he did it, Mom” coming from the back. I suspected it was similar to traveling with a wagon full of kids but there had to be so much more. I mean there weren’t rest stops and pizza places, right?

I discovered quite a bit of information and while it won’t all go into the book, there was enough for me to realize how parallel what the women were going through was to what we are going through now. The separation from family, the concerns about how to cook a meal, and how to live with less.

Once I got into that mindset the book started to write itself…sort of. My fingers are aching from days of 3,000 words. 🙂 I’m not complaining I’m rejoicing to find a satisfying end to this book.

Next? Glad you asked, I’ll be editing, writing the back cover copy, waiting for my editor to send me suggestions. I’m great at murdering commas. Look for this book around mid-August or early September.

Do I have a cover?

Yes, and it’s beautiful.

Can you see it?

Nope. 🙂 You have to wait.

Meanwhile, I need to do what a lot of people have already done during the shelter-in-place order. Clean my house, empty a few closets, and goodness, go through that spice cabinet! I tried to use cream of tarter this week and it had an expiration date of 2014. How many more of those lurk in there? I’m about to find out next week.

While you’re here check out this promotion full of KindleUnlimited books and fill up your reader!

https://books.bookfunnel.com/christianfictioninku/rne006n9jo

Let the Children Be Little

Can your appearance make someone’s day better?

I know! Don’t judge a person by the way they look has been my motto since my mother instilled it in me at a very young age. It was traumatic, please don’t ask me to share that horrifying memory…but to be fair I was  3 and curious about someone’s size.

Which brings me to the reason for the post. We are all wearing masks of some kind in public now. Some of you have been wearing them much longer than we have in the US so you’ve probably figured this stuff out.

We are new at this game. I’m seeing some fun possibilities here—saving money on lipstick and liner, who cares about those drooping jowls, or those marionette lines on the side of the face? And in the winter, how nice it will be not to have a frozen face before I get inside a store.it

While that is a positive there is a negative side.

I’ve seen some creative masks (mostly on Facebook because I don’t get out much) and many of them are scary—monster faces and skeletons. Right now, it’s not a big deal. Most parents are keeping their small children home.

Don’t do this please.

This week many of the states are relaxing some of the stay-at-home mandates. Parents will be taking their children out in public. Older children are used to video games and tv shows that have scary parts.

A small child will not know what to do with those feelings because none of us—parents, grandparents, teachers had the experience to teach them about the safety of masks. Consider the fact that in October in the US, we have fire safety week to teach the little ones not to be afraid of firefighters, fire alarms, and the sounds the fire trucks make.

Small children are always trying to make sense of what is happening around them. The 2’s, 3’s, and 4-year-olds have been in preschool or home where they have learned to read and understand facial cues and expressions. The first few times they go to a public place there will be no normal faces. Nothing will look the same to them as before.

In the preschool where I work, the children are asked to look at another child’s face after a toy is taken from them, someone knocks over a block tower or is hurt. This is how they learn what facial expressions mean. (We do make sure the child who is wronged is first asked if they are okay to validate their feelings of being hurt or wronged.)

Remember how you felt the first few times you went to the store with a mask and the shelves were empty of toilet paper? Unsettling, wasn’t it? For me, my anxiety rose to a level I have never experienced and I’m still fighting against it.

When they go into a family-friendly environment in the next few months what will they see on your face?

You have a choice to make them a little more comfortable or to increase their confusion and fear. I hope you choose to make them comfortable because there is going to be a lot of adults with issues when this is over. If we can let’s protect the children from having them too.

10 Things to do While Sheltering in Place

Much of the country is sheltering in place either voluntarily or by orders of the government. While it’s difficult to think of being away from those we love or from doing things we enjoy like meeting at the movies or dining out it’s necessary to keep us safe. And we all want to do our part but after twenty-four hours those extrovert friends are going to be looking for something to do. The rest of us like me who are introverted are having a party celebrating that we don’t have to go anywhere.

a list of 10 things to help pass the time while sheltering in place

That’s why I made this list because so many of my friends, God Bless Them! Make me leave my house often and yes, I do have fun. This time I hope I can help them understand there are things to do at home.

