Your Novel Won't Write Itself - Guest Post by Author Dawn Witzke

Your Novel Won’t Write Itself

“I don’t have time to write.” We’ve all said that, right? It’s a convenient and useful excuse for why our latest novel, short story or blog post isn’t done yet.

We all have lives, distractions, obligations; things that absolutely must be done.

For me, that’s a day job that keeps me with a roof over my head and food in my stomach. On top of that, I also help manage a nonprofit that can be anywhere from 2 hours a week to 40 hours a week. Plus, an hour or two of religious activities a day, including an hour a week of teaching religion class to 20 wild 4th graders. Throw into that hot mess writing and/or editing 6 or so newsletters a month for various groups, writing and maintaining three blogs, marketing, socializing, admining Facebook Groups, helping friends, designing book covers and other graphics and caring for 2 dogs. So saying I don’t have time to write is very much an understatement.

I do it anyway.

I’m sure many of you have similar stories.

One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve heard is instead of saying “I don’t have time” say “It’s not a priority”. See how much different that sounds? Maybe for you at this very moment, writing isn’t a priority. There are days when other things take precedent over everything else. If you want to be a writer, though, you have to make it a priority, even if it’s only a priority a few minutes a day.

There is a ton of advice out there about how you should get up an hour early or schedule it in somewhere.

Yeah, right. Who’s got an extra hour laying around unused? And I don’t know about any of you, but I certainly can’t afford to short myself an hour of sleep when some nights I don’t get home until midnight and collapse exhausted into bed.

So, how can you fit writing in your schedule when you have one of those crazy full schedules?

Here’s a few tricks I’ve found that work for me.

1.     Do mental prep work. Writing involves more than just putting words on paper. It requires a plot, character development, etc. These can be done anywhere - driving, changing diapers, making dinner, etc.

2.     Keep a notebook and pen with you. Write by hand. I once read of a mother who finished several novels while she was cooking meals for her large family. She kept the notebook in the kitchen. I keep it in my purse. I usually use it to write down scraps of ideas or things I don’t want to forget when I’m actually writing.

3.     Learn to dictate. Cell phones now have apps that do talk to text. There is also Dragon Speak Naturally and other software out there as well. If you think you can’t do it, I know 2 different people who are quadriplegics (Jessica Kennedy and  who use dictation software (and an assistant) to become successful in their respective areas.

4.     Set a reasonable daily goal. If it’s only a few sentences, it’s only a few sentences. Like pennies, they add up. When I was writing Path of Angels, I would spend five or ten minutes a night working on it before I collapsed exhausted into bed. Some nights it was a sentence or two. Other nights I was up a bit more. It took 6 months or so to finish the rough draft, but it got finished.

5.     Editing was a bit harder. I do a scene at a time. My scenes tend to be short so I can get them finished fairly quickly. Paragraph by paragraph or line by line is also an option. Just make sure to keep going. The end will sneak up on you faster than you think.

If your book takes you a year or two or ten, keep plugging away at it. From first word to publication, Path of Angels took me four and a half years. The key is to keep going and don’t give up.

Now, go write.

Dawn Witzke is a freelance writer, graphic artist and master level procrastinator. She can be found over at her blog, Books & Art, where she randomly posts artwork, book reviews and writing. 

Tea and Notes Gift Basket

Tea and Notes Gift Basket, gift basket, tea, note cards, romance novel

I don't know about you, but I seem to write a lot of notes to teachers, friends, relatives and various other people. My need for note paper led me to create this gift basket for a silent auction. Included in the basket is a blank card with envelope, a silver box of note cards, a memo pad, and a set of fancy pencils. For a little relaxation after writing notes, I included a journal, chocolate, a scented candle, tea, a tea towel, lip balm, and one of my romance novels. After all, once the hard work of getting through a to do list is done, a person should reward themselves.

Tea and Notes Gift Basket, gift basket, tea, note cards, romance novel

For more gift basket ideas, please check out this postthis postthis post and this post.

