I started a YouTube channel!
After several months of thinking, planning, and panicking – I posted my first video!
Setting up the channel was easier than I thought.
I created a channel header on Canva. I use Canva to make a lot of promotional graphics for my books. Since I’m no graphic designer (though I know an amazing one, if you ever need one!), some of the things that I’ve created have never seen the light of day (and a few that I have posted maybe should have stayed in the deep dark “never use” folder). But they provide an option for YouTube Channel Art that makes it easy to create the perfect size image.
After I uploaded my channel art and a picture of my face, it was time to film the video.
I have an inexpensive microphone and ring light that also holds my phone. I set them up in a corner of the basement so they would be out of the way, and I could leave them up all the time. I want to make it as easy as possible to record videos.
I had an outline of what I wanted to say (as a writer, I love a good outline). But for my 3 minute and 43 second video, I probably have at least 30 minutes of footage. I would forget what I was saying mid-sentence or my chair would make a funny sound (it was the chair, I promise!).
So editing turned out to be the hard part as I sorted through trying to find where I actually said what I wanted to say.
I used iMovie to edit because it’s already on my computer and pretty easy to figure out. I think it has a lot more features than I used, but I’m learning.
I also made my thumbnail using Canva. I pulled a screenshot from the video, added some text, and voila!
I think the whole process will become a little easier and faster over time. For me, just getting the first video out there was a huge success.
I’m excited to make more videos! Please subscribe to my channel if you want to be notified when I post a new video!
Do you have a YouTube channel, or are you thinking about starting one? Please share in the comments below!
I’m trying to learn how to write faster.
I know faster isn’t always better, but I keep getting stuck in these drafts. I type fast. Often faster than my brain works, but I freeze up. I nitpick over small details.
No, it doesn’t matter if she’s baking blueberry or blackberry pie. I constantly have to remind myself – you can always change it in the next draft!
So that’s why I’ve become fascinated with techniques on writing fast.
Get it done, then revise!
Here are 3 Tips for Writing Faster –
1. Word sprints – I set a timer and then write, write, write! I don’t let my fingers stop typing until the time is up. I’ve had mixed results with this.
Sometimes I feel like I’m Lorelai from that Christmas episode of Gilmore Girls (“Monkey, monkey, underpants” anyone?)
But sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by the ideas that pop out when I don’t edit myself.
I usually set a timer for 20 minutes, but if I can push myself to do 30 minutes, I sometimes can get 1,000 words down.
2. Outline – You know that dreaded moment when you don’t know what happens next? That’s usually when I wander onto social media, or decide that it’s SUPER IMPORTANT that I get a load of laundry done IMMEDIATELY! (At least I’m a neat procrastinator, right?)
A complete outline can help prevent those “what happens next?” moments.
Some people worry about stifling creativity, but an outline is a living document – ready for change at a moment’s notice. I’m on my fifth outline for the current Magic Pie Shop book. (I’ll probably need to practice fast outlining techniques next!)
A good outline is valuable because you can plan your writing day by seeing which scenes or chapters you want to write. It’s also a great way to see your story arc.
3. Directed daydreaming – When I’m walking my dogs, or taking a shower, or doing that laundry I so love, I think about my story.
As writers, we’re probably already good at daydreaming.
But when I take all that imaginative energy and focus it on the next chapter I’m going to write, it can be a really productive use of my time. I can get excited about the characters and the scene. Sometimes I identify plot holes and how to fix them. That way, when I sit down at my keyboard, I’m ready to go full speed.
What are your tips for writing faster? Please comment down below!
I work seasonally as a parking lot striper. It’s a wonderful, but sometimes exhausting and unpredictable, job. Now that the snow has fallen here, I am fully focused on my writing projects and freelance work. I freelance as a developmental editor, and I’m taking on new clients now. If you know anyone who is looking for a developmental editor, send them my way!
I’m also working on the third book in The Magic Pie Shop series.
Book three feels like it’s taken a long time (probably because it has). I’m so close to wrapping it up now, I can almost taste it — and it tastes like blueberry pie!
December is also the month I begin to plot out my goals for the next year. I’m very excited about 2020. I have a feeling it’s going to be a wonderful year. I think this time I’m going to set both monthly and seasonal goals (with maybe a couple of daily goals sprinkled in).
