Out with the Old…

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For a long time now, I have documented my love-hate relationship with my laptop, Lappy. I looove my Lappy. It’s been with me through the highs and lows of my most fulfilling careers, it’s my favorite color, and I just love the feel of it’s keys under my fingertips. Face it, it’s a part of me.

Sadly though, our relationship must come to an end. Arriving at this decision has been difficult, but a-long-time-coming. I don’t know at what point things actually changed. Perhaps it was the frequency of crashing incidents. Or the time I pinched my arm as I was typing because the keyboard separated from the base trapping my skin in it. Maybe it was the day it started talking back to me in the form of a loud, rattling, whir, or when the monitor started blinking off-and-on at random. Despite all of its shortcomings, I still loved Lappy. So, saying goodbye is hard to do.

I’ll miss the way the space bar stops working if a strand of hair gets trapped under it. Or how the Geek Squad recognizes me whenever I come in. I’ll miss having to ice my shoulder whenever I transport it somewhere because it’s absolutely the heaviest thing in my writing tool box. Lappy has served me well. We had a good go of it. And though I had to endure cruel jokes from the family over 15-minute start up times, or the random disconnects from the internet, or the smoking that almost set my lap on fire, I still stuck by it’s side.

Perhaps I’ll keep it around for good measure or donate it for parts (though the parts may now be obsolete). I mean, I did produce my first published book on it after all. Who knows?

What I do know is I’ll miss you Lappy! I’ll miss all the good times we shared. All the journaling, blogging, accounting, lesson planning, bill paying, storytelling, web browsing, social media-ing, and Youtubing shall be enjoyed with a model that’s a little sleeker, a little lighter, a little faster, and a little sharper. But I’ll always appreciate the good times we shared and all you did for me.

Goodbye Lappy…you’ll kinda be missed.

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More Writing, Less Blogging

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One of the most difficult things as a writer for me can be flexibility. I absolutely consider myself a flexible individual…so long as that flexibility falls within my personal realm of what and how I choose to be flexible…crazy right? I know. But I love the me that I am. Sue me.

However, despite my limited scope of flexibility, I have learned that regardless of my preferences, I have to learn to be, well – flexible. After all, I am still growing and learning who I am as a writer.

So what’s the big change? So in the spirit of being flexible, here’s the new change that’s essential to me as a writer: I MUST change my blogging schedule! I love to blog. But, I don’t seem to have the time for it as I once did. On the contrary, I love to write. But there doesn’t seem to be much time for that either. So what gives?

What I realize about myself as a writer is I will procrastinate ’til the cows come home before I’ll sit down and focus on the very thing that I’m passionate about – which usually results in nothing getting done. I’m a hot mess, I know. But I also realize that I experience anxiety when I overwhelm myself with too many things – and I am not one of those fine individuals who is a master at balancing 39 things in a day. This drives me stir-crazy and leaves me feeling inadequate. Therefore, change is inevitable.

But Cane, blogging is writing! How can you not have time for it? It’s simple. Mentally, I separate blogging from what I consider to be ‘writing’. Not that blogging isn’t writing, but I don’t feel accomplished when I blog. It’s fun for me. Relaxing. It’s equivalent to playing your favorite video game or watching a good movie. When I’m gaming or watching t.v., I’m freeing my mind. That’s what blogging does for me. So when I blog, I haven’t actually penned anything toward my manuscripts in progress, or made any revisions on existing manuscripts. Not accomplishing this leaves me feeling pretty low. I don’t feel empty inside when I don’t get a chance to play my favorite gaming app on my iPad, just as I don’t feel empty if I don’t get a chance to blog. I look forward to it. I love to do it. But there’s no pressure to do it. Story writing on the other hand is different for me. I love it! I feel invigorated when I get the story out of my head. But there is pressure if it doesn’t get done. Granted, this is self-inflicted pressure, but pressure all the same. So while blogging is writing, it’s not the kind of writing that helps me achieve my goals as a storyteller.

Keep in mind, this may differ for other writers. Some writers blog for a living, so obviously blogging would hold a different weight in their writing arena. For me, storytelling is the priority for me.

