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Jennifer Gregson Posts

My Writer’s Toolbox

Did you read that title and go, what is she talking about…writer’s don’t have toolboxes.  Okay, true – I don’t have a giant red Craftsman toolbox where I keep my writerly things, but I do use tools to write and that’s what I want to talk about today.

First, my laptop – I use a MacBook Air that I bought 2 years ago.  It’s lightweight, fast, has all the programs I need on it (more about that in a minute) and I can carry it around the house, or around town, if I need to.  I’ve been an Apple girl pretty much my whole life – my sister started me young, she bought either the 2nd or 3rd Apple computer that came out back in the late 1980’s.  I adore Apple products and although I’ve used PCs at my corporate day jobs, I wouldn’t want to write on one for long.

Next up, the programs I use to write.  Evernote for research and Scrivener for the actual writing.  I love Scrivener!!! (Oh man, do I sound like Oprah in those annoying Weight Watcher commercials where she tells us she loves bread?!?!) I even wrote a whole blog post about how I use Scrivener to organize and write my blog posts – you can find that gem HERE.  I do love this program though and I do use it to write pretty much everything from my blog to my short stories, to my longer novels – it keeps me organized, gives me freedom to write the way I want to write, and has a fantastic snapshot feature so I can keep track of edits and different versions to make the whole revision process a snap!

I use Evernote to keep links, documents, websites, articles, and everything else I use for research all neat and organized and in one place.  I usually create a notebook with the working title of my books and keep everything inside.  With The Art of Lying, I kept articles about art galleries, famous artists, information about New York parks and subways, maps, and other handy tidbits I needed during the actual writing sessions.  For novel #2, which is about St. Louis Cardinal’s Baseball, The Hill (a great Italian neighborhood), and the joys of being a teenager I’ve already started saving articles and research links for everything above.  I grew up in St. Louis, but I don’t currently live there so I will need maps and pictures to accurately describe things.

Third in my lovely toolbox is all the non-tech stuff. I use plain old spiral bound notebooks, gel pens, and index cards to help me plan, plot, outline, and revise.  Right now I have two notebooks being used – one for my short stories and one for Novel #2 – they have notes, ideas, character interviews, plot points, research to-do’s, and more!  Once I have notes and ideas out of the way, I grab a giant stack of white index cards and start writing down plot points, scene ideas, and anything else I want in my books or stories then those go into Scrivener and off I go.  But I still keep my notebooks around.  I use them while writing to make notes of character names, character descriptions that I don’t want to forget, and any other notes to myself.  I also use the notebook (or grab a new one if it gets full during pre-writing and first draft) for revisions.  I create reverse outlines, timelines, revision notes, and anything else that needs to happen during that process.

Now it’s your turn…what do you use for your creative endeavors?  Are you an artist?  If so, what kinds of materials do you work in?  If you’re a musician, what apps or computer software do you find most helpful?  Let me know in the comments and if you’re a writer too, what things do you just have to have in order to write?

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Binge Worthy – Drama Edition

 

You know I love my Television – I’m a TV girl from way back (in fact, next time I think I’ll talk about my favorite childhood shows)!  I’ve covered my favorites overall and sitcoms…next is the dramas!  I really didn’t think I watched too many of these as sitcoms are my jam, but as I listed them out earlier this week (I outline my posts a few days in advance) I realize there are quite a few, due mostly to Netflix.   Here’s the list….and again, like always, gifs included – but since these are dramas, they are way more serious than usual – HA!

Stranger Things

Of course, I’m going to start with that wonderfully nostalgic show that all of my friends are talking about – Stranger Things.  The upside down, the music (both good and bad), the characters – I mean those kids are genius actors, and the scary factor all makes for some fine good TV watching.  We loved both seasons and really enjoyed Behind Stranger Things as well – if you watched the show, check it out on Netflix for some fun cast interviews and behind the scenes stuff.

