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!

Why Writer’s Love Scrivener and other Tips

This week I learned about a new social media sight. BLAB, it’s internet tv for the not famous-yet.

There’s probably famous people too, but back to this BLAB. Bethany Jet hosted Johnnie Alexander, Pam Hillman and me on her weekly show. The three of us are Tyndale authors and have books currently on sale.  We discussed, Scrivener, Nanowrimo, writer’s block and so many other things.

We even talked about adult coloring books! I love to color! I’ve found it to be so relaxing and it does let my creative side engage. I’ve put links for color books at the bottom of the post. Those are two of many out there. I’m also including a link to my favorite Crayola Pencils-you don’t have to sharpen them!

Here are the books mentioned in this BLAB show:

3 Tyndale authors

Writing and Math

Writing and math shouldn’t go together!

For years I have explained to family and friend that I do not need math, I’m a writer words trump numbers. After many years of being unable to connect the two subjects I’ve learned how to cope in a world that requires me to know math things.

If I want to know a percentage off of a price I call my friend, or I pull out my handy dandy Dave Ramsey tip card. 

Math is so difficult for me that I can’t get the same answer on a calculator-ever!

Counting money? Forget it. I’ve made piles on the floor of ten ones only to end up with an extra or worse not as many as I thought

I’ve been happy to live with a lack of math knowledge until last night. As I tried to fall asleep, my brain decided it was time to work on my next novella Outlaw on the Pueblo Express (Barbour Publishing 2016). I was thinking about what my character would wear on the train. I could see her face pressed against the window and then turning and asking, “Where do you think we will be at lunch time?”

Math! Boom in my face!

1800s train

What???????????? TIME????????????

Pages of word problems flashed in front of me.

The ones I could never figure out the answer to.

The ones that made me cry in frustration.

The ones where I would shout to anyone who would listen, “Why should I care what time the train will arrive to pick up Bob if it stops at point B for 17 minutes?”

So here I am, faced with my math demon. I will now have to answer the question for my character, “What time will we arrive at point B?” .

I think it is time to phone a friend.

 1800s train



Fire Storm by Mackenzie Dare-Interview



Chatting with Mackenzie Dare

Diana: Hi Mackenzie, thanks for stopping by today. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Mackenzie: I don’t remember a conscious decision. I think that’s just the way the Lord made me. I’ve always loved writing and making stories up in my head for as long as I can remember.  Every once in a while, I’ll find a page of an ancient second or third grade short story and chuckle as I read it and try to decipher the context.

Diana:What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Mackenzie: Right now, I’m self-employed, so I can just flip-flop my schedule around to what works best.

Diana: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Mackenzie: Like I have any writing quirks…. 😉  Probably my most interesting one is the fact that my characters refuse to ever conform to my outline. Sure, I start out with a neat and detailed plan, but by mid-story, sometimes before, my characters are all running every which-a-way in their own directions. Sometimes the “good guys” turn into bad guys. Sometimes scenes from the end move up to the middle. Sometimes the wrong people fall in love, and even other times a deep, dark secret that I didn’t even know about will just pop up from somebody’s past. Surprises… that’s what makes writing so fun!

Diana:What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Mackenzie: I love life! One of my favorite things to do is to run outside, especially on a dew-glistening, bird-singing, apple-blossomed, spring morning… just to run toward a painted sunrise and feel absorbed in the beauty of God’s creation! I love riding my horse down the gravel road or through the cornfields. I love chilly fall days… a cool breeze floating in a slightly open window and feeling the warm apple-scented  steam as you slide a crusty, golden, apple pie out of the oven just as a drip of cinnamon syrup bubbles out and sizzles. I like a crisp, breezy walk through a pumpkin patch or a swim in a Wisconsin lake. I like camping in the North Woods or browsing souvenir shops. I’ve enjoyed climbing cliffs in the Blue Ridge and drivin’ by buffalo in Yellowstone.