I’m still working out what all of my goals will be, but I already know that one of my big goals will be to complete two manuscripts next year. I’m posting it here, so I have to do it. There are no take-backs once it’s up on the blog.
Comment down below, I’d love to hear from you! How do you set goals? What are your goals for 2020?
A couple days ago, I experienced that magical moment when an unknown box shows up at the doorstep. I got to hold a copy of A Slice of Christmas Magic! I don’t think this wonderful feeling will ever get old.
A Slice Christmas Magic is out in ebook now and will be out in paperback on December 12th (just 29 days away!)
I’m so excited to share the cover of my second book – A Slice of Christmas Magic! It will be out November 1st. That’s only 44 days away for anyone (like me) who is counting down.
I’m feeling festive today! Does anyone have any unique holiday traditions? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
As writers, we often spend our time alone with our imagination – which is wonderful, don’t get me wrong – but every now and then it helps to talk to a living, breathing being. And yes, I mean our pets.
As I’m typing this, my dog is sleeping next to me. She’s snoring so loudly, I’m longing for a nap of my own. This might be a case where she’s not actually helping me improve my productivity…
My dog has listened to me go off on angry spiels about the terrible thing my characters are doing to each other and excited a-ha moments that leave her wagging her tail and hoping for a treat. (For the record, I do sometimes reward my dog with a treat when I make a major breakthrough because she helped me get there with her patient listening and well-timed snuggles.)
Talking through plot problems out loud can be a huge help. Or sometimes when I’m feeling stuck, I serenade my dog with my made-up song, “What Should I Write Next?” She usually only lasts through the first verse before seeking shelter in a quieter part of the house.
Do you have a pet? Does your pet help or hinder your productivity? Share in the comments below!
(and no, it’s not with sticky notes)
Let me start by saying, I really do love sticky notes. I use them all the time for notes, plotting, and random doodles. At this very moment, my office space is covered with colorful reminders courtesy of sticky notes.
But as I edited book 2 (A Slice of Christmas Magic, coming out later this year, eeek) I discovered a new helpful tool – spreadsheets.
I originally wrote the first two book in the Magic Pie Shop series in quick succession. The details of the characters and the setting stayed (mostly) clear in my mind. Then there was a gap between the time they went off to my editor and the time I was editing them, and some of those details I thought I’d never forget had faded.
I started making notes. Notes on my outline, notes on my characters. What color were Lena’s eyes again? How many tables did the pie shop have?
These notes got lost in pages of a notebook and sticky notes that fell off the wall, and I still struggled to find the information I was looking for. Then even when I did find it, I sometimes struggled to read my own handwriting. Does anyone else have handwriting that’s really neat when you’re focused, but looks like a full on toddler’s scribble fest when you get excited and write quickly? I knew I had to try something different.
I started keeping track on a spreadsheet.
Not only were my notes legible, but I could also cut and paste lines directly from the manuscript. I kept separate tabs for the main characters, supporting characters, and settings.
The plot tab was really helpful – especially when editing. I put each chapter in its own column and filled each cell in the column with scene notes. I was able to see where additional scenes would work. Then I highlighted the added scenes so I would know that I still had to write them.
If I were to do it again, I would start a spreadsheet as soon as I began writing book 1. It would have definitely saved me some time. I’m always exploring different writing techniques so I can figure out what process works best for me (check out my post 5 Ways to Get Unstuck in Your Writing), and keeping notes on a spreadsheet is something I highly recommend – especially if you’re writing a series.
Do you keep notes when you write? Where do you keep them – notebooks, sticky notes, chalkboards, spreadsheets, somewhere else? Share in the comments below!
Writing about magic is, well, magical – but it’s not always easy. As a child, I lived in an enchanted world full of fairies and elves (see my previous video on Magical Memories). In my books, I’m trying to capture the mysterious thrill and excitement that magic can bring to the table.
Here are a couple of the struggles I’ve faced when writing magic.
How do you balance reality and magic?
People want you to prove that magic exists (at least within your book), but how much proof is enough? How do you draw people in and help them put their own realities aside?
