Learning New Things As An Adult

I’ll be the first person to admit that I hated school as a child. I still think our public school system is dramatically messed up, to be honest. When I learned more about the founding of our country from a musical than I ever did in class, something is wrong. I hated everyone I went to school with. I hated several of my teachers. I was frankly terrified of the principal. Some of my teachers were exceptional people who taught me things that had nothing to do with their subject, and I’ll forever owe them a debt. But to get to them, I had to suffer through the lazy, the proud and the arrogant. Not to mention my peers, who were mostly interested in quoting South Park and impregnating each other as soon as possible.

But I always enjoyed learning. With the exception of Math, I found value in all of my classes. (Yes, I realize that Math is important. But I can figure out a 20% tip in my head, tally up a grocery bill and adjust a cooking recipe by either deciding or multiplying a fraction. So obviously I absorbed enough to get by, okay?)

Now that I’m an adult, I get to learn about whatever I want, whenever I want. If I have the time, that is. Oh, and if I can afford it. But that’s kind of adulthood in a nutshell. All of the freedom to do whatever you want, and none of the time or cash to do it anyway.

That’s why I’ve made my word of 2018 learn. I want to focus this year on establishing a habit of learning new things. I realized that I don’t have to spend a lot of money on this. I can find classes online for nothing. I won’t be accredited, but that’s not what I’m after.

Here are eight things I’m doing to learn more this year.

Learning a new language with Dulingo

I don’t feel like enough Americans are bilingual. There, I said it. So I’m doing my part by learning a second language, German. I chose German because I have family there. And, once I start learning it I can look up German fairy tales. I’m fully aware that to be truly bilingual takes years of study. Good thing I’m starting now.

Doing free writing

You learn about writing by reading and (duh) writing. Writing exercises and freewriting are crucial parts of that. So don’t shirk your daily exercises, kids.

Taking some courses in poetry

I love poetry, but I’m really bad at poetry. But it still fascinates me so! So I’m going to take some free classes to learn about poetry. It might not make me a better poet, but I’ll have fun. I’ll be sure to share a link when I find one.

Reading history books for pleasure

I have always devoured historical fiction. So this year I intend to go straight to the source and actually read some history books. I’m particularly fascinated by the War of The Roses and America’s founding. Be prepared for some blog posts about weird stuff I find, I’m sure.

Finding spots of historical significance when we go on vacation

My family tries to go somewhere different every year for vacation, but this year we plan on repeating one. We went to DC a couple years ago, and we really want to go back. We didn’t see all of the Smithsonian’s the first time, you see. We did see the Hope Diamond and the original concept art for Sonic The Hedgehog. But there’s so much more!

Watching informational shows on TV

I’m all for the educational value of TV. I watched every episode of Bill Nye Saves The World. I love watching animal documentaries. I even love those Ken Burns documentaries about wars. So if I’m going to crash on my couch and watch TV at the end of the day (and I am) I might as well get something out of it.

Listening to more podcasts

Like a lot more. I walk to work, and it’s a 20-minute walk. Why am I wasting all of that time?!

Reading better newsletters and magazines

I get several newsletters that I read daily. I used to get a subscription to Wired, but I let it lapse. There’s just so much information out there, that I don’t know why I haven’t been doing this more. The three big newsletters I read are The Skimm, Lisa Jacob’s, and The Flylady. Those three keep me up to date on the news, give me marketing tips and help me keep my house tidy.

Watching Youtube

We live in a crappy old house that breaks a lot. I don’t like having people in my house. I want to learn to fix things around my house so I don’t have to pay someone.

I also watch YouTube to learn to draw better, cook cool things, and knit. I did learn to knit by watching YouTube. I also learned to do my makeup better. I also learn tons of random or creepy crap. See, it’s not all snack boxes and video game walkthroughs!

I hope there’s never a time when I stop learning new things. I hope that you’re still learning new things too, no matter what age you are.

So, what are you learning right now?

If Your Goal Is To Self-Publish in 2018

So, your book is done, and you’ve decided to self-publish. Good for you. I self-publish my science fiction series, Station 86. I loved that everything is totally under my control.

I also hate that everything is under my control because it also means that everything is on my to-do list. Self-publishing is hard work and can be a serious financial investment. Don’t believe anyone who tells you anything different. But it can be done, and here’s the proof.


