Filling My Own Cup This Winter

I have depression and anxiety. You know that if you’ve read PBW for very long, I’m not shy about it. Winter isn’t great for me. December is full of anxiety triggers like crammed stores and social obligations. January’s not so bad, it’s just harder to do really anything at all. I’m often walking to and from work in the dark, or at least only partial sunlight. February is the worst, though. Everything is wet, cold and dark. I tend to find myself just tired most of the time. I can’t feel happy about things I usually love and I don’t have any patience for things that go wrong. Things that wouldn’t faze me in August bring me to tears in February.

Over the years I’ve learned how to deal with these February feelings and my issues in general. Here’s what I’m doing this year to help me out.

Keep writing

Writing has always been my saving grace. If I’m having a crappy day writing makes me feel better. It helps me get out of my own past, keeps me from worrying about the future.

Writing also makes me feel like I’ve gotten something accomplished. If I don’t feel like I’m getting something done, I feel depressed. As though I’m lazy and worthless. If I managed to get a chapter done, or edit a few pages, I feel like at least I did something.

Work on projects I’m excited about

I’ve got a lot to be excited about this year. I’m eager for Steel City Con and my book signing tour. I’m excited about the comic book project and the new business I’m helping my friend build. Even though it’s hard to be excited about anything when I’m down, working on those projects help. It also helps that I’ve got partners on two of these projects. Other people counting on me gets me moving like nothing else.

I don’t miss work

Because if I do miss work, I feel guilty. Guilt leads to more depression. While I’ve been sure in the past that I needed a mental sick day, I always felt worse for it, not better.

Walk my dog

Look, I freaking hate being cold. Hate it more than anything else. My hands just hurt when they’re cold. So do my joints. I’m only 30, damn it, I shouldn’t hurt like this.

This pain discourages me from going outside in the winter. It’s not so bad when I’m out there, but trying to get my ass out is torture. It’s easier now that we have Oliver. He’s so happy when we take him out, it’s infectious. He makes me happier to be outside. And the sunlight always helps when I’m down.

Play with my kids

I spend a lot of time teaching my kids to be adults now. I harp on them about their school work and chores. I don’t spend as much time as I would like just spending time with them. When I’m down like this, I try to make sure that I just play with the kids. I’m starting to think that at least one of my girls has the same sort of issues that I do. It’s never too early to teach them self care.

Focus on my date nights

One of my personal revolutions this year has been to have date nights with each member of my family once a month. I take the girls out shopping or to a coffee shop. The darling husband and I have been going out to dinner or to trivia nights at a great barbecue place. Having those dates to look forward to has really helped me.

Keep the house picked up

Everything is just a little bit harder when I’m depressed. Getting dressed, sitting down to write, putting makeup on. Everything is worse. But if I can come into the house and sit down on my couch without moving laundry out of the way, find clean clothes in my drawer and have a clean coffee cup for coffee I’m in a better frame of mind. Nothing is more likely to send a day spiraling than having to wash a coffee cup before I can have some.

Using Walmart’s car pickup

This is not an affiliate post and I got nothing from this. This is just a shout out to a program that’s been making my life way better. See, my anxiety is set off majorly by busy shops. Even worse if I have my kids with me. I don’t even know where this fear came from, but I’m convinced I’m going to lose my kids in a crowded place. So I’m so busy looking at my kids at all times and forgetting everything I went to the store for. Then I start panicking and sort of stop being able to breath.

Having the ability to just order my food and then pick it up makes my life so much easier. It saves time, of course, but anything that reduces my anxiety attacks is a Godsend.

So that’s what I’m doing this year to make what I often consider the worst part of the year a whole lot better. If this season is hard for you too, please share how you’re getting through.

Instagram for Writers

We’re wrapping up our social media overview today, with a look at Instagram. If you missed the posts about Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, please click on the links there.

I just started using Instagram a few months ago. Full disclosure, I started using it completely personally with no intention to use it for my writing. Mostly I wanted to follow friends and stalk celebrities. I didn’t really see it as being a useful way to bring people to PBW. And so far, it hasn’t been.

It’s just been a great way to connect with new readers. Since I’ve started using Instagram, I’ve gained a collection of followers there that I don’t see on my other social media accounts. Remember, sometimes social media isn’t about anything but connecting with your readers.

What to post

I post pictures of the covers of my books, pictures from when I got the first copy of Broken Patterns in the mail. If I go do something fun or take pictures during a holiday event, I’ll post them. Pretty much,I post real life pictures from my real life, mixed with book covers. When I do events like cons and book signings, I’ll take a ton of pictures and post them.

