Being Flexible Vs. Having No Plan

You are probably sick of hearing me say by now that none of us write in a bubble. Life happens, sometimes we have to throw our plans out the window, especially if we have kids, blah blah blah.

Okay, we get it. The days that we actually get to do the things we plan are few and far between. Most days other things are going to come up that take your to do list and burn it.

So why even bother having a plan? Why not just do what we can, and see how it turns out? Sometimes it seems like that’s what’s going to happen anyway, no matter how we try to avoid it.

I’ll tell you why. Because there is a world of difference between having a plan that goes awry and having no plan at all. While it might not seem like it, consider the following.

Planning is a cornerstone of being a grownup.

The world is full of things you need to plan for. Work, doctors appointments, meetings, coffee with a friend you haven’t seen since college. That is the foundation of your plans; the things you must be on time for. People who have no plans have no guarantee they’re going to meet those plans. It’s the flakey friend who’s late, the co creator who can never be depended upon to do their part of the work. I know, it’s very poetic to consider the stereotype of the flakey artist, but we’re writers! Writers have deadlines.

Goals help motivate you.

Especially if you’ve only got a few minutes. You need to know, and I mean know the next step in your project. You can’t have twenty minutes and spend half of that time figuring out what you need to do next. Because you know your twenty minutes is going to turn into ten.

Having goals gives you a direction.

Knowing where you’re going is a big theme for me. I need to know where I intend to end up. I don’t just want to be a writer. If that’s all I want, my work here is done. I want to be a writer that supports myself and my family with my writing. I want to write speculative fiction. You see how that’s different? This tells me what I need to do, if that’s my goal. Not just a vague, I want to be a writer.

Having a plan means that at least the most important things will happen.

Remember, when I make a to do list, I prioritize it. I’ve discussed this before, but it’s important, so I’ll repeat it. If plans go awry, at least the most important thing got done first.

If you have a plan, you are more likely to insist upon respecting your own time.

This is something that I continue to struggle with. If you’re like me, your family depends on you for a lot. There are, and always will be, demands on my time. Some of them I must meet, some of them I want to.

Some of them are an honest imposition and people should damn well know better. I’m good at seeing those, but not so good at saying no.

Having a plan helps me. “I have to get things done. What things? These things!” I’m getting better at saying no without apology or excuses, but when I feel compelled to give a reason, this helps. “Can you volunteer for this meaningless project you get no joy from?” No, I’m writing that day. I have to get this draft done by the end of the month. “Can you watch my kid for three hours?” No, I like my kids and like two others. Besides, I have blog posts to write. “Can you bake something for this sale?” Only if you want me to poison somebody. Also, I’m behind on a deadline.

It also helps you respect your own time against time leeches. I’m looking at you, Pintrest! Netflix and chill? Sounds great, but I need to get five pages done first.

Basically, life is going to happen, whether we plan for it or not. But it’s going to happen in a more manageable way if we’re prepared with a plan.



Markets, Triangulation

Triangulation is actually a series of speculative fiction anthologies.  So, you know, they’re my friends. The latest of the series, Beneath The Surface, is currently seeking stories. Triangulation asks that you define that any way you wish for your story.

Genre- Speculative fiction.

Word Count-Under 6,000

Wait Time- Not listed.

Rights- North American Serial rights and digital rights

Payout- 2 cents per word

Here is your link to the full submission guidelines.

Want even more markets? Sign up for The Road To Full Time to gain access to our ever growing list of creative markets, sent right to your in box every month.

The Writer’s Notebook

I’m re blogging for Throwback Thursday. As an update, I’ve incorporated my writers notebook into my bullet journal. It’s working out well for me and my lower back.

Days and other stories, now available for pre sale!

Hello! I know this is no surprise, and I’ve been talking about it for a very long, long time, but I am so excited to share this with you today.

Days and Other Stories, my very first collection of short fiction, is now available for pre sale! It took a lot of work, and time, and stress, but it is finally done!

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who read Paper Beats World every week. Without you, I don’t know that I would have the courage to have come this far.

Now, some of these stories you’ve seen here before, but some you haven’t. I wanted to keep at least a few exclusive. Here’s a list of the stories you will find.



Busy Day

The Pusher and Mrs Pauley

Letter On The Bar



None of them are long. One of them is flash fiction, under 100 words. The tie through is that each story shows a day, or maybe even a moment in the life of a very different person. Some of the stories are literary, some are fantasy. At least one is horror. I consider this the equivalent of the sampler I never made.

