April 13 2017

Quarterly Goals Checkin

Back in January, I told you all about my 2017 SMART Goals.

Well somehow the first quarter of the year has come and gone and it is time to see how those goals are coming along.

Here are the goals I set at the beginning of the year:

1) Do a cabin weekend  DONE!
2) April trip (on track)
3) Annual Hockey Trip for the kids’ birthdays (not scheduled yet)

1) Get 6 hours of sleep a night (Getting Better)
2) Drink 6 cups of water a day (Fairly Consistent)
3) Continue using MyFitnessPal app (Ok, so I only enter my weight each day)

1) Clean out my home office (Not much progress)
2) Declutter the landing  DONE!
3) Declutter my clothes (1st pass done)

1) Do some genealogy
2) Take three writing classes  DONE!
3) Read for thirty minutes a day  (Fairly Consistent)

1) Pray daily  (Fairly Consistent)
2) Read 15 inspirational fiction books (4 read so far, so on track)
3) Crochet 26 hats to donate to charity (17 of 26 done)

Do you want to see photos? Let me know if you want to see photos of the hats I have made so far in the comments below. If more than 10 people show and interest, I will post pictures.

1) Finish one of my previous NaNoWriMo novels (working on edits and revisions during April)
2) Publish something (see writing goal #1 above)
3) Participate in NaNoWriMo (and hopefully win again)

How do you tackle making sure your goals get done each year? Do you schedule them into your monthly goals and then further yet into weekly goals? How does that work for you? I know I am finding that editing and revisions to my 2016 NaNo Novel have been even more difficult than I originally expected. I have amazed myself how far I have gotten on the crochet hats goal, but I attribute the success to getting a jump on it while at the cabin over New Year’s weekend.

How are you doing on your goals for 2017? You haven’t given up already, have you? I sure hope not, we still have nearly 3/4 of the year to get them done.

March 31 2017

Fear of Finishing

I have only recently figured out that a good part of the reason I have yet to finish one of my novels is because if I finish the first draft, I will actually have to figure out how to edit the thing. Now one would think that knowing this is an issue would be a big part of overcoming the fear and doing something to fix the problem. Yes, I am willing and able to admit it IS a problem.

I felt marginally better after hearing the keynote speaker at a recent writer’s conference acknowledge that it is a common problem among writers. He said it was kind of like while you are writing the book, writing is your job, so when you finish it is like losing your job or being fired. Once you finish the book, you have to tackle a new job, that of being an editor. Hopefully, an editor who will finish revising the first draft into something worth reading. It is a huge commitment.

So, now that it is almost April, it is time to figure out what project I want to tackle for Camp NaNoWriMo. The nice thing about camp is that you can choose your own goal and one of the things you can choose is to edit a previously written manuscript. So, I am planning to tackle overcoming the fear and seeing how much progress I can make on revising one or two of my partially written novels.

I have started/written six books in five different genres since November 1, 2013. Yes, I am still experimenting trying to figure out what works best for me. No, I still haven’t found my writing niche. I have written one book twice using just the characters and the basic ideas and setting from the first version of the book. I consider the second version to be the second draft. I know the first version I wrote is almost entirely crap because I had no idea at all how to plot or write fiction.

So I recently took the plunge and picked two of my books to print out, read through and revise during April. No, I don’t expect to get either one completely revised in the 30 days, but I want to have options. The options may be good for times when one of the books is just making me crazy and so I can switch to the other.

Book 1 is the first NaNoWriMo novel I wrote in November 2013 and the working title at this point is, “The Roller Coaster We Call Parenting”. It is creative non-fiction and basically a parenting memoir. When I compiled it I used only half inch margins so it printed out at 116 pages double spaced.

Book 2 is draft two of the novel I tried writing in November of 2014 and wrote the second draft of in November 2016. The novel is inspirational fiction mystery, has one-inch margins and printed out at 177 pages. It is the first of seven books planned in the Crafty Ladies Series, this one being “Marni’s Story”.

I chose these books because I feel like they might be in the best shape of any I have begun writing thus far and this alone might keep me focused on the revision process instead of giving up before I finish. In November 2015, I wrote “Lu Ann’s Story” another book in the Crafty Ladies Series, but this one was written as an inspirational fiction romance. During Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2016, I started writing an inspirational historical fiction novel, but only got about thirty thousand words into that one, so it is the least ready for revisions at this point. In case you are keeping track and realized that was only five books, I have also written a non-fiction book about how to use Excel. I have begun revising it and it doesn’t need that much more work so wasn’t enough to tackle for a Camp NaNoWriMo project. Maybe that can be option three and the one that actually makes me feel like I am getting something done if I finish the first round of revisions on it.

