Fine Tuning the Plan


Today is a day of evaluation. It’s not a day of beginnings, but rather a day of continuance. Toady is one of those stuck in the murky middle days.

Have you ever started off with great gusto to find yourself sidelined and wondering what in the world happened? Have you gotten off course? Lost your way? Taken the wrong detour? Well, I have. I’ve done it often, and today is my “correcting my course” day.

I don’t know if any of you are like me, if so you may recognize some of what I’m about to share. If not, you may be amused or sympathetic or you might even be able to offer some insight. Grab your favorite beverage, some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

Back in January,  I was all gung-ho – this is going to be my best year! YAY! Enter the sickness. Seriously –  it was like I alerted the universe and invited all the plagues, disease, and infirmities to pay me a visit. I posted on here, so proud of myself for making a plan that I could stick to and not fail. You can read that here: The Master Plan.

I swear it was the next day that I was hit with the sick wand. UGH, it’s been a battle just to stay healthy. However, I’m not here to lament that. I’m here to discuss why I’m evaluating my lack of progress and making my quarterly adjustments to get me back on track.

My first point in the Master Plan is Be Your best every day.  I had to reread it in order to remind myself to STOP berating myself for not being able to run at 90 to nothing full throttle every single day. Let me tell you what happens when I start down that path. It’s ugly so consider this your “viewer discretion” advisory.

I’m feeling great, life is good, I can do all the things, throw sparkly glitter all around! The big bad sickness ogre sees this as a clear invitation to mess with Sasquatch aka Ellie. I get in a funk. I start the mental lashings. I continue down the berating trail eventually  botoming out in a pit of despairm feeling like an ultimate failure, ready to throw in the towel on everything. Life just can’t get any worse. This sucks. I suck. My writing sucks. When nobody comes along to help me out of my muck, I scrape off the glop, wipe my tears and go clean myself up, scrubbing until my skin and nerves are raw and flayed. Overcompensating, I push myself with new vigor and determination. It doesn’t take long for cracks to appear and the spiral downward begins anew. It’s a horrible cycle and I am tired of it. I don’t want to continue in this any longer.

Quick reminder of point 1:

  1. Be your best every day.  No matter what you do, do your very best at it.  If your best for that day is to say thanks to the person caring for you, like if you have the flu and they are bringing you hot tea then be thankful. If your best is running a marathon that day, then run like your life depends on it and give it 100%. Your best fluctuates from day to day. There are days we are unstoppable. There are days when it’s a trial to get from one minute to the next. Whatever your best is, do it. Know that it is your best. If you can’t with a clear conscious say inside your heart that you gave your best effort then do more. If you are running the marathon and you gave 100% and didn’t win then be at peace with yourself that you gave your all. If you only exerted 85% effort,  then evaluate and learn from it,  and know that you are capable of more so that the next time you will know that what you thought was 100% was only at 85%. Are you with me?

OK, I seriously need to take my own advice! Learning to function overall when those days of not being at full capacity happen, and they seem to happen a lot more as I’ve gotten older, I need to learn that ‘be at peace’ part so badly. I’m working on it. I had a good self-talk yesterday after mentally berating myself for not hitting my self-imposed deadlines, then alternately berating myself for making too lofty of goals for myself. Honestly, if this was fifteen years ago then my self-imposed deadlines and goals would be a piece of cake. It’s not fifteen years ago however, it’s now – today -and I’m older. That sucks, but I don’t have to let it suck as much as it has been. I need to come to terms with what I can and can’t do and realize that I’m not where I want to be, but that I can change that with steady progress. AAAAAAANNND  we come full circle to the crux of what set me on this quarterly check. Lack of steady progress.

Why? Because I’ve let the days that I couldn’t do my best from yesterday affect my ability to accept that my best today was the best I could manage and let it go. Then there are those days when I know I didn’t give my best, and in fact, I wasted hours sulking, or playing games, or lost in “research” down the internet rabbit hole. From this point, all I can do is count those as a loss and do my best to make every day count or at least a good 80%.

My second obvious mistake – again I should take my own advice – is not following number 2 on my master list – Make your goals crystalline. I’ve discovered that my bullet journal has a massive flaw. Yes, the same bullet journal that I’ve been singing praises of. The bullet journal that keeps my butt in line and on track.

What on earth could be such a massive flaw in a near perfect tool? Operator error.

I’m the one who enters everything into my handy dandy little book of life order. I haven’t been precise. Looking over the past three months worth of entries I notice a distinct pattern. An important part of my bullet journal is my daily todo list. Which often looks like this:

  • writing 1 hour
  • editing 2 hours
  • housework
  • resale
  • scheduled appointments, webinar, etc.
  • miscellaneous items such as groceries, get oil changed, etc.

The problem is that I need to be specific on the first two entries. I need to write specifics like 1 hour writing on chapter 12 of Roxy: scene 15,16,17. On editing I need to be specific about the book I am editing like: Malevolent Mind – chapters 12 – 15.

For someone who has been   made aware multiple times of the importance to have SMART goals, why didn’t I see  this before?

I’m disappointed in myself in the setbacks for completing this manuscript, however given the changes that I am making to it, I’m OK with this. Being behind on my plan even after the changes due to lack of focus I am not OK with.