If your goal is to self-publish in 2018, here’s what you’re going to want to do.

Get a social media presence right now

Yes, I really do mean right now. Start gaining a following now by sharing and producing good content that people enjoy. Maybe you have a blog, or just a really funny Twitter page. Maybe you rock out on Instagram. Whatever it is, start getting attention right now by offering people things they value.

Have it edited

And by that I mean to have it actually edited, by someone paid to do such things. At this point, your book should have gone through you, a beta reader or two, and Grammarly. Now it’s time to have a professional look at it. You don’t want a friend or loved one because they won’t tell you the truth. You want an actual editor. Full disclosure, that’s expensive. But it’s worth it. Unless you’ve got an English major friend like I do. Then you can pay them to rip your book to shreds in the most loving way possible.

Start marketing

When you have a few followers and have been giving the goods away for free for a while (about the time it took you to go through the editing process) it’s time to start letting people know you have a book coming out. Don’t give a release day yet. Just start sharing things about your book.

Invest in a killer cover

I cannot explain to you how important your cover it. It is your book’s first opportunity to sell itself. It is the most effective way to draw attention to a new book. And in this day and age, having a self-published book is no excuse to have an amateur cover. There are plenty of ways to get a decent cover at low cost. I’ve used Canva, Fiverr and art student buddies for my covers, and been truly pleased with all of them.

Build your book

There are lots of e-book building software. The one I use is Calibre, and it works really well for me.

Take your time with this part of the process. Decide on a professional looking font, check the word size. If you’re making a physical book, consider that it will lay on the page differently than an e-book.

Decide on a distributor

I obviously went with Amazon, but they’re not the only game in town. Gumroad has been great for me in the past, and I still do free books through them.

Make sure you understand what you’re getting into before you publish! Read all the fine print and understand what rights you give up. Don’t skip this. If you have questions about what you’re signing up for, ask questions.

Set a release date

Now, and only now, are you ready to set a release date. I advise setting one for at least two months past the day you are totally done and ready to publish.

Why would I advise wasting all of this time, you may ask? Actually, I have three very good reasons why you should wait.

1. You’re going to use this time to market. Get people excited, get the pre-sale going. Get the word out that your book is coming out soon!

2. You should never ever set a release date before everything is done because anything could go wrong. An edit might take too long. An artist might fall through. Your computer might die and you could be stuck with nothing until you can replace it. So don’t ever, ever set a release day until the book is totally, absolutely done.

  1. Finally, you can use this time to work on your next book. Actually, you should probably already be doing that after you finished this one. Seriously, book three of Station 86 is coming out in April, I’m already done with the rough draft of book 4. (This works with traditionally published books, too. Book two of the Woven trilogy is coming out soon. Book 3 is done and I’m working on the second draft of the follow-up series right now. Due to the pace of traditional publishing, I’m a book ahead!)

Ramp up your marketing

My favorite marketing person, Lisa Jacobs, will tell you that no one is seeing your message as much as you think they are. She’s right. Whatever marketing you’ve been doing, those two months before your book comes out is the time to double it.

Plan your launch day

Your launch day is big, my friend, I mean super big. It’s the day that all of your sweat and tears and sleepless nights have been for. And you should party!

Every time I launch a book I try to go bigger than I did last time. I host Facebook parties, give away copies of the book, give out teaser info for the next book, make free wallpapers. Whatever I can think of to get people’s attention online. I even go live as much as I hate being in front of a camera.

Don’t stop

Hey, did you know that people will buy your book after the launch day? It’s true. I keep up the crazy promotion on social media for a few weeks after the launch day. I also host live events in my town, signings and in-store launches. It’s actually a lot of fun, and also kind of surreal. It’s like, I’m kind of a celebrity because I’m going to this event so people can meet me and get my autograph. Like, I’ve done that exact thing four times now.

Self-publishing a book in 2018 is a huge goal. But it’s not an unattainable one. Just take it a step at a time, and you’ll get there.

Six Things To Do if Your Goal is To Get Published This Year.