Jessica Jones

I know I mentioned Marvel shows in my first Binge Worthy post a few months back…but it’s because most of them are sooooo good (minus Iron Fist – whoohoo baby did that show blow) so I’m going to list them in my personal preference starting with Jessica Jones.  I adore this show, she’s my favorite of The Defenders and I can’t wait for Season 2.  It’s got humor (although very dry), ass-kicking, day drinking, and an amazing cast of crazy characters – what more could you ask for?

Daredevil

My second favorite of the team.  Season 2 wasn’t as good as Season 1 was for me  – only because I felt The Punisher character was a bit shoe-horned in to get ready for his own series – but I like the ninja/fighting stuff, the blind superhero with enhanced other features – the actor playing Daredevil is very good, and I kinda dig his bromance with Froggy in the first season.

Luke Cage

This is where I shall end my Marvel talking because Iron Fist sucked so bad and although we watched The Defenders, I kinda like the original series of each character better than the mishmash – but I will most likely watch Season 2 of Defenders all the same.  Sweet Christmas….this was a complicated set of people. I liked that this series was set in a different part of New York City – a part we don’t always see on TV – Harlem…and the music was wonderful. I like Luke Cage as a character because he truly wants to help people, but he also just wants to live his quiet life.  It’s very real…if I developed superhero powers overnight I could imagine feeling similarly.

The Crown

I simply adore the British Royal Family – always have.  My Mom even let me stay up (or stay home from school?) to watch the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana many moons ago and I was in college when she died and I remembering feeling so sad – like I knew these people personally or something.  I also used to know who was next in the line up to the 10th person or something crazy but I don’t anymore, so when The Crown came out on Netflix I was all over that like crumpets and scones at High Tea.   If you like the Queen and want to know more about her and the royal family, check it out!

Supernatural

I know I talked about these boys before but it is one of our favorites…although some seasons have been better than others – and there are a LOT of seasons (I think they’re on 14 or something now?).  These two brothers have literally been to heaven and hell and back and everywhere in between.  There are ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons, angels – it’s pretty amazing how many things they discuss.  There was even a musical version!  LOVE

Black Mirror

This show both scares the crap out of me and excites me overtime I watch an episode.  It’s all about technology and how it’s taken over various aspects of our lives – usually to the detriment of society as a whole.  It’s very well done, disturbing on so many levels, and one you can NOT binge watch.  Seriously – don’t even try it.  Watch one here or there and then sit back and let it wash over you, think about it, obsess over it, then when you finally have your brain back – watch another episode and be freaked out all over again.

And this where I think I will end…we watched a few others, but these were my favorites of the current TV season, as it were.  What dramas are you watching?  What do you think I should check out based on the list above?  Anything I’m missing?  Anything I should watch right away?  Let me know below!

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10 Sneaky Ways to Fit in Self-Care

Well, it’s 2018 and that means New Year’s goals and resolutions have been set and laid out.  One of the things I wanted to be more mindful of was taking better care of myself – or Self-Care – but who has the time? Am I right?  So here are some sneaky ways that I’ve found to fit in some very basic, very needed self-care during the day.  NOTE:  I am not a therapist, and I don’t know what your stress level is like, but these are some tips I came up with for MY life.  If you need help, please seek it out – don’t just think a candle and some veggies are going to solve your problems.  Word!

1. A favorite mug or glass

I have two coffee mugs that I adore – one says Writer and has a typewriter on it and one is an artsy mug with a Matisse print on it.  They make me smile and give me a sense of feeling special when I drink my coffee.  I also use either one of our tall glass glasses for water or my plastic Mickey Mouse cup with bright colored stripes. This makes water way more fun to drink!

2. Music!

As I write this, I’m listening to a playlist I created for myself on Amazon Music (you can listen to it here.) It’s all pop music, really new stuff (like JT from the Trolls soundtrack and Ed Sheeran) because that’s what I was into the day I created the playlist.  But if you’re like me and music feeds your soul, then listen to something, sing along, get out of your head and into your heart.  It’s the best way for me to instantly feel better.

3. Candles, Incense, and Essential Oils

Basically, light something or use something that smells nice. I got an Essential Oil diffuser a while back and it makes the whole apartment smell nice.  I also have a lovely Peach scented candle and some fun sage cone-shaped incense and a tiny holder that makes me feel cool, high energy, and grounded.

