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Revisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.

 

Revisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.
by Mindy Obenhaus

Here we are again at the start of a brand-new year. An empty calendar/planner lays before us just waiting to be filled. There’s something about those empty spaces that excites me. Perhaps it’s the thought of all the potential that lies ahead. The what-could-be instead of the what-might-have-been.

In case you can’t tell, I’m an optimist. However, I’m also a realist, which means I’m not about to dive into a new year simply hoping for the best. No, I need some sort of a plan, no matter how loose it might be. Like a map that points me in the right direction while giving me the freedom to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I prefer to set goals for the coming year. Things I’d like to accomplish or improve upon. I’ve found the best place for me to keep track of those goals is in my very simple weekly/monthly planner. There are pages at the back for notes and that very last page is the perfect place to write out those goals, so I always know where to find them. And I will want to find them because they’ll be an integral part of planning for the next year. Come on, I’ll show you what I mean.

Revisit – Before I get started with my goals for the coming year, I need to look back at those from last year to see how I did. Armed with a pen and my new calendar/planner, I sit down with my previous one and look back at what I set out to achieve the year prior. The things I accomplished, I cross off the list and give myself a little high-five. It’s a rare occasion when I’m able to checkoff everything, though. Sometimes I even find myself wondering what I was thinking when I wrote something down. That’s when it’s time to…

Reflect – Why didn’t I achieve those goals? Were they too lofty? Maybe I didn’t put forth enough effort. If not, why? Perhaps I wasn’t all that set on them to begin with. We have to be honest with ourselves. If there’s something that’s still important to me, it gets added to the new list with hopes that I’ll do better in the coming year. Other times the realist in me says, “Nope, not happening.”
Revisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.
Revamp – My list for the year ahead starts with those things that have carried over from the previous year. Then ponder things I’d like to see happen in the coming year. They don’t have to be grand. Last year, I wanted to go deeper into God’s word. A few years ago, one of my goals was to learn how to create a meme. Once I did a little research, I discovered some websites where I can waste countless hours trying to decide on a design. But I had to take those first steps to make my goal a reality.

Of course, there are some things that are out of our control, so be realistic. Your goal may be to get a book contract, but that’s not something you have control over. However, there are things you can do to improve your writing/storytelling so that you have a better chance of receiving that elusive contract.

Restart – Once you have your list, no matter how short or long it might be, you’re ready to embark on your journey. Your map is set out before you, though you can always add or delete a few stops along the way because as we all know, life happens. Just don’t give up. Because even if you only achieve one goal, it’s an accomplishment that should be celebrated.

What are your goals for 2022? Perhaps you want to finally clean out that closet that’s been a catchall for too many years. Maybe you want to finish the manuscript for that story that’s been floating around your brain forever. Is there a bad habit you’d like to break? Or maybe you’d like to learn how to make a meme. Whatever it is, write it down and revisit it often. Reflect on why you wanted to do that. Revamp things as needed. And remember, it’s never too late to restart and set yourself on the path to a better you. The you God has called you to be.

Revisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

Avoiding the Summer Slump

 

Avoiding the Summer Slump

Last month I was invited to speak at the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild, a great organization that holds monthly meetings in the Twin Cities to help writers along their writing journey.

I addressed the topic of Avoiding the Summer Slump, mostly because I needed to preach a little truth to myself. If you, too, need a bit of a pep talk, you've come to the right place.

So, how can a writer avoid that summer slump?

1. Set Goals:

  • Be realistic. You cannot possibly write 5 million words in one week. (Well, Ruthy can, but she's not human.)
  • Make goals quantifiable. Set goals specific enough that you can tell whether you've attained them or not.
  • Separate 'writing adjacent' things from actual writing. Writing adjacent things like research, marketing, emails, etc. take lots of time, but they won't add words to your work in progress.
2. Identify what Motivates You:

  • Remember why it is you write. Remind yourself...often if necessary
  • Set small victory rewards. Chocolate? A new coffee mug? Dinner out?
  • Identify what you want to have accomplished at the end of the summer when you look back. Keep it in the forefront of your mind during writing sessions.
  • Set a big victory reward. When you reach your big-picture goal, reward yourself with something cool. A vacation? A conference? A writing retreat? A laptop? Whatever. Save for it and work toward it.
3. Set your Strategies:

  • Are you going to get up earlier? Stay up later?
  • One weekend a month devoted to your writing?
  • Turn off social media or the tv?
  • Get your family involved.
                    a. Let them know how important this is to you.
                    b. Give them tangible ways to help. Dishes? Cooking? Quiet time?
                    c. Give them updates so they know how helpful they're being.

4. Get the Tools You Need to Stay on Track:


  • Planners. Write it down and make it happen.
  • Word count trackers can provide a visual of your progress
  • Accountability partners can help you stay on track.
  • A private FB group of likeminded people. (I belong to a group on FB called 1k1hr, which stands for One Thousand Words in One Hour. You don't have to write that fast, or you can go faster if you want, but the upshot is people check in, ask if anyone is around who is also writing, and a few folks join in. Encouragement that you're not alone, seeing the productivity of others, and a place to be held accountable. Bonus, you can make friends, too!) https://www.facebook.com/groups/338770276151416

There are only two more months before school starts and leaves start changing. What do you want to have accomplished by then? How are you going to get it done?

