Wednesday, July 23, 2014

CONTEST & CONFERENCES- The Ozark Creative Writers

I've been attending the annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference (OCW as we regulars refer to the event) about 20 years. Aside from Romance Writers of America conferences, this was the first writers conference I ever attended.

Ozark Creative Writers is a unique multi-genre conference in it's 47th year! Held in beautiful Eureka Springs Arkansas the second weekend in October, this is a conference you do not want to miss! Aside from two days of workshops, there is plenty of opportunity to network, pitch your next big seller as well as offer your own books for sale at an author's table.

The beautiful Best Western Inn of the Ozarks Hotel and Convention center is our Home for 3-4 days. I never stay anywhere else when I go to Eureka Springs. The staff are amazing. After so many years, this is like a family reunion for me - and we're always open to letting new folks in. Reservations fill up fast around town as this is when Autumn shows off a fabulous wardrobe of color. You'll find additional accommodation suggestions on the OCW or the Official Eureka Springs websites

Plus for the cost of your registration you may enter as many of the contest categories as you wish with the chance of winning prize money. But hurry... entries must be postmarked by Sept. 1

They've added a couple of new things this year.
One is a Jam Session in memory of talented songwriter, Nick Nixon. So if you play an instrument or just like to sing, plan to sit in on this fun addition to an already great conference.

Another continuation from the last couple of years but with a little extra umpf is the Fiddle Faddle Anything Goes Open Mic.  This takes place on Thursday evening as what use to be our Meet and Greet/ cocktail hour.

So polish up those entries, pack your walking shoes and be prepared for a conference you'll come back to year after year!

Monday, July 21, 2014

CURRENT PROJECT - Week of July 21

While I'm not crazy about the burgandy tulle around the base, these were the colors of my wedding. Perfect floral choice for a fall wedding, don't you think?

I'm starting to think about wedding cakes. After all, there will be multiple of them in this new series. Wedding cakes can be simple and elegant to the funny (remember the armadillo cake from Steel Magnolias?) to topsy turvy and everything in between. Traditional to the extreme lends a broad canvas to these sugary creations.

When Bob and I were married 30 years ago (next month) I chose a simple tiered cake incorporating the autumn colors. (See my post August 25, 2014 for pictures of our cake) I didn't realize until several years later when I stepped out of the broom closet how important those colors were to me at the time. And now here I go setting a book in Coastal New England. Hmmm I'm seeing a pattern here.

Tell me about your dream wedding cake. A version may just wind up in the bakery story.
Creative Blessings on your week!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

WRITER TIP THURSDAY - Time Management Part 2

Welcome back!
If you missed Part 1 - you can see it HERE.
I kept the same picture because I wanted to draw your attention to the journal in the center. That is a Documented Life Planner . The journal is just what the title says - Plan your life and document all the things you do on a daily basis. The original concept behind a DLP uses a Weekly Moleskin journal. Well, if you remember anything from my previous post then you know there is no way I'm fitting everything on a 'weekly' page. So I created my own using composition notebooks. I have 4 - 1 per quarter of the year and working on a DAILY system.   Here's what an inside weekday page looks like:

I only use the left hand side of the page for business. 
I have one daily schedule breakdown sheet adhered to the journal page with a colorful piece of Washi Tape (nothing says our journals have to be boring!). This is like a page within a page. I simply turn it back to keep my project notes underneath. 

But that top piece is the SECRET INGREDIENT to how  H. Reardon's book has changed how I move through my day. 
SUCCESSFUL business people work in TIME BLOCKS. That's why most dayplanners are broke down into :30 min increments. This allows those highly motivated, successful people to account for every minute of their day. 
I learned a long time ago that :30 min. increments are not for me. In fact, I didn't think they made sense at all for someone working from home. Boy, was I wrong... and why I never seemed to get on top of things. 
So I started by looking at what I HAD to do in a work day and the best way to break down my time AND  still allow time for family, fun, art, LIFE.
This is what I came up with:

You can click on the picture for a larger view but here's how I break my day down:
Up at 6:30 (note only a 1/2 hour earlier than I'd been getting up)
          I use this time to boot up the computer, make the coffee, check on all the critters, etc.
7:00-8:00 I ENJOY my coffee and cruise sights like art boards and Pinterest - not to work but to ENJOY!
8-8:30 I exercise. 
          I use a variety of things from videos, to Wii Fit to just walking on the treadmill while I watch something           on the DVR. Then a quick shower.
9 -10 All about the email. 
          This usually doesn't take an entire hour - for all 3 email accounts. 4 if I sign into Yahoo to do Groups
10 - Brunch
           Sometimes in this hour I will also get outside for a bit but usually I am multi-tasking household chores
           like doing dishes, hanging laundry, running the sweeper.
11 - You'll notice the exampled says Party List Part 1. 
        That's a Wednesday only thing. I have one blog post that must be on my music blog by 7 a.m.                       Thursday mornings for various radio stations. The post takes me all day on Wednesday to do. 
        The right hand side is for doodling and art work. 
        On other days I work on contest entries and critiques for other authors 
1 - It's lunch time. 
        I'll also spend this hour multi-tasking around the house and walk down to get the mail
2-5 - I'm back on the Party List post (Wed.)
        This part of the Wed post requires adding over 50 links to artist/ venue websites within the post before          uploading. Sometimes I'll move to the sofa for this part and let a movie play in the background.
5 - Final check of email.
        I respond to anything needing a response and take care of others. But no longer than an hour.
6 - Computer is shut down for a couple hours.
      I fix and enjoy dinner, take clothes off the line and anything else I can do.
8 - I'm back to write fiction for a couple hours.
      I do this by word sprinting with long-time writer buddies on Yahoo Instant Message. 
      Very productive time.
By 10 p.m. (sometimes 9) I am DONE for the day. I can sit on the sofa, put my feet up and enjoy some of my favorite shows - with or without Bob home. I'm not working til 11 p.m. or midnight AND I'm getting my projects done AND fiction time in.