Just like when I published Thirty Days, I wanted to give everyone a chance to pre order it for less than it will be after February 26, when it comes out. The offer code is dayspre. Here is a link to the sale page.

I really hope you enjoy Days, and Other Stories. I had a lot of fun writing it.

Behind The Scenes of My E-Book Launch

My first book is out! I’m over the moon excited, if you haven’t been able to tell.

Here’s something you might not know. I never set out to publish Thirty Days, Thirty Ideas. I only ever intended it to be an event that we held here at PBW. I had just finished all of my stories of Days, though, and I was so afraid of self publishing it. I had so many questions I needed answers to. I needed to know I wasn’t going to screw it up royally.

I needed practice.

I learned so much through self publishing Thirty Days. Now, I want to share what I’ve learned with you, so that you know that you can do it, too.

Now, I don’t want to rehash the whole step by step guide to self publishing that I blogged about in July. If you’re interested, here’s the whole twelve step process to self publishing an e-book. Today is about the exact tools I used to create my book.

To create the book itself, I used Book Creator. Cost, nothing. I got it from the Play Store. I loved it because it took me about three minutes to figure out how to use. I was able to chose the text, leave pages blank if I needed to, type right onto pages when I wanted to and I could have added pictures if I’d needed to. I understand why my fellow blogger, Delia Writes, uses it. I loved it.  

I did not like that when I uploaded pages they did not fit, and I could not resize the font to flow better. I also wasn’t in love with the fact that I couldn’t change the font on the whole thing, and had to do it page by page. Totally slowed me down.

But the result! It looks so professional! I love it!

For the cover, I used Canva.

That’s right, the same site I use to create my blog images now has book covers. They are kind of limited in graphics, but I think I put together something pretty boss. I did intend it to look similar to my blog images, because that was a Paper Beats World book. But I also put together the cover for Days there. I like it a lot, and I hope you all like it too, when I reveal it next week.

To Publish, I used Gumroad.

I cannot say enough about this site. I was able to set up an offer code, make my own price, set my release date to the minute and provided code to put links to my store everywhere! I bought a copy myself, and the whole sales flow was super easy. Now, Thirty Days is in their store. I honestly have every intention of using them for every single self published book I produce.

With those three programs, I produced a professional book that I am really proud of. Now, for the almighty detail. How much did it all cost?

Book Creator- $0

Canva- $0

Gumroad- $0 (but they get a percentage of my sales.)

That’s right, the book cost me nothing to produce. Not a dime. I cannot recommend these programs enough.

So, that’s how I created this awesome book.

Thirty Days, Thirty Ideas

What do you think? Have you had any experiences with these programs, or any like them? Let us know in the comments below.




The Long Game Plan

All of this planning that we do; the lists, calendars, planners, they all come down to the same thing. We are trying to not live in reaction to life. That’s what it really does come down to. When we plan, we are saying to ourselves and the universe, “I have no intention of just taking life as it comes. I know what I want, and I’m going to get it. Here, then, are the steps I intend to take, to get it.” That’s why we love planning.

And so we make our plans. We make plans based on what can we do this year, and what can we do this month, this week, today, right now! And that’s where the universe gets back at us. Right now is out to get us.

Surprises don’t wreck your plans for the year, they wreck today’s plan. (Unless it’s a pretty damn big surprise.) You’ve got this best laid plan for your time, and it goes awry.

Maybe if it happens once, you’re okay. You bounce back the next day like it’s no thing. Maybe you’re able to use the advice from last week to jump right back into things.

Or maybe not.

When life has happened too many days or weeks in a row, that’s when you need your long game plan to keep you steady. Knowing where I’m going is the thing that’s helped me the most when the days are too short by far.

Wait, you don’t have a long game plan? Well, then we should make you one.

Tools you will need

Okay, this is totally up to you. I wrote my 2016 five year plan in Evernote, but last year I wrote it out on paper and decorated it with washi tape.

Step one- Daydream. Where would you want to be in five years, if everything went just as you wanted it to. Personally, in five years I’d like to be writing full time.

Step Two- What’s it going to take to get there? Be realistic. My dream is hard. I make a decent amount of money at my day job, and I’ll need to make a lot more than I’m making now writing to even go back to part time. But, that’s why it takes five years, not one.

Step Three- Take inventory of where you are right now. Are you making any progress toward this goal? What is it? No judgements, this is just a check in.