4. Lotion

To go along with the nice smelling stuff, grab a lotion and keep it by you all winter long.  Put that stuff everywhere!  It helps keep your skin looking amazing and keeps you smelling nice….and let’s face it, giving yourself a mini massage when you rub the stuff in is an added side benefit (and keeps you warmer!)

5. Top 3 List

I know for me, I can get overwhelmed looking at my massive to-do list, so I started creating a Daily Top 3 of the highest priority items in both my personal life and day-job life categories.  Anything else that gets done is gravy.  I know, this might not seem like self-care, but keeping from being stressed out all day every day definitely helps me feel better.

6. Stretching

I have found a really sneaky way to fit this in – every time I switch tasks I stretch.  Holy moly does it feel awesome!  I either do a whole body type stretch or I deal just with my shoulders or lower back.  Try it, right now…stop reading and stretch just one area – do you feel better?

7. Deep breathing

And when I stretch I take really deep breaths, at least five of them.  In slowly, hold, out slowly – rinse and repeat.  I try to sync the stretching with the breath but sometimes I do one then the other.  Depends, but I do this every time I switch tasks.  I take just a few minutes and give myself that pause that my brain and body needs.

8. Healthy Snacks

My biggest vice is snacking and chocolate so I started writing down a list of easy, quick grab snacks and keeping things on hand like cut up veggies, hummus, cheese cubes, fruit, peanut butter, nuts, and hard boiled eggs.  This makes it so easy to snack on something yummy, tasty, and healthy.  I also want to find a brand of dark chocolate that I like (it’s not my favorite) so I can eat a tiny bit each day with a cup of tea for an indulgent treat. Suggestions?

9. Flowers or something visual and fun

We live in New York and for some odd reason, cut flowers here are fairly cheap.  My husband and I both like vases full of flowers, but when my son was little we stopped buying them because he wanted to pull the petals off and we were afraid he would knock the whole thing either on the floor or on his head, but since little man is getting older I think we can definitely go back to buying weekly bouquets.  Also, I love having bright colors, images, and inspirational quotes around me – see my vision board for this quarter, it has my main goals at the top and some images to help motivate me throughout my day (and yes, that’s a picture of Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle telling me to write).

10.  Accept a complement

I find this so hard to do, but it actually helps your self-esteem.  When someone pays you a complement don’t shy away from it – say thank you and let it really sink in.  Don’t wave it away or say, No or Don’t….allow them to say something nice and really believe it.  The more we accept compliments in this life, the more we receive them.

So, what have you been doing to get a little sneaky self-care in your daily life?  Let me know in the comments which tip was your favorite or which one might be tricky for you and why?  I’d love to help you!

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Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Ah, another year is coming to a close.  It’s out with the old and in with the new, that weird old man is retiring and baby new year is bouncing onto the scene.  Side note: how does that baby age so much in one year?   Okay, back on track.  This is my last post for 2017 and I thought I’d talk about what most people are talking about at this time of year – goal setting.

Now, I use quite a few systems that I’ve learned over the past few years to plan out my goals.  I’ve gotten them from various webinars, books, courses, old planners, and online blog searching.   I have no idea who to attribute most of what I’m going to talk about to specifically because at this point it’s a hodgepodge of styles with my own added flair!

I like to start with a general brain dump of things I would like to get done, accomplish, get better at, finish, etc.  That list usually looks like a hot mess, but from there I’ll separate the do-able from the wishes, the first things first to maybe if I have time, and then I make a quarterly plan.  This year was easy, actually, because I know I want to launch my newsletter (with that freebie I keep hinting about) in February and my debut novel will be self-published on Amazon (more about that in 2018) in either March or April so my Quarter One goals were set.  I have a few things bulleted out for Q2, including writing the 1st draft of book #2 and researching blog guest posting, and then I just have a list called: ????  This is a maybe/future list that includes starting a YouTube channel, planning our August family vacation (we know we’d like to go somewhere this summer, but we’re not sure where we’re going this year yet so, for now, it’s on the ???? List), and when to publish/launch Book #2 – only because I have no clue how fast I’ll be able to write and edit since this current novel has taken me years!

