How to be Organized While Working from Home

By Betty Boyd

home-2095506_960_720

My writing journey began over thirty years ago when I did technical writing of various government documents. However, my real journey commenced when I retired and opened my professional writing business.

Having your own business causes you to become organized very quickly. You have to handle all the aspects of building the business, calling clients, attending meetings, and networking functions. Since I am a widow, I must also do all the relevant aspects of keeping up a household.

Writing helps me in focus and prioritize my work load, home life, and other pressures. The creative process keeps me grounded and I’m able to understand better how to meet my clients’ demands.

Life itself is a challenge, and writing gives me an outlet that I never dreamed possible. One great test of my commitment to this part of my life is the ability to carve out time to do it. Working from home has many distractions, so I’ve tried to learn discipline so I am able to press on and get the work done. Better organization has enabled me to slow down and think about what I write.

I’ve learned the Holy Spirit is the author and the authority over my words and has helped me to follow through. Organization in writing and other areas requires setting realistic goals. I re-evaluate as often as needed to make sure I’m following the will of God in what He wants me to write.

Since I write during different times of the day, one way I stay on task is to set a time limit. For example, I write for an hour, and then stop. I go do something else that requires my attention without neglecting my writing.

Finally, I want to make sure I am serving God and others in the best manner.

Three-word prompt: Organizing is what…

Save

Save

Save

March Winners

April already? Where did March go? It was a great month and we have 4 winners of print books!

Are you on our list?

Gail Kittleson’s book, In Times Like These, has been won by Caryl Kane. Congrats!

Cynthia Lovely has been picked to win either a print copy of Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild’s book, Estate of Mind or a gift certificate to tea at Her Majesty’s in Dunlap, Illinois. Congratulations!

Melanie Dickerson’s latest book, A Viscount’s Proposal, goes to Katie Merkel!

Sandra Byrd is gifting a copy of A Lady in Disguise to Robbye Faye!

A big THANK YOU to all our faithful readers for taking the time to stop by and comment.

Don’t forget. It’s not too late to leave an answer to our prompts on our Monday and Friday posts in April and be in the running for a $40 Etsy gift card. If you don’t enter, you won’t win 🙂

Clean it Up!

By Harriet E. Michael

These are words I’ve learned to dread when coming from an editor. Cleaning up a manuscript is no fun. At least it’s no pleasure cruise for me; I understand there are strange people in this world for whom these words sound like an order to have fun. These people are sometimes called editors and they are an alien breed to me. At the same time, I need them desperately and am glad they exist.

I recently released my debut novel, “The Whisper of the Palms” published by Olivia Kimbrell Press. When my editor first received my novel, he sent it back to me telling me to clean it up. pc-1207686_1280Thankfully, he gave me specific things to do to clean it up. Here are two of them, which may help any writer trying to present as clean a manuscript as possible to an editor, whether it be a large manuscript like a book or small, like an article.

 1)      Change passive verbs to active. My editor had me doing word searches for all being verbs: is, was, were, am, are, be, being, been. He asked me to change these to active wherever possible.

2)      Do not start sentences with what he called the FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Again, my editor had me doing word searches for these words and asked me to change it anytime I had started a sentence with any of them. (And this is my favorite vice! I love starting sentences with and or but. Ugh!)

 A couple of weeks later, I was practically cross-eyed from all the word searches but I had a cleaned-up manuscript!  

Click to tweet: Cleaning up a manuscript is no fun.

Three-word prompt: I’m editing because …

Add your 3 words to the three-word prompt to create a six-word short-short story! We’ll publicize our choice of the best one on Facebook and Twitter and other outlets. One all-around winner will be chosen at the end of April!

The Whisper of the Palmsa new release from our own Harriet E. Michael!

Africa beckoned but would Ali have to go alone?

Growing up in the foothills of North Carolina, Ali Blackwell dreamed of going places she had only seen in books and magazines. She lived in a small farmhouse that her farmer father had built with his own hands, and the prospects of ever leaving her little town of Union Mills appeared unlikely. Her family barely scraped by on the sale of produce grown by her dad and brothers and the supplemental income they earned working at the nearby textile mill.