If your goal is to get published this year, then you obviously didn’t listen to my lecture at the start of the month. Any goal that is out of your control is a bad goal. And I’m here to tell you, getting published is not something that’s in your control, baby. There are hundreds of people trying to get published every single day, and publishing companies are flooded with submissions. The good news is that a lot of the submissions are really good. The bad news is that really good books don’t have any better chance of getting published than really bad books. I promise you that there are books in print right now that make your novel look like Lord of The Rings. And there are books that are in the reject pile that make your book look like a pile of month old fruitcake that a cat’s eaten, shit out, and then a dog has eaten and shit out. Mine too, if you’re wondering.

So you can’t control whether or not a publisher is going to accept your work. But I have some good news, too. That’s the only thing about the process that you can’t control. Everything else is totally up to you. And if you follow these six steps, the same six steps that led me to a book contract, you’ll be in a better position to succeed.

Step one, the polished manuscript

The person who looks at your book at a publishing house is in no mood for your second best work, my friend. They are in no mood for typos, misspelled words, or weak beginnings. So you have to come out of the gate with your very best material, right up front. That usually means your first chapter or first ten pages.

For some unknown reason, some authors seem to think that’s all that needs to shine. But no, you should not ever ever be pitching a book that isn’t in it’s final, completed stage. That means that you’ve written the book, the whole way to the ending. You’ve edited it and made it shine. You’ve had someone else read it. You might have even run the first ten pages through Grammarly. (I totally did this.) If your book is not completely done, then you’re done with this post, my friend. Bookmark it and come back to it when your book is ready to go. When you’d swear on your copy of Elements of Style that this book is ready to be printed and sold as it is right now. (It’s not, but that’s what editors are for; finding all our flaws when we think we did the perfect editing job.)

Step two, do your research

Let me tell you something else the person who reads your book at the publishing company doesn’t have time for. A fantasy novel if they carry horror. A western when they sell self-help books. So please, take some time and do some research. Every literary agent and publisher has a website where they list all of the vital information that you need to pitch to them. What genre they take, when they take submissions, who they’ve worked with in the past. Read their requirements before you make a query packet for them, please. You don’t want to waste your time submitting to someone who doesn’t publish or represent your genre.

Another thing to research is whether or not you want to query an agent or a publisher. I went the direct route and pitched to an indie publisher. I’m now trying to get an agent because I’m ready to step up my game and I need some professional help. So you can go either way. Having an agent will help you land a publisher. Getting a book or two published will make it easier to find an agent (I hope).

Finally, check with a respected source like Predators and Editors before you submit or accept any kind of deal. Remember, a respected agent or publishing company would never ask you for money upfront. They make their money if your book succeeds, not from you directly.

Step three, your query packet

I actually wrote a whole post about making a query packet, and you can read it here. Just remember, this is your first, maybe your only, chance to impress the editor. Make your query letter shine, because if it doesn’t, no one’s going to read past it.

Most agents and companies will tell you exactly what they want to be included in a query packet. Before you even start looking, it doesn’t hurt to have a book blurb and personal bio ready. While your query letter will be personalized for each new agent, these can pretty much be standard.

Step four, the waiting game and the numbers game

One thing I check for when I’m submitting, and that I try to gracefully work into my query letter, is the matter of simultaneous submissions. Most places accept them, but they like you to tell them if you’re doing it.

And I suggest doing it.

Submitting is a waiting game. It usually takes agents or publishers months to get through their slush pile and respond to you, if they take the time to respond at all. So it doesn’t hurt to keep on submitting while you wait. It’s going to take a long time to find a place to sell your book if you’re only pitching once every three months.

Submitting is also a numbers game. The more people you pitch, the more likely you are to catch someone on the right day, at the right time, in the right mood. So keep on pitching.

Step five, tracking submissions

As you’re pitching, make sure you’re keeping track of where and who you’re pitching to. I keep an Evernote document tracking the following information.

  • Who I sent it to (Company and person. Agents move around sometimes and I don’t want to pitch the same person the same book they already rejected just because they switched jobs.)
  • When I sent it, and how long they said they’ll take to get back to me. If they don’t give a time, I assume three months.
  • What sort of response, if any, I got.

Start keeping track from query number one, and don’t let yourself lose track. If your submitting like you should, which is to say a shit ton, then you’re going to need to take this seriously.

Step six, don’t take it personal, kid

As I said in the beginning, getting published is freaking hard. Don’t take a rejection personally. Maybe the book just didn’t appeal to them, or they’ve got too many of that genre already. Maybe it’s not the right time of year, or they just weren’t wild about it. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, or that you’re a bad writer. It probably just means that it was a bad time.