I love findin’ deals at garage sales and hangin’ out with my family… cookout style or pizza and popcorn movie nights. My favorite time is Christmas… It’s A Wonderful Life in the DVD player, a fire crackling in the corner, the pop of popcorn, and the sweet aroma of hot chocolate as we hang ornaments and wrap lights around our Christmas tree and nativity scene. I love seeing the Lord work in my life and teach me new things. I love Him because He first loved me. He’s shown me His love sooo many times in my life! One of my favorite verses is “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” He’s the giver of life, the one who makes daffodils smile and the thunderclouds clap. I love life, love, loyalty, and laughter.

Diana: What does your family think of your writing?

Mackenzie: They are all very supportive and encouraging! I loved giving them my new book and hearing what they thought of it. I really appreciated their suggestions before I was satisfied with my final copy.

Diana: Do you have any suggestions to help readers interested in writing become better? If so, what are they?

Mackenzie: Always pray about your writing. You couldn’t get a better teacher.
Just keep writing. Progress can be amazing if you just keep practicing until you get the hang of it. Make it fun, and keep it fun. If you get bored with it or lose track of where you’re going, you’ll likely stop.

Start with an outline for structure, but then add some surprises to keep yourself guessing.

Diana: What do you think makes a good story?

Mackenzie: Action, a good plot, likeable and admirable characters, emotion, human interaction, purity of relationships, cleanness in language, mystery… but most of all, it needs to honor God. I loved writing this book, but it would always feel empty and useless to me if there wasn’t a higher purpose in writing it than making money. If you pray about it and are truly writing for Him, I believe He will cause everything else to fall into place.

Diana: For viewers who have not read, but are interested in your book, can you describe it please?

Mackenzie: Fire Storm is about a couple of young families living excessively normal lives in a small-town, farming community in Northern Illinois. Wade is a paramedic. His wife, Mellissa, works in a lawyer’s office, and they are expecting a baby very soon. Their best friends, Jim and Jessica, live on a small horse farm out in the country. Jim is a fireman. Jess is a stay-at-home mom with her recently born little girl. Life is fun and carefree till… Jess starts running into threats at every turn. Are they even threats or just accidents? The thought of a killer being after Jess just seems so ridiculous… though not so much… when she comes eye to eye with murder! Who and Why? What about Wade ‘n Mellissa? Will they remain safe in their young existence as they embark in the beginnings of life’s journey, or will the epidemic of murder spread? How far does it reach? What are the secrets?

Diana: How does God affect your writing?

Mackenzie: He gave me the talent to write. He gave me an imagination and a love for stories. He put me in a strongly Christian home where I received wisdom about spiritual things and knowledge of true love, sacrifice, and care. He saved me and gave me a reason to write. Fire Storm was written for Him and dedicated to Him, and by His grace, I pray that every book I write will always point heavenward and never downward toward worldly lusts.

Diana: Who is your favorite character in your book?

Mackenzie: That’s hard to say. I like all my characters. They are all different and unique.  I like variety. The world needs rich and poor, plain and fancy, strong and weak, dream-chasers and content daily laborers, business women and stay-at-home moms, flippant and flighty and rigid work-a-holics. If there was one “right” type of person or one perfect race, the world would be sooo dull. Everyone fiction or real has their very own story.

Diana: What was the hardest part to write in the book?

Mackenzie: The Salvation message. It carries the greatest responsibility.

Real fire storm Cover Mackenzie Dare

Thanks Mackenzie for sharing with us your author journey. You can click the link below to get Mackenzie Dare’s book.

It is an affiliate link. I think I’m supposed to tell you that.


Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Why choose 26 Letters for a Tag Line?


Picture this:

I’m sitting in a chair surrounded by people I’ve just met at the (AWSA) Advanced Writers and Speakers Association conference.

Annetta Dellinger, the group leader and Joyologist pulls out a sheet of paper and says, “I’ve been visiting your website and I have some questions.”

While I wait my turn I wonder what she’ll ask, will it be about my quilts, or blended families or maybe she’ll want to know about Mind of Her Own. I start putting words together in my mind on what I’ll say.

It’s my turn. I hope I can get this out without stumbling over the words. Deep breath –I’m ready.

Annetta asks, “Why do you have stringing 26 letters into stories in the header of your blog?”