How to post

Fun fact, there’s no way to post on Instagram from a computer, you have to do it from a smart device. I spent way too much time trying to figure out how to do that, since you can’t.

After I figured that out (because I’m sometimes an idiot) using Instagram is pretty simple. You just hit the plus button on the bottom of the screen. It will give you the option to either take a picture or upload a picture.

Once you have your picture, you can put a filter on it. I have a lot of fun with filters. I’m not a great photographer, and the filters make my pictures look a lot nicer.

You can also utilize hashtags on Instagram in the same way you use them on Twitter. Let’s say, for instance, that I post a picture of my bullet journal. I’ll add a #bulletjournal or #buju.

What you can do with a picture once it’s posted.

If you’re scrolling through Instagram and you find something you like, you can heart it. You can also add comments or links to a post.

Whether or not Instagram is going to bring me new readers that will transition to new blog followers is yet to be determined. But honestly, for the small amount of time I spend on it, and the level of reader interaction I’ve experienced, I consider it well worth it.

That concludes our overview of social media for writers. If you have any questions about Instagram, or if I didn’t talk about a social media platform you’d like to know about, please let me know! You can either leave a comment here or email me at

Blog Tour, Week 2

Hey, guys. It’s week two of the Winter Solstice Blog Tour. Today I’m hosting Debbie De Louise. If you like her post here, please check out her blog.

It’s my pleasure to participate in the Solstice Publishing author’s group winter blog tour by sharing a post about myself, my books, and my feelings about writing.


As a librarian, reader, and author, books and the written word have been very important in my life. I can’t imagine a world without them. Writing transports people to places they’ve never visited within as well as outside of themselves. It entertains, teaches, amuses, and sometimes saddens. The saying “The pen is mightier than the sword” is true. Even before paper was invented or languages defined, storytellers played an important role in communities. They still do despite the fact there are so many forms of communication today. A good story has value whether it is read off a screen, through the pages of an “old-fashioned” book, or listened to on audio CD’s or digital files.


Books have healing properties. It’s been proven that reading has many emotional benefits, and what benefits your mind also positively affects your body. Have you ever found yourself so immersed in a book that you felt like you were one of the characters? Have you traveled in time with a historical novel? Been frightened by a horror story? Fallen in love with a romance? Surprised by the twist in a mystery? Excited by a scene in a thriller? Books can stir your emotions and stimulate your mind. Who needs drugs or other addictive agents when a story can relax or energize you? There are no limits to where your imagination can lead you with the pages of a book as your guide.


I remember when I first started reading in second grade. It was more fun to me than any of the games I played. I felt like I’d discovered a wonderful secret or found a magic spell. As I grew older, my love of books increased. I admired the authors who were able to make me visualize the worlds they created. Then I began writing my own stories to entertain myself. But I also had a dream that one day, like my favorite authors, I would also be able to reach people around the world and give them the gift of my words.


Publishing my own books today feels just as magical and not a little unreal. Seeing my books listed online or occupying a spot on my library or bookstore’s shelf seems incredible. When people review my books or personally give me feedback, knowing that my words are being read through their eyes is nothing short of miraculous. Still, I know that there are millions of books out there and more being published every minute. How can I hope to compete? How can I make my dream come true and reach all the people who would enjoy my stories? That’s the lament of new authors as well as old. I don’t have the answers. The best advice I can give myself as well as other writers who want to stand out from the crowd is to write what comes from their heart. Readers identify with real feelings, and most fiction is based on reality. You’re the only one who can write your book. Tell the story you’d like to read, and chances are others will be interested, too.


For more information about me and my books and stories including my Cobble Cove mystery series, connect with me through the following links:





Amazon Author Page:

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:

Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog: (blog hosted by the cat character from my Cobble Cove mysteries who interviews other animal characters and some real-life author’s pets)

Cobble Cove Character Chat (Facebook page where you can interact with the characters from my mysteries):


I will be hosting an author hour on Monday, February 20 from 3-4 pm during Mystery Thriller week

Some of the characters from my mysteries will be helping me post information about their books and offer some giveaways. For more information, visit the event page at

Also, look for my romantic comedy Novella, When Jack Trumps Ace, coming this February from Solstice Publishing.




I’ve been doing this really fun challenge on Instagram, called the six word level. It’s hosted by a blog called Pageflutter. I love it, it’s so much fun.

It’s hardly the only writing challenge I participate in, of course. You all know I participate in Nanowrimo or Nanoedmo every November. I used to do Mash every quarter, and I really enjoyed participated in the Blogging 101 event in 2015. I really love writing challenges.