I’ve changed my blogging schedule several times already! I’ve gone from daily blogging, to 3 times per week, to twice per week, to weekly blogging with gaps of inactivity in between. I’m still not satisfied. So my next attempt is MONTHLY! (Big surprise). It took a while to reach this long overdue conclusion, but it’s the best thing…for Cane.

In short, Creating Cane is switching from a weekly blog (which sort of stopped happening anyway) to a monthly blog. This will make it much easier to bring you the latest and greatest on this ongoing journey of mine. I miss you guys!

But what about that daily word count thing? I have still worked tirelessly to achieve my daily word count as discussed in my March blog post: A Daily Word Count that Worksand I am still very pleased with the results of applying this technique to my writing life. But I can’t help but feel that something is suffering when I still don’t fit it all in. And reality is, when I’m doing one, I’m not doing the other. I don’t want my blog to suffer simply because my book writing is gaining momentum. It all needs to get done. I think the monthly blogging schedule will give me an opportunity to have my cake and eat it too…just not in such large proportions.

Do you blog? How often? What schedule works best for you? Whether you’re blogging, screen writing, story writing, song writing, journaling, reporting, or any other form of writing, just be sure to make it work for you!

Write on! Write on!

A Daily Word Count that Works

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The seasons are changing and spring is upon us. With spring comes the desire for cleaning, weeding, changing, and reorganizing. Writers fall into this mode as well. Writers may desire to try a new genre, begin a new manuscript, finish a lingering manuscript, reorganize creative spaces, or weed out distractions. In my case, my urge has been to weed out distractions and try something new to keep me focused and make greater progress in my writing.

Recently a writer-buddy of mine gave me some advice that I thought I’d attempt since what I had been doing hadn’t been working up to this point. Listen up Newbies, this one’s for you.

We attended a school function together that was a “Celebration of Reading” if you will. When I first met this fellow writer/author a little over a year ago, he had a few books and I thought to myself, ‘One day that’ll be me‘. Well, as we’re setting up our table displays, I noticed his works had multiplied significantly (as I set up my only title with bells and whistles to make it look fancy). Being the conversationalist that I am, I lean over to him and ask (as only I can),

“Uhhh…What have you been doing? You didn’t have that many titles when we first met. You’ve been busy! How do you get it all done?”

I’m sure this is a common question for those new to this whole writing thing.

“How do you get it all done?”

I have read countless blogs and spoken with many writer-friends about writing and making time to write. By far, I felt this particular advice was the most practical. So I put it to the test.

He advised me not to set an astronomical daily writing goal. So many suggest a daily goal of anywhere from 1800-2500 words. Which, many of us can do, but can we do it consistently? He told me he set a goal of about 750 words per day. I immediately thought, that’s pretty low. I’ll never finish my next book with a goal that low. But I continued to listen.

He went on to explain that 750 words was a more realistic writing goal for the busy writer. Many days he would exceed that goal, but if not, at least he knew he had met the goal for the day and he could feel accomplished. Eventually, he created a habit of writing (which we have all been told is essential in this business). But the difference was his goal was realistic and attainable. He said he started aiming for this lower daily writing goal everyday (or at least almost everyday) and before he knew it his table was boasting three or four more titles than he had when we first met just over a year prior.

Despite my doubts, the table didn’t lie. So I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s my take-away:

  1. 750 words per day turned out to be a very reasonable and realistic goal for me. I was hitting my word count in no time and when I exceeded the goal, it made me feel as if I had really put in significant time with my writing each day. I could move on to get other day-to-day responsibilities done without the guilt of having not reached my word count for that day.
  2. Mentally, I didn’t feel drained by the end of the day stressing and obsessing over having not met my daily writing. I felt relaxed, accomplished, and more eager to finish the story I was trying to tell.
  3. By the end of the week, I had made progress on my manuscript that I had been longing for for weeks. No burnout, no frustration, PLUS rewards. By far my most successful week as a writer.

It’s been a few weeks now, and I have continued to apply this writing method – successfully!