Finally, if you want to get published, don’t put it all on this year. Don’t forget, I started writing Broken Patterns on July 20, 2013. It was just published in December 2016! So don’t feel like you’re behind, or that it’s taking you too long to get published.

And don’t stop writing while your submitting. It’s never going to be a bad thing to be a book ahead.

Don’t forget about the AA Facebook party tonight!

The Facebook party to celebrate the launch of AA is tonight, from 6:00 to 9:00 (EST).

Here’s a list of authors who will be hosting author takeovers.

51EYer7GjTLSA Gibson, author of Pratima’s Forbidden Book











C.A King, author of Tomoiya’s Story. 51LzAofuvpL._SY346_








51am0YgGURLK. Matt, author of Obsession











Double Shift, by Amara A. Minx. 51tuAc2LroL._UY250_






I also have a surprise for all of you. AA will be totally free from today until Sunday! Here’s a link. Download it now, and it’s yours forevor.




5 Steps if Your Goal Is To Write More This Year

Writing takes time, you guys. It takes a lot of time. And for a long time, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough of it. That’s why I made my word of the year for 2017 Create.

I created a lot! I worked hard to create a life that let me, well, create, as much as possible. It bore dividends that I’m still feeling this year. My goal is to publish 6 books in 2018, but the only reason I’m able to do that is the hard work I put in in 2017. I honestly probably won’t be able to publish as many in 2019, for instance. That’s because I’m focusing on learning this year, and going deeper into what I’m writing.

But you’re here to find more time to write, right? Okay, we can do that. Here are five things I did all last year to write more.

Figure out your priorities, and make them known.

I tell you all the time that writing is the third highest priority in my life. My family and my own self-care are the only two things that I will put above that.

I know that writing comes before almost all else, and so does everyone around me. I don’t have people in my life who expect me to drop everything and hang out with them. I don’t have people in my life who get offended when I tell them lovingly, respectfully, that I’m writing and don’t want to cancel that time. Even my kids respect writing time, though it took a good long while to make that happen.

I managed to make the people around me respect my writing time by respecting it myself. I don’t answer texts or messages when I’m writing. I write during the time that I say I’m going to write, so if someone should happen upon me they’ll find me working. I don’t do anything else while I’m writing, and so I show the people around me that this is serious. I teach them how to treat me.

Schedule everything

You can’t find time to write if you don’t know what you’re doing with your time, it’s just that easy. I buy an Erin Condron planner, but of course, you don’t need to invest that kind of money. Just keep track of things. Write down doctors’ appointments as soon as you schedule them. Put down your work schedule, and your spouses. Put down your kid’s school schedule. Put in every birthday of the year, so that you’re that guy who always remembers people’s birthdays.

Then take a good look at the time left over, and schedule some writing time every day. If you’re already writing every day, see where you can put in more time. Now that you’re no longer scrambling to get things done last minute, I imagine that you’ll find a lot more free time.

Cut out the crap

Have you ever tracked your time to see what you do in a day? It’s eye-opening, let me tell you. I had no idea how long I could scroll on Reddit.

While some ‘time wasting’ in a day is okay, even good, there are limits. So take a look at how long you’re spending watching tv, mindlessly consuming social media, or shopping for stuff you don’t need. Cut out as much of it as you can.

Do I cut out all of it? No, of course not. I watch tv with my kids and play on my computer or crochet every single night. I also like to check Reddit and Instagram a few times a day.

But I do those things at specific times that I’ve assigned to those activities. I’m not doing them mindlessly, or at times of my day when I might get something decent done. (I read Reddit during brain ‘down times’ like right when I get up or just before I go to bed when I’m fried for the night.)

So cut out the crap you do that I bet you don’t even want to do, and you’ll probably find all sorts of time to write.

Streamline the things you have to do

I would love to have a chef and housekeeper, but that’s never going to happen. So what I have instead is a super streamlined way of doing things that mean I spend as little time as possible keeping my house in order and keeping my family fed.

I won’t go into too much detail here because if I do I’ll just be repeating the entire Flylady baby steps and that’s a silly waste of time. Just check out the website, go through the baby steps, and see what a chance it makes in your life.