It nudges my creativity

I write almost every day, and most of the time I don’t have any trouble with writers block. But sometimes beginning projects can be troublesome. Or, I’ll find myself writing boring shit that feels repetitive. But a challenge often comes with a prompt that gives me direction. Or, it’s something I’ve never considered writing about before.

It makes me stretch

Look, I am not going to lie, editing for 50 hours in November was hard as hell. Some of these prompts this month have been complete nonstarters for me, and it’s been a challenge to come up with something I thought was clever. But it makes me do things that are hard, and that’s always good for us. To have to push to get something done is healthy sometimes.

It helps me meet new writers

I found so many new blogs that I fell in love with during the Blogging 101 event. I made new blogging friends and found new storytellers that have brightened my life. I find the same sort of thing happening on Instagram with the six word challenge. I love being introduced to new creative minds.

It helps other people find me

Much the same way that I found new writers during challenges, other people find me. I’ve never seen such an increase in my blog followers as when I participated in Blogging 101. Every time I get involved in a challenge, I see a jump in one or more of my social media followings.

It’s enjoyable

Finally, the challenges are fun. I always look forward to the start of them, and they’re events that change up my routine a little.

I highly encourage all of you to find your own writing challenges. Please let us know about them in the comments below so that we can join you.

Pinterest For Writers

This month I’ve been going over some basic information about different social media platforms and how writers can use them. So far we’ve done Facebook and Twitter. Now we’re doing my personal favorite social media platform, Pinterest.

Before you laugh, Pinterest is the fourth highest referrer to Paper Beats World. I personally scan through it once or twice a day. I use it to look up all sorts of information. In fact, anytime I need to learn to do something, I start there.

The great thing about Pinterest is that it is really easy to use. If you find an article or image that you want to share, just hover over it. Most sites have built in Pin This buttons. So all you have to do is hover over an image. Then you can pin the image to your board. You can have as many boards as you want. You can even have private boards.

Here are the ways I use Pinterest for my writing.

Inspiration pages

If I see an image or read an article that inspires me, I’ll pin it. I have a Pinterest page for each of the countries in Woven, as well as a page called “Future Book Inspiration.” It’s my favorite page.

I’ll sometimes pull up my inspiration boards when I’m stuck on a scene. It helps me picture where my characters are.

Your Pinterest page

Of course, I pin every single one of my blog posts to my Paper Beats World board. That’s just a given. But I also search out pins that relate to Paper Beats World, and pin those to my boards as well. That way it’s not just all me all the time. And, of course, an active board full of useful information is more likely to get subscribed to than one that only has one new pin twice a week.

Promoted pins

I’ve never done a promoted pin, but I sure see enough of them. Mostly they’re from major companies, but anyone can get one and they’re not that expensive. Essentially, a promoted pin works the same way as a boosted post on Facebook. You can chose a demographic, and Pinterest will show your pin to people who might be interested in it.

And that’s about all there is to it. If you have any questions about Pinterest, feel free to ask in the comment section or by emailing me at Next week we’ll wrap things up with an overview of Instagram.

An Interview with Debbie De Louise

Hey, guys. I had the opportunity to interview Debbie De Louise, author of Between A Rock And A Hard Place.


Tell us about your book.


Between a Rock and a Hard Place is the second book in my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series. It takes place in upstate, New York in the fictional town of Cobble Cove and features three crimes that need to be solved: robbery, kidnapping, and murder. There are also some scenes taking place in New York City near the holidays.


When did you realize that you were a writer?


That’s a difficult question because I’ve been writing practically my whole life. However, it’s rather recent that I’ve begun to think of myself as an author. I think that’s because I am now publishing on a regular basis, and I’ve started to have fans request my books and spread the word about them to others.


Do you have any books coming out in 2017?


I hope so. I’m reviewing the third Cobble Cove mystery, tentatively titled Written in Stone, and hope to submit it to my publisher by next month. I am also reprinting the first in the series, A Stone’s Throw, that may come out around the same time. I have a novella, When Jack Trumps Ace, that’s a romantic comedy being released in February along with a short historical romance, The Seashell and the Stone, that will be part of a Valentine-themed anthology and also available by itself as a Kindle Short. In addition, I am currently querying agents with my psychological thriller, Sea Scope.


If readers are looking to connect with you, what’s the best way to do it?


I have two blogs and a newsletter and an author page on Facebook. I’m also on Twitter and Goodreads. My social media links are:





Amazon Author Page:

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:


What are you working on right now?