Step Four- This is a fun step. Figure out where you’ll be in five years if you keep doing just what you’re doing now. I honestly don’t mean this to be a criticism! There are probably lots of things you’re doing now that will lead to great things in five years if you keep at it. For instance, let’s say you’re currently spending thirty minutes a day writing. Well, what could you have done in five years? Quite a lot, I’d imagine. Probably at least three books.

But take an honest look at the end result of that list. Will you be satisfied with yourself in five years if that’s where you are?

Step Five- Break down your goals over the next five years. Personally, I intend to write five new Woven novels, publish three to four books a year, and pay my rent with writing money. That’s it, just my rent. That’s the goal for the next five years.

More than that, though, think about where you really want to be in five years. Do you want to still live where you’re living? Do you want to work where you’re working? I don’t. The house is nice, but I have dreams of living in Pittsburgh and writing full time.

Step Six- What do you need to change about how you live? That’s kind of what this comes down to. Where you are now is a direct result of how you’ve lived up until today. You’re not going to get somewhere different by living the same way. Maybe you need to work harder at your writing. Maybe you need to start saving money,(me). Maybe you need to get your work out more and stop being scared of that.

Step Seven- This doesn’t have anything to do with writing, but I’m turning thirty this year and I’m starting to worry more about my health. How old are you going to be in five years? I’ll be thirty five. I’m starting to consider what I need to do to be healthy in thirty five years. Take my vitamins, get exercise. Do yoga so I can still tie my own shoes. Attend my doctors appointments, and quit ducking them like a punk.

So, your actionable item for the week is to make your own five year plan. Don’t make it just for your writing. Make it for your life.

Then, don’t get bogged down by your weekly lists. It’s okay if things didn’t go according to your plan. Keep your eyes on the long game, because that’s the one that matters.



Market, Analog

Science Fiction being kind of my thing recently, I found Analog while looking for something new to read. I love the covers, they’re very old school. (Yes, I’m a little bit hipster. Excuse me while I drink a Starbucks Pikes Place and write in my Moleskine.)

Genre- Science Fiction

Word Count- 2,000 to 7,000 for short fiction, but they also take novellas with word counts of 10,000 to 40,000

Sub Date- Any time

Wait time- Up to four months

Payout- Eight to ten cents per word, up to 7,000 words

Rights- Not listed

Here is your link to the full submission guidelines.

If you want even more markets, subscribe to The Road To Full Time Newsletter, and get the ever growing list of short fiction markets, updated every month.




Hey, guys. This story is another that will be included in the upcoming book, Days and Other Stories. I hope you like it. Feel free to leave a comment below.


It was warm out finally, and thank God for that, Marcey thought.  At 72, the cold was no fun.  But finally the winter chill had gone, the wet grass was dried by the late May sun, and she could take her work outside.  She packed up her knitting supplies, and took herself down to the park.
She bought herself a cup of coffee, and settled into her work.  She was making a little red sweater for a client who wanted something more personal for her nephew’s second birthday.  It made Marcey’s daughter laugh whenever they talked about her little ‘side hustle,’ as  they called it.  It wasn’t like she needed the money.  She wasn’t hurting like some her age.  She just liked to keep busy.
As she made her way to the chest of the sweater, a young couple walked past.  The woman was keeping up a constant stream of chatter.  The man, however, stopped in his tracks, and stared at Marcey.  Specifically, he stared at the sweater.  She was starting to wonder whether she should yell for the police, when the man burst into tears.
“Sorry,” the woman said to her, pulling the man away.  “I’m really sorry.”  She hurried away from Marcey as quickly as she could, still dragging the sobbing man along.
“What was all that?” Marcey muttered.  Since she knew she wasn’t likely to find out, she sipped her coffee, and made a mental note to tell her daughter about it later.


It was a warm day, but Jordan didn’t feel very warm.  There was never such a thing a good weather for a funeral, after all.
She’d put a lot into helping Paul plan it.  There was no one else around to do it, and hadn’t he always been her best friend?  So she pulled on her black dress, and went to his apartment to pick him up.
Paul was dressed when she got there.  Well, that’s a step in the right direction, she thought.  He even managed a smile for her when he came to the door.
“Did you eat?” she asked him.
“Not yet,” he replied.
“Let’s take a walk through the park, and go to the diner,” Jordan said.
“Yeah, okay,” he agreed.
Jordan felt triumphant as they started along the path.  They’d talked about nothing but the funeral for days, so she thought of anything she could to talk about now other than that.
“So that Rick guy called me again,” she said.  “Just out of the blue, like our last date went well or something.”
“No kidding,” Paul said, and actually managed a laugh.  “After spending half the date talking on his phone?”
“I know,” she replied.
They were coming up on a bench.  There was an old woman sitting there, drinking a coffee and knitting a red sweater.  When Paul saw her, he froze.  Then he started to sob.
The woman looked scared to death, which made absolute sense to Jordan.  Generally, people don’t start crying at the sight of art projects.  “Sorry,” she said, and started pulling Paul away, “I’m really sorry.”  She drug him down the path, trying to figure out what about that old woman had made Paul so upset.