Get creative and be flexible

I’ve gotten quite flexible with places and times I can and do write. I used to ride public transportation a lot, and I’d write on the way to and from work. I write in doctor’s waiting rooms. I take occasional writing retreat days and go spend the day at the library or a coffee shop. I write while my kids watch stuff on Youtube that irritates me.

Basically, I’ve learned to get creative and flexible with when and where I write. It makes it a lot easier to reach my writing goals every day. Or, at least most days.

I want to take a minute, and just draw your attention to the title of this post. It doesn’t say 5 super easy and convenient ways to write more because that would be disingenuous. These are not easy things. If you do these five things then you will insist that people respect your goal to be a writer. More than that, you will insist that you respect your goal to be a writer.

But it’s how it’s going to happen.

If your goal is to edit your NaNoWrimo book in 2018

As it is January, and I’m hopeful that all of us are going to reach our writing goals in 2018, I’m going to spend the rest of the month focusing on tips and tools to achieve different writing goals. Because we’re all at different places on the path of writing. Being a writer has a thousand different paths, we’re not all on the same one.

Today, I want to talk to the NaNoWriMo winners. First of all, you guys are rock stars. You wrote 50,000 in one freaking month! That’s amazing. You’ve taken a huge step towards the goal of writing a book.

Oh, that’s the scary part, isn’t it? You’re not at the finish line. You’re at a mile marker. An important one, that I don’t mean in any way to belittle. But you’re not done yet.

What follows is an updated, step by step guide to completely finishing your novel. The point here is to get your novel to the point that it’s ready to be sent to an agent or editor if you’re going the traditional route. Or, it’s ready to go to your editor if you’ll be self-publishing.

I do three drafts, generally. Some people do less, but I don’t feel like that gives the draft enough time and attention. Some people do more, but at some point, you need to accept the book for what it is and either roll with it or let it go.

Step one, finish your book.

I know that when I did Nano, 50,000 words weren’t enough for me to finish my book. I was still writing well into December and January. So if you haven’t written the end of your book yet, do that now.

Let it sit

I’m not the only one who advises letting your rough draft sit before you start editing. Stephen King advises it in On Writing. He suggests waiting at least 6 weeks, which I consider a good amount of time. I actually put each draft aside when I’m done, and work on something for the other series. As an example, when I finished the rough draft for Sandwashed, I wrote the rough draft for Station Central. When I finished that rough draft, I started on the second draft of Sandwashed. So the amount of time I let it sit was dependent on how long the next project took me.

Major Edits

Micro Edits

The first edit your novel should go through is a major edit. This means you’re doing what might be a major rewrite of your novel. You go through the rough draft, writing down every single thing wrong with your novel. This is where characters die. For instance, my characters from Broken Patterns used to have a grandmother. Used to.

Outlines change, characters names change. Your whole story might be completely different at the end of this draft. This is the draft that usually takes me the longest. Not only because it’s a major rewrite, but because it’s the first time my book has been typed.

Your book is probably in a lot better shape now than it was to start with. Now is the time go through and find the things you might have missed the first time around. This is the first draft that I print out, usually. It gives me a different perspective.

This is also the draft where I start really considering how I’ve said something, and why I’ve said it the way I have. I’ll often read the whole book out loud this time around. I’m listening for poor dialog and clunky sentences. Anything that sounds stupid in general.

Final Polish

This is my last chance to go through the book and do some housekeeping. Grammar, spelling, character descriptions. Everything gets cleaned up here. It’s my last chance to make the book as good as it can be.

And that’s it. At this point, I feel like the book is ready for other people to look at. This is when I bring in a few beta readers. Then, and only then, am I ready to send the book to my editor.

So what do you think? Are you ready to edit your book in 2018? Let us know in the comments below.

Come Celebrate The Launch of AA on Friday

I have some exciting news! I have a new standalone science fiction story available, called AA.

Josey was new in town, working two jobs and reeling from her divorce. She needed a lot of things, but most of all she needed a meeting. She finds one in the basement of her local library. But the meeting that she finds isn’t the one that she’s expecting.

My wonderful publisher, Solstice, put this out as a standalone after its sucess in the anothology called Project 9.

To celebrate, I’ll be hosting a Facebook party on Friday, January 19th. Here’s a link, if you’d like to attend. There will be some other awesome science fiction authors there, hanging out and talking about their latest projects. I’ll keep you updated as names become available.