Here’s the point – daily goals of 1800-2500 words are realistic goals . . . For someone else. Not for me. If you’re struggling with forming a writing habit, maybe your goals aren’t realistic given your personal schedule and/or your writing muscles. It takes time to transform our physical bodies and build muscles. Writing muscles are no different. I’m not saying aim low, but maybe you’re not being honest with yourself. While I met my 750 wpd many times, most days I was hitting 1400-1800 wpd anyway – without the pressure. This created a freedom for me to write, thereby nurturing my love for writing instead of fostering a dread for doing it, which would often lead to avoidance. I don’t want writing to become a chore, but at times the effort feels labored when I consistently fail to accomplish my writing goals.

Thanks to readjusting my daily goals, I have rediscovered myself as a writer and again look forward to tackling old and new manuscripts.

Are you setting realistic goals for yourself or are you losing sleep and hair trying to meet others’ expectations of you? If you need to write more – want to write more, but it’s just not happening for you, try scaling back that word count a bit and watch your story (or stories) come alive! Try it and share your results.

Scale back and write on!

February Favorites: Inspiring Black Writers

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As I stare at my barren Christmas tree, still trying to muster up the energy to drag it to the crawl space in the attic along with the other Christmas decorations, I realize February has crept up on me and I haven’t posted a single thing since November! I guess the effects of Thanksgiving birds, holiday shopping, and new year’s resolutions can really take a toll on a soul. But nonetheless, despite having survived our most cherished holidays, here we are, already in the second month of the year and the celebrations begin again.

February is packed full of days of recognition. From Groundhog Day to President’s Day to this year being a Leap Year, there is definitely much to learn and celebrate in the shortest month of the year. As I have every year it is imperative that I take time to recognize, what (to me) is the most important celebration of February (Hubby’s birthday excluded) – Black History Month.

That’s right! It’s Black History Month – a time to slow down and really highlight, explore, remember, pay tribute to, and celebrate the black contribution to the United States of America. Rest assured that as an African-American February is not the only time black history is celebrated and discussed in the black community. But it is a time of special observance nationwide that is important for all Americans to take pause and recognize.

I’m a writer and author and therefore choose to use this month to highlight other black writer’s and authors in honor of Black History Month. This week I’d like to highlight some of the notable authors that inspired me from girlhood to teen. I read works by all of these writers and was inspired by each one in different ways.

Now, there are countless blogs recognizing and celebrating Black History, so I’ll keep my posts short and sweet. Many of these writers are very well known in the African-American community. Below is my favorite work by each writer and a link to learn more about their lives and contributions. Enjoy learning more about each of them and don’t forget to post some of your favorites in the comments.

 Be inspired and write on!

5 Ideas for Writing through the Holiday (Repost)

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Since November is in full swing and I am busy, busy, busy trying to meet my daily writing goals for NaNoWriMo, I thought I could cheat a little bit with my November posts. This repost offers some great tips to prepare you for getting around time commitments with family while still making time to write through the Holiday. Have anything to add or a great suggestion that helps you write through the holiday? Leave a comment below. Enjoy!

Traveling to visit with family can be fun, entertaining, and nerve-wrecking all at once. One of the things I look forward to most about the holidays is not just getting together with family, but also the anticipation of seeing them. It’s no secret that I am a lover of road trips. The building excitement of packing, loading the car, and the hours upon hours of spending time with the kids in the car with their mounting excitement for the holiday, is truly what makes the trip so worth while. But, as fun as traveling is, it can still be difficult to write while traveling, especially if you come from a family that plans out every waking moment of your visit (fortunately I don’t). So what are some ways to get some good productive writing in while traveling without taking away from time with the family?

1. Passenger Seat Writing. The most obvious of answers is writing if you’re not the one driving. If you’re the passenger and have a long road trip ahead of you, there is no reason why you can’t knock out some pages or do some editing, revising, journaling, and/or brainstorming instead of sleeping or staring out of the window. If kids or other passengers are a distraction, take advantage of all technology has to offer and plug those ears with your most inspirational sounds and get to writing. UPDATE: If you have a smartphone, use it! Even if you are driving, use the record features on your phone to voice record your thoughts as you’re driving. If you can do it to send a text, you can do it to advance your writing.

