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Author: Jennifer Gregson

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!!! 
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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Writerly Fashion – Fall Edition

It’s fall here in New York City which means pumpkin spice lattes, Thanksgiving, and fuzzy socks!  I love fall fashion in general but I especially LOVE fall fashion as a stay at home writer type person.  Here are just a few of my favorites and a bonus picture of me right now – today!

Leggings and Yoga Pants

Yes, yes and yes! Leggings as pants are a bit controversial and I would have been on the Nay side just a few years ago, but then I discovered LuLaRoe and soft buttery leggings and now I say Yay! (With the caveat, for me, at least, that my shirt needs to cover my butt).  Leggings and Yoga pants are a staple of my everyday wardrobe but especially in the fall.  Yes, I have jeans.  Yes, I wear jeans if I’m going out and about, but if I’m sitting on my couch or in my chair all day writing and working (Virtual Assistant to the rescue!) then I’m going to be comfy.  Step #1 for me is always comfort. Then color, then style.  

Tee Shirts and Tunics

Next on the hit parade is soft, colorful tee shirts and long tunics. Nothing better than throwing on leggings with a tunic – easy breast cover girl! Or a bright red tee shirt with black yoga pants – yes, please!  I feel pulled together and comfortable (remember step #1 from above?).  I don’t have too many shirts with sayings on them, although I do have a Muppets Tee shirt I like to wear, I do have quite a few patterned tunics from LuLaRoe that I like to wear with my solid color leggings.  I feel a bit like Punky Brewster and that’s all good with me.

Hoodies, Flannel, and Cardigans…oh my!

I am usually pretty warm (unlike my Mom who’s always cold) but there are days when the chill in the air is even too much for me and that’s when a 2nd layer comes in handy.  I have a few cardigans, one hoodie that I love, and a big black and white flannel shirt that are my go-to’s when I get cold.  I also have a white snow leopard print blanket that comes in handy if I’m sitting in one place and just need to throw something over my legs and/or feet.

Fuzzy Socks

I saved the best for last, I think.  Fuzzy socks are amazing.  They are soft, comfy, cute, and warm.  I recently bought a bunch more off Amazon because I had a feeling this fall and winter were going to be all about the fuzzy socks for me and so far, I’ve been right.  Right after a shower (I like to do mine at night) I put on some lotion and wrap my toes up in a foot sweater and bam, instant comfort.  It’s like a hug for your feet!  Okay, that was silly, but seriously – fuzzy socks are the best!

So, what is your favorite fashion item for the Fall?  Leather? Velvet? Cashmere?  If you are just chilling or working from home, what do you like to wear?  The one thing missing from my wardrobe right now is a pair of flannel type pjs – you know the old kind with a top and bottom – but I have a hard time finding pants long enough for my 5 foot 10 inch frame but this year I might look again.  Happy Fall everyone!


What I’m Currently Reading

Starting a writing career involves a lot of sitting down and well…writing, but one must also keep the well fully stocked with new images and new ideas.  I do this in a few ways – movies and TV shows (because I’m visual like that), listening to music (because music feeds my soul in a way that other things do not), and reading books.  Here are a few of the books I’ve either just finished or are currently reading in both the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories.  Note about the non-fiction though, these are writing related or personal development type books, not the non-fiction books my husband likes to read, which are usually about a founding father or a war of some sort.  


I just finished two amazing books recently.  Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and The Order of Omega by Kirsten Martin. Both are YA books but one is a coming of age story and the other is sci-fi/fantasy.  Julie Murphy’s book is becoming a movie soon (with NEW Dolly Parton music!!!) and Kirsten Martin’s book is the 2nd in a Trilogy called The Alpha Drive.  I actually just started the 3rd book (Restitution) the other night.  Dumplin’ was traditionally published, while The Alpha Drive trilogy is being self-published.  I follow both authors on various social media channels and, actually, Kristen’s YouTube channel has been an amazing help to me during my own writing and publishing journey over the last few months.  

Lately, I’ve been trying to read more indie published books, especially other YA (Young Adult) books but Dumplin’ caught my eye (and I believe was in a BookBub special) because of the mostly black cover. The only thing in the very middle is a plus-sized girl in a red dress and big blonde hair (this is small and in cartoon form) and I was like – who is this character?  Since the next step after finalizing revisions of my own novel is choosing and working with a cover designer, I’ve been paying more attention to covers.

I recommend both of these books – and I would highly recommend reading Dumplin’ before seeing the movie.  If you like sci-fi/fantasy books then The Alpha Drive is a fast-paced trilogy with a complex protagonist who is trying her hardest to save her friends and family from an evil organization.   I have quite the long list of To Be Read under this section – most are already on my Kindle, but if something pops up in my inbox (I get a lot of author’s newsletters) or in a BookBub special I’ll most likely add it to the pile.  