As a kid, I was always looking for confirmation of magical things. I wrote letters to Santa asking him for proof he existed so I could quiet the questions in my mind (and silence my non-believing friends). He responded by leaving me a reindeer hoof print on the back of a piece of paper. Later I learned this magical piece of evidence was created by using the heel of one of my dad’s dirty shoes, but it satisfied my curiosity for a bit.
For me, I’m always seeking a balance between reality and just enough sparkle and magic that they think to themselves “Maybe, just maybe…”
How do you keep magic from being the remedy to EVERY problem?
As I was writing A Slice of Magic, I would create a problem and build a whole scene around it before realizing the characters could easily solve it with magic. When your characters can magic away every single problem, there’s no conflict. I struggled with the question – what are the limitations? There has to be someone or something that gets in the way of these magical solutions.
There are many different ways you can limit magic.
You can make it a skill that has to be learned. Is your charactertrying to fill up their cup of coffee from their armchair or trying to keep bad guys from breaking down the back door? Maybe they haven’t learned the spell yet. Maybe the spell they try goes wrong which could lead to disastrous (or possibly hilarious) results.
Maybe they need a specific item to perform magic – A wand? A ring? A book? What if they lose that item? How will they find it? Does it get destroyed? Can they do any magic at all without it? Can they find a new magical item before it’s too late?
How about you? Do you write about magic? Have you faced problems that can’t be fixed with a pinch of fairy dust? Please share in the comments!
Here I am talking a little bit about where my love for magic began. Anyone else have any magical memories?
P.S. A Slice of Magic is only $0.99 right now!
Do you ever have one of those days where no matter how hard you try, the words just don’t come? Maybe you’ve discovered a major plot hole and don’t know how to fix it. Maybe your characters are refusing to talk to you. Maybe you haven’t been getting enough sleep and your brain is working in slow motion, but you have a deadline approaching. Here’s some of my favorite ways to break through when I just feel stuck.
1. Make notes by hand.
If you’re like me, you do most of your writing on the computer. Whenever I get stuck, I love pulling out a blank sheet of paper and jotting down ideas by hand. I don’t know if it’s the ability to make doodles around the edges or if it’s just the enjoyment of holding a good pen, but it often unleashes creativity that gets stuck when I sit at the computer too long.
2. Talk to yourself.
I talk to myself. Like a lot. I’ve found the best place to do this is in the car. There’s something about hearing ideas out loud and talking through them. I have whole in-depth conversations working out plot points and generating new ideas.
3. Talk to your characters.
Along the same lines, pretend your characters are in the car with you, or in your kitchen, or surrounding your writing desk, or wherever you’re having your conversations with yourself. Ask them what they want to do next. Sometimes their answers will surprise you. Sometimes they’ll tell you what they want to do next, and it will give you the idea to do the exact opposite. Just remember, if you’re doing this at home and you don’t live alone, this step can lead to a lot of, “I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to my characters,” conversations.
4. Take a break.
Everyone, this is a risky one to try. It’s probably best to set a timer. Maybe 15-20 minutes. I’ve gotten up for “short” breaks before and suddenly it’s five hours later because I realized the great importance of dusting the back of every drawer in the house. I’ve recently found a new trick. My husband got a rowing machine. If I tell myself I can take a break only to use the rowing machine, I’m guaranteed to limit my breaks to 5-10 minutes (or less, if we’re being honest) because that thing is hard! After I use it, muscles I didn’t even know I had are sore. But stepping away from your writing, even for a few minutes can reset our minds.
5. Make a list of 10 things that can happen next.
Whatever you do, don’t overthink this one. Grab a blank piece of paper (Or sticky notes. I love sticky notes!) and make a list of 10 things. They could be things that could happen next. Maybe it seems really far fetched. A long lost sister returns? But maybe that will turn into a major plot twist in your story. Maybe you list some items that could appear in the story. An old red stocking hat? A 20 year old TV Guide? Maybe the ideas will sit on the list until the next book, or maybe they’ll sit on the list forever. But it’s a great way to get your mind open and free. Just make sure you don’t edit yourself while you make the list!
What are your favorite things to do when you feel stuck? Please share in the comments below!