Hope to see you there.

Do You Remember The Shooting?

While I am going to be throwing more real-life stuff at you this year, I will be trying to space it out a little more. Sorry for two angry political posts in one week, but I’m getting them out of my system. If it makes you better, this won’t be a very long post.

D’you, remember what happened in Vegas? Here’s a fun fact, as of December 20th, there’d been 59,307 acts of gun violence in America.

I like guns. I was on the rifle team in high school. You know what I don’t like? Bump stocks, semi-automatics, automatics, gun show loopholes and gun stores that ignore standing gun laws to make a buck. I also don’t like innocent dead people who were just seeing a concert, going to a movie, going to school or walking down the street.

Hey, you know who might have forgotten about Vegas? Your local politicians and state officials. Maybe you should give them a call or write to them. Ask them what they’re doing about these attacks. If they tell you, or if you believe yourself that this is a mental health issue and not a gun control issue, then feel free to ask them what they’re doing about that instead. Here’s a link to find contact information for your local representative. Because it shouldn’t take a tragedy to remind us that something needs to be done about this.

I hope you all stay safe.

Being a Better Ally

I wanted to talk today about something that I’m working on in 2018. I’m trying to be a better ally

If you want to be a better ally, then the first step is to understand your privileges. I’m a straight, Christian woman who is physically and (mostly) mentally healthy. I’m capable of learning and able to work.

One privilege that I have that doesn’t get talked about much is my gender. I’m a woman, and that means that I’m treated differently than a man.

In order to be a better ally, I want to talk about female privilege today.

There’s no denying that being a woman is easy. I’m in tech support, and there are some people who make my job harder because I’m a woman. I do, sometimes, have to spend some time convincing people I know what I’m talking about before they’ll let me help them. And that freaking sucks. I despise that every time a company wants to make something more appealing to women or girls, they make it pink.

But I don’t really want to start off a post talking about abuses against men talking about how much it sucks to be a woman. Because we all know that it’s hard to be a woman. We get it. We, as women are being told every day how men are out to get us. Women, think about this. We’re taught to carry our keys between our fingers so we can defend ourselves. We carry pepper spray (in pink containers). We’re taught to always be on our guard, and not go walking at night because men will hurt us given half a chance.

But will they? Actually, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, men are overall more likely to be victims of violent crimes. Here’s a link. So why are we teaching our daughters that they’re in more danger than our sons? At very least, shouldn’t we be teaching our sons to protect themselves just the same?

We don’t really want to talk about violence against men, though. We want to talk about violence against women. We want to protect women and teach them to support each other. We tell men over and over that hitting women is bad, as though they need to be told that. But we don’t really have that same sort of response to violence against men. Think about how many jokes there are about men being hit in the gentiles. We’ve all seen it, the classic eye crossing pained face. It’s hilarious, right? Is it that hilarious if a woman was to be kicked in the gentiles? Hell, it doesn’t even seem to matter when the man in question is in real danger. Lorena Bobbett was a huge running joke after cutting off her husband’s gentiles. Tiger Wood’s wife was nearly a hero when she tried to beat him with a golf club. And to anyone who’s going to tell me that those men cheated, I don’t give a damn. Would you applaud a man who cut off his wife’s breast or tried to smash her head in with a golf club? What if she cheated on him? Is it better now?

Now, I want to talk about something that’s plagued me for a good part of my life. Choosing to be a working mom hasn’t always been easy. There’s a lot of guilt that goes along with it. Mostly inflicted by other women. But there’s a large part of our society that applauds me for being a working mamma. Look at me, going to work to bring home the bacon for my family. I’m not letting some man have financial power over me.

Instead, I’m letting some man have domestic power over me. My husband’s the homemaker in our family. He’s responsible for homeschooling our girls, making dinner, keeping us to our budget, taking the kids to doctors appointments, performing upkeep on our house and doing most of our major shopping. While I do a good amount of the everyday housework, he does the major things. Like shampooing the carpet in our whole house, bless him.

Now let me tell you how many times my husband has had to call me from the doctor’s office so that I could tell the doctor that he had my authorization to see my kid. Let me tell you how many times the schools have asked to talk to me, and didn’t seem to believe my husband when he said that he would be the one handling these things. Oh, or the apartment that we didn’t get to rent because the elderly couple renting it didn’t like that my husband didn’t work. Or the people who ask him what he does, then ask him why he doesn’t work.