That is my day when Bob is gone. 
Now instead of working weekends (at the computer) I'm able to go out to music venues and meet new artists without fear of falling behind.
When Bob is home I try to limit my time to morning email, and 2 full days - Mon/ Wed. With the rest of the time spent with him. 

I have explained to him that when he retires in 5 years that I will have to work more than 2 days a week. LOL but maybe I can work 1/2 days 4 days a week? We're still working that one out. 

How are you spending your day?
Are you accomplishing what you need every day or feeling like you're constantly playing catch-up?
Share your thoughts. And for those of you at ORA, I'll have my planner with me at the Aug. meeting if you'd like to see it. Goes everywhere with me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Okay... you made the deadline and got your WETA Nichols entry in last week, right? Next step is to plan to attend the conference where you can meet with editors, an agent, other authors - you know... people who speak your language.

Have you been to ORACon?  If so, then you know what an awesome time we have.

One day FULL of GREAT : 
GOODY BAGS (these are FULL)

Seriously, who wants to miss out on all of this and MORE! 

One KEY thing to know:
Although ORACon is sponsored by Ozarks Romance Authors - this conference is NOT JUST Romance! We cover writing mechanics, marketing/ promotion, plotting.. anything having to do with WRITING.

ORACon 2014 takes place on Saturday September 21st at the beautiful University Plaza Hotel in downtown Springfield MO. 

For all the details about how to register, sign up for a pitch session, schedule your photo session

And I'll see you at ORACon 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

CURRENT PROJECT - Week of July 14

I love weddings! So romantic. Full of hope and promises.

Over the weekend, we traveled to Nebraska for the wedding of our niece, TJ and her great catch, Nick. They are the sweetest couple. He spoils her, loves her and the feelings are mutual.

As much as I think 'love is sweeter the second time around', I pray this is THE ONE for both of them.

With just getting in last night and company due in here tomorrow, I do not see a lot of writing in my future. So consider this the beginning of a long week off. I've spent time scheduling posts wherever possible so things are not too quiet.

I can promise that once everything has settled down and Bob is back out on the boat, I become a workaholic again prepping these new stories and hopefully finishing one in progress.

Creative Blessings on your week!

Friday, July 11, 2014


Friday Posts are on Hiatus through the month of July. I've put most of my July posts on Auto-run as I'm spending much needed time with Bob. Any computer time will be spent actual writing.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

WRITER TIP THURSDAY - Time Management - Part 1

This is what my creative desk looks like most of the time. Always something going on... like the rest of my life.

Over the years I've tried different Time Management methods, a variety of day planners and every other way imaginable to get the most out of my day without feeling as if I were still behind.

When not writing fiction, I am a entertainment writer and promoter. On any given day I will:

Go through email for business and writing
Check and respond to FB feeds for both business and writing
Quick check of Twitter for both business and writing
Plug artists and authors through social media - as well as my own stuff
Check in with radio stations or other promoters
Schedule blog guest for this blog and send them the appropriate form
Set up or transcribe entertainer interviews to post on the music blog
Review a new CD and post on the music blog
Review a book from either a Texas author, about/ by an entertainer or both & post to blog/ amazon
Street team a chunk of about 300 musicians - meaning I promote the heck out of them
Check the music charts to see how specific entertainers are doing
Work on contest entries
Research my current work in progress via internet or pinterest
Work on edits of another project
Work on freelance articles in various stages prior to submission
Get a couple hours in on actual fiction writing

Somewhere in there I hope to get some art time in to keep the other creative juices flowing - and fodder for freelance articles
Try to make the house look less like a hoarder lives here.

Are you exhausted yet?
Keep in mind... like many of you, I have a day job. That is the music and freelance work that I do. And like you, I fit my fiction in the best I can afterwards - usually in the evening after supper (during if I'm home alone)

Initially, I was up by 7 and firing up the laptop as I went past enroute to the coffee pot. While my coffee heated and the laptop warmed up, I would check on the outside doggies, give the inside cats their treats and fill the hummingbird feeder (I go through 3 C. of syrup in about 10 hours!) and make a double batch of feed for the next day.

By then, my day began on the computer and with housework and a quick meal if I remembered, my day didn't end until about 11 p.m. or later. This was a 6 day week!

The problem?
I was tired
I still didn't feel as if I were keeping up
I wasn't getting any creative time in
I wasn't having any fun.

Before I share my enlightened solution, let me educate those who do not know me. My husband is a riverboat Captain - trust me, not as exciting as it sounds. He works hard and is gone 21 days at a time. Those days I am home alone. I work long hours so I don't have to work any more than absolutely necessary when he IS home the next 21 days. He is my life and nothing is more important than spending the time we have together. And with him driving from south central MO to Chicago to get on the boat - let me just say there are a lot of crazies on the road. You just never know.

Then I found a FREE book on Amazon. But I would pay for TIME MANAGEMENT 2.0- 15 Secrets of a Self-Made Millionaire for Getting Things Done in heartbeat! This is part of H. Reardon's 'Coffee With a Millionaire' series.

For instance, did you know that Successful business people only check their mail twice a day? Once when they first get into the office and again at the end of the day.

Did you know that we are the saboteurs of our destiny? How? By letting OTHERS dictate how we spend OUR TIME. It's okay to do nice things for people once in awhile during 'office' hours. But keep in mind, that is time out of your paycheck.

I'll leave you with that. Come back next Thursday to see how my life has changed since incorporating H. Reardon's book into my life.

In the mean time, tell me how you spend your day.