Lol, how much room do you have for my answer? I actually have many projects going on. My focus, though, is the third Cobble Cove mystery I mentioned above, Written in Stone. I also hope to get A Stone’s Throw, the first book, reprinted soon. Other than that, I am working on short stories, querying agents, blogging, and hope to start another standalone book soon, as well.


Tell us about your submission process.


I can usually write my first draft in six to eight weeks, and it takes about that length of time to revise and edit the manuscript so that it’s presentable to an agent, editor, or publisher. I also try to have it beta read by fellow authors for feedback and conduct research to make it as realistic as possible.


What author would you say inspires you the most? Who is your current favorite author?


I like reading a variety of authors, but I especially enjoy Nora Roberts and would love to write both standalones and series books as she does. I like how she combines mystery with romance and sometimes paranormal elements.


Who was your first favorite author as a child?


I devoured all of Phyllis Whitney’s gothic romances when I was a preteen up through my teen years. I then read authors of similar styles – Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, etc.


What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you were a new writer?


Because I was working full-time and then had my daughter, I stopped writing for a period of time and wish that I hadn’t done that. Writers need to keep writing to develop their skills and grow and maintain an audience.


What would you consider the best thing you’ve ever done for your writing career?


I think I’ve learned most from being active on social media and networking with other authors. I also think creating and writing a blog was extremely helpful.


Finally, what would you consider the most fulfilling moment you’ve experienced as a writer?


There were several moments. When I first saw my book in print, when I read my first glowing review, and when I won an award for an article I wrote and entered in the Cat Writer’s Association contest.

I want to thank Debbie so much for her interview. If you’d like to be interviewed by Paper Beats World, send me an email at


What I’ll Leave Behind

We lost a lot of people in 2016. I don’t just mean celebrities, though those did suck. We also had so many travesties, mass shootings and natural disasters that I don’t even want to count all of them.

I realize , now more than ever, that we really can all die at any time. Yeah, my great grandmother’s both lived into their nineties, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to. I could die before you even read this, since I batch write all of my articles. That’s right, if I die you’ll probably sill get several more articles from me.

I’ve started thinking about what I’ll leave behind when I go.

I’ll leave books, of course. Lots of books, I hope. That’s one of my favorite things about being a writer. When I’m gone I’ll leave my art to be enjoyed for generations of readers, in the same way that some of my favorite authors did. Shel Silverstein was gone in 1999, but my girls still love him. Charles Dickens is still read and enjoyed by new readers every year.

I might even leave notes for new books, for my daughters to finish. Lots of writers do. Robert Jordan published three books after he died, thanks to Brandon Sanderson.

The best thing I’ll leave behind though, will be my daughters. They’ll tell stories about me to their children and grandchildren, the same way I tell them stories about our family before. In that way my great grandmothers live on still. They’ll find themselves saying the same things to their kids that I say.


“If there’s ever a day where I’m not worried about where you are in a store that’s a problem.”

“I don’t care how old you are, you’re still my kid.”

More than that, I hope that they’ll live their lives remembering what I teach them about being women.

Be kind to all animals, even when they scare you.

Learn when to say no.

Just because you and someone love each other, doesn’t mean you should be together. Despite the common phrase, love is not all you need.

Faith is a private thing, a personal thing. No one’s got any right to tell anyone else what to believe in.

No matter what your job is, no matter how much it sucks, do your best at it. Even if you’re just scrubbing dishes, if you’re getting paid do your best. You don’t do this for your employer, you do this for yourself.

Always take care of yourself, because I won’t be there to do it.

These are the lessons I hope to leave behind for my girls. I hope you might get something from them as well.

What do you want to leave behind?

Twitter for Writers

Last week we talked about using Facebook for writers. This week, we’re going to dive into Twitter.

Full disclosure, I actually kind of love Twitter. I use it personally, not just professionally. I keep up with my friends, favorite celebrities, fellow writers and a few news resources. It’s amazing what can be shared in 144 characters. It’s built for haikus. I should post more haikus on Twitter.

Anyway, Twitter is a lot of fun is what I’m saying. It’s also a great way to stay on your reader’s radar. Twitter is the third highest referrer to Paper Beats World, if you were wondering.

Using Twitter

Twitter is pretty straightforward. Much like Facebook you can post whatever you want so long as it’s 144 characters. You can also post links to other media content like blog posts and Youtube posts. Can you post long insane paragraphs of your innermost thoughts? No, not at all. Honestly, that’s some of the appeal of Twitter for me. I can run right through a ton of information in a very small amount of time.