Kyle Edmonds, a few years her elder, lived in a larger house in South Carolina. He possessed things Ali only dreamed of—extra clothes and shoes, a house with indoor plumbing and electricity, a family car, a bicycle and other toys, just to name some.

They could not have been more different.

However, both heard God’s still small voice calling them to foreign missions. How will their paths cross? What obstacles will they face? What will their future hold?


Born in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries, Harriet E. Michael is a writer, gardener, wife of 38 years, mother, and grandmother.

She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions.

Harriet is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Louisville Christian Writers. She is the author of three books, “Glimpses of the Savior” published by TMP Publishing and “Prayer: It’s Not About You,” a finalist in the 2011 Women of Faith book contest, published by Pix-N-Pens Publishing Company, and her debut novel, “The Whisper of the Palms” published by Olivia Kimbrell Press.

Her stories, articles, and devotions have appeared in publications by Focus on the Family, Lifeway, Standard Publishing, David C. Cook Co., Bethany House, American Life League, Crosswalk.com, Christian Communicator, Judson Press, The Upper Room, Pentecostal Publishing House, Smyth and Helwys, and more.

She is also a Christian speaker who loves to talk to women’s groups about prayer or other topics or speak at writers’ conferences on free-lance writing, non-fiction writing, and devotional writing.

You can also follow her at www.harrietemichael.blogspot.com

Save

Save

Save

Save

Will You Find Treasure This Year?

By Tammy Trail

Spring is the time for new beginnings. The birds are out tweeting. Barnyard animals frolic through the grass with younger versions of themselves in the warm sunshine. Humans tend to frolic out of doors also. Yard work calls us into labor. We’ll wear shorts in 60-degree weather because we long for the warmth of spring days.

Cleaning takes on a new meaning in the Spring. Have you noticed any ” Yard Sale”  signs out yet? Not to worry, they’re coming. You can be sure that folks will be going through those closets soon and setting gently used merchandise in the “for sale” pile.

Most likely, there is a community of people in your town or city who love to yard sale. They will either have a sale of their own, or wake up early on a Saturday mornings and drive to them. That old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is surely their motto.

Websites, blogs, and even Pinterest share lots of tips for setting up your own yard sale. Here are a few:

  1. Make your signs attractive and visible to the car passing by your yard. There are some cute ideas on Pinterest with catchy phrases and decorations.
  2. Prices should be easy to read. Putting them on the top of an item is better.
  3. Make sure you have enough cash to make change. Chances are everyone will want to pay with a $20 bill.
  4. Ask a friend or neighbor to help you. While you are distracted, someone could walk off with a potential sale. Another set of eyes can help discourage a thief.
  5. Selling cold beverages will add to your sales.

If you are an early riser on Saturday mornings and love to bargain, here are some tips for you as well.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. You may need to park some distance away from the yard, or stand in line before taking your treasure home.
  2. Check the box before purchasing an item. There may be something entirely different inside when you get home.
  3. When buying something electrical, ask if you can plug it in to check it. If it takes batteries, make sure the battery compartment is not corroded.
  4. Never buy used car seats for babies or toddlers from a garage sale. Once they have been involved in an accident they are useless.
  5. Purchasing your items with smaller bills will make your seller smile. She or he won’t need to worry about making a lot of change.

My favorite garage/yard sale item was found by my parents. As a young girl, I had a portrait of Jesus hanging on my wall. I talked to him every night before I went to sleep. When I grew up and moved away, I left that picture behind. Through the years, I assumed my parents had gotten rid of it, or it was lost in a move from one house to another.

Last year, I went to visit my Mom to help her get ready for a yard sale. In a corner of her basement, behind a couple of boxes, I found my old friend. He is with me now in my home. One of these days, I will get my picture of Jesus re-framed and hung on the wall in my bedroom.

Click to tweet: Have you noticed any ” Yard Sale”  signs out yet?

Here’s a good prompt: Free puppies today.

Save

I Can’t Work With Clean

By Gail Johnson

Are you a planner or a free-spirit? Organized or messy? Plotter or pantser?

