Check This Out, PayPal

Don’t forget to sign up for the Thirty Days, Thirty Ideas Challenge!  Click here to sign up.

Honestly, is anyone not using PayPal at this point? I really love it, both personally and professionally.

So if you’re not using it yet, here’s why you should be.


Simply put, I shop on-line a lot and I don’t like the thought of someone stealing my card information. I spend enough money on things I don’t need myself, I don’t need someone else doing it for me.

I also use it to reign in my spending If I’ve only got a certain amount of money in PayPal, then only a certain amount of money is going to Jet Pens.

It’s also really, really easy. It’s just a button on most of my favorite sites, so I don’t have to type in my whole credit card number,


Take all of the reasons I love using PayPal for my on-line purchases. Now, those are your first three reasons for loving them as a small business owner too. If buying your book is easy, your readers are more likely to buy.

The big thing, though, is that it’s easy. What do you know about security when it comes to paying on-line? What do you need to do to make sure your customers are safe? Yeah, I don’t know either. That’s why I like PayPal, because I don’t have any idea how to do that. And you know what? With more books to write, social media to blast, books to write, editing to do, books to write, covers to design, and books to write, I don’t have time to learn it. I’d much rather have PayPal do it.

So this week, check out PayPal. Let someone else take care of the money portion so that you can worry about everything else.

Check This Out, Mail Chimp

When you start selling your books and other products, you’re going to need a mailing list.  I started one last month, called the Road to Full Time.  I’m really glad I started one.

  • It allows me to talk at length about my actual step by step process to becoming a full time writer.
  • People who sign up for newsletters are actively saying, “I like what you have to say, and I would like to see more than you post on your site.”  That feels good.
  • When my books start coming out, I’ll be able to let the people who like me most hear about them, and offer specials.
  • It’s one of the most cost efficient ways to advertise.  Remember, you have to do all of your advertising when you’re a self published author.

The trouble is, I have very little time, and not a lot of money to spend. So, I started using MailChimp for my newsletter.

If you want to sign up for my newsletter, click here.

If you don’t want to sign up for my newsletter, click there anyway to see how easy MailChimp works.  Seriously, I just copied some code and attached it to that text.  It takes no time.

As for creating the newsletters, it is also easy.  That was really important to me.  I have worked for a lot of newspapers and newsletters for different organizations I’ve belonged to over the years.  You know what the worse thing about those were?  Page layout.  It sucks a lot.  MailChimp is by far the easiest program I’ve used for it.  Which is nice because I don’t want to be worrying about page layout.  I want to be worried about the content.

This is one of those things that you set up, and forget about it until you’re ready to make a new newsletter.  Images are easy to upload, and you can write articles right on the template, same as on WordPress.

So this week, check out MailChimp.  And let me know if you make your own newsletter.  I’m excited to see them.

Check This Out, Cozi

I really like planners. Like really like them. It’s a big thing for me, and I have tried every single planner you can talk about. I’m about to order the Cadillac of paper planners, the Erin Condron Planner. (Not an affiliate, just really love them.)

As much as I love paper planners, they have one fatal flaw. My husband is all digital. He does not want to look at a calendar on the fridge. He does not want to look at my planner, no matter how much it costs. He wants a digital planner, and he wants one without a lot of extra stuff. I want one that we can both update, both access on our pcs and tablets. I also wanted color coding, because I am a dork. One way or another, we needed a family planner, because we’ve got four lives to run here. Besides, we’re less likely to forget an appointment if we both actually know about it.

So we settled on Cozi. It really does have everything we both need.
* It’s free. I mean, there’s a for pay feature, but I don’t even know what that does. The free version is great, even with the ads.
* I was able to color code the thing, so I can tell at a glance who’s got an appointment. The colors do, by the way, match up with the colors in my paper planner.
* Every Sunday, which just happens to be the day I do my planning session for the week, I get an e-mail detailing all of our appointments, my work schedule, and all deadlines.
* Cozi does a cool thing called small win Fridays, where they encourage people to share a small win for the week on social media. Just saying, that’s huge. Not all weeks are going to have great big wins. Some weeks are just going to suck a whole lot. Small wins can help keep your chin up.
* The husband and I can update the calendar from our tablets, so as appointments are being made, usually while we’re at the current appointment.
* If I’m at work, and The Husband knows I’ll be stopping by the store on the way home, he can update a grocery list, if he’s realized we’re out of something he didn’t know about when I left.
* When the monsters are older, they can log into our account too, to update with their own stuff.
* It’s really easy to use and edit. My schedule changes quarterly, and I will often switch shifts with people. I don’t get frustrated making these changes.
* There’s also a shared to do list, and a journal. I actually use my bullet journal for this, as The Husband and I don’t need to share a to do list, but if you’re wanting to go digital, that’s the way to do it.

