Coming Soon: A New Multi-Author Series!

Hey, readers! I have big news to share – some of you might have an idea because I’ve been hinting at it on social media for the past week: I’ve been asked to be part of a new multi-author continuity!

For those of you who don’t know, a continuity is a series of books set in a similar place or within the same family or sometimes even the same town. In our case, this continuity uses the similar setting: all 10 books (yep, 10!) take place during Matchmaking Week at the fictional Joy Island in the Bahamas! How fun is that?

Here’s the 4-1-1 on Matchmaking Week: Joy Island is owned by a set of eccentric twin sisters who are matchmakers (by choice and also by profession). During Matchmaking Week, a slew of couples come together for a week of no cell phones/outside contact and lots of romance! It’s been so much fun to write! My book features opposites Ethan and Aster. Here’s the blurb: 

Moonlight Match

Resort to Romance
Ten delightful—and standalone—novellas linked by one matchmaking week. You’ll want to devour each one! This is Moonlight Match: 

Aster Harrington believes in love but love doesn’t seem to believe in her. She’s tried online dating, set-ups, and even chance encounters at her local coffee place. All she’s gotten in return is a series of men more interested in her last name – or their cell phones – than they are in her. She’s hoping Goldie and Ginny, the matchmakers who put not only her parents but her grandparents together, can work their matchmaking magic for her…

Some call Ethan Talbot rigid, but he prefers to think of himself as prepared. Nothing can prepare him for seeing Aster Harrington again – or finding out she is his match at Matchmaking Week. Aster is the daughter of a hotel magnate who regularly appears in tabloids. Neither of those attributes are on Ethan’s list for the perfect wife. But he finds he can’t simply walk out on Aster – or his well-meaning if slightly dotty cousins, Goldie and Ginny. He can get back to the business of finding a suitable wife once he’s back in New York. How much harm can Aster do to his plans? After all, it’s only for a week… 

Moonlight Match releases March 12, 2019  RESORT TO ROMANCE SERIES

Get ready for ten weeks of romance in the Bahamas with a new series brought to you by some of the best authors in the inspirational and sweet romance genres…
It’s Matchmaking Week at an all-inclusive resort on a private island in the Bahamas. Each guest has been expertly paired and is here to enjoy one full week with their match. While there’s no money-back guarantee on the paid trip, the participants are guaranteed to find love!

You can pre-order now by clicking the Amazon link above; this book will be exclusive to Amazon for the first 3 months. And, mark your calendars for February 19, 2019 when book one, A Meddled Match, hits retailers! 

How to Create a Vision Board for Writing

I love Pinterest. Next to Instagram, its my favorite of the social networks because of all the pretty pictures. If you follow me at all on Pinterest you know I have boards for all kinds of things: favorite quotes, meals that I’ll probably never make, inspiration, and I even have pinboards for each of my books. My book pinboards are filled with nature pics and some quotes and (naturally) the models and actors that I think represent the characters in my books. These pinboards are very much like vision boards for me, and while I create them in the beginning stages of each draft, I add to them throughout the writing and editing and publishing process. These pinboards help me keep my vision of the books fresh while I’m trudging through the middle (middles are HARD for me, people!), and last year as I was setting up my planner I thought: why aren’t I making pinboards for other things? I should do that and so I did.

I made a vision board for 2018 on Pinterest. It was beautiful. Filled with quotes I like, pictures of places I’d like to visit or that inspire me…you get the idea. The problem was that while I filled that board up quickly, I forgot to go and check in on it (which made for a fun surprise this year when I discovered in again…but I digress). I wanted a vision board for my year that would actually work to inspire me – that I could see every day and not forget about. That meant it needed to be a physical board, not a digital one. The big problem with creating a big poster or cork board sized vision board is the size of my office and the fact that it doubles as a guest room.

Page 1 of my planner vision board

I kept thinking and wondered if I could create a vision board that would live in my planner for the year. I use my planner daily, so I wouldn’t lose track of my vision. I could add to it throughout the year because I use the Happy Planner/discbound system, that was a bonus. I played around with that idea and it turns out, I could. And I did. And I am so excited about it!