Now, you may be wondering what my questions have to do with organizing your writing. Well, for starters, one man’s idea of organization is another man’s idea of a mess. And the more you know about yourself, the more productive your life will be.

For example, in the movie, Yours, Mine & Ours, Rene Russo plays Helen North, a free-spirited artist. Dennis Quaid plays Naval officer, Frank Beardsley, who runs a tight ship. When they decide to marry, worlds collide as Quaid tries to change his wife’s messy ways.

I can't work with clean. I have a deadline

I’m a mixture of both characters. When it comes to my house and yard, I’m a militaristic planner with a to-do list longer than my arm. I get a tick when something is out of place. And when I’m unable to clean or rake… Mama ain’t happy!

On the other hand, when it comes to writing, I’m one of the worst organizers around. I’ve written on restaurant napkins, oil filter box tops—it was all hubby had in the truck, at the time—and the bottom of my shoe. Yep, with my favorite pen.

A Pilot G-2 05 gel pen and a composition book are my choice instruments for the first chapters. Using longhand puts the writing side of me in control. While at the computer, the mouthy critic and finicky editor take over.

Also, writing longhand allows me to write all over the house and the yard.  Personally, when my body is in motion, my brain is in motion. Writing is easy. My characters talk a mile a minute and their words fill the empty pages.

writing-427527_1920

Eventually, I have a good idea where the story is going. Then and only then, do I sit down at a computer. And even then, I don’t hide my notes in documents. Yes, I know about Evernote, Onenote, Who note and all those other notes. But if “I” put my notes in a document, I tend to forget about them. I “need” to see them, at all times. And that makes for a messy desk!

The same goes for my office. I have papers scattered from one end of the room to the other. I have a write-on board for lyrics and a plotting board for scenes. At first glance, one would think it is a mess, but I tell you there is a method to my madness.

Steve MartinThe point I’m trying to make is this: we will drive ourselves nuts trying to be something we’re not. Furthermore, we will waste more time trying to conform to an idea rather than spending time writing. We need to understand what works best for us, and then do it.

Show up. Set longer times to write, shorter times for social media. Set a word count. Spend quiet time listening to characters. But most of all, write!

When we create a personalized plan, our stories will come together. And before long, we’ll be looking at a completed manuscript.

Click to tweet: I can’t work with clean. I have a deadline.

Writing Prompt

Now, for all you mystery lovers. This one’s for you. See if you can finish the writing prompt with three words. Can’t wait to read your comments!

Bakery closed today.

Save

Summer’s Refrain by Sue A. Fairchild

Please make welcome freelance editor, writer, Christian and blogger, Sue Fairchild. She joins us today to talk about all things writing and her latest release, Summer’s Refrain.

Hello, Sue! Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Sue: I’m a small town girl, but I’m pretty savvy. I have a BA in graphic design, and I love words. I’m a nitpicker at heart and can find the littlest of errors. I think that’s what makes me a good editor, but it is a trait that sometimes makes my husband a little crazy.

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Sue: I’ve finished two books at this point, one is a young adult and the other is women’s contemporary. I think both look at how woman grow and learn from one another, though. I’m draw to strong female characters. I want to show how woman can support one another, how we can encourage one another and can learn from each other. If we go it alone – it’s so much harder.

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Sue:  I never use an outline. Not on paper anyway. I usually have a general idea in my head where I want the story to go, but the characters typically start to take on a life of their own, so I just let them guide me. Both of my published novels did not start out the way they’ve come to be, but they are exactly what they should be now.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Sue: Starting with that first word. I have a lot in my head, but I’m often away from my computer and I don’t like to hand write things. Then, all too often, I get busy with life stuff and it doesn’t get put down. When I commit – it flows.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Sue: As a well-respected part of the editor community with several more books behind me. I have a non fiction Bible study aimed at negative thinkers in the works as well as a sequel, of sorts, to my YA. I’d love to also be a speaker at conferences.

Thanks for dropping by, Sue!


Summer’s Refrain

A refrain can be a repeated action, but also can mean to abstain from doing an action – which will Summer choose?