I also added some health & wellness goals to my list, music and hobby goals (I want to start singing again and I think I’m getting a hand-me-down acoustic guitar and would like to learn that as well), and some overall family goals (like taking my little one to more museums, doing more things around Queens, and getting the rest of the apartment organized and finished).  My year is shaping up!  It’s all very exciting, shiny, and new.

I am definitely getting excited, especially after I did one final step of my yearly planning…the tarot cards!  I bought Biddy Tarot’s 2018 Planner this year but not to use as a plan-your-day type calendar (I’m still using my Erin Condren bullet journal hybrid), but to help with tarot study – it has monthly spreads, weekly cards, new moon and full moon intentions, quarterly reviews, and some fun journaling prompts along the way.  I did the big New Year’s Eve spread and that was nice, but then I went ahead and also did the Q1 Manifestation Spread (where you talk about your biggest goal for the quarter – mine was launching The Art of Lying) and baby, hold on to your socks – because this was a doozy of a spread.

You basically go through questions about where you are right now with your goal, what weaknesses and strengths you have surrounding the goal, what you need to let go of, what action steps you need to take, and what…overall…the next three months might look like.  These cards were totally speaking to me, they were extremely positive and point to the fact that I am on the right track to finishing Q1 strong!

I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details, but I will share with you what I wrote in the summation box of the planner:  This spread has shown me that I need to continue the New Year with hard work and expert planning.  I need to let the creative side celebrate her wins and much earned success, while my business side makes decisions based on knowledge, research, and gut intuition.  I need to stay true to myself, be authentic and human in my marketing and promotions, stay down to earth, but don’t neglect my health in striving for perfection!  If I do these things, keep up my confidence and courage, I should achieve my goal!!!

Now, I’ve done quite a bit of 2018 planning – last week’s Word of the Year and this week’s goal planning, but I’m not done yet.  The writing mastermind I am a part of is having a big Planning Party soon and my mentor will be sharing a workbook PDF that will have questions, prompts, and other goodies for us – now I doubt any of that will have me changing my plans much, but it might help solidify things for me – things I’m worried about, things I’m trying not to freak myself out about (like all the decisions that business side of me actually needs to make soon), and it might just help me narrow down my daily tasks and to-do’s better.  And, I love a good planning party.

So…what have you been planning for the new year?  Any goals you’re just itching to get started with?  Do you do the whole goal setting thing or resolutions?  I personally think both can work as long as you have a plan in place and not just a wish…like I wish I was 25 pounds lighter, but actually, say – I will work out three times a week, cut down to carbs at one meal per day, and meditate daily to help alleviate stress – now that would be a plan!  Also, that sounds very similar to my plan for health and wellness.  HA  So, share!  I’d love to hear what you’re working on next year and where we can maybe each other stay on track.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,  and a Lovely 2018 to you and yours!!!

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One Word to Rule Them All

I’ve spoken about this before, but you know that this past year has been all about inner change for me.  I’ve worked on my mindset by fixing beliefs I had about myself and my body.  I’ve worked on things with my therapist and nutritionist through journaling, talking, and other exercises to help me deal with issues I had surrounding food, exercise, and self-hatred.  I’ve declared myself a WRITER to the world and to myself by joining groups, continuing work on my book, sending it to an actual editor, and making real plans to self-publish in the new year.  And through this whole journey, I have used one overall word and two supporting words to guide me.  I used Susannah Conway’s method for finding my Word of the Year in December of 2016 and decided upon the trifecta of Nourish, Patience, and Compassion.

Nourish came into play with everything from making time to write, to eating nourishing foods, to giving myself time to rest and practice self-care.  Patience reminded me to be patient not only with others (especially my six-year-old son) but also myself as the process to change was going to be very long.  Compassion reminded me to love myself as a best friend and to give love and acceptance to those around me.  I journaled and planned and thought about what those words would mean, I talked about them during sessions with both my nutritionist and my therapist, I thought about them as I worked on my book and my blog, and I thought about them as I went through my daily life.  They became a part of my year-long journey and as the year comes to a close, I’m kinda sad to see them go.