The only thing I don’t like is that there are no weekly and monthly views. But, as I still have a paper planner I don’t need it there.

So, if you’re looking for a way to get everyone on the same page, check out Cozi.

Check This Out, the IC Blog Tour Questionair!

Hello, hello.  I am so thrilled to be involved in the IC Blog tour this summer!  I’d first like to give a huge thanks to Meghan Bliss, from The Blissful Poet, who invited me to the tour.  If you’re interested, check out her blog here.  It’s pretty sweet.

For my regular readers, if you’re interested in more information about the IC Blog tour, here’s a link to their site.  If you’re a blogger, you should definitely get involved if you can.

So, now on to the blog questions.

1. What are your tips for creating meaningful content?

I write blog posts the same way I write everything else.  I outline.  I start out with a theme for the month, like writing for parents this month.  Then, I think about my weekly columns, and what I can say that pertains to the months theme.  So, for Check This Out, that is posted on Wednesday, I thought about what sort of blogs and apps I could suggest for other writing parents.  I thought about what I could say or suggest concerning the topic, and I make a list.  If I come up with more ideas than I’ve got days I want to post, I decide which one I like least, and cross it off the list.  Then I sit down once a week, and write all the posts I intend to publish this week.

2. What steps have you taken to writing a book?

Oh, goodness, like I haven’t bored everyone with this already.  Alright, here’s the thing.  I’ve written five books.  Two have gotten through multiple drafts.  Two are from my fantasy series, Woven.  The other three I’ve put on a high shelf because I’ve realized for one reason or another that I’m not ready to write them yet.  Not that the stories are bad, just that I’m not ready to write them.  This is the method I’ve used to write all of my books so far.

  • I start by brainstorming for a few days.  Now that I’m working on a series, I’ve got notes all over the place before I even start this, so step one’s got to be collecting all that mess.  Then, I break out my three favorite brainstorming tools; lists, mind maps and free writing.
  • Once I’ve got some idea of what I want to do with this book, I start on my outline.  I flesh this out first on index cards, so I can move around my ideas visually.  I’ll transition this onto Evernote later, so I can color code it and still have plenty of mobility.  But for some reason, my brain works best on index cards.  This process can take up to a week.
  • Then I start with the rough draft.  I’ll probably throw out my outline at least twice, but that’s okay.  Nothing’s set in stone until it’s published.  Generally I have to write my first draft on paper, in college ruled composition notebooks, with Le Pens.  I find recently that I’ve been writing books from two characters points of view, so I stick to two ink colors, and change color with voice.  All of my notes are also written with these colors, so I can keep better track.  It also works as sort of a mental trick for me.  I know that with this color, I’m talking in this voice.  I’ve written first drafts in as little as six weeks, but my last one took me six months!  However long it takes, I like to let the book sit for six weeks after that.  If you’re playing along at home, this first draft has already taken seven months.  Writing a book takes time, dammit!
  • Now, the time has come for the red pen.  I’ll go through the whole thing with my red pen and a legal pad, and just toss down first impressions.  What worked, what didn’t.  What character do I need to hear more from, and who’s not making it to draft two.  Then I rewrite by chapter.  This generally takes six months, and is the longest part of the process for me.  Now we’re up to a year and a month.
  • Draft three comes next.  Hopefully by this time I’m tidying up.  Working on the language, character development, that sort of thing.  This takes about three months, and it’s the draft I’ll show to my beta readers.  My beta readers take at least two to read it.  So now we’re up to a year and a half.

Since we’re on the subject, I like to stagger my books.  While I let Broken Patterns sit for six weeks, I finished the final draft of my thriller novel.  While I gave Broken Patterns to my beta readers, I wrote the rough draft of Starting Chains, it’s sequel.  Now that it’s in it’s cool down phase, I’m working on draft four of Broken Patterns.  And speaking of Draft four.

  • Draft four is the first one that has any outside input.  For me, a lot of that input comes from my husband, who is a long time fantasy reader and not at all shy about telling me if the book sucks.  This takes about four months, and so now we’re at a year and ten months.
  • Finally, draft five, the final polish draft.  I print draft four out, and red pen it again.  This will be the draft that an agent sees, so it’s got to be as close to perfect as I can make it.  This takes about three months.  So, all together, a whole book from conception to finish takes me two years and one month.