I wound up putting the vision board in my project planner because that’s what made the most sense. So far I’m really loving it. When I see those images I chose to represent my expectations and hopes and plans for the year, it just makes me happy and inspires me to keep moving forward. So much, that I wanted to share the process with you guys because I think it could help you, too! Here’s what you need: glue, a few blank pages that will fit into your planner, and clippings from various magazines or digitally printed. The images can be words that are inspiring to you, nature images, inspirational/aspirational sayings, and even people that inspire you if you’re so inclined. If you don’t have any magazines laying around, contact your local Goodwill – most have stacks and stacks of magazines that you can buy for $1/bag.

Another planner vision board page

Step One: go through the magazines page by page looking for images, headlines, and even bits of text that make you happy in some way. Cut them out and stack them in piles. I made piles of nature pics, some health/wellness images/words, inspirational words, and even a couple of pics of people (Oprah!) who inspire me. The number of clippings you have will vary, but I think a solid number is probably 20-30 clippings.

Step Two: decide how many “sections” you want for this vision board. I used three sheets of planner paper, and “titled” each page according to what it represented. I have a page for work (writing), a page for home, and a page for health/wellness because those are my top three areas this year.
Step Three: figure out which images you want on what pages and/or, if you’re just doing a single page, which section of the page. I like to have one big image and then I fill in the rest of the area with quotes and pictures that either reinforce what I see in that image or that build upon it.

The “home” page from my vision board

Once you’ve figured out what goes on that page, it’s time for Step Four: start gluing! Rubber cement or glue sticks work well, but I prefer a tape runner (I use a TomBow) because it isn’t as messy but it keeps things in position. For my vision board, I also used washi to tape the pages together so that they fold in on one another. Speaking of, washi would be a great way to stick images to your pages and add a little more color/texture to the overall piece. That’s it. You’ve created a vision for your year that can be tucked into your planner (or put on a cork board if you have one!) that will keep you inspired for the next year.
Do you like vision boards? What would you like to create a vision board for?

January Goals & Planning for 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you my planner setup for 2019. Well, it’s 2019 and I know we’re only a day in, but I’m already loving my planner! But, as I was setting it up and my planner was getting thicker and thicker I realized something: I needed just a little separation. 2018 brought about a lot of new things here at Casa Knight: bebe started karate, which leads to several practices each week, RadioMan started a new job that not only includes sportscasting but also running a radio group (and all the meetings, late nights, and ballgames that entails), and I started working part-time outside the home.

Kristina’s “mini”/family and health planner

All of that means our family schedule is packed. It also means that, many times, our family schedule takes up space that I need to have dedicated to my writing…and when I don’t, some of the business parts of my writing can be put off or (gasp!) forgotten. Which is where Separation comes in. I decided to split out my writing from our family planning (although some of the same appointments go in both – because it never hurts to have some things in multiple places). So, I bought my first Happy Planner Mini (this one, an hourly format) that I’m not using hourly but as a workout, food, and water log, along with appointments and family things.

Kristina’s 2019 Planner

Kristina’s Project Planner

My main planner (a BIG sized Happy planner, in the Teacher layout will be my business planner) remains, with sections for writing, social media, planning, refilling the well, you get the idea). And, I created a project planner. This is only a planner in the loosest sense of the word – I’m using parts of a Happy Notes BIG, with sections for different writing projects (those contracted through NY and those that are INDIE), ideas for my blog and social media, and a few non-fiction ideas, too. This is one of the project pages, from my book that is coming out in March. Speaking of plans, it’s the beginning of a new month and that means it’s time for GOALS! Meanwhile, let’s recap December: 

  • Set a daily writing goal on Sunday of each week (Sunday is my planning day); my minimum writing goal will be 1,000 words. – CHECK
  • Finalize a partial/synopsis for my agent. – CHECK
  • Finalize the novella edits and formatting in preparation for the March release (I just saw the cover and I canNOT wait to share with you guys!). – CHECK

Despite the craziness of December, I did meet my three main goals, so I’m super happy about that. Now for January’s goals: 

  • Continue setting daily writing goals on Sunday, with a minimum goal of 1,000 on writing days
  • Begin tracking my food and water intake, along with workouts, in my mini planner. Health is going on the front burner this year because…well, because it needs to. And by health I do mean physical, but I’ll be doing some mental-health things, too. Stay tuned!
  • Start writing my next full length project, with a goal of pitching by the end of January. In addition, continue working on my next contemporary series idea, this one with the goal of pitching mid-February.
  • Begin working on plans for my book releasing in March, including a cover reveal and creating a dedicated page for it here on my website.