Tools are only effective if you are using them correctly. You wouldn’t take a chainsaw to cut a couple of one by sixes to make shelves, likewise you wouldn’t use a table saw to cut down a rotten tree. The botom line I suppose is that I am once again fine tuning my bullet journal for my personal adaptation.

The objective is not to have the perfect bullet journal, my objective is to utilize my bullet journal in being a more focused and productive author. I might add,  it’s a good thing to do an occasional check to see where you are on your goals instead of hitting the end of the year and say “well, I failed that one”.  Even if I don’t hit the final mark like losing 75 pounds this year,  I will  make progress in that direction.

Have you evaluated where you are on your path to reaching your goals? If you take time now to do that, you can make some adjustments to make it possible to reach.

While you ponder what your take away for yourself is,  stop over at AuthorShout where my cover is up for vote for best cover. GO VOTE FOR RED WINE & ROSES!

Write on my friends, write on.

Ellie

 

 

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A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor


Welcome to Week 8 of the MFRWauthors  blog challenge. This week’s prompt is: How  I Choose a Book Title. #MFRWauthor #amwriting #booktitles

 Good Titles may roll off of the tongues of some authors, but not mine. This is often why I refer to my projects as WIP – work in progress, and tell you right up front that it is tentatively titled XXX.

It is strange,  but when I am in my writing group, I can come up with good titles for someone else’s work easier than my own.

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For Red Wine & Roses, that title came rather easily. It was the key scene that I wrote for a flash piece, then later developed into the full novel. Red wine and roses were touchpoints to Derek and Julia’s dates from the beginning so it seemed like a logical title. Derek has an old fashioned view about romance that in his mind, one expression of his love for Julia is by showering her with red roses. Towards the end of the story, after the darkest moment,  the reader will see the depth of his love expressed in this manner.

 

 

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For my second book Quotidiandose: 30 Days of Sass, I had lengthy debates over whether to use that for the title or not. I thought about just going with 30 days of Sass.  This book is a compilation of 30 short essays tinged with a lot of sass. A humorous view on life from the writer’s desk, while offering a little motivation to the reader, this nonfiction book is straight from the heart.

Titles are something that typically, I  ponder over and then tend to stress over. Consider the current WIP which I am targeting for completion by the end of April  2017. (Please help me stay accountable to this date!) My original story idea was titled Oral Dilemma. An erotic short where the Main character was always getting into trouble with her mouth via smart-alec quips, vocal talents behind the microphone at the bar, or oral talents in the erotic sense. It fit and I thought it was clever. However, while dusting this off from my files and giving it a thorough once over, I  realized  how bad my pantsing was. This was a serial that I shared on a former group blog I was managing editor for called Storytime Trysts. First of all, I cringed at rereading it, scratching my head at what I thought I was doing. Secondly, the pantsing gave me a lot of background scenes, but no real story. I really liked this character Roxanne Winters though, she had a story that needed to be told.

I basically have dissected this story, taken it apart and tossed out the majority. I had 57,000 words in this story. The bulk of that is gone and it currently sits at 21,354 with a revised outline, a real plot, and very real character goals. Oral Dilemma was no longer appropriate, nor did it really fit the story. I came up with the title Roxy Sings The Blues after debating several other options: The Blues Singer, Foxy Roxy, Little Girl Blue, Whiskey River (I couldn’t go with that one because I decided to cut out the lengthy section of her falling into an alcoholic abyss.) and finally landed on Roxy Sings the Blues. It fits, it’s concise and there aren’t twenty other titles out there with the same name.

Roxy Sings the Blues is another stand alone romance, but this one is romance suspense. The tentative blurb for it is:

Scars tell the story of a past. Roxy’s scars aren’t visible but they have carved her deeply and the pain they have caused pours out through soulful song. If facing a motherless future wasn’t enough, a failed relationship from her past resurfaces to torment her. Just when she was trying to build a new life for herself, trouble making Devon Miller drags her into his chaotic life. The stakes are high as Roxy sits in the spotlight of a dangerous investigation. 

Devon,  a homicide detective is hot for the case and stirring embers of a forbidden fire. Will Roxy hit the right note and help her old flame solve his big case or will she be left singing the blues?

An author’s book is like one of their children. We give them life. We watch them grow. We correct them when they go down the wrong path.  We scrub them clean to be presentable to company. We hope that when they go out into the big world, they are ready. We have to cut the chord and let them stand on their own. But our readers won’t take our babies into their homes if their names aren’t catchy enough to grab attention.  As a reader, I am very picky about titles. I find I do tend to pick up titles with nothing but Names especially if in a series. Especially if that name is

Our book babies need titles that will grab a reader’s attention. This is an artform in and of itself. One that I feel that with some of my future projects – Valkyrie’s Curse (NO, I haven’t given up on that one.) Realm Wars (This is the series title for the books that will include Faere Warrior, Faere Guardian, Faere Mage, and two more that I haven’t decided on titles for.)I am pleased with my title names. But for others – The Hamilton Project, Vamps Couture, my dragon shifter series,  my nefleheim series, I’m either not happy with my working title or don’t have a title yet. It is as personal as naming our biological children. But our readers won’t take our babies into their homes if their names aren’t catchy enough to grab attention.  As a reader, I am very picky about titles. I find I do tend to pick up titles with nothing but Names especially if in a series. Especially if that name is

Funny story about that – my oldest daughter’s name was selected when I was 6 months pregnant. She was going to be Rachel Lynne. Many of my shower gifts were addressed to baby Rachel. However, the moment that she made her debut into this world, I looked at her while the doctor was cleaning her up, suctioning the birth gunk, and she let out that first baby wail – she was not a Rachel. For the first twenty-four hours of her life, she was Baby girl. The nurses were counselling me that I could apply for her name with the state once we decided because I was to be released soon. You know how fast they kick you out after giving birth, right?