Avoiding the Summer Slump

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she is married to her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, 
www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!



Super excited that The Debutante's Code is now available for pre-order! (Link Below)

Avoiding the Summer Slump


Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series

Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn't spent much time with her parents, and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love. But when they're lost at sea, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They've been living double lives as government spies--and they're only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family's legacy.

Now Lady Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spy craft. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors--not to mention nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner Daniel Swann, who suspects her of a daring theft.

Can Lady Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents' last mission? Or will it lead her to a terrible end?

Best-selling author Erica Vetsch is back with a rollicking, exciting new series destined to be a hit with Regency readers who enjoy a touch of mystery in their love stories. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, and Anne Perry will love the wit, action, and romance.

Pre-order your copy here: https://smile.amazon.com/Debutantes-Thorndike-Swann-Regency-Mysteries/dp/0825447135


My Word For 2020



My Word For 2020
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  Several days ago, Mary Connealy shared her word for 2020, namely FOCUS. Reading her post inspired me to search for my own word to guide me in the coming year.

I thought about it long and hard.

Focus seemed like a good word to, well, focus on, but that felt like cheating, sort of like copying off of someone else’s paper. 

The next word I thought of was PRODUCTIVITY. After all I just signed a three book contract with Grand Central for books to be delivered 7 months apart, an ambitious schedule for me. But that still didn’t feel right.

Then I looked around for inspiration, I eyed my very cluttered house with its crammed to overflowing junk drawers, closets and guest rooms, and it hit me – SIMPLIFY.
This word works on a number of different levels for me.

I need to simplify my living environment by cleaning out a lot of the clutter that I’m holding on just because I “might” need/want it someday. There are clothes in the back of my closet that haven’t seen the light of day since I retired ten years ago, there are also cute shoes I love but will never be able to wear again because of my foot surgeries over the past few years.

My Word For 2020


I need to simplify my writing environment. Having lots of craft books and reference books lying around, as well as paperwork and easy access to social media has allowed too many distractions in my workspace.

My Word For 2020


I need to simplify my family life – I’m a compulsive list maker and perfectionist. By focusing on my to-do lists and trying to get everything just right, I sometimes miss out on spontaneous opportunities that present themselves to enjoy time with family and friends.

My Word For 2020


There you go – my word for 2020, let’s hope I can make it work for me.

My Word For 2020



So let’s chat. If you haven’t already mentioned your word (or goals or focus) for 2020 on Mary’s post, share it here. Or if you’ve tried the ‘simplify your life’ plan in the past, please share any tips, pointers or lessons learned that you think might help me.

I plan to give at least one person their choice of any book from my backlist.

And just an FYI, at the time this goes live I’ll be in the hospital recovering from foot surgery so I may not be able to respond right away, but I promise to pop in over the weekend if need be to read and respond to everyone’s comments.

Three Things to Evaluate as We Move into Fall

Three Things to Evaluate as We Move into Fall



How has your summer been? For me, it seems to have passed in a blink. Some traveling, some writing retreats and weekends, some weeks at home editing and writing, and all of a sudden, I'm staring down the barrel of September, the start of a new school year, the season of pumpkin-spice everything. Since my younger child graduated and I am not homeschooling anymore, I am no longer ruled by the tyranny of the School Calendar. The rhythm of my days is not changed much with the turning of the leaves…and yet…perhaps it should be. 

Three Things to Evaluate as We Move into Fall


The changing of a season is a good time to reevaluate our goals, habits, and mindset where our writing is concerned. Did you set some goals in January? We’re 2/3 of the way through 2019. Perhaps now is a good time to take stock of what we've done and what remains to be done this year for us to stay on track.

Three Things to Evaluate as We Move into Fall


Did you set a word count goal for 2019? Or a number of submissions you wanted to get done? Agents queried? Books released? Some other writing goal? How are you doing with that? Do you need to reassess? Perhaps your goals weren’t lofty enough? Have you surpassed any benchmarks you set for yourself? Are you perhaps a little behind? What are you going to do to catch up?



Three Things to Evaluate as We Move into Fall
 


Where are your writing habits after the summer months? How is your discipline? Are you writing often, or are you just thinking about writing? What changes will fall bring to your writing time? Will it be harder to squeeze in, or will having kids in school free up more time to write? Are you taking time to learn more about the craft of writing? Reading some good books, listening to podcasts, browsing good blogs? What habits need changed, and what should you keep doing as we head into the cooler months?



Three Things to Evaluate as We Move into Fall


How’s your mindset these days? Are you dreading the coming of shorter days, brisker temps, and busier schedules? Or do you embrace a structured format? Are you excited about writing, or does the thought of actually sitting down and sinking into a story world give you anxiety or dread. Can you use this change of seasons to reset? Mindset is perhaps the writer's greatest strength and possibly greatest weakness. How is your attitude about life in general, and how is that trickling through to your writing?