Now, full disclosure, my husband does have health concerns. But that’s not why he’s the homemaker. He’s the homemaker because he’s better at it, and I’m better at making money. I started working young and built a portfolio of experience. He became a daddy and that became his focus. We’re both well suited to what we do. And we should both get the same respect as any other breadwinner or homemaker.

Now, on to something more serious. Women’s lives are more valued than men. And let me prove it to you. Women are not permitted to be GI soldiers because America can’t handle seeing women come home in body bags. Women are given preferential treatment in emergency situations. Not pregnant women, just women. Cancers that impact women are given more grant money and attention. We know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I’ve personally known two women with breast cancer. One made it and one didn’t, so don’t think this isn’t serious to me. But testicular cancer is also horrible. My husband’s grandfather died of it.

As another example, men don’t have the same protections as women. Male domestic violence victims can’t go to a shelter in the way women can. Male rape victims are treated as a joke. Even when a male student is abused by a female teacher, it’s laughed off. I think we all know what happens to a male teacher who abuses a female student. He gets nailed to the wall, and he damn well should. But so should a female teacher who abuses a male student.

Men also don’t have the same rights to their children as women. In fact, women, for the most part, get to choose how involved a father is going to be in the lives of their children.

Setting the discussion of abortion aside, because I could go on for a long time about the complexity of that situation, let’s take a look at parenthood. A woman can decide to defer her parental rights in most states. She can say that she’s brought this child into the world, and now she’d like to have someone else care for them.

I’m not hating on women who give their children up for adoption. Part of being a parent is giving your child the best chance to have a good life. To decide that your child’s life would be better without you is a heartbreaking, loving, selfless decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly or judged by anyone. It’s also one that men don’t have the option for.

On the flip side, a man has limited ability to fight for their parental rights if the mother of their child decides that they don’t want them to be a part of their lives. Courts favor the mother in almost every custody case unless something pretty bad is going on.

Finally, women are more trusted than men. Recently, we’ve seen many heartbreaking examples of this. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Hundreds of allegations have come forward about respected men in the entertainment industry. Some politicians have been accused as well. While no actual legal action has been taken against these men, many have lost their jobs without any actual investigations.

I’m not saying that they’re all innocent, or that they’re all guilty. I’m saying that maybe before someone loses everything they’ve ever worked for, maybe there should be some sort of proof. Maybe there should be an investigation. Because if a person, man or woman, really did abuse or harass another person, man or woman, they should be held accountable by the law. Just like when someone commits any other sort of crime. And yes, I realize that it can be hard to prove abuse. But we can’t have our society’s default be she said it, so he did it. Now he has to lose everything and apologize. Because really, anyone can say anything. I could say that Hank Azaria molested me. I’ve never actually met him, but are you really accusing me of lying? Why would I lie about something like that? It’s not like he’s a well known and respected actor and I’m a barely known writer still trying to make a name for myself. (No disrespect meant, Mr. Azaria. You’re a wonderful actor who’s given me hours of happiness with The Simpsons, Bird Cage, and Ray Donovan. Keep doing what you’re doing, Man.)

If you don’t agree with me, please share what you think. I’m open-minded, so please give me facts to prove that I’m wrong. We’re never going to get better if we can’t have discussions and disagreements.

But to my fellow women, I’m asking you to check your privilege and take the challenge to be a better ally. We’re upset because we’re not respected and we should be. But they’re upset because they’re literally dying and losing their children.

How To Actually Reach Your Goals in 2018

Want to know something scary? You all know I love a good horror story, but this one is really bad.

It’s January 5th, and some people have already given up on their resolutions.

And you know who they are! The friend who threw away their cigarette packs on New Year’s Eve went out and shamefully bought a new pack on January 3rd. The cousin who swore off sugar is sneaking leftover Christmas cookies right now. The college buddy who swore they were done drinking picked up a six-pack.

And the person who said they were going to write a book in 2018 is already finding excuses why they ‘can’t’ write today. Or yesterday. Or the day before that. The rest of this week doesn’t look good, either.

Now, I know you guys hear this every year. And there are lots of posts floating around right now to help you not fall into that trap. I’ll be spending a lot of time this year trying to help you reach your writing goals just on PBW. But I wanted to start out the year by giving you some tools against the mid-January slump. We’re going to try together to make 2018 be a great year.