Summer Stewart is ready to run. Again. 

Running away from relationships and hardening her heart to love—that’s what Summer does best. When her boyfriend, Lou, unintentionally hurts her, she decides it’s time to hit the road once again. But Mrs. Delwich, her eccentric neighbor, intervenes and takes her on a powerful and thought-provoking supernatural trip through Summer’s past. As Summer is confronted with the choices both she and her mother have made, she realizes her life has been repeating for decades—well before she was born.

Now, faced with the biggest decision of her life, will Summer repeat the refrain or will she choose a different song?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XBP4CS2

What You Think You Know

What would you do if your lifelong friend betrayed you?

Fifteen-year-old Emily Forester is sure of one thing: Beth Myers will be her friend forever. Friends almost since birth, they even share the same nervous habit—biting their cuticles. They’re like sisters and nothing can ever change that, or so Emily thought.

Now, Emily discovers Beth displaying disturbing new habits, and begins to doubt how well she knows her best friend after all. When Beth betrays their sister-like bond, Emily is crushed and considers what life would be like without Beth. She’s already lost her mom; will she lose Beth, too?

The one concrete thing in her life, her friendship with Beth, starts to crumble. Longing to talk with her mother, Emily confides in her dad instead and he reveals more shocking secrets. Will these new revelations bolster her relationship with Beth, or tear them apart forever?

What You Think You Know is a young adult novel for every young woman in your life who may be faced with betrayal, broken friendships and the heartbreaks of youth. 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MTKKEKR


Sue A. Fairchild is a blogger, writer, and editor. She has been a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series twice and has recently published a young adult novel, What You Think You Know as well as a contemporary women’s novel, Summer’s Refrain. Sue also edits professionally for Christian Editor Connection and is a member of ACFW. For more information on her professional services and to read more of her simple snippets, please visit her website Sue’s Simple Snippets: Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness. You can also connect with her on Facebook, or Twitter.

A Clean Schedule

by Betty Owens

A clean house. It’s what we all want, right? How many of you have trouble achieving it? (My hand is in the air). You work full or part-time, you have children, you’re a writer on a deadline–you barely manage to keep up with the day-to-day. Your biggest fear: unexpected company. How do you cope?

I love a clean, uncluttered house. I can’t relax if there’s dust on the furniture, fingerprints on the wall, toddler nose prints on the window. But sometimes those things have to wait their turn. So I’ve found a way to get through. I have a schedule.

Laundry happens on Mondays and Thursdays. Even though there are only two of us here, it is simply amazing how many clothes we go through. Mostly the guy who takes two showers a day, of course!

I change the sheets on the same day every week, and vacuum the whole house on Fridays. We have a walk-in shower that takes about an hour to clean, so that gets done on the same day I change the sheets. Having a schedule helps me accomplish these chores. It’s not set in stone. Sometimes I miss a day and have to catch up. Every once in a while, I miss a week altogether. But sooner or later, it gets done, because I’m really not comfortable otherwise.

When I tackle window-washing, I wash a couple of windows at a time (inside and out). Most of our windows are floor-to-ceiling, so it takes a little longer. I schedule the job over three or four days. I do the same thing with the kitchen cabinets. Time is not the only reason I break these jobs into sections. Stamina definitely plays a part. While I used to be able to stay at it for an entire day, now I run out of energy! And right in the middle of a job like that–inspiration seems to hit! I have the idea I need to finish a scene or a story. I have to stop, right?

Absolutely. Right now, my bookshelves are calling me. I honestly can’t remember the last time I unloaded them and cleaned. But it has to be done, so one of these mornings, it’s going to happen. I’d better put them on the schedule.

Click to tweet: A clean house. It’s what we all want, right?

How do you get these big jobs done, if hiring help is not a possibility? Are you a stay-at-it-till-it’s-done person? Or an “it’ll be there when I get to it type?”

Three-word prompt: Through clean windows …

Remember–finish the three-word prompt with three words of your own to complete a six-word short story. It should express a complete thought. Submit in the comment section below.

Save