If you’ve got a goal (or twelve) for January, feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you! 

Kristina’s Hot Chocolate

I adore hot chocolate. Seriously. I’m not big on coffee, and I’m really particular about teas (and actually prefer them iced – I know, I’m a Philistine!) so when I go for a hot beverage more often than not it’s hot chocolate. Which I’m also particular about because there is a difference between hot cocoa (which is fine, but not my favorite) and hot chocolate (which, when made correctly, is divine). Since we’re into the cold months, I thought I’d share my grandmother’s hot chocolate recipe. Here we go!
The ingredients:

  • 1-2 tbsp sugar – this is completely optional and is actually an estimate…I actually just use a couple of healthy pinches
  • 2 cups whole milk – 2% milk will work but do not, no matter what you think, go to 1% or skim…I’m begging you
  • 4 oz/1 cup dark chocolate chopped (I use my Ninja Food Prep so the bits are super fine, it makes for a smoother overall drink)
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • whipped cream 
  • peppermint stick, candy cane, or puffed peppermints if you’d like a hint of mint

The directions:
First things first, the chocolate needs to be melted so pop it into a microwave safe bowl and blast it in 45 second increments, stirring between each blast, in a microwave until it’s nicely melted. While you’re melting the chocolate, it’s safe to start on the milk. Using a sauce pan over medium heat, warm the vanilla and milk until it’s at the scalding phase – you’ll know it’s at the right heat when it’s 180 degrees…or, if you don’t have a handy thermometer, when there are bubbles around the edge but it isn’t boiling. If you make a mistake and the milk boils, my suggestion is to start over because that will give the drink a grainy texture. Turn the burner to the low setting and begin to add in the melted chocolate, stirring as you do. Once the chocolate and milk are well blended, pour into mugs, top with a bit of whipped cream (the kind from the can, not Cool Whip) and add in the peppermint if you’re in a mint-chocolate mood). Serve.

A couple of notes: This makes about four servings, depending on the size of your mugs, which probably means leftovers. Yay! And, yes, you can keep this for a bit by storing whatever is left in a covered dish/mug in your fridge for up to three days. Reheat over the stove as reheating in the microwave can lead to uneven temperatures and a drink that isn’t as smooth as the original. Also: I do mean use dark chocolate (some call it bittersweet), this recipe won’t be the same (it will still be fine, but not as good in my opinion) if you use either semi-sweet or milk chocolate…if you do use either of those definitely nix the added sugar, as it won’t be needed. I keep chocolate chips on-hand in my house, Nestle’s Dark are my favorite for this recipe. 

There you have it – the perfect (in my opinion) hot chocolate! Do you have a favorite cold weather hot beverage? Feel free to share!

December Goals + Holiday Cookie Recipe ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

The calendar has rolled around again – and it’s time for a goals check-in! Here we go.

In November, my personal goals were to track meals and workouts Monday-Friday, to continue using time-blocking techniques in my daily schedule. These two goals both get a tic beside them because I succeeded in meal-tracking and time-blocking in November – and I’ve felt so good!

Work goals: finish and format the novella that is coming out in March: the novella is finished (tic!) but I need to tweak a little bit on the formatting, along with making a couple of more editing changes before it’s 100% finalized (partial-tic). All in all, I’m happy with my progress, which will make December goal-setting a bit simpler.