For many, the coming of fall and the start of school means a drastic change in routine. Gone are the carefree days of summer where sleeping in is normal, unplanned adventures are an everyday possibility, and bedtimes as flexible as pool noodles. It’s time for backpacks, homework, after-school activities, and a ramping up of church commitments. Such a change can rock the writer's world, or it can be the catalyst they need to reassess, readjust, and rejuvenate their writing goals for a push to the end of the year.

Three Things to Evaluate as We Move into Fall
Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she is married to her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her at online  https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ 
where she spends way too much time!



Three Things to Evaluate as We Move into Fall
Journey along in the Old West as four women travel to meet their husbands-to-be and discover that nothing is as it was planned. Eve’s fiancé is in jail. Amelia’s fiancé has never heard of her. Zola’s newlywed husband is dead. Maeve’s travel is misdirected. Can these brides can find a true love match?

The Galway Girl by Erica Vetsch
Kansas, 1875
A mail-order mix-up sends Irish lass Maeve O’Reilly to the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas. Will Kaspar Sandberg consider it a happy accident or a disaster to be rectified as soon as possible?

You can order your copy of Mail-Order Mishaps today by clicking HERE.

First Week In! What Have You Done to Make Your Dream Come True So Far?

First Week In! What Have You Done to Make Your Dream Come True So Far?


January 7th...

A week in.

About now most folks' resolutions of going to the gym are dying a slow or not-so-slow death.

Most of the Christmas stuff has been packed away... but is it organized like you planned? Or stuffed in random totes that you'll lament and regret next November?

There's probably a small stack of things needing to be returned on a counter or table or dresser... and you'll get to them soon!

And the registration for the car that you meant to do in December is only a week late.

:)

If this sounds familiar, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, MY FRIENDS.

Life happens. It spins. It hurries! It's frankly amazing how it beats its own little drum in a rhythmic time that leaves us in a whirlwind of things to get done.

Now I know a lot of folks who will quietly and effectively not have any of these things happening or waiting.... and that's good for them. They are not generally the people who take on extra volunteer projects when someone gets sick or step in to host a family gathering at the last minute, or have open Sundays at the pool for anyone who wants to drop in during a hot, hot summer.

So part of the problem is that some folks do too much and their time disappears.... I love those folks!

And others just can't seem to get it together no matter what season, what time, what setting.

If you're a writer, that's not gonna work.

If you're a writer and want to publish your own work or be traditionally published, that's not gonna work.

Meeting expectations, meeting deadlines, meeting other professionals on their terms is a huge part of your success as an author.

Learning the business, understanding the industry, climbing the walls and nudging open doors... All of these are huge.

First Week In! What Have You Done to Make Your Dream Come True So Far?

You do not have to be organized to be a writer. Creative minds do not have to follow those rules, and many don't.

But you do have to be productive enough to feed a hungry audience of readers who are anxiously awaiting your next book.

Authors fail for a lot of reasons, but lack of production and lack of time spent are two big ones.

So where are you in your goals this 7th of January?

What do you see yourself doing in five years?

An author asked me that years ago and prayed for me when I said "I want to be where you are, an award-winning author with a sizable pile of books to my credit..."

I don't think she expected my honesty. Or that once a goal is set, I am determined to do the work to meet it. I can't predict the outcome!

But I have the power within myself to do everything I can to make it come true if I work hard enough.

First Week In! What Have You Done to Make Your Dream Come True So Far?

I'm not worried about your undone stuff, my friends.... We've all got a pile of that.

But now is the best time to set your plan in motion, before guilt at turning that new Pelitron into a drying rack for fine washables sets in. :)

Share your plan with us if you'd like!

I'd love to hear it!
First Week In! What Have You Done to Make Your Dream Come True So Far?

And while you're here I would be REMISS not to mention that "A Cowboy in Shepherd's Crossing" is available NATIONWIDE right now, wherever mass market paperbacks are sold and also on Amazon!  Jace Middleton always works his plan... a talented construction contractor and cowboy, Jace does whatever it takes to get the job done. When faced with leaving the town he loves, the town his family helped settle, Jace faces the choice with reluctance and determination... but when old secrets come out, and an eccentric and possibly more-than-eccentric old white woman reveals that she is Jace's biological grandmother... everything changes because the determined cowboy discovers he's been living a lie for thirty years... This beautiful story wraps itself around your heart and touches your soul as you take Jace's journey with him. I hope you dash out and buy it (or use the link RIGHT HERE!!!!) and that you love it!



First Week In! What Have You Done to Make Your Dream Come True So Far?
Multi-published, award-winning inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne loves what she does and hopes that shows in everything she publishes. As creator of the Shepherd's Crossing Western series, she's having so much fun writing a cast of unforgettable and diverse characters in a crazy beautiful and rugged setting.... You can find her on Facebook where she loves to share all kinds of things, on Twitter, at ruthloganherne.com and you can find her books through bookstores, Walmart, anywhere mass market media books are sold, and of course the entire library of her 50 books is available on Amazon at Ruth Logan Herne's page!
Revisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.Avoiding the Summer SlumpMy Word For 2020Three Things to Evaluate as We Move into FallFirst Week In! What Have You Done to Make Your Dream Come True So Far?

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