2. Plan Ahead. If you are from a family that plans out every moment of the trip, take advantage of that Type A personality planner and be sure to include your writing time in the plan. Personally, I don’t commit to doing any work that is not directly related to the holiday celebration on the holiday itself, but if you’re die-hard and don’t want to miss a beat, plan to write while everyone is snoozing after overindulging on turkey and dressing. If you’re a big football fan and just can’t miss the games on turkey day, then plan to devote a couple of hours to writing while the turkey’s in the oven. If however you are like me and no matter what the holiday is just that – a holiday – and you refuse to work on that day, then plan an hour or two of writing while the family sleeps in, or while you’re waiting in the parking lot for stores to open their doors for Black Friday. Either way, there is no reason you can’t get your ideas down just because you’re traveling.

3. Be Realistic. No one knows your family better than you. No one knows YOU better than you. Don’t commit yourself to a schedule you know you can’t realistically keep. If you know there are certain traditions that your family simply will not compromise on – don’t. Avoid committing to working on days that will just be impossible to do. You’ll find yourself feeling unaccomplished and will spend the next several days beating yourself up over your lack of commitment to your craft. Spare yourself, your family, and the writing community (because you know you’re going to blog about it) from that unnecessary drama and try this instead. Set a number of (realistic) hours you want to write for your entire trip. Then work those hours in over the span of the trip rather than committing to a day-by-day schedule. If you set your goal at five hours of writing, you can spread those hours out in any way that fits your family’s holiday schedule. Flexibility is the name of the game.

4. Accept All Forms of Accomplishment. When I first started into this venture, I thought that writing was the only way for me to feel as if I accomplished anything in my craft. I was extremely hard on myself if I didn’t write at least 1500 words of something every day. What I know now is there is more that goes into writing than just, well. . . writing. Jotting down some blog ideas; drafting a blog entry or two; journaling an inspired poem that popped into your head; a new story layout; editing/revising current works in progress; laying out a new project plan or plan of action; catching up on emails and correspondence related to your current or future works, are all a part of your writing career. One doesn’t happen without the other. It’s great if you can write thousands of words per day no matter what. But just in case you have these other things on your plate that contribute to getting that masterpiece manuscript in front of your readers, you need to accept that these things also count as being productive and getting you closer to publication. It all counts in my book.

5. Have Fun. The most important rule of all. Some of my most inspiring moments come from life itself. I find that I do some of my best writing when I just relax and let the ideas pop into my head from day-to-day activities. Just plan to enjoy your trip and you’ll end up finding yourself inspired in more ways than one.

Celebrating the holidays with family and friends is obviously a priority. But like most of our American holidays, despite taking multiple days to celebrate, reality is, the holiday itself is just one day. You can still use your time wisely to advance your writing career without sacrificing the much needed time with your loved ones.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! And (when you have time) write on!

What the Prep?

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I still can’t believe I’m about to do this! The first of November is Sunday. I feel strong going into this, but whoa! This will certainly be a new experience for me and I’m looking forward to it. But every time I think about that word count goal . . .

I’ve spent the last several days getting ready for the big NaNoWriMo event in hopes that a little prep will go a long way toward meeting my goal.

IMG_2808Feeling the Energy As the weather begins to cool here in sunny Florida, I’m revamping a space in my garage (don’t mind the dead plant) because that’s where I’m feeling the most creative these days. I love doing household projects and crafts in this space, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually tried writing in it. Boy did the juices start flowing. I’ve determined that this is where I seem to be most inspired and this will definitely be my “go-to” studio through the month of November, and possibly beyond.

Author Head Spaces Attending local writing events and workshops is always a great way to get your head in gear for writing. I attended a NaNoWriMo panel that really lit a fire under me, not just for November, but in general. I can’t stress enough how being around other writers is always refreshing and inspirational.

I also tuned into an authors panel via Spreecast. This was just as inspiring as the live panel and though I wasn’t able to attend the live event, I love that I could at least replay the panel from the comforts of my home at a time that was suitable for my schedule. The bonus was getting additional tips to help me throughout my writing career.