The thing is, I redid the whole process again this week and came up with my words for 2018.  While the words I chose for 2017 were very inward and introspective, the words that came up for 2018 are all outward words – big and loud and scary words.  Exciting and daring and a little Holy Crap…but I know they are the perfect three words to support me as I step more into the role of Professional Self-Published Writer, as I become a real Authorpreneur, and as I make decisions about my business and my career.   Are you ready?  The two supporting words this year are Open and Magic and my big overall word is Courage.

I’m hoping to carry these words into all aspects of my life from my relationships, my food and health issues, my therapy sessions, my writing, my self-publishing career, and the way I interact with others and myself in general.   I am hoping for big, scary, amazing things to happen next year and with the support of these words I know I can handle anything and everything life has to throw at me.

So, do you choose a word (or words) to help you through your year?  Do you choose a mantra or motto?  Do you make a vision board (I’m planning on doing this again soon) and create a visual reminder of your yearly goals, hopes, dreams, and plans?  If you do, I would really love to know what word or motto you chose and why, what helped you make the decision, and what you’re planning to do to remind yourself of the word throughout the year.  I plan on having the courage pictures and quotes from this post on my cork board over my desk, and I plan on asking myself the following three questions every day. What can I do today that would be courageous?  What can I do today to be more open?  What can I do today that would help bring some magic to my life?

As the year comes to a close, give yourself time and space to reflect and think back on how much you’ve changed over the last year – then give yourself time to dream and plan and bring some hope as we usher in 2018 and a chance for even more growth and learning.  Isn’t that an amazing thing?  We always have more to learn, more to be, and more to give.

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The Care and Feeding of a Writer

As you might remember from this post I am working on my health in various forms – mental health with my therapist and journaling and self-care techniques; physical health with exercise and eating more nutritious foods; and my spiritual health with tarot, meditation, and quiet contemplative time during the day.  Now I am not one to love the kitchen, in fact, I have been quoted numerous times as saying, “I hate to cook!” I get very anxious around non-cooked food – I’ve had panic attacks in grocery stores and in the kitchen, but when one is trying to become healthier and lose some weight while maintaining a positive attitude about their body and self, well cooking becomes necessary.

My nutritionist and I started with a few basics – more protein and more veggies in my diet.  To accomplish this I’ve been adding soups to my lunches and making egg and veggie scrambles for breakfast for the past few weeks.  For the first two or three days of cooking veggies in with my eggs, I was near panic, although they tasted good, they didn’t really look good or they stuck to the pan or I just felt so tight by the time I sat down to eat that I was near tears.  But I talked things over with my husband (who does love to cook) and kept trying things.  For starters, I changed skillets.  We have a few and I was using an older one who’s coating isn’t the best so I grabbed the one my parents bought us a few years ago and that solved the sticking problem.  Next, I added butter and sautéed the veggies first, then I added a tiny bit more butter and finally the eggs.  I’ve been doing this for a few days now and I’m getting pretty good at it.  They’re still not always attractive, but they taste damn good and are totally filling.

I usually add spinach and bell pepper, but I also like tomatoes, ham, and lots of cheese!  Next, I’m planning on making my own bone broth soup with chicken bones and my crock pot.  Fingers crossed, please.  For now, I’ve been eating canned soups with lunch or as a pre-lunch snack, then having my normal cut up veggies with my protein of chose at lunch.  So…extra protein and veggies CHECK.  If you have any good recipes for eggs or soups, link below because I’m going to need them.

The other thing my nutritionist wanted me to do was to drink more water so I re-downloaded an old app I used a while ago called Plant Nanny where you plant these cute cartoon-y plants and every time you drink water, you water the plant.  They go through a few changes per plant and then you can add them to your garden and you get to plant a new one.  Cute idea, but after awhile I get tired of the concept, but it is helping me drink more water and be more mindful of how much I drink during the day so that’s a bonus.  I’ve also seen a few non-cutesy water-minder type apps that I might like to try as well.  So, more water CHECK.