For December, my goals will be a little different because the holiday season means a lot more activities than usual, which will mean I need a bit more focus on the work/writing front. Here we go:

  • Set a daily writing goal on Sunday of each week (Sunday is my planning day); my minimum writing goal will be 1,000 words.
  • Finalize a partial/synopsis for my agent.
  • Finalize the novella edits and formatting in preparation for the March release (I just saw the cover and I canNOT wait to share with you guys!).

That’s it. It sounds like December will be a simple month, but with holiday parties and family trips and last-minute baking and shopping, Speaking of holiday parties and baking, I’ve got a fun recipe to share with you guys today! It’s my mom’s sugar cookie recipe, along with my sugar cookie icing recipe. We always take a couple of Saturdays in late November/early December to bake and ice and then we freeze the resulting cookies so that starting on December 23, we just have to grab a tin of cookies from the freezer when we’re ready to munch. Here we go with the recipe!
Cookie Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups butter (the real stuff, don’t use butter substitute, the cookies won’t taste right)
2 cups granulated sugar

Kristina’s Christmas Sugar Cookies!

4 eggs (medium sized works great!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the good stuff, from Mexico, not the generic stuff off the grocery shelf!)
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cookie Baking Directions: 
Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream them together until smooth; beat in the eggs and vanilla, again until smooth. Next, add in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Now cover the bowl and put it in the fridge, you’re going to chill this mixture overnight. The next morning (or afternoon), preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out your dough (finally! something to use that rolling pin Aunt Betty gave you at your wedding!) to about a half-inch thick. Use whatever cookie cutter shapes you like (we’re fans of stars, trees and balls because reindeer legs have a tendency to get too thin and burn…but you do you!). Cut out the shapes and place the cookies 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Back about 7 minutes and then let them cool completely. Ice the cookies (don’t worry, the icing recipe is below)!
The most important piece of a sugar cookie (in my opinion) is the icing. Some are fans of buttercream, but I like a lighter icing. One that adds sweet, and maybe has the hint of a crunch, but that stays soft in the middle…that is exactly what this icing recipe does!
Icing Ingredients:
3 teaspoons milk (I like 2%, but whole would also work well)
2 teaspoons KARO syrup (the white kind, not the dark)
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla (the good stuff, from Mexico, don’t just use that generic stuff off the Piggly Wiggly shelf)
Food coloring (I like gel coloring because the colors are more vibrant)
Any sprinkles or other edible decorations you want
Icing directions: 
Put the powdered sugar into a mixing bowl, add the milk, KARO syrup and vanilla and cream all of that together. You want the icing to be almost firm, not drippy, but it needs to spread easily. I always test it with a simple kitchen spoon — if I can hold a spoonful upside down without it dropping right off, the consistency is right. Once the icing is the firmness you want, divide into different bowls and add the colors of food coloring you want, mix and you’re ready to ice the cookies!

I’m going to need a lot of focus. How about you? What are you planning and goal-setting for December?

#WriteTip: How to Approach Editor’s Notes

I am asked – often – how to deal with editor’s notes. Whether they are big-picture, copyediting notes, or a mix of both. It’s a good question, especially because the first few times through an edit can be daunting. Do you change everything the editor asks about? Nothing? Somewhere in between? How do you know how Change A will impact the midpoint of the book? What about the Black Moment? 

The simple answer is this: every little change you make will change following aspects of the book in ways you can’t know. Some changes will improve your writing voice, some will alter the overall story, some will create stronger characterization. How you approach these edits is, of course, up to you, which is why I asked a few friends to weigh in on how they approach editor’s notes. Here we go:

Heatherly Bell, author of The Wilder Sisters Series

I approach my editor feedback like a big girl. Usually I will read through the editing notes first. Then I’ll read through the MS and all the comments which takes me about a day. I take a day to digest it. After that, if something still doesn’t ring true to me, I’ll make my own note in the comments next to hers. I’ll try to explain, for instance, why my hero has been deeply affected by such and such. Or I’ll explain why this or that makes sense to my heroine.

Occasionally, if I’m confused by a comment, though I’m always able to email and ask, I find I usually “get it” a day later. Most of the time, my editor’s notes are spot-on! Maybe I’m lucky, I don’t know. But they always seem to pinpoint those areas where I know I need to dig deeper. Why does this matter? Why does my character care so deeply about it?