The Work I narrowed my novel ideas down to two concepts and just decided whichIMG_2813 one I’m going to run with for my first NaNoWriMo. This will be a case of starting from scratch and rewriting that novel that’s just been collecting dust for over a year now. One thing I’ve learned from attending writing events is – sometimes you just have to start over. The work isn’t going anywhere because I’m just not passionate enough about it. So, regardless of how much I’ve already put on paper, this is a must-do-redo and I’m ready. I’ve revised my characters to include more in depth character sketches, thought out the worlds in which my characters will live and interact, and have a general idea of where I want the story to go. I think I was missing some of these elements before, but the gaps are filled in, and there’s nowhere to go but through the pages.

The Distraction Plan I am prepared for that pesky Something Shiny Syndrome to rear it’s ugly head and keep me from meeting my daily writing goals. But not to worry. I’m prepared with a plan to write that incorporates all those planned and unplanned distractions – that holiday road trip, field trips and events at the kids’ schools, neighborhood events and functions, even running low on my caffeine supply and budget. Whatever the distraction, I’m ready to write – in the car, before the field trips and events, and during the kids’ practices. And just in case my caffeine stash and/or budget runs low, those quarters and nickels I’ve been dropping in old jars for years are ready for me to take to the conversion machine at the nearest supermarket so I can turn my coins into cash and restock and reload. No excuses people!

Within Reach IMG_2811Things I’m prepared to have within reach while writing this new novel: CHOCOLATE! Coffee, tea, or my favorite dark soda (pop for my northern folks); My favorite cheddar popcorn (I have to have this stuff); CHOCOLATE; A quick meat source for protein (peanut butter doesn’t always do it for me); paper and pens; any type of mobile device; and last but not least… did I mention CHOCOLATE? (Okay, I admit this is the candy we’re supposed to be passing out for Halloween, but they don’t need all those cavities anyway…right?)

Well, hopefully I can secure an emergency chocolate stash after Halloween. I’m sure the kids won’t mind.

There you have it. This novel is getting done! It has to. Wish me luck. If you don’t hear from me in November, hopefully it just means I’m lost in a good book – my own. Happy writing and write on!

Journal Shopping

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I know it’s been a while, but trust I haven’t abandoned you! November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and it’s fast approaching. In the scramble to prepare, I’ve found myself focused on writing more than ever.

With that, I’m always on the lookout for notebooks and journals and came across this deal that was too good not to share. While I’m usually pretty particular about color and I typically prefer the more flexible styles because they travel well and can easily sustain a lot of abuse, I had to make an acception in this case. This week I came across these lovelies for $5.00 at my local Staples and I just couldn’t pass them up. From the binding to the magnetic clasp, this was an instant winner for me. I grabbed the last two in stock and would have purchased more if they had them. After all, writers can never have enough journals. 

 Click to find out more about NaNoWriMo, stock up on those journals, and write on!

A Day in the Life of a Writer-Mom

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There’s nothing like making a plan and sticking to it (something I don’t often do that well). But it sure does make a little ole’ writer like me feel a sense of personal success when I actually finish every task I set out to do.

Summer has finally drawn to an end, school is back in session, and the peace and quiet of home has set in. This marks the time for me to regroup and get back in the swing of actively writing, revising, and marketing.

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Sunday night I updated and recorded everything in my most favorite planner, which I had to contact the manufacturer to get (I absolutely love this planner-style). I recorded to-do lists, purchases, meetings, appointments, writing tasks I should be working on each day – everything! I even recorded meals for the week. I searched for any openings between scheduled tasks or events so that I could carve time in between to work on more writing tasks. After recording the same information into my phone I was ready to go.

With the kids back in school, mornings around here are a lot more hectic (evenings too for that matter). So I absolutely have to make sure I get all the house tasks done if I plan to make the “good mom” list for the new school year. This includes dinner.

IMG_2365Thanks to having a plan, I had all of my ingredients set out the night before so that preparation would be a cinch at the crack of dawn. A quick mix of ingredients, grabbed the chicken out of the fridge, set the timer, and dinner was cooking and would be hot and ready to serve before evening practice. Score!