Well, after a gruelling delivery, I had a fever, extremely low iron, and was severely dehydrated. They kept me for another full day in which time my wonderful hubs brought the baby name books back to the hospital and we pored over them. I’m happy to say her name suits her, but it’s not Rachel. But our readers won’t take our babies into their homes if their names aren’t catchy enough to grab attention.  As a reader, I am very picky about titles. I find I do tend to pick up titles with nothing but Names especially if in a series.

That’s how we want our books to be –  well suited with a title. It can be a tricky thing.

How do I come up with a title?  Usually, it’s an element of the story like the roses, or the obvious sass. Sometimes it is the character’s name. I have to admit, I see the titles of other authors and wish that I were as clever. Ah well, maybe someday.

Let’s go take a look at how others come up with their titles!

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You can find other posts in this series here:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Break the Mold


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The army of plastics.

It is frustrating to see  your work crumpled up into the trash bin however, it would be far worse to not understand that it wasn’t right.

I’ve been working frantically over the past couple of weeks to salvage/improve my WIP. For those of you who read Oral Dilemma on Storytime Trysts,  it is nothing like that anymore.  For those who have read the snippets of what is tentatively titled Roxy Sings the Blues,  it’s not like that either.

‘Roxanne Winters, student, MMA fighter. A woman barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild her. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic blues singer. Roxanne Winters will be that woman. Better than she was before. Better, stronger, smarter.’  Don’t deny it –  you heard that in Oscar Goldman’s voice from the Six Million Dollar Man. OK, well I did even if you didn’t.

OK, don’t panic – breath.  That is self-talk for me, not the readers. 

I’m so close, yet so far away. There is always a giant obstacle before the goal is achieved, right? Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know but there always seems to be a few kinks to work out even when I have my  basic plot and outline. I don’t know the exact story yet, I haven’t written it! As it unfolds, I’m going to touch base on something that has been asked more than a few times.

Is Julia Mathers in Red Wine & Roses based on you? I see a lot of similarities in her personality and yours. 

NO! She is not me and I am not her.  As to similarities, I have been wracking my brain to figure out what similarities that these readers see.  We both have dark brown hair, brown eyes, but so do many men and women. When you think of a fashion model, what is the first image that comes to mind? Short, stocky, dark-haired beauty or tall thin blonde? (I have nothing against blondes, my sister is a blond and I love her dearly!)

Yea, me too. So, in essence, Julia is the antithesis of a fashion model.  Before Tyra there was Christie. The symbol of beauty in the 80’s, every man wanted Christie, every woman wanted to look like Christie.

I can only speak from my experience, but I know thousands of women can relate, so here goes.  From a very young age, I was expected to act a certain way, be a certain way, look a certain way.  My mother was very strict. Even though I was a tomboy at home, barefoot more often than not, outside until after the cows came home (we lived in the country), unhindered by the dirt smeared across my face, arms, or legs, when it was time to go anywhere I had to clean up.

I remember so many times being assaulted roughly with a washcloth as she frantically worked to clean me up to a presentable child that could be seen in public. Maybe that’s part of my obsession with being presentable before leaving the house now. Freud would be happy with the mental connection! You might laugh at my choice of wordage there –  being assaulted – but to a ten-year-old child that was more interested in playing ball  or bike riding with the neighborhood kids, when I was called home to change clothes and clean up, it was akin to me asking my own kids to do their chores or bloodletting which are apparently the same in their eyes. (I had chores, they were done first thing in the morning before I was allowed to go play. I would need much more coffee and time to share about mental scars from gathering eggs. You know back in my day . . .)

This seems so insignificant, yet,  it made a mark.  It contributed to the greater idea that I was expected to be something I was not.  I was not the shy little girl who would sit quietly on the church pew.   I got spankings because of my fidgeting. I was not the pretty girl in the party dress.  I was the one who still spills stuff on my clothes, still do! I was not the cool kid with the stylish new designer clothes. I got loads of hand me downs, it was a thrill to get brand new clothes in bright unfaded material! I was not the popular girl in high school. (Really, I knew practically everyone in my high school because it was a small school in a small town but knowing everyone isn’t what constituted popularity.) I was not the cheerleader, the pompom girl, or the beauty queen. There were so many things I was not.  It always seemed to be about what I wasn’t, that we were expected to fit into the societal molds put on us and assimilate to the plastic army.

We were supposed to look like Christie Brinkley. We were supposed to be nurses, secretaries, or school teachers. We were supposed to  . . . .. ugh.  The list goes on and on and on until one day you either give in to depression and booze and think that you don’t measure up or you wise up and realize that you aren’t part of the plasticine dream mold and decide to live as who you really are.  Are you following me?

I’m still working on accepting my own value.  I am very well acquainted with the things I am not.  What I am working on is finding value in who I AM.