  1. Go through your friend list on Facebook and unfriend or unfollow people you don’t know. When I first got on Facebook I accepted any friend request, somewhere from games I no longer play. Don’t worry, when you unfollow or unfriend that person is not notified.
  2. Clean out the junk drawer. You’ll find lots of silly memories in there along with pieces of something you were going to fix. If you know what they are for, put them in a fix-it pile. If you don’t have a clue, then recycle or trash it.
  3. If you are working from home but have a break instead of searching the cabinet for something to eat, sweep off the front porch. Ugh. I need to do that one myself. If you don’t have your own outside space continue searching the cabinet for a snack.
  4. Go to Amazon and just for fun create a wish list for things you’d like to own. Pretend it’s Christmas and the new catalogs have arrived. This works only if you remember drooling over the JC Penny and Sears catalogs after Thanksgiving.
  5. Open the cabinet where you store your medications. Look at the expiration dates and toss those expired bottles.
  6. How many photos do you have on your phone? Do you really need 17 shots of the rose bush you saw in Texas? You can delete a lot of pictures and while doing it your serotonin levels will go up as you revisit all the memories. You know the ones you said you’d print out on Shutterfly? There’s an idea, make some photo books!
  7. Grab a subscription to KindleUnlimted and read as many books as you can for free. they are doing an unheard of free 2-month trial. Write the date on the calendar of when to cancel https://amzn.to/395FsxH or if you like to watch movies grab a month of Amazon Prime https://amzn.to/3dfRg3Jfree for a month. Again, mark the date to cancel on your calendar.
  8. Get out your pen and write letters to your relatives or if no one can read your handwriting (putting my hand in the air) use the computer. Think about those people you know from church who are elderly and not a computer person, write to them and brighten their day. Maybe you have a stockpile of cards, you know it’s okay to cross out the Happy Birthday or cover it with another piece of paper with your own words. Happy Lock in Month, Happy Shelter in Place, Happy anything will work. Or use your computer and make your own card.
  9. Move! Your body! Not your living space. Search youtube for Classical Stretch videos. I enjoy these because anyone any age can do them and it feels great, if you like to MOVE body grove Misty Tripoli it’s a fun way to dance like no one is watching and hey nobody will be watching except those at home with you. She is offering a 30-day free trial.
  10. Journal your thoughts about what is happening in our world today. Make sure you add a list of things you are grateful for each day.
  11. Bonus! I just learned from a new friend that she is meeting online with her friends and having dinner.

Make sure you write the dates on the calendar or set a phone reminder to cancel anything before your card gets charged unless of course, you love the new thing you’ve discovered.

Please comment and give me more ideas!

Free things! I love free things!

Spreadsheet of all the live videos out there for kids.

Disney is offering their course Imagineering in a Box for free

How about Coloring Books from 113 Museums, that’s fun!

How about taking a virtual tour of 10 ionic Museums

Here’s a list of 75 museums to virtually tour

Visit 31 National parks virtually!

How about a Tour of the Peterson Museum’s classic car vault you can find coloring and building activities here too.

12 World-Class Museums to visit online

Google Arts & Culture has a lot to offer

From a newsletter reader:

Some free websites to research your family tree is familysearch.org and findagrave.com

Musings of a Procrastinating Writer

If you can’t finish it don’t start it. That’s been my hidden mantra for way too long. It’s a mantra for procrastination and you could add to it, if you can’t do it perfectly don’t do.

Until this January, I’ve been a fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to living the author life. The last few years have derailed my production and I thought I had good excuses.

  1. I work part-time
  2. I was watching my grandkids one day a week–who could resist that? 🙂
  3. I have to get the housework done–who am I kidding? It never got started because I didn’t have time to finish it.
  4. Grocery shopping and menu planning –can I get an Amen? Well no. I can order groceries online and my husband picks them up.
  5. The cat is too needy today. I can’t get to my keyboard because he wants attention.
  6. If you make a plan it something will always change it.
  7. I’m tired. I need to take care of myself and rest.
  8. Sitting in my chair makes my back hurt so I’ll write when that goes away.
  9. Math. Yes, math, figuring out what my ROI (return on investment for those of you who are like me and had no idea what that was) is too hard.
  10. Writing blog posts are great but I have the most boring life.

Pretty pathetic when I look at my list of reasons–Okay okay! They are excuses and nothing more.

book cover of atomic habits

So what happened in January? I read finished reading Automic Habits for the 2nd time (slow to pick up or rather I didn’t want to follow the advice). the idea behind it is to start one task and do it daily but add to it the next day. For instance, I want to write so I make sure the first thing I do when I sit at my desk is open my file and read yesterday’s work. The book explains the method well. It’s not just for writers it’s for anyone who struggles to maintain good habits. Because let’s face it maintaining those bad habits is so easy one doesn’t need to read a book on how to do that.

Another thing I started to use is a word tracking spreadsheet made by Jamie Raintree. If you are a writer and terrible at spreadsheets check out her tracker. It’s $10 and amazing. And I bought a planner from Audrey Hughey You can find my post about the planner here and here.

So back to what made the change. I picked a few habits to try–easy ones. I plan our meals for the week and I sprint (that is: write as fast as you can no editing) with a friend I met on the plane to a conference. Thank you Sally Henson! She and I also share photos of our planners on Sunday evening. Accountability plays a bit part in getting things done.

Has it worked? Yes! Those 15 minutes aren’t long enough for me to think I can finish anything but I found I can do between 500-700 words during those minutes. We sprint early in the morning and that either gets me going for more time if I’m not working that day or I have a feeling of success because I’ve written on a book I want to write.

And ta-da the book is now coming up to being halfway finished!

The meal planning has gone well! I follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating or I did and had great success, then life got to busy and I went back to old habits like Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. Sugar is a mean beast once it gets a hold on you. Now I make them at home with stevia and I’m satisfied. I’ve been back on plan now because I have our meals planned and sometimes my snacks.

Am I seeing great success in other areas of my life? Not as many as I want but I’m getting more done than I let myself believe that I can. And guess what? Plans can be easily changed by writing in pencil or erasable pens. I like these from Fixon.