 

When I was a girl, I always hated the overnight, refrigerated sandwich in my lunch box. I assume my kids would probably hate it too. Therefore, school lunches are prepared in the morning at my house. But to speed things up a bit, on Sunday I prepared all of their accompaniments for the week. This week, a little homemade fruit salad in convenient lunch containers, along with a lunch treat and a side vegetable would do the trick. Changing up the entree throughout the week gives the feeling of having something “different” from day-to-day and helps keep lunches a little more interesting. On Hump Day, the kids get to choose if they would like to purchase school lunch or grab a Lunchable from the fridge. This breaks up the monotony of the typical lunchbox meal and gives me a break from lunch-prep. If I’m feeling especially lazy on a particular week, I also let them get school lunch on Fridays, but I try not to make that a habit.

From this point, everything else flowed like clockwork. By the time lunches were prepared, my self-sufficient kids had finished their breakfast and were already getting ready for the day. We have a set morning routine. The kids get up, make their breakfast, clear the table, and get ready for the school day. This also makes mom’s life a lot easier in the mornings.

Homework is signed the night before or not at all, which frees me up to get myself ready for the day. One more quick glance at my planner and I was ready to tackle the business of the day.

I said my farewells to the hubby and my oldest son, while heading out the door to walk the youngest to school. A few kisses and hugs later, it was time to put my writing hat on and start crossing completed tasks off my list. The house was nice and quiet, perfect for staying focused and getting things done. On this particular day, I only had a forty-minute window to write between doctor appointments and conference calls, so I got as much as I could done within that small window. I was on time for my breakfast meeting, conference call, and doctor appointment and still had a little time to spare to finish up a rough draft for a submission I had been procrastinating on finishing.

Once the kids arrived from school, dinner was smokin’ hot and ready to serve from my lovely Crock Pot and we managed to make it to my son’s practice on time.

IMG_2369Upon returning home, I am completely exhausted, but it feels good knowing that not a minute of the day was wasted with nonsense or laziness. Nobody’s perfect, especially not me, so all days won’t be as efficient as this, but it feels good knowing that this one was.

Keep up the momentum and write on!

 

 

Journal De-Clutter: I Need You!

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It’s that time of year again. Time to clear the clutter. I go through a period of de-cluttering at least 3 times a year, because that’s how often things tend to pile up and stand in the way of being creative and productive.

Like most writers, I’m in the habit of jotting down my thoughts, new ideas, and inspirations. If you’ve read The Idea Book . . . Books post, then you know that I have different idea books, or journals, handy in which I write everything that pops into my head. But, here’s the thing, it occurred to me that my journals are a direct reflection of the way my mind actually works – meaning there is stuff (thoughts and ideas) all OVER the place! I think I’m just a walking mass of clutter.

My idea books have random poems scattered about; different experiences I felt compelled to record at the time;  Inspirational quotes; story ideas and what inspired them; reflections; sketches, the list goes on-and-on. And there’s absolutely no logic to how these ideas are organized, they’re just – there. As I’m staring at my books, I realized I have literally created a visual of my brain. I am constantly bombarded throughout my day with random thoughts and ideas that I have to put on paper or they may be lost forever. I sometimes forget what I’m looking for the moment I start looking! I can’t possibly be expected to remember a new story idea without writing it down. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever, so my journals are essential to my writing.

To add to my clutter woes, I didn’t realize that with the release of my new book, the anxiety, excitement, and stress that came along with writing a new book repeat itself every time I start on a new story or have to embark on a new venture with the existing published book. So, in an effort to not continuously feel overwhelmed, it’s time to, once again, clear the clutter – my idea books. I want to continue to be able to write without feeling overwhelmed. This is where you come in.

I’m thinking about trying to reorganize my Idea Books, consolidate them, organize the different ideas I have written in them, and try to make some sense of them. But I can’t help but ask myself, Is that even realistic? Wouldn’t I need yet another journal to even do that?

So, I’m turning to you, my fellow writers, organization experts, teachers, and friends. What do I do? Do you have any suggestions to help me get my journals cleaned up and organized? Fellow writers, how do you manage your journals? I am totally open to suggestions.

That was a Great Idea! Until…

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Many children’s book authors have some type of incentive, activity or giveaways for their book launch, which sounds great in theory. But keep in mind, whatever great ideas you come up with also have to be executed. Executing some of your more brilliant masterpieces can sometimes prove to be a little daunting.