Or in the instance of my latest proposal, when my editor said: this ending doesn’t work for me! To be honest, it didn’t work for me either, so it was just confirmation I needed to re-work that ending. My Harlequin editors are wonderful. They never try to squelch my voice. They just want to make sure I’ve gone as deep as I can and they’re right most of the time.

Nan Reinhardt, author of the Four Irish Brothers Winery series

After the initial feeling of overwhelm, I try to remember what my editor says, “Sometimes you just need to change or add a sentence or two, or even just a word or two. Turns out with the latest WIP, I ended up adding an entire chapter and an epilogue, but it did make the book better, no question.

Claire McEwen, author of Sleigh Bells in the Snow

I always find feedback a little bit terrifying. So as soon as I get it, I read through it once, then put it away. I’ll then spend a day or two just sort of processing the general ideas included in the feedback. Once I get used to them, I’ll go back through the feedback in detail and make notes about how I plan to address it.

I believe that my agent and editor know what they are doing, that they can see things I can’t because they have more distance

 from the story, and that their feedback will make my story stronger. I think it’s important to let go of my ego and really take their advice with an open mind and heart. I’m saying this because I have met authors who seem very suspicious of feedback and don’t seem to want to take it.

I would offer this advice. If you don’t agree with the editor or agent’s specific suggestions, try to think about what they are saying in general. I recently had an experience where the editor wanted me to strengthen the conflict, but her ideas about how to do that just weren’t resonating with me. They were good ideas, but they didn’t speak tomy heart. It took a few days of thinking really, really hard, but then I had a big ‘aha’ moment. I changed the entire backstory of my hero and heroine and upped the conflict significantly, in a way that satisfied both the editor and me.

Liz Flaherty, author of The Dark Horse

Here’s where I’m a Weird Person. I love the feedback even when I hate it, because then I know what he wants rather than guessing at it. If I’m hoping to sell the story, I have to be willing to share ownership of it. This isn’t always easy, and I’ve made changes that to this day I think were mistakes. However, at the end of the day, he’s the editor and I’m not, and the publisher still signs my checks.

There you have it, friends, a few new ways you can approach editor feedback – to make your book the best it can be. If you have another tip, share in the comments!

November Goals + Fun Holiday Event

November Goals

When November rolled around last Thursday I was floored. I mean, how did it get to be November already? And what happened to my October goals? And how am I going to get through the rush of the holiday season with my sanity – and my deadlines! – intact? Seriously, these questions stressed me out for almost a full day before I got hold of them, and my calendar, and came up with a plan. Before we get to the plan, though, how about a goals recap. For October, my four goals were:

  • Track my meals and workouts – I’ll count this as half a point because I did track my workouts – and averaged 5/week, yay! – but I wasn’t so great at tracking my meals/calorie intake. 
  • Finish an indie novella for a project that is releasing in March – This is not even half a point, because I didn’t finish by October 31, it took until November 2. But, the project is now with my proofer and editing will commence in a couple of weeks.
  • Themed planning days – this is a full checkmark! I started block-scheduling my days in October and I really like how that is working for me, although it also caused a planner hiccup which I’ll explain in another blog. What I like about block scheduling is that every task (errands, appoints, emails/social media, writing, etc) has it’s own box (or “theme”, which actually allows for more freedom with writing time. Block scheduling will continue! 
  • Finish revisions: also a full checkmark. I sent revisions for a brand new project to my agent mid-October and am waiting for her feedback and a final polish before sending that project out into the world.

All in all, October wasn’t horrible. I give myself 3.5 out of 4 checkmarks, which I think is totally great! For November, my goals will be a little different because, lets face it, Thanksgiving will eat into writing/editing/authoring time, as will preps for December. Here we go with that list: 

  • Edit and format the novella to prep for publication; start an initial publicity plan.
  • Do any last minute touches to the with-the-agent project before it goes out into the world.
  • Prep and send 2 proposals to the agent for new projects that I’m super excited about <– this is my NANO project. I know, NANO is for writing a book in a month, but that doesn’t work for me so I use it in a different way.
  • Continue with block/theme scheduling my days because that is really helping me to be more productive – and happier, too!
  • Track meals Monday – Friday and track workouts Monday – Friday, too.