3. What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to let go of something that isn’t working, in life or in writing.  Don’t throw good time or money after bad.

4. What are you working on now, and how can we, as a community, help?

I’m going to be putting out my very first self published collection of short fiction later this year.  I’d love some feedback when I do so.  More than that, I want to help you.  I blog about writing here almost every day, and the best part of my day is when I see someone’s read one of my blogs.  To paraphrase the most quoted movie of all time, help me help you by checking us out.

That’s all for me!  My friend over at Deliawrites is up next week! Here’s a bio, and a link to her site. Don’t forget to check her out next week!

I’m a Writer. In my head, I live in a log cabin, lined with beautifully bound books and tiny fairies pour tea, while I write. I’ve recently self-published a picture book, and want to share the journey with everyone. I am desperately seeking more time to write and be a better blogger.

Check This Out, Evernote

Well, I am writing on it right now, so that should give you some idea of how very much I do love Evernote.

I feel like it would be silly to tell you what Evernote is, because it is all over the internet. But, not everyone is a crazy internet junkie like me, and maybe you don’t subscribe to quite as many orginization blogs as I do. So, Evernote is basically a writing program, like Open Office or Word. But it does so much more than just that.

Reasons to love Evernote

* I have it linked between my home computer and my tablet. Let me explain to you how cool this is. I can write anywhere. I can, for instance, start writing my blog post while I’m at my day job, and finish it when I get home on my pc.
* This also means that if one of my devices has a fatal error, I have my ass covered. Yes, I use other things as backups including Drop Box and a zip drive, but Evernote is my first line of defense.
* I use it to write shopping lists, too. I can write it on my pc, and then check stuff off on my tablet while I’m out shopping.
* I wrote my outline on it. I was able to color code it, and as I wrote, I could add things to my outline as the plan changed. And, I could cross things out as I went to keep my place.
* I have different notebooks on my account, so I have one for Woven stuff, one for Paper Beats World, and one for each of my e-books. So I’m not shuffling through all my notes to find the one I need.
* There is a voice to text recording option. I have totally used that to ‘write’ blog posts while doing dishes.
* There’s a sketch option that have, on occasion, used to brainstorm. But I have far more often used it to distract my little monsters in stores and waiting rooms.
So, for your sanity as a writer and a parent, check out Evernote.

Check This Out- Gunnerkrigg Court

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I believe good writing comes in all forms.  Good stories come in all forms.  Books are great, they’re my personal favorite.  But I am a huge fan of comic books and graphic novels.  I mean things like Bone by Jeff Smith, Wonderland by Tommy Kovac, and the subject of today’s Check This Out, Gunnerkrigg court.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve actually been saving this one for my month dedicated to parenting for a reason.  It’s a story that I read with my kids, and find that we all seem to be able to appreciate it on different levels.

The story is amazingly creative, with some borrowing from lesser known mythology.   It’s the story of a place called Gunnerkrigg court (duh) that has been created to study the combined forces of science and magic.  Only they call it Etheric energy.  In this world, people use computers they control through pendants and tattoos.  Robots have feelings, and the school dorm is protected by a huge crab like creature.  It’s the story of a little girl named Annie who grew up in the court, but soon starts to make friends with the inhabitants of The Forest, an amazing place full of demons, fairies, and gods.  There’s a girl possessed by some unknown force, a demon trapped in a stuffed doll, trees that get up and run around, and all sorts of other really cool characters.

The whole thing is available online, but it really is worth it to invest in the hardcover books if you can, they’re great quality.  But you’ve got to read the story from the beginning.  The archives can be found from this link right here.  So check out Gunnerkrigg Court with your kids this week.

Check This Out- Write Naked

If the title sounds familiar, yes I did mention this site a few weeks ago on Market.  It’s a great site to submit guests posts to and get paid for it.

However, there were a lot of things I didn’t get to mention about Write Naked when I was talking about it as a freelance market.

  • Like the fact that it’s an inspiring read.
  • Like the author is an amazingly energetic woman that gets more done in a day than I do in three.
  • Like it’s a WordPress site, just like this one, and I love to talk up my brothers and sisters here.
  • And, like how the author blogs about her life, in which her day job is writing, and how she lives that awesome life we’re all working towards every day, and I love hearing those stories.

Post To Check Out-

  • We write what we read.
  • A writer welcomes chickens
  • What a Writer carries in her purse

So, if you didn’t already discover how awesome Write Naked is, check it out this week.