Practicing the Pen Yes, you should practice your autograph. But I felt I didn’t need to practice because I already knew how to sign. I’ve been signing my own signature for years. How hard could it be? I was all set. But a few days before the book launch I read a blog post that suggested your autograph should be different from your official signature. This is because an autograph is public access. It may be on the internet, it’s in many of your books, and it’s free and open to the public. Duh! That hadn’t occurred to me. So, it’s important to protect yourself. You should practice an autograph that’s different from your official signature. Two days before the book launch I spent several hours practicing the beautiful masterpiece that is now my autograph.

Yay! Coloring Pages What a clever idea to have a coloring page from the book to handout to the kids. This would help grab their interest and keep them wanting more! Well, this also means they’ll need some crayons. I could always just ask the facility to provide crayons for the kids. But what about the families that can’t stick around but their child still wants to participate? I went on the hunt for the mini crayon packs (like the restaurants have for the kids menu). At first I couldn’t find them anywhere and thought I would have to order them online from Crayola®. Fortunately, I hesitated and in doing so, wandered in to our local party planning store, only to find that they sold LOADS of the mini crayon packs in bulk. Jackpot! I saved money and time since I didn’t have to order online. And yes, I cleaned them out!

In thinking about how I would distribute the coloring sheets and crayons, I thought it tacky to just hand the kids a sheet and a pack of crayons. Why not fold the sheets into a cute little pocket, to hold the crayons, then put them on display and hand them out? Yes! And it won’t hurt to throw in a little bookmark. BUT, somebody’s got to do the folding people! And that somebody is YOU! If I never fold another piece of paper it will be too soon. But it did make for a nice presentation though. Unfortunately, kids can care less about presentation. They just want the goods. 

 
  

50 Balloons, Oh My! Because my book is primarily about a balloon, I thought it would be great to have loads of balloons at the launch for the kids to enjoy. Instead of paying extra delivery fees, it just made more sense (in my mind) to bring the balloons myself…not a well thought out idea. Fitting 50 balloons into an SUV doesn’t sound like a big deal, until you actually have to stuff them in and drive. Fortunately, my life-saver friend and her super mini-van came to the rescue. Between our two vehicles, we were able to successfully stuff the balloons without any fly-away casualties, into our vehicles, drive 5 miles to the facility (somewhat slowly I might add) and clumsily unload and get the balloons inside the doors without one single pop. And to think, I was originally going to order 100!

Aside from the hassle of getting the balloons to the launch, I also hadn’t considered that actually distributing them to the kids could be  a problem. After getting the balloons all pretty and ready for distribution, of course the first few times we went to happily give a kid one of them, we found that the strings became entangled and knotted up around the bunch. Luckily, there were plenty of safety scissors handy at the childcare center. So the new distribution plan was to cut the string whenever a child needed a balloon. Quick solution, but my lesson learned is, keep the balloons simple. No more fancy stuff.

Oh Yeah – Nourishment. In all the excitement, it never occurred to me that I would need to eat something. As a headache began to rear it’s ugly head (no pun intended) it must’ve become apparent that I wasn’t quite myself. While waiting at the party center for the manager to finish bagging my balloons, my Super Mini Van-friend looked at me and asked, “Have you eaten anything today?” The question stunned me. I hadn’t even thought about food all day. I was running on pure adrenaline. I think I may have responded with a weird, goofy, face because she shook her head at me and gave me the ‘What am I going to do with you?’ shameful shoo.

A true friend indeed, instead of yelling at me and huffing, she simply asked me what I liked from McDonald’s and when we arrived at the facility with balloons in tow, she was heavy one 20 piece McNugget meal which I shared with hubby and kids. Thanks Super Mini Van -Friend!

The Real After Party When all was finally said and done, the launch was a success and the few little hiccups were not enough to shatter my memories of my first book release. These were little giggle moments, but nothing more crucial than that. And it was all made better with a pleasant surprise dinner with close friends and family. Nothing made the event more special than ending the day with those that meant the most to me. Having their support through it all gave me the strength and endurance to make it all possible and it wouldn’t have happened without them. Good food. Good drinks. Good fun. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Have fun in these new endeavors and write on!