What about you? Do you have a goal or two for November? Share in the comments and we’ll keep one another accountable! 

Several authors & I are hosting a fab holiday event – join the fun!

Oh, and Through Thanksgiving, some author friends and I are hosting a really fun event – filled with books and games and maybe even a holiday recipe or two. It’s happening over at our Facebook Group: Coffee, Cupcakes & Contemporaries. Stop in, join the group and see what we’re up to – I’m hosting on November 10 – that’s this Saturday! – and I have some fun stuff in the works.

5 Ways to Improve Productivity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about productivity. Every year about this time, I start looking ahead to the next year. I begin to cull through my potential Word of the Year List and reflect on my word for this year. I look at my goals for the year and come up with a plan to make it through the holiday season with my goals still intact.

I like to be productive. I’m happier when I’ve checked off my to-do lists, when I have a plan for the day (or week or month or, heck, year). I feel better, not just in my headspace, but physically when I’m meeting my health goals and I feel better in my headspace when I’m making time for creative outlets. But it’s hard to be productive all the time – some days, no matter how many things are on my to-do, I just don’t feel like it. I don’t want to write or read or finish that craft or make those phone calls or pay those bills or fold that last load of laundry. I just flat-out don’t want to.

When those days hit, there are two choices: 1) don’t do anything and feel even worse the next day or 2) fight back against the don’t-wannas with a few tricks. Here are five ways I push through those blah days:

  1. I use a focus app called Tide:   I’ve been using focusing apps for a long time, but I switched over to this app in the spring and I am in serious love with it. There are several different settings (nap, meditation, focus, etc), with different timing options starting at 15 minutes. I usually set it for 45 minute writing sessions: write for 45, take a short break to fold that load of laundry or get a drink of water or play ball with Hazel-the-pup, then it’s back at my desk for another session. 
  2. Put the phone in another room:   This seems like a given but for a long time, I was working with my phone right next to me. Email would bleep or someone would call and wham! I’m out of my zone and distracted again. Putting the phone in another room (and turning off the notifications for my watch) is key to keeping my focus where it needs to be. Going along with this one: turn off the internet! Seriously, disconnect from wi-fi and if you need to check “just one thing” online, make a note in your WIP or on a piece of paper and keep pushing forward. Check that one thing during your morning routine or after you’ve met your word count for the day.
  3. Use a paper planner: There are a lot of digital options for planning and I think they’re great. For me, though, a paper planner is the best option (the Happy Planner is my jam! Love the flexibility/customization options of the disc system). My planner holds daily to-do lists (like cleaning and appointments) but it also houses my business plan, deadlines, quarterly goals (including action steps to meet said goals). Plus, there are stickers and stickers make everything better! There are a couple of different studies that have shown the physical act of writing down a goal or appointment helps us meet those goals. I’m a firm believer in paper planners for accountability and goal setting.
  4. Make a date with yourself: have lunch with girlfriends, go for a walk in the botanical gardens, or just head to the mall to people-watch. I like taking my writing notebook with me. Sometimes I brainstorm book/character ideas, sometimes I write down blog/social media post ideas and sometimes I just bring dump a lot of the stuff in my head or doodle. Here’s the thing: as much as I love planning, there are times that I plan too much for too long. Being unable to focus on my work can sometimes mean that I haven’t made time for *me*. When that happens, stepping away from my computer is crucial, even if it’s only for an hour. Creative dates help me clear my head so I can focus again.
  5. Sleep: I don’t mean a nap in the middle of the day (although a good 20 minute power nap can be ahhhh-mazing!). I mean getting a full 8 hours of sleep. Having a set bedtime and sticking to it. Along with eating healthy and drinking water, the best thing I can do for my focus is to make sure I’m getting enough sleep. Being rested is crucial for me to feel good, to feel like working, and to be able to focus on my work. 