I just finished Prosperity for Writers (along with the workbook) by Honoree Corder and I’m currently knee deep in Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.  Prosperity for Writers was very eye-opening in terms of mindset, which I talked about a few weeks back, and how I view money and the process of making money, spending money, and the whole myth of the starving artist.  This tied in quite nicely with Write. Publish. Repeat as the authors of this book are also of the mindset that writers can make money, in fact, can make good money, as long as they are producing quality products (books) and lots of them.  I’m barely 1/3 of the way through and it can be quite overwhelming because they give you a ton of info so I put it down quite often and read other things and then come back to absorb some more.

I consider my writing a career, a new career sure (and very young) but I am trying to think of this like a business and myself a businesswoman.  This is not easy for me, it doesn’t come naturally so reading these books are helpful, but they are also filled with new decisions, new ideas, and new ways of thinking. I’ll be honest, I get burnt out or down on myself so I like having a few different books in slightly different categories to bounce around in. So, in that vein, I also have quite a big To Be Read pile under this category as I have books about publishing, marketing, and some health&wellness type self-help books too.

Do any of these sound interesting to you?  What have you been reading lately?  Do you use an eReader or tablet to read on or do you like what I call Dead Tree Books? (I call them that because I personally detest the REAL book label – I read a real book, even if it wasn’t printed on paper and I’m currently writing a real book even if my readers read it on an eDevice of some sort – a small pet peeve of mine!)  Do you like self-help type non-fiction or more of the civil war/Benjamin Franklin biopics type non-fiction? Let me know what you’re currently reading and give me some ideas for my ever-growing reading list.  Thanks!

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How I Got Out of My Planner Funk

At the beginning of the year I bought a new planner and was so excited to start using it, but around the middle of the year, it had lost its luster for me.  It wasn’t working….for me.  Now, this has happened in the past, I have tried all sorts of planners and types of planning systems and I’m all gung-ho for a while then it peters out.  Usually, this happens after the newness wears off, but also because I realize that the brand new shiny planner won’t actually do my work for me – it’s just a device to keep track of my things.  My tasks, my goals, my daily to-do lists, etc.  It’s a device, not a robot that’s going to write my blog posts, my novels, my short stories, do my day job work for me.  It’s not going to grow legs and clean my bathroom or do the laundry.  That would be awesome though, but it’s not going to do that so I get in planner funks when I realize that I’m still me – just with a new planner.

So, this time I actually realized that and instead of just jumping into a brand new shiny planner without thinking, I stopped and researched and did some reading and came to the conclusion that a new planner wouldn’t necessarily help me, but that I had chosen my current planner without doing some thinking about what I actually needed a planner to do.  I read an article called Being in a Planning Quagmire (which, btw – awesome word!) and this basically gave me some insights into why I was having problems with my current planner and why I had such issues in the past.

The questions at the beginning of that article helped me realize that I wanted a bullet journal type planner but I hated having to write out the monthly calendars vertically like the original bullet journal concept and I didn’t want to draw the calendar grid every month like I had seen on Pinterest.  I  knew a larger planner wouldn’t be a big deal because I rarely carry it out of the house. I also knew I wanted good paper and bright colors.  Then this question hit me: Are you in a Planner Quagmire because what you REALLY want is too expensive or otherwise out of your reach, and nothing else will do it for you?


This was the mother lode question because I had been pinning for an Erin Condren Life Planner for years but they were pricey so I kept finding other things, other workarounds. I wanted the bright, colorful, sticker-filled fun that was the Erin Condren life planner, but on the other hand, I really wanted a more simplified Bullet Journal style.  So I started googling and low and behold – Erin Condren had released a new version of their Deluxe Monthly Planner style that was monthly calendars in the front (mine runs August to July because it’s an Academic style – works for me as my son is in school and I like starting a new year in September when school starts) and then a boatload of lined pages in the back.  


In between the monthly spreads are planning pages for each month too.  All of a sudden I had these ideas running through my head of exactly what I could do with each section.  This was the bullet journal I was looking for.  Monthly grids all laid out and colorful, planning sections for monthly tasks lists and goals, and blank pages for my daily to-do’s and lists.  I added a smaller dot grid journal for collections (plans, larger lists, year goal matrix, ideas, etc. And so forth) and my system was complete. Side note:  If you’re in the market for a new planner, click HERE for my referral code and save a little bit.