The big thing with Twitter is the hashtags. You can use them to search for different topics or keep track of a discussion. They’re exceptionally easy to use, if you’re nervous. You just type them into your post. For instance, if I write a tweet about writing, I’ll add #amwriting a the end of my post. Or if I post about something science fictiony, I’ll use #scifi. You can even make up your own hashtags. On the left hand side of the screen you can always see what the top trending hashtags are.

Tweeting at someone

You can tweet something directly at someone, really anyone. This pretty much guarantees that anyone can harass any celebrity at any time. But it’s also a big way that I communicate with people online. You can encourage your readers to tweet at you, and tweet back. All you need to do is take someone’s twitter name, and put an @ symbol in front of it.. Let’s say, for instance, you want to tweet me. Somewhere in your tweet, you type @NicoleCLuttrell and it will come right to me.

What to post

Like with Facebook, you can post links to your blog posts. Again, on WordPress, you can set it up to automatically post a link.

Beyond that, Twitter is mostly used for quick thoughts, jokes and comments. I love writing super short horror stories, and I’m actually not the only one who does that.

You can also retweet things that other people have been tweeted. The original tweeter gets credit, of course.

Honestly, though, the best way to learn about Twitter is to jump on and just read a bunch of tweets. The great thing is, it won’t take a lot of time.

If you have any questions about Twitter, feel free to ask in the comment section. Next week we’ll be talking about my favorite Social Media platform, Pintrest.

You Have My Attention

While looking through the YMCA catalog for the new year, I said to my darling husband, “Hey, do you think the kids would want to play volleyball in the spring? My younger daughter, who I hadn’t even realized was listening, leaned over the back of the couch and said, “You have my attention.”

My darling husband was going on about something, I wasn’t really listening to until he said, “We should go there for dinner.” He had my attention then. Yes, I am a very food driven person and also sometimes a bad wife.

Getting and keeping someone’s attention is kind of what I strive to do as a writer. I mean, if I’m writing and no one’s reading I’m basically just talking to hear myself. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I did it for years. If you talk long enough, eventually someone will start listening.

Actually, people started listening right away here on PBW. I feel very blessed that not a week goes by that someone doesn’t read my words. It’s why I love blogging, if I can be completely honest. I love knowing that when I talk, I have someone’s attention.

A book needs to have a readers attention if it is to be read at all. You have to grab a readers attention before they’ll even open the book in most cases. You sure have to get an editor’s attention with your query letter if you want to be published. And once you are published, you’ve got to get new readers to pay attention long enough to read your book, then hope it had enough of their attention to get them to be up for a second one. No one wants to be a one hit wonder.

The problem is that it is so freaking hard to get someone’s attention! Everyone’s got so much going on in their lives. My kids are twelve and even they don’t have a lot of time to sit the hell down and read a book. I sure as hell don’t have a lot of time to read. Maybe an hour a day, and that’s just because I read an e-book while walking to work. Yeah, I make considerable effort to find time to read and most days I get to. Let’s be honest, though, I make that effort because there’s nothing else I’d rather do, except write. Not everyone feels that way. Some people read casually if you can believe that. Some people read if they have nothing better to do. Some people read just because they think that grownups should read.

I don’t write for those people, to be honest. If you’re a grownup and you’re reading because you think your supposed to, you’re not interested in dragons that are scientists and men who weave visions. But that’s not really the point I’m trying to make here.

The point is, as much as I love reading, a piece needs to have my attention from the start. A blog post, a short story, a book. If I know I’ve got ten minutes to breeze through a few posts on my break, I’m going to skip your story if I don’t like it right away. If I know I might only get to read 24 books this year and I read chapter one, you’d better make me care about chapter two.

How each author does this is totally different. When I started reading Clockwork Angel, I was drawn right in by the mystery of it all. When I started reading Hunger Games I had limited knowledge of the world, but I instantly wanted to know why all of this was going on.

There’s something important to remember, there. I was confused by the first chapter of The Hunger Games and Clockwork Angel. Harry Potter as well. The authors jumped right into the story, and just explained things along the way. I tried to do the same things with Broken Patterns, jumping right in with an attack on the Septan Palace. Who are the Montelarians, why are they attacking? You know all of this by the end of chapter two, but that’s not what I start with. I start with men in the canals, sneaking up to the palace walls.

Many writers have said that they’ve written first chapters and then thrown them away, starting with chapter two.

So whatever you’re writing, make sure you have my attention right from the start.

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