When I’m having one of those days when I just can’t focus, I’ll think about what I’ve been eating/drinking, the sleep I’ve been getting or the schedule I’ve been keeping…if I need it, I’ll take an hour or so for me, and then I’ll go back to the basics of turning on my focus app, turning off the internet, and getting back to work.

What about you? How do you focus when your focus is gone?

Using Photo Boxes for Office Organization

blue, blue, and more blue!

Last week, I decided my office needed a little bit of a makeover. Okay, technically this is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time – I’ve had cube shelves for a while and the fabric boxes I’ve been using were getting old and a bit worn and … frankly, kind of boring. And they didn’t match how I wanted my office to look. Which led me to a Pinterest rabbit hole and then an IKEA rabbit hole and then Michaels…and you get the idea. 

aren’t these color combos great?

I liked everything I saw at IKEA and Michaels and the ideas on Pinterest were amazing as always, but there was nothing specific to my problem of the cube shelves other than *more fabric boxes* and I didn’t want fabric boxes for all of the reasons I listed above. I decided to hit Pat Catans (which is a kind of small town version of Michaels) to see what I could find. 

And I hit the motherlode. Seriously. They were having a huge sale on photo storage boxes – you know, the kind that are about shoe box size? I picked up 14 of these boxes for less than $20. 

Love the look of my cube shelves now!

My first step was to go through the fabric boxes I already had, separating and organizing the detritus of a home office. Supplies (paper clips, rubber bands, etc) in one area, extra cords in another, stationery over here, “author” stationery over there…you get the idea. Then, it was as simple as organizing how I wanted to store all the bits and bobs and labeling each of the boxes. 

bebe’s cabinet is much more organized!

I think it turned out great – and I even had enough boxes left over to update bebe’s bedroom cabinet that houses her supply of hair stuffs and tween makeup and whatnot. I couldn’t be happier with how my office turned out or her cabinet – and the bonus is that now I know where everything is again!

Do you use storage boxes in your office? How do you organize your shelves?

#WriteTip: Getting Into the Habit


Habit. It kind of sounds like a bad word…probably because for most of our lives we’re told we need to “break that bad habit”. Be that habit smoking or drinking too much soda or indulging in a candy bar once too often.

One thing I’ve learned over time: it’s much easier to learn a bad habit than it is a good one. I think because the bad habits can be so fun – I mean, who doesn’t want to spend a day in the pool rather than at the office? Who doesn’t want another slice of Chocolate Decadance or one more drink of that mojito? We’re human. We like the things that, in many cases, aren’t great for us.

According to Mr. Webster, an habit is “a behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary”. In other words, a habit is a learned behavior, and it doesn’t have to be a bad learned behavior.

I think the key to creating any habit is to begin by looking at it as a positive rather than a negative. Instead of “I can never eat chocolate again” look at it as “I’m going to enjoy one slice of the best chocolate cake ever and I’m going to enjoy every second of it”. Instead of “I can never laze in the pool on a hot summer day!” think “I’m going to meet __(goal)__ before I laze in the pool this afternoon”.

Y’all know I love my planner – it’s so much easier to have a list of to-dos and deadlines and expectations and family events all in one place that I can keep track of. But, another thing I do is track my habits – the good and the bad. Up above you’ll see the habit tracker I created for 2018 (feel free to download my Habit Tracker and other printables for writers here). I don’t fill it out every month, but I do find it helpful to use it every couple of months, just to make sure I’m doing the things I need to be doing – like exercise, like drinking enough water, like making my bed time. I’m happier, in general, when those things are going well, and I’m more likely to follow through on work goals when I’m also meeting my personal/health goals.

Here’s a copy of the tracker so far for August. Making those checkmarks is very satisfying…and as you can see, I’m not perfect. I haven’t been tracking my meals like I should (which is probably why, even though I’m hitting my bed time goal, I’m still feeling a little tired and “off”). But, now I can see where I’m not being the best me I can be (as bebe’s teacher liked to say in 4th grade), and I know how I can make a small change to start feeling better, in general.

Have you tried tracking your habits? Did it work for you? Share in the comments!