In that regard,  my life experience lends itself to my character Julia.  She learns to value herself for who she is and overcomes her feelings of inferiority.  I’d like to say that I was inspired by overcoming my own sense of inferiority but I haven’t.  Perhaps I’m writing it prophetically. Yeah, instead of Chuck the prophet I am Ellie the Prophetess. Doesn’t quite have that ring, does it?  Maybe Sam and Dean will show up to correct me. Shhh, don’t break the fantasy.

My inspiration for Julia is the average woman: Every woman who has ever felt inferior. Every woman who has felt less beautiful than the fashion industry standards. Every woman who has sold themselves short for the attention of a man who disrespected them. Every woman who struggles with their sense of self-worth. Which I believe includes every single woman on the face of the earth over the age of twelve.  Did you know that even Christie Brinkley sees faults in herself? I don’t know what they are, but I know human nature.  Trust me – she sees them.

I am still learning how to be me. I know that sounds weird, but it’s  true. There has always been these expectations put on us by our parents, society, our peers and by ourselves. As life plays out, we discover who we truly are and who we aren’t.  I was never cut out to be a nurse, I accepted that early on. Trust me it’s best for all of us.  I was never cut out to be an Olympic gymnast, my rendition would look more like a Carol Burnett rerun.

One thing I have always been gifted with is a vivid imagination. It got me into trouble – often. That same imagination fuels my mind with story ideas. Well, with the addition of coffee.  Coffee is my catalyst. I think maybe today I’ll have a little Irish coffee.

Do you struggle with aspects of your self-image? Do dudes struggle with self-image or inferiority? How dull would it be if everyone conformed to the Stepford plan? Variety is the spice of life and some of us are a little spicier than others.

So why do I go back and rehash over my first book when I am in the trenches with Roxy And Devon?

Because my lovelies, I’m running a special deal over at Amazon.

For the next two days, you can get your copy at 60% off! What are you waiting for? Go get yours now while I get back to wrecking Roxy’s world. Errr,  I mean,  helping her discover who she is. Yeah, that’s it.

Go HERE to get your copy now! 

Write on my friends, and be yourself!

Till next time –  Ellie

 

Red Wine Makeover!


Greta Garbo, and Monroe
Deitrich and DiMaggio
Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean
On the cover of a magazine

Grace Kelly; Harlow, Jean
Picture of a beauty queen
Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire
Ginger Rodgers, dance on air

They had style, they had grace
Rita Hayworth gave good face
Lauren, Katherine, Lana too
Bette Davis, we love you

Ladies with an attitude
Fellows that were in the mood
Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it
Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it

Vogue, vogue

Ah, those flashback moments. When I received my finished  cover last night,  I was singing this song to myself. Weird maybe, but there it is. Particularly this  section of Madonna’s song Vogue, They had style, they had grace . . . . ladies with an attitude.

Have you ever seen pictures of some of Hollywood’s darlings without their makeup? It gives hope for the rest of us! Seriously, some of the stars in the raw have you scratching your head and asking How?

There have been tons of makeover shows on TV. Biggest Loser’s most viewed episodes are makeover week when they transform the former fatties into Haute Couture Hotties.

My book, Red Wine & Roses was originally published from Eclectic Bard Books last year, September 19, 2015.

11924560_1472539119715060_6584436532208606751_n (3)While I loved the elegant and understated cover, readers found it confusing. Some thought that it was perhaps like a Steeple Hill Christian romance, like this reviewer:  red-wine-roses-1

on December 8, 2015
First things first, I am not a prude. With that out of the way, it would have been good knowing that this book included graphic sex. The story overall did not need such scenes, I felt they were added to embellish and titillate. The main story was good on its own, but the end felt rushed, as if the Author was limited to a certain amount of pages. Or, perhaps after running thru a 2 -3 hour movie, they rolled up the last three chapters after the final commercial break. This was most definitely not my cup of tea, but it could be yours. The characters are well defined and fleshed out with certain aspects of them coming to light only late in the game. It is also about a young woman looking for love. If you come into this book knowing there will be hot and heavy scenes, you may enjoy it more than I did. Well written and described.
I appreciate his honesty! I was surprised, to be honest that someone would read a contemporary romance and be surprised that there is sex. I thought I had tamed it down and that it wasn’t as graphic as I have been on Storytime.  Then there was the comment about it being rushed, . . .  which I think had more to do with my edits than anything else.  I tried years ago to write a Christian romance, and I couldn’t do it.  With the CBA restrictions on words that I couldn’t use I had to eliminate a character named Angel, along with cut out so much of my story because of the prohibited words, I threw my hands up in defeat and realized I can’t tell the story I want to tell within those restrictions. Life is gritty  and that’s when we learn and grow.
So, . . .my contract with Eclectic Bard Books ended November 18, 2016. This book is now retired.  I do have a few print copies left in stock.
However, I am rereleasing a 2nd edition, retaining full rights of my work (thank you for that Eclectic Bard Books). the word count went from 82K to 91K, so some of those rushed chapters are now  more fully fleshed out. Part of this was a matter of adding back in some cut sections and adding additional lines in others.
Today, I get to unveil the  revised version! Are you ready?
Thanks to my fabulous cover artist Gabrielle Pendergast atwww.coveryourdreams.net. 