The beauty – once I made the decision and signed up for an account, I got a discount code right away and then because I had linked from a planner girl YouTube friend of mine I got another discount code and then…I discovered the planner was on sale!  It was like the Universe said, okay – you’ve done the work, you made your decision – here’s a gift.  It took awhile to get to me, but it was so worth it.  I’ve been using it for a few months now and I’ll be honest – I still catch myself getting upset that my planner is not doing my work for me, but not as much as I did. HA

Let’s dive in shall we? Get ready, because I’m about to hit you with a ton of pictures!

This is my monthly spread.  

I use color-coded stickers to mark events and birthdays.  I use washi tape to mark vacations. I keep my monthly spread simple.  I realized that the stickers that come with the planner are going to run out, but luckily Erin Condren’s website sells them separately so I’ll be doing that soon.   I like being able to get a large overview of the month before drilling down to weekly and daily tasks. 

This is the page before the monthly spread.

I use this blank dot grid as my Monthly Task List.  I will add to this throughout the month as things come up that I know need to get done that month but aren’t time or day specific.  For example, my son’s Halloween costume.  We needed that by the middle of October but otherwise…it was a pretty open task so it got added to the large monthly task list. I’ve also checked this off as my son chose a very cute, Jack O’ Lantern costume for this year (he’s 6!).

After the monthly spread is the planning pages.

The first page has five sections.  I have divided my life up into sections: Writing, Family, Health and Wellness, Apartment, and Misc. and I write a few goals for each section or tasks that I want to complete that month in each part.  I like this fine, but I am also thinking about using these boxes for each week and writing my Top Goals for the week here.  I might try that one month and see which I like better.  

The next blank page has my social media stats so I can see growth (or lack thereof) and I’ve given myself note space to write down goals, things I need to work on, or things I want to touch on during the month.  The little side column is where I write down my tasks for the Rising Heroes health and wellness online game that I am a part of (and talked about HERE). For now – I really like this page and don’t see much changing.

In the back of the notebook is lots and lots of lined blank pages.  

This is where I (currently) write my Weekly Top 5 tasks (Blog posts, Novel, Short Story, Apartment projects, School stuff, etc.) and then start my daily bullet journal style to-do list with boxes, triangles, and arrows to mark various tasks, appointments, and notes.  I like to use stickers to add some extra color and flair but those things change weekly.  I am Team Blue when it comes to pen colors but I can also see myself using color-coding at some point, but that involves always making sure you have the pens with you…and right now, I’m keeping it simple.

This is my collection book.  It’s matchy-matchy, but not exact and has dot grid paper inside. You can see from my Index page what kinds of things I keep in here, but I’m also hoping to add a page for Fiction Books to read, Non-Fiction books to read, online course tracking (I’m currently in one about Self-Publishing but am getting confused as to which modules I’ve watched or ones I need to re-watch), and I’m thinking of adding a Monthly Habit tracker to this as well- but I also have an app on my phone I like so we’ll see.

So…what do you think? Are you in a planner funk (or quagmire?) – are you strictly an app/phone/digital person or do you like paper and pen and stickers and washi? What do you track in your planner? What ideas do you have for me on how I can utilize my system better?   I have another post planned where I’ll be talking about my favorite writing tools and I will be talking about the apps and software programs I use, but my planner will also be listed so if you want to know more about anything I’m using or want an update – let me know.

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Newsies vs. Newsies

One of my favorite movie musicals is the 1992 Newsies with Christian Bale, Max Casella (Vinnie from Doogie Howser, MD), David Moscow, Bill Pullman, Ann-Margaret (!!!), and Robert Duvall.  I must have seen that thing at least 3 times in the movie theatre. I won a copy of the soundtrack on tape by entering a trivia contest. I knew all the words to all the songs and even some of the dance moves.  Is it a perfect movie?  No, it’s silly and melodramatic and although Christian is dreamy his singing and dancing are less than stellar, but he tried.  So when I heard they were making a Broadway version a few years back that didn’t surprise me at all.  It’s flashy with cute dancers, catchy songs, and girls my age LOVED it so it had a built-in audience.

Now, even though I live right here in NY I never made it to the actual show on Broadway, so when I saw that it was now available to watch on Netflix I was pretty excited…until I watched it.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I didn’t hate it, it just wasn’t the 1992 movie.  I felt like they had changed too much – some made sense and some had me yelling at my TV, wondering what Harvey Fierstein (who wrote the book for the Broadway show) was thinking.