For self-care lately, I’ve been making sure to use lotion.  I have pretty dry skin, but in the winter it’s horrible.  I use lotion after showers, but I’ve also been carrying around hand lotion and trying to give my feet some extra attention lately too.  I also bought a Burt’s Bees cuticle cream that I’ve been using since I tend to bite my nails (I know, it’s totally disgusting) and this kind of helps me curtail that somewhat.  I’ve also been getting back into yoga and I’m finding more time for my tarot cards.  Self-care CHECK.

The last thing I’ve been doing lately, and want to do a whole lot more of in 2018 is my singing.  I was a theatre major with a voice minor and moved to New York to do the whole Broadway thing many moons ago.  I also took Cabaret classes and performed many showcase shows and my own solo show back in 2007.  Since having my son, and switching my focus to motherhood and writing I haven’t been singing as much. I sing along to the radio, sure, but nothing consistent and my voice shows it.  I had built up this beautifully rich sounding instrument and that’s well, pretty much gone.  I think it will come back quickly with daily practice and work, at least I’m hoping that’s the case.  I have all of my old voice lessons recorded on my computer so I’m going to start with those and then see where I’m at come summer time – I might try to get back into performing next year.  So, music CHECK.

So, what are you guys doing to take care of yourselves this month?  Do you use apps to help you drink water? Or remember any other habits?  Do you make time for self-care and hobbies?  It’s hard this time of the year, but I encourage you to try at least 15 minutes a day where you can say, “World, I’m stopping to show myself some love!” it will do wonders for your mental, physical, and spiritual health I promise.

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Coffee Break, part 2

It’s almost December…how did that happen?  This time of year is full of holidays, family time, and looking forward to the new year.  2018 will be here in a blink and I have quite a few things to finish up before December 31st rolls around. So, grab a cup of warm coffee or hot chocolate and let’s dive right in. 

For starters I’m still working on the editorial revisions of The Art of Lying and should have those back to my editor by Christmas week.   It took me awhile to get back into my novel’s groove but I’m feeling very much in the flow now and should be finished early (with enough time to read through it at least twice and make sure I’m still totally in love with the thing).  Sarah, my editor, said I should have it back by end of January which will be amazing and give me enough time to hire a cover designer, work on and finalize the front and back matter of the novel (the copyright page, dedication page, etc.) and figure out the formatting software I downloaded.

A while ago I mentioned a story about a young man named Leo and I implied that I would be writing a short story to give away if you signed up for my newsletter.  That was the plan until I started working on it and really loved the characters and the plot and all of a sudden my outline was long – like novel-length long – and I decided I wanted it to be Book #2.  Great!  Except I still needed something to give away for my newsletter.  Well, I came up with a cool idea to write 3 mini stories that are based on the novels I’m either writing or have planned so I really need to finish the first draft of all of those by the end of the year too so I can start editing those over Christmas/New Year’s break.  Whew!  Anyone else tired yet?

The goal (as of right now) is to have my newsletter all ready to go with opt-in freebie short stories and welcome messages by early February and the novel ready to launch by mid-March.  I have the outline for book #2 almost done so once I get my book formatted and uploaded to Amazon I can start writing the first draft of that.  As of right now, that’s all I have planned.  I would like to get book #2 to my editor by the middle of 2018 and launched sometime later in 2018 but we will see how all of that works out.  Considering The Art of Lying has been YEARS in the making I might be thinking too big for 2 books in one year.

What’s on your December To-Do list?  What things are you hoping to finish up before 2018 rolls around?  What are your big dreams and goals for next year?  Are you working on plans or still concentrating on December? Let me know in the comments!

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Technical Difficulties

You might notice that things look a little different around here.  I’m hoping they look better, but I guess that’s subjective isn’t it?