Brain melts, tongue takes over. “I stole it.”

Someone says, “At least she’s honest.”

I feel the capillaries in my cheeks lighting up like a Roman candle on the 4th of July. Quick recover, you can do this. “It came from a song and it touched me, I did tweak the artists words but the idea is the same. All we have are 26 letters to tell our stories about God.” Whew.

So here is my official statement:


Welcome To America (LP Version) [Music Download]

The song is called 26 Letters by Ben Glover

Here’s the chorus:

26 letters is all I got
To tell You how I feel about You
26 letters and you know I’m never ever
Gonna write the perfect paragraph
I try to express
With adjectives of thankfulness
But, I don’t know if I can do it
With 26 letters

See how well it works with writing?

You can read the rest of the words to 26 letters here.

Buy 26 Letters  I’m not an affiliate.


How do you handle suprise questions?


So you Wrote a Book. Now What?

Marketing on Your Own

Shelly Hitz
Marketing Your Book
If you are one of the many people who tell me you want to write a book, have a great idea for a book, or you have one sitting in a file on your computer, head over to Amazon and pick up Shelley Hitz’s Markeing Your Book On Amazon. It’s free today (11/8/12).
I finished reading it and came away with several ideas that any  either a tradional or indepented published author could use. 
Shelley Hitzs includes links to videos showing screen shots how to keep track of what marketing you need to do. She has a good checklist in the back of the book which would help plan your stratedgy before you even get started. 
One important thing for an author are reviews–as many as possible, good and bad. 
So if you’re not a writer and your still reading this, please review books
Do you review books you like?
Do you review on Amazon, The BookClub Network or Goodreads? Or somewhere else? 
* if you aren’t sure where my comments are look to the left of the green print friendly button, click comments

a2z: The letter is ‘Z’ for Zandini

The Great Zandini

 Now we’ve come to the end of the alphabet and the a2z meme that
Patty Wysong created. It’s been fun thinking of a blog post for each letter.

Z is for Zandini. On our mini vacation to St. Joesph, Michigan in August I found this guy in a corner of the carousel building.

I couldn’t help but remember the Tom Hanks movie Big, in case you don’t know the movie, Hank’s character puts in his money and wishes to be big. His wish is granted and he wakes up with an adult body.

I had .25 cents but not a wish that would/could be granted by The Great Zandini, he may have been predicting futures I’m not sure. The idea of know what lies ahead creeps me out. I’d rather let each day come to me the way God wants it to.

Then again if he were granting wishes…just one… I would have wished for more days to spend walking the beach with my husband.

What about you what would you wish for?

posted by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

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“U” is for Uncover for a2z challenge

The leaves are falling at my house, maybe where you live they don’t fall or they are already on the ground.

Once the leaves have fallen the branches are ‘uncovered’ for us to see. We get to view what has been hidden–a skeleton that held layers of greens, then golds or reds.

People are like this tree. Make up, hair, high fashion, GoodWill couture are distractions from what is on the inside. Under the bright pink sweater may be a woman in dire need of understanding or a hug because her underpinnings are weak.

Some wear that ‘different’ look–you know the one that makes you back up and wonder about the person with the piercings and tattoos–is she safe, will he try to take something from me?

This weekend at our book signing Marty and I witnessed such a person.With a bit of encouragement J. spoke with us. Her tattoos were in Greek and Hebrew, one of them meant forgiveness.

I try hard not to judge people by what they appear to be, sometimes it’s hard. I tend to turn to fear rather than God. This time I let God work and was blessed by meeting a charming child of God, one who volunteers talking to runaway children about God’s love. She’s studying to a nurse, would like to write a book to help runaways understand what God’s love can do for them and feels led to learn Thai.

Then she did the unexpected, she offered us a love offering. She carries a few dollars with her for that purpose. We refused to take it, asking her to use it in her ministry.

The few minutes J. spent talking with us blessed both Marty and I. For me it was a message to take time and uncover the person under the layers, because there are jewels waiting to be discovered.

for more a2z please visit Patty Wysong’s blog.

posted by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

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