If it had only been Maureen, Paul thought, maybe he could stand it a little better.  He dressed in the bedroom they had shared for three years, where her side of the bed still smelled a little like her.  He had loved her since the first day he met her, and when she died it broke his heart.  But if it had only been her, he supposed it would have healed.
Jordan was pulling up.  She’d been so great though all this, the only person he’d had to rely on.  He had put so much of this on her, even though he knew she must be hurting too.
So when she suggested a walk through the park and breakfast at the diner, he gave her a smile and said yes.
And at first, he really did feel better.  Listening to Jordan babble, walking with her in the sunlight, he felt warm for the first time since Maureen died.
Then he saw the woman, knitting a sweater with red yarn.
Maureen had laughed at him when he brought her that red yarn and a pair of knitting needles.  “I hope those are for decoration,” she’d said, “because I don’t knit.”
“Yeah, but you’re going to be a mommy now,” Paul had told her with a laugh.  “Everybody’s mother should knit.”
He couldn’t help it.  He started to weep.
If it had only been Maureen, he supposed he could have healed.  But knowing there would have been a baby, and now there never would be?  He didn’t believe he would never be warm again.

If you like this story, please consider supporting me on Patreon. Click here to check out my page and see the awesome Patreon rewards.

Project Juggling

Before we start, I would just like to say a few words about the loss of Alan Rickman. He was a great actor, and I adored him. He was in so many things I loved, like Dogma, Alice in Wonderland, Die Hard, and Harry Potter. Unlike some actors and comedians we’ve lost in the last few years, Mr. Rickman was young enough that I feel sure we would have seen more characters come alive through him, and I am truly saddened by that loss. Rest in peace, sir. I’ll always be thankful for what you gave the world.

I’ve always had a hard time making my mind up about anything. I get bored easily, and it’s hard for anything to keep my attention for very long. This might sound like a really stupid thing for me to say, because I’m writing a fantasy series with an estimated fourteen book story arch. But it’s hard to keep focus on a project for that long!

One of the ways I keep the focus is by not keeping the focus. I work on shorter projects while I’m working on Woven, unless I’m writing a rough draft.

The problem comes, sometimes, with transitioning. I really do want to work on something different, but if it’s another fiction piece I too often find myself writing from the point of view of a Woven character, even if I’m calling them by a different name. Now that I’m working on a novella that’s a totally different genre, it’s something I needed to get under control.

As usually, Writing Excuses saved me. I was listening to one of the last episodes of Season 10, Moving On. (click here to listen to it.) They were talking about transitioning from one piece to the next. They talked about different lighting, moods, and locations. What struck me as the best idea, however, was music. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that music is important to me. It’s a mood elevator, a distraction, a way to block out that chewing sound Oliver drop that! So, I decided to take their good advice.

I jumped on Pandora, and made a channel for Woven. If you’re wondering, I started it with Lindsay Stirling and NightWish. Then, I made one for the new secret project. It’s playlist was inspired by Linken Park, Limp Bizkit and Orgy. I’m interested in seeing how this will inspire me over the next week.

What rocked last week

  • I’m kind of loving Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson this week. I’ve been listening to it on Audible. It’s nice to be able to listen to a book while my hands are busy. I’m anticipating a lot more reading now.
  • My anniversary with my darling husband was on Friday. We went to dinner at the same place we went after our ceremony, and took our picture at Diamond Park, where we were married. Oh, and we went to see Star Wars, because we are nerds.

What I’m looking forward to this week

  • There’s only one real thing I’m looking forward to this week, and that’s the launch of my first book, Thirty Days To Thirty Ideas. I can’t think of a better way to start my year than by publishing my first book. I hope that all of you get a chance to get it, because I wrote it for you. That’s why I’ve offered it free to pre order with offer code 30one. If you haven’t ordered it yet, please click here to do so now.

Let me know what you’re excited about this week below. I hope you all have a wonderful week.


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