Consider why you want to do this thing

Look, I’m fully aware that I’m going to get some hate for this. But I’ve got to be honest anyway. If you started out the year saying that you’re going to cut out sugar, fat, gluten, caffeine, whatever it is you’ve decided is unhealthy this year, I think you’re probably going to fail. And honestly, I kind of think you should.

I say this for two reasons. The first reason is that it’s too dramatic of a change in your lifestyle. To swear off something like sugar or caffeine is going to mean not only a serious change in your everyday life but for the people around you as well. It’s basically saying, “Please don’t include me in any of your food-related plans. Because not only will I make it harder for everyone, I’ll make everyone feel bad about it along the way.”

But if you really want to do it, then don’t worry about that. You do you, for real. If you really think that cutting out something that’s considered unhealthy from your diet, then go for it.

The thing is, I don’t know that you really think that. I think that we’re all told that certain things are unhealthy for us. And I think that in the new year there’s a lot of pressure to make society approved healthy changes in your life. So maybe some of us say we’re going to do something that we don’t really see a benefit in. Maybe we say we’ll go to the gym, or stop drinking soda. Or go back to school. But do we really want to do these things?

I’ll tell you right now, I have no intention of changing my diet in 2018. I listen to my body and don’t overindulge, but I do enjoy some sweets and fast food. I do want to do yoga more often, and start working on toning my arms. But I want to do those things for me. I want to do more yoga because I’ve been having some serious back problems that I want to be proactive about. I want to tone my arms because I don’t want to be one of those old lady’s with wings. So please consider why you’re making these goals for yourself. Because if they’re not for you, they’re not going to happen.

Control what you can control

Last year I made a whole list of goals, and I accomplished all but two. I didn’t save money, and I didn’t break even for my writing. I lost more money promoting and producing my books then I made.

The first goal was a good goal, and I should have reached it.

The second goal was a bad goal, and do you know why? Because it wasn’t in my control.

Yes, I control a lot of the factors around selling my books. I control how many books come out. I control how much I market and promote. I control how much I spend on my writing.

But I can’t control how many people will actually buy. All I can do is keep on writing and sharing. So, no more sales goals, because I can’t control them. Instead, I have goals concerning how often I’ll promote and produce. The rest of it is totally out of my hands. And I’ve got to learn to be okay with that.

The good news, though, is that the vast majority of our lives are totally under our control. We decide how to spend our time. We decide how to eat. We decide how to react to our situation in life. We decide where we live. All of this is totally, absolutely in our control. So if your goal hinges on the actions of another, take it off your list. Replace it with something that’s entirely in your control.

Don’t give up if you slip for a day

I recently went through the FlyLady’s baby steps, in an effort to dramatically change the condition of my home. I learned a ton from the experience, and can’t recommend the steps enough for everyone.

One of the best lessons I learned, though, was to not give up if I slipped for a day. And I do slip, a lot. But I no longer let one slip lead to another. So if I miss my morning routine, I don’t decide to just skip my afternoon routine. If I don’t feel up to doing a whole home blessing hour, then I tell myself I’ll do one thing, then see how I feel. (Spoiler, that usually encourages me to go on to the next item. Then the next, then the next.)

So if you didn’t write yesterday, don’t let that stop you from writing today. If you can’t write for your whole time, write as much as you can. If you swore you’d quit smoking, but you slipped up and bought a pack, throw it away. You have another day, another hour even. Don’t get hung up on the fact that you slipped. Just make better decisions going forward.

It’s never going to happen if you don’t make it happen.

And this is really what it comes down to. You have to take the steps to make your goals happen. If you want to write a book, you need to do it.

Let me give you an example. My biggest goal in 2018 is to do a Pittsburgh book signing tour. It’s a huge, daunting, terrifying goal. I have to call people I’ve never talked to and pitch my book to them. I have to invest a ton of money in ordering books (and maybe some merch). I have to dress up and act like a famous writer, probably for multiple days in a row.

This is going to take money, planning, and courage. But mostly planning. So I’m working on it now. I’m making a list of bookstores and coffee shops. I’m saving up money to order copies. I’m scheduling time off from my day job. I’m making this happen.

So how about you? What’s your plan to accomplish all of your goals in 2018?

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