Yesterday, I received an email from my web host that they updated some things on their end – this caused my old blogging platform and my web host to stop speaking to each other (family drama!).  After a little ranting and raving and crying and cursing the Universe I decided that this was actually a good thing.    See, I just created a fancy Facebook Author page, which just went live on Thursday, and then my blog blows up – I felt like the Universe was laughing at me.  Then I decided that the Universe was actually saying, “if you’re going to go BIG then go BIG – do it right!”

So, I downloaded WordPress, installed a fancy theme, and moved my old blog posts over.  I think it looks keen, but again your mileage might vary.  It’s my blog though, so I’ll do what I want. HA  Just kidding – but I do like the simple clean lines of this theme, the fact I can add pages easier than my old platform, and I’ll be able to incorporate my MailChimp newsletter sign-in form so much easier – which, is coming soon (like early 2018 soon).

And that’s the story of my weekend blog meltdown.  I still need to go through and check all the old links, pictures, GIFs, etc and make sure everything on here is linking correctly.  Then I need to go through said fancy Facebook Author Page and re-link the few blog posts I put over there, and then make sure Instagram and Tumblr are okay.  Oh…and Pinterest is probably going to need an overhaul as well.  I tried re-directing things, but it didn’t seem to work like I was hoping so I still have some work to do.   Please be kind, if a link doesn’t work – drop me an email (see that fancy envelope icon in the top left – you can use that to email me now) and let me know.  I’ll continue working and updating and re-linking, but since this week is also Thanksgiving and I’ll be out of town, well – it might not be perfect right away.

So, what do you think of the new digs? Is it as easy to read? Check out the new FB author page too and if you have any friends or family members who love YA novels (especially coming of age stories) and want to check out a new author on the cusp of self-publishing, send them my way!  Thanks, everyone!!!

 

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Binge Worthy – Sitcoms Edition

 
Last time I wrote about televisionI talked about a hodge podge of various TV shows, mostly new and original series on Hulu or Netflix.  Today I want to concentrate on Sitcoms – seriously, I think sitcoms were my first love.  I grew up watching Punky Brewster, Facts of Life, and Growing Pains.  I own all 10 seasons of Friends on DVD and still watch them on Netflix!  I love that life’s problems can be solved in 30 minutes (or less) and that the situations (the sit part of sitcom) are over the top and crazy one second and totally relatable the next.  So…here’s the current* sitcoms I’m watching now (again with GIFs because they’re fun!).
 
 
*Current in this situation really does mean currently on the air right now – later I want to talk about old favorites that have found new homes online.
 
Brooklyn 99
 
 
Let’s start off with a seriously fun show with a lot of heart.  Brooklyn 99 has one of the most diverse casts I’ve seen on TV in a long time (in a sitcom, that is – although the next show I’m going to talk about does a really good job of this too).  It’s about a police station in Brooklyn, where over the years the cops have become family.  This show took awhile for me to get into – but about half way through the first season I just fell in love.   It helps that I actually do adore Andy Samberg (come on, Dick in a Box….comedy gold!) but the other actors are all phenomenal!    Also, bonus – my celebrity crush, Nathan Fillion, appeared in an episode.  BONUS!!!
 
The Good Place
 
 
This show is very odd, but sooooo good.  Our hero, played by Kirsten Bell, has died and has gone to the Good Place with Ted Danson as a wise old angel (?) who has designed this neighborhood full of wacky other dead people.  In this good place, people have soul mates and our hero’s soul mate is an ethics professor so when she tells him she actually doesn’t belong there, hilarity ensues!  Again, an amazing diverse cast with so many layers, that I don’t think I could unpack them all here for you.  Also – the gif is funny because in the good place you can’t curse, so the F-word comes out Fork…as in What the Fork?  Which is fun to say around my 6 year old.
 
Modern Family
 
 
This is an oldie but goodie.  We’ve watched this family grow up, leave home for college, return home from college (poor Haley) and even have new babies (cute little Joe).  It’s totally silly….and some weeks are sillier than others, but I still enjoy watching it every week.  The two from the gif are my favorites – Cam and Gloria – they are hilarious!  This show has two bonuses – one, a woman I went to college with plays Cam’s sister from MO, Pameron (What’s up Dana!?!) and my man, Nathan was also on this show as a weatherman named Rainer Shine – that’s funny right there.  DOUBLE BONUS!!! 
 