Let me preface all of this by saying two things.  If you’ve never seen Newsies (the original movie) – you’re missing out.  Cute boys, singing and dancing in period costumes, little guys going after big guys, union talk, love and family – it’s got everything!  2nd thing – if you loved Newsies and Broadway, watch the show on Netflix.  It’s not terrible – the original songs are great, the leads are all really talented and can sing and dance (circles around most of the big name actors in the movie) and overall it’s fun and was filmed live during an actual performance so you get the awesomeness of Broadway and live theatre while sitting in your PJs on the couch.  Also…there are major spoilers in this post so if you do plan on watching the Broadway production and don’t want to know anything beforehand – stop reading, turn on Netflix, enjoy a good show, then come back.  

Okay, with all of that out of the way…here’s my Newsies vs. Newsies account.  Right off the bat, with the Broadway production – they start off with Jack Kelly, our hero, singing about Santa Fe, which I thought made absolutely NO SENSE unless you’ve seen the original movie because the show takes place in NYC – entirely in NYC.  Why do we open a show about NY newsboys singing about a whole other city that’s not in the show?  Yes, the song Santa Fe is in the original movie, but the placement here – of moving a song that’s what 2nd or 3rd on the soundtrack, to the number 1 slot made no sense.  That made me shake my head for at least the first 20 minutes of the production.  

The one change that they made, that I at least understand, was they made the love interest and the news reporter the same person in this show.  In the original movie, Jack falls in love with his new best friend’s sister while having dinner at his house one night – there’s also an older reporter, played by Bill Pullman, that writes their story and gets the news about the newsboy strike out to other people.  If you count the parents, that’s four characters that would need to be cast and paid for – so, sure, turn the reporter into the woman – give her more to do (bonus!) and have her fall for Jack while they’re on the “job” basically – again, bonus, I love it!  It did make the song King of New York a bit awkward (as she’s a woman) but I could look past that honestly.

Now…here comes my big complaint and my biggest spoiler.  In the original movie, Jack and his friends sneak in and use an old printing press of Joseph Pulitzer’s to create their Newsboy union paper and get the word out about child labor.  It’s my absolute favorite song of the movie and I swear, I want to get up and dance and sing full out every time I hear it. So…maybe this is me just being protective – but in the Broadway production, instead of Jack knowing where the press is, the reporter woman knows the press is there because…hold the phone…she’s Pulitzer’s daughter.  What?!?!  Come on, is that even historically accurate?  And then…out of nowhere, all these other newspaper kids come in – William Randolph Hearst’s son is there and knows exactly what to do and he’ll fix everything.  I wasn’t a fan of this.  At all.  Like…I even went and looked up reviews to see if I was the only one annoyed by this and apparently I was because this little tidbit wasn’t mentioned in any review.   So…I digress there.  But seriously, the YouTube clip below is the original number – watch it, love it, be it! 🙂

It left an odd taste in my mouth for the rest of the movie, but…overall, I enjoyed the production.  I would watch it again – and probably will because the songs are catchy, the dance moves are fun, and the Broadway actors are top notch performers.  They made me root for them, laugh with them, cry with them (poor Crutchy!), and want to dance around my apartment singing for days.  They did their job!  I just wish they would have left out the weird…oh, by the way, I’m your enemy’s daughter and now it’s Romeo and Juliet thing.  No!

The other thing…and I just realized this yesterday after re-watching the 1992 movie, but Ann-Margaret’s songs are completely gone and replaced by a whole new one.  It’s a good song, and the Broadway performer is really great – but I’m wondering now if Ann-Margaret owned those original songs from the movie or if Harvey just decided they were too familiar with Ann-Margaret because of the movie and the Meadowlark on Broadway is very different.  Not sure…but both work, the character isn’t seen as much in the Broadway production and I had wished they would have left the big rally number in, but again, this is a change that made sense for time and energy – they would have needed a whole new set piece, a new song, more dancing and a fight sequence which would have cost time and money.

So it seems like I’m totally ripping on the Broadway production, and I swear I’m not – the original movie is so much a part of my teenage years and I hold a special place in my heart that it’s hard to see something new and different with the same general pieces.  I love the original movie, but I also liked the Broadway production.  Would I have enjoyed it more seeing it live, maybe – maybe not, I might have been more pissed off that I spent good money and was disappointed at the changes.  Or maybe I would have looked past the changes made because live theatre is so immersive and fun in and of itself.  We will never know.  I’m just thankful that people are filming live theatre and making it accessible to everyone.  That’s always a good thing in my book.

What’s your favorite movie musical?  Or favorite Broadway musical? What show are you hoping they film and make accessible to everyone?  My hope is Hamilton (of course) and Wicked – although I heard a movie is coming..anyone else hear that?  Do you love Newsies?  Did you see the Broadway production, either live or on Netflix, what did you think?  Let me know in the comments and remember to keep Carrying the Banner!

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