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Month: January 2018

How I Use Pinterest To Help Me Write My Novels

My debut novel isn’t 100% ready to be published yet, but I have already started working on my 2nd novel.  Right now I’m still in the very beginning – or outline mode – but before I blink, I will quickly be descending into research, drafting, and revision modes so I already started a Pinterest board to help me.   

The working title of my second novel is Leo’s Decision which is set in my hometown of St. Louis, it has ties to Cardinals Baseball as my lead’s father was a pro baseball player, and I want to feature some of my favorite things about St. Louis including the food on The Hill, an old Italian neighborhood I grew up near.  Now, I haven’t lived in MO since 2001, and although I have visited and did live there for 25 years, I don’t remember everything – especially street names or where certain counties are located within the city limit – so I use Pinterest to help me find maps, restaurant menus (so I can spell food correctly!), and other goodies.

Also, I’m not a huge baseball fan.  Okay, full disclosure – I understand baseball, even played one summer as a kid, but I’m not a sports fan – so I have also pinned a few things about baseball including lingo, the uniforms from the 1990s, and other research links to help me when I need to write about the sport.

My other favorite thing to do when starting a mood board for a new novel is cast my characters.  If you head over to Leo’s Decision on Pinterest you will see I’ve picked a few people to play the characters in my head….and yes, I choose Steve Carrell for my lead’s step-father and John Stamos as my lead’s father – they have the right looks and I can imagine those actors walking around playing out the scenes as I write them.

During the outlining phase, I like to use Pinterest for inspiration as I work out scenes, come up with my complex characters, and help me finalize a research plan.  Once I start writing, I use the images to help me with descriptions, help give my scenes a sense of place, and can sometimes help me with tricky dialogue.  And after the book is all edited and ready to go to a book cover designer, I can look through other YA book covers and add to my mood board so all of my vision is in one place to send on to the artist to create my cover.  Exciting!   If you’d like to see an example of that, check out The Art of Lying’s Pinterest mood board as I added a bunch of covers so I’ll be ready for that part with my debut novel.

Do you use Pinterest to help you with writing or your artistic endeavor?  I’d love to connect with you over there, send me a friend request, show me your favorite board, or share an image you think might help me with my novels!


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?


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!


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!