Will&Grace
 
 
Ah, an old favorite is back.  I did not love the very first episode, it seemed too political, but I get it – that’s the world we live in today and some of the stuff needed to be said.  I did enjoy how they just kind of shoved the original series’ ending right under the rug so this series made sense.  Jack is still my favorite on this show followed super close by Karen – if the show were called Jack&Karen I would still watch, in fact I might watch it more.  The show and the actors haven’t missed much in the 10 or so years its been off the air – they picked right back up.  I felt like they were so in it that they had been living those lives off camera all along.  Two thumbs up for whoever decided to bring the show back. 
 
The Big Bang Theory
 
 
Another oldie, but goodie – this show has been around a long time and some people have issues with the sexiest nature of the guys…but I feel like the characters have grown and learned so much over the years – that they learned how to be better men, how to be good boyfriends and husbands in spite of being totally clueless jerks in the first few seasons.  And I don’t think they were being malicious about their issues – they were nerds, nerds who didn’t have game back in high school, who had never really dated much, couldn’t even talk to women.  And the inclusion of the women on the show has made it even better in my opinion.  You have three very strong, smart (in their own ways) women with careers and goals and ideas of their own.  Also, this show gets a bonus, because – you guessed it – Nathan Fillion played himself on an episode where the guys were debating whether or not to ask him for a picture.  Nerds, super cute!  BONUS!!!!
 
Bonus Nathan Gif – thank me later!
 
 
So…what sitcoms are you watching? Am I missing any good ones?  I wasn’t sure if I should include South Park on this list (being a cartoon and all) but we do watch that every week as well.  Besides the old favorites post I want to write I’m also planning a Binge Worth – Drama edition where I will talk Stranger Things!!!  
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Behind the Scenes: My Writing Ritual

I’ve been reading lots of publishing and writing business books lately and most of them talk about having a writing routine or ritual for getting in the mood to write.  Basically, a set of things you do before you start writing, and that got me thinking – do I have that?  

Currently, I wake up and get my son ready for school, then come back up to our apartment and write my morning pages and mindset, I then exercise, eat breakfast, have coffee, and then I’m ready to start my day and my writing.  If I’m putting down new words I put on music, read through my scene notes or look over my outline cards in Scrivener (my writing program of choice) and start writing. 
If I’m revising or editing, then usually it’s quiet.  I grab any notes I need, look through the scene I’m working on, read through it and get to work.  If I have lots of day job stuff to get to, I’ll put a timer on for my writing sessions, but I like it better when I can just drink my coffee and write until I feel done.  Usually, that’s at the end of a scene or chapter in both instances.  Lately, I’ve been working on revisions for my debut novel and I like to get two chapters done before moving on with my day.  If I’m working on my short stories (which don’t really have chapters) then I like to write at least 750-1000 words for the day.  

That’s it, really.  I’ve been thinking of adding some other things to this ritual or routine such as candles or my new Essential Oil diffuser, a writing warm-up exercise (although I find these distracting if I’m revising, but might be a good idea for when I’m working on novel #2), or somehow using my writing totem.  I have a Figment figurine from Epcot that I bought many moons ago that sits on my desk and reminds me to keep my imagination front and center, to keep asking questions, and most importantly to have fun with my writing.  But I just look at him, I don’t really have any ceremony or ritual with him.


I think the thing that has helped me the most is lately in my mindset practice I’ve been writing: Words flow easily when I sit down to write.  I make every scene I edit better.  I am a master wordsmith.  I am a wizard with revisions.  These things get into my body and when I sit down to write, I just start to write.  I don’t necessarily need a bunch of fanfare to get up and running.   

If you’re a writer, what do you do to get ready to put words on the page? Do you have a writing routine or ritual?  If you do something else creative, like knit or draw, do you have a warm-up that you do before you start?  How do you start your day?  
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