Drumroll . . . . 

redwine-ebookTADA!!!

And, 15175619_10154822248251177_1133214610_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it gorgeous?  I absolutely love it!

I will share the release date just as soon as I have it, but until then . . . enjoy the eye candy!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, and  happy by proxy Turkey day to all of my  no ‘Murican friends. Enjoy the  family, friends and celebrations. No Black Friday shopping for me, I’m not into that. Instead, that will be the day we transform our modest home into a Christmas time capsule akin to some of the old department store displays.

This is my favorite time of year! What better Christmas gift to myself than a makeover of my debut novel? OH I know, starting on revisions for my next one, Roxy Sings the Blues, which is planned for release in early 2017!

Now go eat some pie! Tell ’em Ellie said so!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

A Day to Celebrate


Sorry folks I know it’s been a while. I haven’t been lollygagging around or chilling on the beach. Sadly, no. I’ve been juggling hot irons anxious to remove a couple of them from the fire. My goal is to reduce the number of irons, simplify and streamline to become an efficient writing machine!

As most of you know, November is NANOWRIMO Month. It’s a guilty pleasure that I along with numerous others giddily or insanely commit  to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  * insert cackles of laughter here* We’re all mad here!

I am behind.  My word count is lagging. The fear monster is threatening  to overtake my rational mind, but I’m determined to keep the hound at bay.

Why is my word count lagging?

  1. My contract with Eclectic Bard Books ends today! WOOHOO!  Red Wine & Roses is no longer available through Amazon or Walmart. However, I still have an even dozen print copies left over from Penned Con. that I will ship to you! Don’t you deserve a romantic interlude for the holidays? For $8.00 US, plus shipping (2.00 US, outside US varies) These are limited! Get yours now!  What about that special woman in your life that loves romance? Get one for her!  Contact me on Facebook through pm or email me: l.e.mcatee@gmail.com 
  2. I have been working on revisions on this so that I can republish it! You’re going to like the improvements!  I was pushing real hard to get this ready to go up today, but then reason number three grabbed me by the throat and body slammed me.
  3. Sickness –  yes it’s that time of year. The creeping crud, the phlegmy phantasmagorical nasty, – I’ve had a bout of pneumonia and laryngitis that has literally kicked my arse.
  4. My deadline on the last edit job was this week also,  paid jobs get first priority!

While the decision to set aside my NANO novel was a difficult one,  It had to be done. I think in the long run it will pan out but that means that for the next two weeks I have to be an insane writing machine to the tune of about 5000 words per day in order to hit my mark.

Also, be looking for announcements in the next few days for the 2nd edition release, with a brand spanking new cover and extended scenes for Red Wine & Roses. I’m still working on the revisions. One of the complaints from a reviewer was that it seemed rushed. Well, yes. In the initial edits,  several scenes were cut that lead up to  a crucial scene and a couple afterwards.  I am rewriting those now. I think it flows a lot smoother and tells a complete story instead of having small vignettes with pieces missing.  But that’s just me.

Today I will wrap up the revisions  and be ready to share my brand new cover-  I’m stoked! It’s gorgeous!

Be looking for the cover reveal soon, and a couple of guests coming up! After I get this off of my desk, I have a new master plan to share! Be patient young padawans, all good things will come in time. Like a release schedule! How cool is that?

Have a great Friday! Get out there and spread some happiness to your fellow man, woman or child! Share some love! Buy someone a coffee  or open a door.

My Holiday  giving plan starts now –  at least one act of kindness every day!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

Bujo Revisions


I haven’t touched on the bujo in a while, so it’s time.

First a bit of refresher.  back in June,  I got the bright idea that I could streamline my efforts and go with a weekly spread. this was a bad idea. Not only did I feel stifled just like using those premade planners that eventually find their way to the trash bin, I didn’t stay on task and  was easily distracted. Oh, I made an effort to use it.  I  tried to convince myself that this was efficient. LIAR!

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This was the first week.  I made an effort, really I did. but as you see, there is mostly blank space on this spread. The next week was just as bad. Then I decided, I know, it just needs to be jazzed up. So, I added a few  doodles and tried to make it work.  I ended up with more blank space and not using my bullet journal at all. The only thing salvageable for the month was my graph for word count. I liked a couple of the doodles I did, but overall I will give the idea a big fat F for failure. Check out my zodiac sign and the birdcage –  not too shabby.

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In August I went back to my daily spread. I expanded the level 10 life a bit, setting a goal towards each part. It was in August that I did the one artistic page that I really liked how it turned out:

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I needed a little self-motivational talk,  some encouragement, and a means for a little artistic leeway. I’m never going to be a graphic artist,  but for my limited skill level, I thought it turned out well. Some days I managed to use my bujo, others I did not.  There are parts that seem like a redundant repeating  todo list. It’s all good, though.  After all, the main thing I need is to keep myself on task, and tackling my todo list. September’s Level 10 Life spread has noticeable improvement from the previous month. September dailies tracked my diet and water intake. I was diligent. By the end of the month, I had lost 7 pounds. It’s not record-breaking,  but it’s better progress than I have had in a long while.

My daily todo lists revolve around getting prepared for Penned Con. The last few days before the event, my bujo kept me from going into a full panic mode. The days after were jotting down note on the event, things that worked thing that didn’t,  things to remember for other events and a wish list for the future.