Check This Out, Elle & Co

I found Elle & Co on Pintrest, like I find so many other awesome things like coffee recipes and things to do with old books.  And I swear, I lost an hour just scanning through the archives.  It has, no lie, some of the best images I have ever seen.

I love this site because I learn how to be a better blogger just by watching what Lauren does.

  • The images I was talking about?  They are perfect, and have a great consistency.  They’re also super basic!  Just words in the same font, written on a plain colored background with some decorative lines.  That it, no fuss.  But they are eye catching.
  • They’re eye catching because of the content.  This site has some of the most solid advice I have ever heard about running a site, selling a product, and working your life around your work.  (Indie writer=small business owner.  I’ll keep saying it, it’s okay.)
  • Even though it’s a site dedicated to selling design work, I get a ton of inspiration.  I hope that inspiration will, among other things, lead to a super sweet cover for my e-books when they’re done.

Best of all, though, is Lauren’s really great, conversational writing tone.  She’s got a very good voice for this sort of thing, even if she doesn’t write anything but non fiction.

Posts to see-

  • 12 ways to network authentically
  • A backwards approach to product launches
  • How to create a clean and cohesive inspiration board (And here, by the way, is a great example of accidental inspiration.  I used this post to help me create visual boards in Pintrest for each of the countries in Woven.  They are public, if you want to check mine out.)
  • SEO made simple

Is there a website, blog, or book that’s inspired you.  Tell us about it.

Check This Out- Time Recording

This is not an affiliate post, I’m getting nothing at all for talking about something from the Google Play Store.

Business hat time again.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I’m trying to see my time as something to invest in a project, instead of just rushing to check off as many things from my to do list as I can on any given day.  I’m also trying to, more and more, see writing as my real job.

Well, I clock in at my day job.  I want to be able to clock in for writing time, too.  So, I found Time Recording on the Google Play Store.  It’s my new favorite app this week.

Now, I love this app for a lot of reasons.

  • It helps me stay focused.  When the clock is ticking , I consider those ‘billable hours,’ like a lawyer or a therapist.  I am at work once I’ve clocked in, and I should act like it.  It’s amazing how much that, “I am supposed to be working now,” has helped me.
  • I’ve made a steadfast rule about my time management games.  I don’t look at them when I’m punched in to write.  Even if I’m taking a five minute break, I do something else.  So long as that app is running, no other apps are running.
  • Even so, I can do other things on my tablet while this app is running.  I tried an app that blocked all other apps while I was on it.  It was cool, you grew a little tree for every half hour you didn’t close the app.  Which would have been super terrific, if I didn’t have an e-book version of Broken Patterns on my tablet that I’ve been using to read it and make notes.  Or if I didn’t have my planner on my tablet.  Or if I didn’t need to check my e-mail, or fact check something online, or look at that article I saved on Feedly.  The point is, I have touched my tablet four times in the writing of this article, to check on something I needed to know before I finished writing it.
  • This app tracks the time I’ve spent writing for the day, the week, and the month.  That’s really convenient for me.
  • I am a gamer at heart, and I love having a number to beat.  So if I spent fourteen hours this week writing, I’d damn well better write for sixteen next week.

So check out Time Recording on the Play Store.  See what it helps you create this week.

Check This Out- Just a Girl and Her Blog

So, this is a super exciting Check This Out for me because, (dum da da da!) this is the blog that inspired me to get into blogging. I would read Just a Girl and Her Blog every time it updated, and I’d think; this is such a cool way to connect with people. maybe even help them get on the path they want to be on. I want to do that, but do I really have the time? Wait, this lady’s got two very little sons, and she’s got time for all this? No way I’ve got any excuse.

Just A Girl and her Blog doesn’t have a lot to do with writing fiction. But it does have a lot to do with managing your life around being a parent, and working, and working at home, around kids. Essentially, this is the blog that helps me do the things I need to do to keep things running.

We’re writers, and that’s a pretty freaking awesome thing to be. But that isn’t all we are. We’re also parents, students, employees, spouses, friends, daughters and sons. There will never be a day when I am only a writer, so I’ve got to have some help with the life around me. If I can learn a cool trick to limit how much time I spend on housework, the I’ve got more time to spend on writing.

Also on this blog, I find all sorts of cool things about self publishing. The author has written a couple, and she loves to share all the things she’s learned.

Some great articles to check out-

* 5 ways going paperless has improved our lives
* Hit me With Your Best Shot
* How to make money blogging

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