So my actual goal for April 2017 is to spend an hour a day or thirty hours total for the month reading through and revising one or both of the books I have printed out. I may also compile and print out the others just so I have them in case all the electronic backups somehow fail me. Oh man, that didn’t sound at all paranoid now, did it?

If any of you have any great tips, tricks or advice for how exactly one goes about revising a novel, PLEASE comment or email me and do share. I have read a few craft books on the topic, watched countless videos on YouTube by others who have done this, but still feel somewhat unprepared to actually tackle this job as editor. I do know enough to know they are a hot mess and nowhere near ready for anyone else’s eyes yet, so tackle them I will, because in 2017 I am doing everything I can to be FEARLESS.

March 23 2017

What is your Time Suck?

What is your Time Suck?

I’m not sure if a time suck is considered a real thing or not, but I can tell you there are a few of them hanging around our daily lives. I kind of fell into one this morning while I was supposed to be getting ready for work. Let me explain.

My phone dinged, so of course, I had to see who was texting me. It turns out it wasn’t a text at all but a notification that Kid 2 had posted something to Facebook. I am always curious to see what the kids think is worthy of sharing or posting to their Facebook feeds. So I paused my morning routine long enough to take a look. Unfortunately, I saw something that caught my eye just below what Kid 2 had posted, so I scrolled down and saw the cutest cartoon called Fowl Language drawn with ducks as the main characters and it was all about parenting. Now I am quite sure I am the last person to learn about this but keep in mind that I do live under a rock most of the time, or as hubby used to tell me, I am culturally deprived.

After I had wandered down that black hole looking at a post with the ten best cartoons or some such, I hit the back button realizing I should be getting back to the morning routine. When I got back to the Facebook screen, I was again distracted by a post of the top funniest yard signs or something like it, I had to see just the first one so, of course, I clicked on it and read the first few but managed to stop myself when I realized it was one of those pages seriously over-populated by ads and graphic links to other eye-catching stories tucked just beneath the big orange NEXT button that I would need to click to keep “reading” the bit about the funny yard signs. Ha! I thought. I am smarter than that I will not get sucked into that again. Last time I followed one of those paths, it was about a baby baboon and what the female lion did to it. Next thing I knew I had to wade through a story on a different lion that involved a hippo, but they kept taunting me to continue by telling me how I just had to read about the baby baboon and what happened to it. That darned baby baboon was so cute, I just had to stick with the story until I learned the ending. I told myself I was better than that now and went back to getting ready for work.

I escaped that time by telling myself I could look at Facebook while I ate breakfast if I still wanted to. The thing with Facebook is that if you don’t look at something of interest when you see it, you may never find it again. I have lost hours looking for something I saw once and wanted to find again. It doesn’t help knowing who originally posted it either because the feeds fill up so quickly that eventually you just give up or get sucked down a more distracting rabbit hole. I have solved this sort of by saving the video or link, but now Facebook is constantly reminding me that I saved several things this week and asking if I wanted to go back and look at them now. I call that nagging! Facebook doesn’t understand this is my way of bookmarking the posts I want to be able to find again.

Most of the time, I try to avoid Facebook altogether. I used to get notifications from lots of my friends but then I realized that some of them did nothing but report everything they liked from their feed and never posted anything of personal interest. I only told Facebook to notify me so I wouldn’t miss the important things in my friends’ and family members’ lives, but I quickly realized I was being notified almost constantly and it was way too distracting. So I turned off all the notifications except for hubby (who is rarely on Facebook anyway) and the kids. Most of what I know about what goes on in the kids’ lives I learn from Facebook and when it comes to finding photos to share in the family holiday newsletter, I have to go see what photos are available on Facebook. So, I’m not saying Social Media doesn’t have it’s uses. I just know that I need to only tune in to it when I have free time to burn (so, almost never) and even then I know I had better set a timer to pull me back out of the time suck I will invariably get pulled into.

The lesson of the day to avoid time sucks is to leave the phone alone until after I am ready to walk out the door for the day. I also need to take the time to change the notifications so the one for text messages is different than general notifications.

So what are the time sucks in your life? How have you learned to deal with them? Please let us know in the comments.

March 9 2017

Visit Your Friend’s Bookshelf

On your next stay-cation, consider asking a friend of you can visit their bookshelf. Visiting a bookshelf that is not your own is an adventure to behold. Each book is a window to a new world just waiting to be opened and explored. Where will it take you? Who will you meet? What sort of adventure will you have?

Will you explore the reference books? Maybe an encyclopedia so you can explore new countries and see what sorts of things that country is known for producing. What does the flag look like? Do they dress differently than we do? What sorts of foods do they eat?