Which brings us up to October. I found some of my rubber stamps  that are fall and Halloween related and I’m having fun!  A two-stage stamp  of a pumpkin is replacing my usual banner shape for the day. My mini cube ink pads are adding some pizzazz to my pages. On my month at a glance,  I have  a stamp of a seashell that I absolutely love across the week that we are going on vacation. Yes, I’ve been counting down the days!  It’s strange, last year after my debut at Kentuckiana with Red Wine & Roses, we went on a cruise for a milestone anniversary. When we left Freeport Bahamas,  a hurricane was fast on our tail making for a rocking time on the trip home.  I won’t say it was a rocking good time because if I  would not have had that little patch behind my ear,  I would have been medivacked to shore.

So this year,  our vacation plans  post Penned Con  where Quotidiandose: 30 Days of Sass debuted are to Florida and guess what? Matthew is going double live GONZO terrorizing the Florida and eastern coast. What is the deal?  My heart and prayers go out to all of the folks own there and in the path, whichever path  it ends up taking.

I am mentally going through statements that I have made in the past of surviving a tornado, a flood, earthquakes, and wondering if I ever  said out loud any comment of a hurricane. Someone come give me a beat down if I ever say anything about a tsunami!

So, back to the bujo.  I  have made progress from things that everyone else was doing that sounded practical to making my own method that truly works for me.  I’ve kept the little weekly chart for tracking my word count. I like that much better than the app that used to be on Facebook.

A bullet journal aka bujo is a tool.   Mine is customized to me.  That’s the beauty of this,  you make it your own, make it work for you. If you are a minimalist then the weekly spread might be your thing.  If you tend to journal a lot then a lined journal might be your best bet. I need change. (You know, the thing yesterday that I was accused of not being able to handle?)  I need variety. There’s a bit of this and that in mine.  It’s not perfect, but it’s perfectly me.

By the way, it’s going with me to Florida.  We are both in need of some R&R. The plans consist of  wearing as little clothes as possible while not getting arrested or terrifying small children. Walking from the hotel to the beach ( A istance of about 20 feet), staring out across the ocean, listening to the waves, collecting shells, and drinking margaritas at sunset.

But before then,  I have several items still on my todo list.   You can go over to Youtube and follow me there. I would appreciate it. There isn’t much there yet,   but I will have more eventually. I better go check what else I have left to do.

Write on my friends,  write on!

Ellie

 

 

Multiplicity versus Singularity


I’ve been struggling with a concept for  some time now.  Thanks to my friend Misty, I think I’m beginning to see the fog clearing.

There has been much talk in the writer community about branding, creating a distinct logo to identify yourself from others. I see my peers with fancy designs,  symbols, something they identify as setting themselves apart from the crowd. Meanwhile, I am standing back here scratching my head,  I don’t get it.

One author has a Celtic symbol with a phoenix, another has a Celtic knot, one has  ruby-red lips dripping blood, one  has a dragonfly, another a fairy. . . I don’t identify with just one symbol.

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If I had to pick just one image,  I don’t think readers would “get” one of those twisted trees standing on the edge of a cliff weather-beaten  but still standing.

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A geode comes to mind because inside a plain-looking rock are fascinating treasures. But again, this seems rather singular. I’m not a one or two-dimensional person. There are numerous facets to who I am. I don’t just write in one genre, but many. I don’t  think a single symbol defines the multiplicity of aspects that go into my craft.

 

I look at authors I read –  George R.R. Martin; Stephen King; Diana Gabaldon, Nora Roberts, Hemingway – shouldn’t your writing set you apart from others?

Do you think that C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien discussed  logos amidst the elf discussion?

“Why don’t you just use a blasted elf for your logo? Everything you  write has elves in it.”

“I suppose you’d use that stupid Lion. Like that hasn’t been done a thousand times. I suppose you could use your  lamp-post. OH but wait, that’s been used as well.”

“Stop mocking my lamp-post. Why wouldn’t I use Aslan? He is a symbol within himself. The allegorical king of all kings.”

“For heaven’s sakes man, move on.  Can we just get back to the writing? I want to delve into the beginnings of my wizards.” 

“Ugh! If it’s not elves it’s wizards. Fine. But first, let’s have a spot of tea.”

However funny it might be,  I honestly don’t think they discussed logos.

But then again, I seem to be an antiquated element within my profession. I’ve worked for years on my craft. I’ve written more words than many of the published authors  out there. I believe in quality first. Yes, so much to the point of perfectionism and setting my work aside because I see every flaw, every  spot where I could do better.

One thing that was very difficult for me in the publishing process with Eclectic Bard Books was the cutting of the umbilical cord.  I had a deadline. I spent grueling days going over my prose — fine tuning, changing, and rewriting —  It came down to crunch time and I knew I had to jump.  One of my fears was confirmed with one reviewer calling me on the “rushed” chapters. I wanted another week to rewrite them,  add to them and have them fully baked.  I knew they lacked some oomph, but that deadline was fast approaching.

It did teach me  however,  that at some point, you have to take a deep breath and jump. Let it go. Release it to the world  to enjoy, tear apart, or ignore.  This fueled my passion in a way that I had been lacking. I’ve since taken a few of my previous works from their dusty storage bins to assess how much work they will need before being released.