I hope this basket inspires you to crate one of your own. Please check out my novels because you deserve a little break too.

For more gift basket ideas click here, here and here.

Feminine Office Supplies Gift Basket

Feminine Office Supplies Gift Basket, mom office, home office, woman's office,

In December, I took advantage of the Target after Christmas clearance sale to stock up my gift basket closet. I hit the sales when things were both 50% and then 90% off, and I made sure to choose items that did not have any whiff of Christmas about them. It seemed gold was in this past Christmas, especially at Target, so a lot of the items that I purchased were pretty gold-themed office supplies.

At first, I was going to sprinkle the supplies through different baskets, but then I decided to put a lot of them together to create this feminine office supplies gift basket. This is a great gift for any mom looking to establish or spruce up her home office or the cute little desk space in the kitchen.

The items in the basket include a set of file folder dividers, a silver box of note cards, fancy pencils, a gold themed paperclip and pushpin set, a blank card with envelope, and a magnetic memo pad. I also threw in a bag of M&Ms for the winner to enjoy on those days when life is hectic, and one of my books to read when the pace slows down. A scented candle, some tea, and Burt's Bees lip balm and hand cream round out the offering. Everything is in a chrome wire basket that can be reused in the kitchen or office to hold decorative items.

Feminine Office Supplies Gift Basket, mom office, home office, woman's office,

I hope this basket inspires you to make one of your own. When you're done with your basket, check out my romance novels because you deserve a chance to relax too.

For more gift basket ideas, please check out this postthis postthis post and this post.

The Secret to Being A Successful Writer of Mompreneur

The Secret to Being A Successful Writer or Mompreneur, Robert wagner, pieces of my heart, Austin Powers

It can be hard to be a writer, small business owner or a parent, but the secret to success comes down to one pretty simple idea. It's simple, not easy, and it involves...

Showing up and doing the work!

Constant effort is what will lead to your success. Give up and the game is over. Fail to do the work and you're guaranteed to fail. If you keep at it, then one day you will succeed. Everyone defines success differently, so what your success looks like is up to you, but if you don't keep striving for it then it will never happen.

The Secret to Being A Successful Writer or Mompreneur, Robert wagner, pieces of my heart, Austin PowersThe Secret to Being A Successful Writer or Mompreneur, Robert wagner, pieces of my heart, Austin PowersI recently read Robert Wager's autobiography Pieces of My Heart: A Life . You probably know Robert Wagner as Number 2 in Austin Powers, but he's an actor who's
been working for over sixty years in a very competitive and constantly changing business. Near the end of his book, he offers an observation that really spoke to me.
Here's what he said:

"I've been very fortunate, and I think largely because I was determined to be a working actor, emphasis on working. I just kept going to the plate and swinging. It didn't matter whether the reviews were great or terrible, whether the films and shows were successful or unsuccessful. 
I kept showing up."

I may not have hit a bestseller list (yet!), and I'm not making J.K. Rowling kind of money (yet!) but I keep writing. I work towards fulfilling my contract by finishing my novel, all the while thinking about the next one, and the next. I may not be an actor like Robert Wager, but I'm determined to be a working writer, and I am. I keep showing up and because of it I have over ten published books and novellas to my name with more and better things to come.

What kind of success will you achieve if you keep showing up and doing the work?

Romantic Historical Films for Valentine's Day

Pride and Prejudice, A Room with a View, The Last of the Mohicans, Shakespeare in Love, Dr. Thorne

For me, Valentine's Day involves more cuddling with hubby and a movie at home than a candlelight dinner out. I love period piece films (I write historical romance, after all), so those are my go to choices for a night in at the movies. If you love costumes and accents, and are searching for a new favorite romantic film, then check out my quick list of romantic historical films for Valentine's Day, or any time of the year.