How about you?

Have you tried breaking things into small chunks of time?

Were you surprised by the results?

Be sure to pick up your free book if you haven’t already!

Too much winter

It’s the time of year when the lack of sunshine starts to bother me. I long for the days of heat and sun, the more the better.

I’m combating the blues with reading and looking back on photos from the summer. My daughter-in-law has made that easier. She is a talented photographer and has started a blog featuring photos of places in the Midwest. http://www.midwestnomads.com 

Now I can look back at the places we’ve been because they have been gracious enough to take us with them. We didn’t make it to Utah with them this time but I love traveling through the Arches National park through the photos on her blog. Here’s one of her photographs

Look at that view! And the sun and all the colors! It does my creative soul good.

When the weather is gloomy I read a lot. Then I discovered one of my books, A Time to Heal is on sale now through the end of February. Instead of $3.99 it’s $2.99. Too bad I know how it ends. But maybe you haven’t read it? 🙂

Planning for 2020

Planning is not my favorite word but I am learning to like it a lot. Turns out I didn’t have the right planner for the work that I do.

Looking back at 2019 I realized as many of us do that the year sailed by too fast. Many of the things I wanted to do didn’t happen, like writing book 2 a Bride’s Will.
Now by using this planner I have a solid plan on how to get it done and possibly a second book.

I took the photo of both planners with my postage scale to remind me that every activity I choose has weight. I have to decide if that ‘weight’ is right for me or will it pull me to the ground and keep me there?

Blocking out the times I know it will be impossible for me to work on my writing like working at the preschool allows me to see what white space is left. Once that’s done I can then fill them with what’s the next important thing on my list.

This planner doesn’t just give you pages to fill out there are quotes and instructions on how to make it work for you.

This year I’m using the coil-bound version. Last year I bought the bound version and decided before I even opened it I didn’t need to plan. So wrong. Bad choice or as my grandkids say RED CHOICE!

If you aren’t a writer, this is probably not the planner for you but find one that does work. Don’t let 2020 disappear without you accomplishing your dreams.

Scroll down for an inside video peek of my planner from The Write Services.

If you’d like to order the planner you can find it here.
Lulu

Amazon

Etsy (PDF) if you like to print and organize your way

Planning 2020 as an Author

Writing a book is a lot of fun for me and maybe for you too. But planning out how to write, market, keep track of finances and oh yes, just life has always been a huge problem for me.

For 2020 I’ve decided to change up how I do things. Instead of letting things happen to me I was going to show up prepared.

This planner may not be for you if you aren’t an author but you are alive so planning is still a good thing. 🙂

One of the features I love about this planner from Audrey Hughey is its size. The pages are big enough to write what I need to remember. If you are planning your year make sure the one you choose has writing space, not just pretty pictures.

I’ve tried bullet journals, calendars, online calenders–I do still put critical personal and business dates in my online calendar so I have it with me at all times.

This year I’m using The 2020 Author planner because there isn’t another one like it that has a place for everything I need to do in my business. It was put together by an author for an author.

Have you ever decided to make a social media calendar and then think I should do this every month but wait I have to recreate that table? No need with this planner there is one for every month.

Here are some of the features:

  • Track daily and weekly word counts– yes, please
  • Map out writing and publishing plans for an entire year–not as scary as it sounds
  • Manage and track monthly expenses–you know you need to do it
  • Develop an editing checklist –ugh did I use the word so that many times?
  • Plan social media marketing, book promotions, and advertising–when was the last time I applied for BookBub? Posted a photo of one of my books?
  • Sketch out ideas for author newsletter and track open and click-through rates– What should I write this month to my newsletter?
  • Have space and flexibility to plan your days and weeks according to your own unique lifestyle and schedule.–Self-care? Yes, you need to schedule it or you won’t do it.

Where can you get one of these? Glad you asked because it means you’re one step closer toward an amazing year as an author.

LuLu (coil-bound) – typewriter cover

LuLu (coil-bound) – pens and watch cover This one is my favorite!

Amazon (perfect-bound)

Etsy (PDF):

Look at all that space!

Thankful for Readers OH MY

It’s so wonderful to wake up and discover the book you have listed for a free prom has done well. A group of Christian authors who love their fans decided to give back this holiday.

We put many of our books at free and 99 cents. And you all have blessed us with picking them up.

Here is the link to find out what is available. CLICK HERE

Here were my rankings this morning. It made me tear up! By the time you read this, I’m sure they will have dropped. Things happen fast on Amazon.

Thank you readers!

Fall Reading

The calendar has flipped and it’s fall even though it doesn’t feel anything like that where I live. But I know the cooler weather is coming and soon that will fade and winter will be here.

I’ve partnered with other authors for a sale on books to fill your e-readers for such a time. Reading, hot drinks and comfy blankets are my favorite way to spend my evenings. I’m thinking you might feel the same?

You can find two of my books in this sale A Time to Bake and A Bride’s Dilemma. https://books.bookfunnel.com/fallforfiction/70cjhc109f Head on over and see what grabs your interest.