I’ve worked on being a better writer. I’ve worked on crafting a good story.  I’ve learned  about the elements that make a good story, how to string my sentences together, and how to do so using good grammar. Maybe  not always great grammar, but most often it has to do with my poor typing.  Yes, there are mistakes in my work as there are in most author’s works. Yes, There is always room for improvement.

I am a storyteller, a creator of fictional worlds, a teller of tall and short tales. Basically, I make up lies.

How is it  that we have moved past appreciating  quality works such as Lord of the Rings, The Illiad, Wuthering Heights to  indulging in trashy novels such as Twilight saga and it’s Satan spawn, 50 Shades? In what society do some of the descriptions and phrases of these texts sound sexy?

“Desire pools dark and deadly in my groin.” – Dark and deadly? Does it emit some toxic secretion? No thanks.

“My inner goddess. . .” – this phrase is used so many times it isn’t even funny. My inner goddess says be original or  go home.

“How could he mean so much to me in such a short time? He’s got right under my skin… literally.” – yeah, kind of like a festering splinter.

OK, enough about those.  Back to my point.

Quality work should be the first step in branding yourself.  Why have a platform that declares – I WRITE CRAP! What sets you apart from other writers?

Hopefully a unique voice.

Hopefully, a unique style.

Hopefully, a standard of excellence.

Be a BADASS writer that breaks the rules, pushes the boundaries, explores new horizons, dares to be themselves in a world of copycats.  Work hard, do your best, and be yourself! I’m a one of a kind original masterpiece! A masterpiece that has  many colors, nuances, voices, and some deep caverns that have yet to be explored.

SIGH.

I am indeed a dying dinosaur amidst a hoard of lemmings.  The push is to get something out there, anything. Make a logo that people can associate with your name and build your platform!

FINE

You want a logo?

You want some symbolic image that people can associate with my author name?

Here you go!

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Now Excuse me while I get back to writing. I have some changes to make  on Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening from my beta reader’s comments.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Prepping for Camp


Camp NANO is one week away!  I’ve been preparing for this since December.

I’ve spent the majority of March  revising Valkyrie’s so that I can get it to my betas.  That is going to be delayed about a week from my original plan because  there is more that needs to be tweaked.  I’m not going to call it finished until I feel that it is at least completely baked.

So . . . Camp NANO.  This is going to be an entirely different project for me. I’ve done fantasy – Kiss of the Dragon which still needs to be revised; I’ve done paranormal – Faere Warrior, Passion’s Price; (which I haven’t given up on.  After my former coach advised me to write the backstory,  I realized just how much of the story revolved around the backstory and the first book needed to be that story, not Keegan’s story.) I’ve done romance – Red Wine & Roses.  This time, I am working on a project that is very personal. It’s a nonfiction about emotional healing, dealing with the things I have taught in the counseling classes.

I may share snippets from that one, but not sure. In order to  keep myself on track with this and get my editing done,  I have  made use of my . . . wait for it . . . . you know it’s coming . . . . my bullet journal!

I’m managing to  squeeze the last few days out of my first  one. A couple things that I already know I need to do differently in the new one: a bigger calendar, one with squares that I can write stuff on, because I’ve been in the habit of scheduling on my calendar.  The month at a glance –  I made it a two column page. A monthly tracker  although this month I haven’t kept up with it.   I won’t be using as many stickers,  it’s much faster to just draw squares around my todo list. I’ve added a few doodles here and there.

My  BuJo has been all sorts of colorful fun, getting to play with my pens in a new way but for the rest of the year,  I will stick to  one main color per month unless it’s a highlighter and highlighters don’t count, right? For March my color has been green, for April I will be using light blue. Not that  it matters to anyone, but I think it will be a cleaner look. Here’s a last look at my first bullet journal.

First bujo cover - This is the 33 cent comp book. Notice the tabs, these are necessary for me.

First bujo cover – This is the 33 cent comp book. Notice the tabs, these are necessary for me.

One of my colorful days - I couldn't focus this day. It was miserably cold out and I was wishing we were back in the Bahamas, can you tell?

One of my colorful days – I couldn’t focus this day. It was miserably cold out and I was wishing we were back in the Bahamas, can you tell?

AS you can see I haven't finished my entries for today.

As you can see I haven’t finished my entries for today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve already  started preparing my new journal. This was a gift received from a lovely lady in Holland.

SAy hello to my new BUJO! and it's red! Also, this fountain pen is amazing.

Say hello to my new BUJO! and it’s red! Also, this fountain pen is amazing.

My year at a glance.

My year at a glance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March calendar

March calendar

 

 

 

April

April

 

 

 

 

Some quotes that I have carried over, and a doodle. *shrugs*

Some quotes that I have carried over, and a doodle. *shrugs* I added a dutch door which is a “week at a glance todo list.

I haven’t decided yet  how I’m going to track my new project, other than in Scrivener, but it’s at the top of my todo list for every day.

I am hoping to share soon some of my craftiness for another business venture, but  life has presented some urgent matters that need to be attended. Such is life.

I won’t be posting a snippet on Sunday as it is Easter, so Happy Easter!

 

 

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

Prize- apalooza!


Yesterday my good friend V. L. Locey had a release party for her latest book – Twirly Girl. 