Keira Knightly, Matthew MacFadyen,Pride and Prejudice (2005). Nothing gets historical romance writers into a vigorous debate like discussing whether or not this version of Pride and Prejudice or the Colin Firth one is better. For this list, I chose this one because I love it, and because it's a much shorter film to watch with a husband who doesn't usually watch Jane Austen films.

Joseph Fiennes, Gweneth PaltrowShakespeare in Love. Humor, romance and a wonderful weaving of real life with fictional events, this movie is a must see for historical film romantics. The costumes are lush, the story moving, and Joseph Fiennes quite the hunk as the greatest writer in the English language.

Helena Bohnam Carter, Julian Sands

A Room with a View. Helena Bonham Carter really shines in this film as Lucy Honeychurch who is, much to her chagrin, swept off her feet by a silent and alluring Julian Sands. Beautiful scenes in Florence and the English countryside enhance the romance and the historical feel of the film.

Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeline StoweThe Last of the Mohicans - Love and war collide in this tale set during the French and Indian War. Daniel Day-Lewis fights to save the woman he loves, all the while looking very hot.

Downton Abbey, Julian Fellows
Dr. Thorne. Written and produced by Julian Fellows of Downton Abbey fame, this movie is a short one packed with melodrama with a capital M. However, it's fun and light so if you're looking for something that isn't too deep, then this one is for you.

I hope this lest leads you to a new favorite romantic film. If you are looking for a romantic novel then please check out mine because there is a lot of romance in them.

Life Hacks for Busy Writers & Moms

how to, life hack, organization, Amazon Prime

Who wants to make life easier on themselves? I do! Between deadlines and soccer practices, making life easier on myself is a must. Below are some hacks for meeting your deadlines and your obligations without going crazy.

Target, someecard, vacation, how to, life hack
1. Amazon Prime is your new best friend. Sure, a trip to Target by yourself can sometimes be a vacation, but when life is busy it can be a chore. Cut out the trip and shop on Amazon Prime or Amazon PrimePantry (check out my post about Amazon PrimePantry here). Need a gift for a kid birthday party? Amazon Prime it is! Running low on toilet paper? Amazon PrimePantry to the rescue! You can knock out your shopping list in a matter of minutes and have everything delivered to your door without even getting dressed. Take advantage of these time saving services to make your life easier.

2. Automate, automate, automate. Can you automatically pay most of your bills each month? Then do it. Can you set up automated retirement or savings contributions? Then set them up. Put things like porch lights and plant watering on timers. If you can make things happen without you being involved then do it. It will also stop you from forgetting crucial things like paying bills or contributing to your IRA.

Crock-pot3. Cut corners in the kitchen. The Crock-Pot is my favorite appliance because I can cook a healthy meal with just a few minutes of effort in the morning. On busy days when this practice and that practice are back to back, and I have a deadline, I use the Crock-Pot so I don't have to worry about cooking a healthy dinner when I get home. A Crock-Pot dinner is a much better option than fast food.

4. Get up earlier. It's amazing what you can get accomplished in the quiet of morning. Early morning is my workout time. I get my exercise out of the way early so I don't have to try and jam it into a busy day. Also, when it's quiet in the AM, I can send and answer emails and take care of small things so that they don't intrude on my writing time later in the day.

5. Go to bed earlier. You will get a lot more accomplished during the day, and it won't be as hard to get up early if you're well rested. To get your beauty sleep, establish a bedtime routine. Turn off your electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime, read a book (this well help whittle your to-be-read pile, too), then turn off the lights and drift off at around the same time every night.

6. Plan ahead. Take an hour one day a week or early one morning to get out your calendar and write down everything that is happening this week or even this month. Write down deadlines, appointments, practices etc. I like to do it on a Month at a-Glance calendar, then I can see when everything is happening and what days will be the busiest. It allows me to plan ahead for Crock Pot dinners, gives me an idea of when I need to order the birthday party gifts from Amazon, and it keeps me on track to meet my deadlines. Being organized can help takes the stress out of a busy life by eliminating surprises.

I hope these tips help make your life as a writer and a mom a little easier. If you enjoyed this post then you will enjoy my books because I wrote them while using many of the above suggestions.

For more writer and mom life tips click here and here.

Want to meet your goals this year? Start setting definite ones - Guest Post by Amie Gibbons

It's my pleasure to welcome author Amie Gibbons to my blog today. She has some great tips on how you can rock your goals this year. Take it away, Amie!

Want to meet your goals this year? Start setting definite ones.

Hey, how are those New Year’s Resolutions going?

No, I’m not trying to bait you or make you feel terrible about yourself, I’m trying to make a point.  If you set goals, do you stick to them? I’m here to give you some tips on how to stick to your goals, basically by sharing what works for me.  If your way works, stick to it, you’re obviously doing something right  If it hasn’t been, try these tips and see what happens.
  1. Set definite goals
  2. Start small and build up
  3. Know why you’re setting the goals
  4. Reward yourself when you hit a milestone
Yep, that’s it.  Why set definite goals?  Well, let me ask you something.  If your goal is to lose 40 pounds in a year, what are you action steps to do that?  How do you know if you met what you need to for the day to make that goal happen? 

Exactly.  And how do you know that 40 pounds is healthy for you to lose?  Instead of the vague, I’ll lose 40 pounds, how about something more concrete? Something you can look at every day and say if you’ve met it or not?  You’ll be able to feel good because you met your goal, keep track of your progress so you can see yourself accomplishing instead of the general, well, I should’ve lost 3.33 pounds this month and I haven’t lost 1 yet, so I’m doing something wrong.

Instead, try I’ll walk 10 minutes every day for January and I’ll do 10 push ups and a set of 20 crunches every day, and I’ll limit my soda intake to 1 can a day.  It’s small, but it is definite and it’s a start.  Once you get yourself to that little goal every day, carving out time and energy for that tiny bit, then you can increase your goals.  I’ll walk 20 minutes, only 2 sodas a week, ect…

You get the idea?  So here are some suggestions:

If you’re a writer, don’t say I’ll finish that novel this year, say, I’ll write 1000 words a day and once the book’s done, I’ll edit for 1 hour a day for 3 months, and then I’ll reevaluate and increase that.

If you want to learn how to cook, don’t say you’ll learn, get a cookbook or scour the internet and say I’ll do a new recipe a week for the first 3 months, then up it to 2 a week.

If you want to lose weight, start setting some definite and realistic goals, like above, and build it up once the habit is set.

Why should you know why you’re doing this?  Because keeping your goals isn’t always easy, if it were, we’d all do it.  Losing that weight?  It’s going to be hard work and you’re not going to get to eat like you used to.  But if you’re doing it because your heart’s in trouble, you have diabetes, or hell, you just want to look sexy again dammit, then keep that in mind.

And reward yourself.  You’ll be putting in hard work, give yourself something for it.  You meet your workout goals all week?  Reward yourself with a soak in the tub, a night out, maybe an extra treat (though that may create the mindset of junk food good and is a reward, which you probably need to get rid of if you want to lose weight so it depends on if this works with the way you think about food.)

I hope this helps.  Set your goals, just try one for a month, see what happens.  

And here’s an oh so subtle push of my new book, Psychic Undercover (with the Undead),

vampires, romance novel, Amie Gibbons, setting goals, how to, new years resolution, weight loss
*Vampires aren't the only things that go bump in the night...

Singers are a dime a dozen in Nashville, so despite her mama's urging, psychic Ariana Ryder's working her way towards a career in law enforcement at the FBI, one tray of fetched coffee at a time, instead. She's got an extremely handsome boss, a dancing partner among the lab techs, and a solid year as the team rookie under her belt...

Right until the director gives her a big break, working undercover as a singer at a club to investigate why it's being targeted by a serial killer. This might have worked better if the club didn’t happen to be a vampire nest.

Now, with the vampire's investigator, Quil, on her case, the jurisdictional battle isn't the only thing heating up as they race to solve the case before the killer strikes again!*