Maybe you will find a hunk and watch him fall in love with the girl next door. Maybe sail off to some romantic island getaway. If you haven’t been exposed to healthy adult relationships, perhaps you will learn through reading inspirational fiction books what a normal adult relationship could look like.

When you open a book, you can choose to embark on a new fantasy. Perhaps your friend has new books you could borrow if you promise to let them explore your bookshelf too. How does your friend have her book shelf organized? Is it alphabetically by title, or maybe by the author? Perhaps it is sorted by genre or even by publication date. It could be sorted by physical size or even by spine color. Maybe this bookshelf has some titles standing and others stacked horizontally. Your friend may have chosen to display some of the treasures they have collected during their travels around the globe.

Which books do you and your friend both have on your bookshelf? You may find you have many common titles or you could discover that you and your friend have completely different tastes in reading material. After you and your friend have fully explored each other’s bookshelves, you may want to visit the local public library and broaden your horizons.

I usually look for books by authors similar to ones I have already read and know I love. But then when I find a new author I enjoy reading, I tend to read my way through the entire list of all their books owned by the library. The library is one of my favorite resources and the reason I have stayed interested in reading all these years. If I had to buy all the books I read, I would have been able to read a mere fraction of the books I have consumed thus far. Not only do I not have the money to buy every book I read, but I lack the space to store them all. If I had copies of all the books I have read, I would have to spend a significant amount of time dusting all those books. This is time I would much rather spend reading yet another book. While I do like owning books so I can freely loan them out to a friend to read, the library is still a good resource for that because if I can find and borrow the books I want to read, then once I recommend it to a friend, that person can go and check it out for themselves.

Looking through a friend’s bookshelf might help you to discover a new author who will go on to become a new favorite of yours. Sometimes the vast quantities of books at the public library are overwhelming to me and I have trouble deciding which books I want to take home with me to read. So I find exploring the bookshelves of my friends to be a good way to discover things I might not have picked up from a library or book store to read. My friend can tell me a little about the titles that I think sound interesting and help me to make an informed decision on whether I would enjoy reading it or not.

Do you let your friends borrow your books? Have you ever visited your friends’ bookshelves? Did you find some exciting new books to add to your To Be Read List?

March 2 2017

We Messed Up Our Kids

We are good parents for the most part. Our kids might even agree. However, in the process of raising them to be the wonderful productive members of society that they are today, we may have seriously messed them up.

First we had a rule that they could only cry when they got “hurt” if there was blood involved. Next if they kept whining about some painful thing, we would tell them, “Don’t worry honey. If it still hurts tomorrow, we will just cut it off.” You know what? NOTHING ever hurt tomorrow! Now that seriously cut down on the whining around our house. We also wouldn’t let them use a band-aid unless they were actively bleeding. Don’t judge! Those cute cartoon band-aids were not cheap! I like to think we were teaching them to deal with the things life throws at them in a mature way.

I might need to preface this next one with the fact that I was going to school to get an elementary education degree when the kids were preschoolers, so I may or may not have used them as Guinna pigs to test out educational theories. So whenever we were having M&Ms or Skittles as treats, the kids would have to pour them all out of them bag and count them to see who had more and who had less. Ok, that may be why they grew up to be competitive. Then, once they figured out who was the winner, I mean who had more candies, I would take the extra from the kid who got more, just to even them out of course. Then we would sort the candies by color and line them up like giant bar graphs. There was always lots of conversation revolving around which color had more or less. Or, if we eat 4 green ones how many will be left? How many do you have when you add the red ones and the blue ones together? How many more yellow than brown ones do you have? I can tell, you are judging again. Stop that! They liked it, thought it was fun even. Apparently the brainwashing worked so well that they tell me they still play with their candies like this before eating them.

Another thing we may have done to them was kept a peeled whole carrot in a tall glass of cold water in the refrigerator to give them when they were teething. Our oldest did this a lot. The cold carrot soothed the gums and if his little teeth managed to scrape some off it wouldn’t hurt him a bit. He would be strapped in his high chair just having a good time gumming that carrot. When he was done we would rinse it and put it back in the glass of water to keep it at the ready. Now I’m not saying he wouldn’t love carrots today if we hadn’t done this to him, but you never know.

They also grew up watching those geeky science shows on TV like CSI, Numb3rs and Criminal Minds.

Now lest you judge us as terrible parents, let me tell you about my two college graduates, I mean kids. My oldest, well he grew up loving carrots, got a degree in physics education and became a high school physics teacher. My baby girl grew up loving all sorts of fruits and veggies, got a degree with dual majors in Biology and Forensic Science and dual minors in Chemistry and Criminal Justice. She currently works in a lab by day and serves in a bar on weekends.

So, how did your parents mess you up? How have you messed up your own kids? Please, do tell.