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Wow does she know how to throw a party!

Although I was nervous about doing it,  I had an absolute blast! The turnout was amazing!  I even connected with some new readers that are fairly close to me- BONUS!

Today I am sharing the prize winners from that event.

5 Review Prizes:

An e-copy of Red Wine & Roses; signed rack card, wine charm, and hand-crafted bookmark.

 

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Winners are:

Michelle Graham, Christine Combs Mead, Jean Torgeson White, Amanda Avakian, and Kristine Radgman. Congratulations!

3 Contest winners:

Cup cozy, signed rack card, and wine charm.

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Winners are: Kris Saluga, Mindy Velasquez, and Michelle Graham.

Congratulations!

My Grand Prize  – Signed copy of Red Wine & Roses Rack card, a wine charm, and custom designed earrings.

Goes to: Elizabeth Hensley Roney!  CONGRATULATIONS!!

Thank you, V. L. Locey, for including me in your  event and thank you to everyone that participated. Now I have to get back to work on my next book – Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening.  I’m so close I can almost taste it!

This Sunday will be the last snippet I share from it and I’ll have to figure out where to go from there.

Write on my friends, write on!

Till next time

~~~~

Ellie

 

Feature Creep


Have you ever tackle a home improvement project that you thought was a simple matter but turned into a much larger project?

REmoving a bad tile floor.

Removing a bad tile floor.

For example, a few years ago I decided to update our guest bathroom.  Pain and a few themed decor items would have put the total cost around one hundred and twenty dollars. However,  we ran into feature creep.  The faucet was leaking so that had to be replaced. The commode had leaked and damaged the flooring so the wax seal and flooring were replaced. The shower curtain was torn in the process, so that had to be replaced.  By the time the feature creep had stopped my one hundred twenty-dollar update cost us nearly a thousand.

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The same thing applies in storytelling. Red Wine & Roses is a good example of this. Originally I had posted a flash fiction piece inspired by an image of a red rose with dew drops on Storytime Trysts. Flash fiction is a way to prime the pump, so to speak. Some of my writer friends use fan fiction, some use flash fiction,  some use prompts when they feel the pump needs priming or are experiencing writer’s block.

A few months prior to this, an online friend suggested flash fiction to me. I dismissed it.  Another hosted a flash fiction Friday feature on their blog. Maybe. Then I was involved in a blog hop and one of the assignments was a flash fiction piece.  * head desk*

Fine. If I have to. I guess.

Flash fiction has kept me in the writing habit when I’ve been stalled on my WIP. I have a file that I keep my attempts in, a few I am pleased with. Most are just practice and shall never see the light of day. They will remain locked for all eternity in a closed file within the depths of my computer. AHEM.

FEATURE CREEP.

This one kept  drawing me back, the characters demanding more time than the brief glimpse I had written. An opportunity arose,  a specific call for a publishing house that I felt – this story fit perfectly. In a very short matter of time I had expanded it to ten thousand words, which was the  limit for the call.  Well, in all honestly I had to pare it down to meet the requirements as it exceeded it by quite a bit.

IT WAS REJECTED. *HANGS HEAD* 

The writers come out of the woodwork to tell you that rejection is part of the game.  Stephen King has received X many rejections.  J.K. Rowling received X many rejections. ‘INSERT your favorite author here’- received X many rejections. I know it’s well-intentioned, but it doesn’t make the sting any less painful.

I shelved it. I was frustrated.  I told my closest friends that I  quit. I didn’t write for weeks.

Then a writer friend that used to write on Storytime with me, in his gentle *cough* tactful  *cough cough*manner essentially jerked the slack out of me and my little pity party and put it into blunt terms for me.

I cried.

I thought about it.

I cried some more. (Hey, I’m a woman. It happens.)

Then, swallowing my pride, I let a few out of the file drawer.  Derek and Julia pleaded for my attention. I took a hard look at the rejected manuscript and the deleted scenes.  There  was a larger volume of the story untold.

I had to ask myself -Why do I write?

Because  I am compelled to write.  Whether it’s a psychological processing of  data, or a creative nature, or wild imagination, the bottom line is I write because I LOVE writing. There is a thrill that I’m going to step out on a limb here and compare to an addict. Don’t get all with me for  belittling addiction.  There are many levels of addiction.  I know I have an addictive personality.  With specific symptoms of OCD, and ADD (squirrel!) I am fully aware of the “writer’s high”  when I nail a scene. The euphoric elation when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that  this,  this last part I just wrote is solid gold. Sadly,  it doesn’t happen as often as I would like.

It’s much like a mining process!  Dirt, dirt, rock, more dirt, another rock, bigger rock, crystal (nice), dirt, rock, GOLD!

My little flash fiction piece has expanded to some 85,000 plus words.

Oh, I might mention that there was much chocolate and coffee consumption during the process as well. It’s good to have real friends that care enough to speak truth to you and not feed you sugar frosted bomb puffs. It takes a village.

Who picks you up when you fall in the mud?  Who walks you home when you’ve lost your way?  Who sets you back on track when you’ve derailed?

Sometimes I feel like I am the village idiot, sometimes the town crier, and sometimes I am the caretaker, lurking in shadows, watching everyone. Never mind me, wrong kind of creep.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie