Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On a Coffee Break!

10:18 AM 1 Comments
I’m taking a break on the blog this week to recoup some of the writing time I wanted to spend on my five-day series on organizing. I’ll be spending my allotted writing time finishing up DISORDERLY COWBOYS, I hope, and some free time revamping my own version of the crazy, fun schedule I blogged about last week (The Writing Schedule You Need RIGHT NOW in case you missed it). 

I'll be back in time for Snippet Sunday with the other Weekend Writing Warriors. Have a great week!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lyin' on the Roof -Snippet Sunday

12:00 AM 11 Comments
~~It's Snippet Sunday!~~

On Sundays, I share tidbits of my works in progress as part of Weekend Warrior’s 8-Sentence Sunday. This week's snippet is from my work in progress DISORDERLY COWBOYS, book 6 of my LONE WOLVES OF SHAY FALLS cowboy/werewolf/menage series.


Last Sunday, I cruelly left Lana hanging from the roof...

“Lana?”
Her head jerked up to see a welcome sight. “Jayson,” she said as a flood of relief washed through her. “Thank God.”
He was standing beneath her, his Stetson pushed way back as she stared up at her predicament. “Why are you lyin’ on the roof?”
She rolled her eyes. “Does it really matter right now?”


Trailer for my LONE WOLVES series:

Find these books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or at Bookstrand here:



~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ *~ * ~ *~ *

For more awesome snippets, check out 

~~~~


I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Find Time for Everything You've Always Wanted to Try

2:03 PM 0 Comments
Feeling Free Yet?
The 5th in a series on organized writing

 Congratulations! You’ve made it to the 5th and final part of this organizing system. By now you should have a fully scheduled calendar, complete with time for yourself, time for fun, time for writing/editing/promotion, and time to get your house tidy and your routine obligations finished. Today, we’ll celebrate by finding time for more fun and new adventures. We’ll take a “big picture” look at the calendar to see if a quick tweak helps your at-a-glance view. And finally, I’ll talk a little about what to do down the road if the system no longer seems to be working.


We normally begin by opening the calendar to your weekly view, but today we’re doing something different. If your calendar program has a To-Do list or note feature, switch to that. Otherwise, pop open your notepad program, list-making app, or an old-fashioned paper notebook and pen. There’s a very important and extremely FUN list we need to make.

7. Make a 3-section FUN list in Notepad or your calendar’s To-Do list.

Your FUN list will have three sections. The first is for things you like doing already (and maybe haven’t found time for lately). Label that section Like to Do. The second is for new things or places you want to try that require minimal advance planning. Call that Want to Try. The third is for those things/places you dream of trying that require advance planning and/or funding. Label it Someday.

Okay! Now for the fun part. Write down as many fun things as you can think of that you either Like to Do, Want to Try, or dream of Someday. Don’t worry if you have too few or too many. You can always add or remove items later. When you’re satisfied with the list (for now), stop and get ready to smile if you aren’t already.

Some examples from my own list: Like to Do’s including the movies and visits to the library. Recent Want to Tries this year were going to an outdoor musical and taking up Tai Chi. We’re planning to visit the Natural History museum and Huntington Library & Gardens. A Someday at our house is a family trip to Disney World. A Someday neednt be travel, necessarily. Maybe you want to go back to college when the youngest starts school. Whatever it is, write it down!

8. Add Want to Try items from your FUN list to the calendar.

Run down your list of Want to Try things and organize them by how eager you are to try them and when it’s most feasible to do so. (No use putting “skiing” first in the middle of August, right?) Once a month is usually sufficient to keep things fresh and interesting. If you're feeling adventurous and have a full list, twice a month should work without overextending yourself (you don’t want “too much of a good thing”). Where do you place them? Any free space leftover on your calendar. That space is truly “free” because you’ve used the Smart Time approach to block out sufficient time for appointments and such, right?

What if you don’t have sufficient empty space in your tightly packed schedule? No worries! You have a day OFF, remember? And I promised we’d find fun things to put in it. Here’s your chance! Just one or two each month, though. We still need room for your Like to Do’s and eventually, your Somedays.

You might have caught yourself cracking a smile as you started seeing cool things you’ve wanted to try populating your calendar. Exciting, isn’t it? Each one is not only an adventure you’ll likely enjoy, they will help give you a new perspective and energize your creativity so you can give more to your writing and other life pursuits. Fun time is productive!

9. Add Like to Do items from your FUN list to the calendar.

Stick Like to Do’s on the schedule now. Use your empty spaces and days OFF. If necessary, you can add relatively simple Like to Do’s, such as hobbies, to your FREE hour, but not more than once or twice a week. It’s easy to fall into the trap of filling that FREE hour with tasks, but even fun ones undermine the purpose of having downtime.

And now for the coup de grace:

10. Add at least one Someday item to the calendar.

Some someday items, like the Disney trip at our house, are hard to schedule on the fly like this because you need to figure out a budget, the best time of year to go, etc. Others are a little less taxing. Start with one of those first, ideally something you can look forward to within the next 6-12 months. I want you to experience success with a Someday as quickly as possible so that you see for yourself that it can work! Getting one under your belt will get you excited to add more adventurous ideas.

If all your Somedays will need a good deal of planning, that’s okay. Pick one and click forward a year or two on your calendar. You don’t need to worry about a precise date. Click on January 1 of the year of your target date and pencil it in. Now schedule a recurring event once a month leading up to it. Call this “Someday planning”. Slate 30-60 minutes for it. Each time it rolls around, spend that time researching and dreaming about your Someday, budgeting, and as the date approaches, moving the target date to a real one and handling reservations, tickets, signups, etc. 

Challenge yourself to make your Someday happen. Life tends to come along and bump a lot of our secret wishes aside. Vow that  this will not be one of them Make that Someday become a fond Yesterday. You deserve it!

Youre DONE!

Time to party. You’ve got time plotted out for just about everything imaginable, including elusive hopes and dreams. Give yourself a pat on the back and pop open the calendar to your monthly view. Impressive, isnt it? 

Your schedule looks all neat and streamlined, but maybe you’d like certain items to really “pop out” at you, say, an important appointment or a deadline. (You remembered to include submission deadlines when scheduling your Must Do’s, yes?) Not a problem. Click the red tag item and go into the editing options. Set the color for that event to red. Voila! You can see your “hot” items at a glance in your month view. You COULD go on to color code all sorts of things, maybe having different colors for different types of tasks and such. However, I find that it gets too busy and nothing can really stand out. I recommend giving a few select items the red highlight and letting the rest share equal billing.

Help! The schedule isn’t working!

It happens to all of us at one time or another. We start off strong with a new program--a diet, writing schedule, or budget--but over time, things don’t work like they once did. We find ourselves faltering, and finally, we give up. This system is built for success, but it can fall by the wayside like any other. It’s happened to me numerous times. I find myself stressed, overtaxed, and out of time for things that used to flow through my day easily. The good news is, we can get back on track in one afternoon.

Inevitably, when this schedule no longer works, it’s because I’m no longer following it. And if I’m not following the schedule, it’s because it no longer works “As Is”. The key to keeping this system running is to review the calendar regularly so that it stays current with your needs.

Every three months (and yes, by all means, schedule time for this) OR whenever you feel the program is no longer working, pop open the schedule and look at the monthly view. What’s missing or no longer current? Maybe your work schedule shifted, or Johnny started a karate class that cut into your personal time. Maybe you thought you’d built enough Smart Time in around appointments and tasks, but you’re frequently running over. Or maybe you don’t feel writing is getting done because you didn’t slot enough time for it. No problem! Life is a fluid entity, and your calendar should be no different. Alter your Smart Time, shift writing days, and cut out obsoletes as needed until you’ve got it in ship-shape.

When you’re finished, reward yourself by coming up with one new Want to Try and add it to your next day OFF. Then get back on track!


There you have it! In ten steps you’ve created a whole new system of organization for fun, writing, and your daily life. I’m so excited for you! Feel free to drop me a comment with any questions, successes, or issues you have in using the system. Now, go forth and be organized!

Part 1: The writing schedule you need RIGHT NOW
Part 2: How to gain an extra hour every day
Part 3: Take a day OFF and be more productive
Part 4: The Smart Time approach to cleaning and appointment management
Part 5: Find Time for Everything You've Always Wanted to Try

~~~~

I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people! And if you enjoyed this post, consider sharing with friends and subscribing for updates.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Smart Time Approach to Cleaning and Appointment Scheduling

12:39 PM 1 Comments
The 4th in a series on organized writing

In the previous post, we found a day “OFF” each week and plugged in a schedule for writing, editing, and promotion. Today, we will finally pencil in the things people normally schedule first—work, obligations, and appointments. We’ll also discuss what to do about scheduling conflicts. But first, we’ll schedule a necessary task we rarely find the time for.

Once again, open your calendar program and select the week view.

4. Pick one or two days of the week and label them CLEANING.

Yeah, I know. Funs over. (Don’t worry, it’ll be back!) Housecleaning is one of those necessary evils we have no time for. We may bemoan doing it, but when we don’t we regret looking at the mess. A (reasonably) clean space is vital to the success of this scheduling system, because mood, productivity, and organization are all impacted by a cluttered environment.

If you haven’t read my post on The Writer’s Guide to Cleaning, you’ll definitely want to check it out. I offer tips for how to give your place a quick spit-shine in ten minutes or less while you do your morning routine. That will make actual “cleaning” day(s) quicker and easier.

If you’ve already got a cleaning system that works, go ahead and plug that time in on your calendar. If it isn’t working or you don’t have a system, here are some different ways to approach it.

Method 1: Choose one day a week and schedule ten minutes for each room.
If you prefer to get cleaning out of the way once a week, fine. Don’t pick your OFF day—that’s supposed to be fun. Since most houses can be done in less than two hours, however, even if you have to clean on your OFF day, you should still have plenty of time for other things. (And if you schedule occasional all-day fun, the house will survive until next time-especially if you’re doing the Writer’s Clean.)

Method 2: Choose two days a week and label one UPSTAIRS and one DOWNSTAIRS.
If you have a two-story home, splitting your cleaning between floors can make life simpler. You will also schedule ten minutes of time per room.

*Method 3: Choose two days a week; label one WET CLEAN and the other DRY CLEAN.

With either a one or two-story home, you can opt to do “dry” tasks like dusting and vacuuming one day, and “wet” tasks like counters and floors the next.

Whichever method you chose, start at the farthest room and set the timer for ten minutes. Now hustle! Straighten, dust, and vacuum, or spray-and-wipe counters/mirrors/tubs/toilets/floors. When the timer goes off, STOP in that room and move on to the next. (Okay, you can finish wiping a surface that has cleaning product on it.) Running out of time may well happen with a messier space. That’s okay! You made a dent, and it’ll get better each time—especially if you're doing a Writer’s Clean in between.

If you finish before the timer, smile and move forward. Don’t be tempted to go back to a room that wasn’t finished.

5. Make a list of bigger cleaning chores and schedule one each month.

Housecleaning is hard enough to fit into our routines, let alone the occasional deep-clean tasks. So let’s make time for them now. Go ahead and write down a list of deep-clean chores around the house. Here are some examples:

*Carpets
*Curtains
*Walls
*Windows
*Garage

Also write down how often each job should be done. Now decide if any of these can be “contracted out”, such as carpet cleaning. Plug those in on the calendar at the necessary intervals as a reminder to set an appointment. For the rest, trim/group as necessary so you wind up with no more than twelve heavy chore sessions—one per month. Put them on your calendar and slate the necessary time. Ideally, you will not have to spend more than two hours per month on this.

Okay, now it’s time to apply what most people consider the first step when drawing up a schedule.

6. Add work, appointments, and obligations to the calendar using the Smart Time rule.


Populate the calendar with the rest of your life: work schedule, soccer and ballet lessons, birthdays, doctor’s appointments, writing conferences, etc. Use the recurring/repeat event function as necessary for regularly occurring tasks. Before you jump in, however, consider two helpful tips.

*Tip 1: Schedule reminders a week ahead or more for birthdays, anniversaries, dental exams, etc. so you’ll remember to send cards or set appointments.
*Tip 2: Apply the Smart Time rule when slating time for appointments/activities.

The Smart Time rule is built-in padding to reduce the stress of accidentally overscheduling. Let’s say a writer has this entry on the calendar: “3 pm-Doctor’s Appointment”. 3 pm is the appointment time, perhaps carefully arranged since writing happens from 12-3. But by filling out the calendar this way, the writer has already put himself an hour behind.

An appointment does not truly begin at the time scheduled. It begins at home when you have to get ready to leave and then commute to the location. So with the above example, unless the writer has a sci-fi transporter to zap them to the appointment, they’ll have to cut writing an hour early to get to there on time.

When you’re filling in the calendar, remember to include Smart Time. My job hours are 2:30-11pm, but on the calendar it should read 2:00-11:30 to account for time coming and going. (I’m lucky to live about five minutes from work.) My daughter’s ballet class is 5-6pm, but it’s a distance away through afternoon traffic. She also has to put on her outfit, pack a bag, and have me do her hair. So “Bri’s Ballet Class” actually takes place from 3:45-6:30.

As you plug in your current obligations, include Smart Time as appropriate. Also, keep this tip in mind when arranging future activities so you don’t bump heads with your writing schedule.

With your schedule all fleshed out, switch to the monthly view and take a look around. Now’s when you might notice some scheduling conflicts. If the conflict is between a regular task and something occasional, like a one-time appointment, you can choose to rearrange the appointment or simply bump the time/day of the regular task. If the conflict is between two appointments or regular tasks, do a little rearranging.


There! Your schedule is all filled out. Except it’s not quite finished just yet. There are two more things we’ll need to do this week. The good news is, you fit in all those not-fun chores and obligations, so all that’s left is more fun! So for tomorrow’s post, the final in this series, I’ll be helping you tweak the calendar to make it easier to see specific types of chores at a glance, and even more important, we’re going to use our new schedule to find time for all sorts of cool, fun things you’ve always wanted to do.

Part 1: The writing schedule you need RIGHT NOW
Part 2: How to gain an extra hour every day
Part 3: Take a day OFF and be more productive
Part 4: The Smart Time approach to cleaning and appointment management
Part 5: Find Time for Everything You've Always Wanted to Try

~~~~

I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people! And if you enjoyed this post, consider sharing with friends and subscribing for updates.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writers: Take a Day OFF and Be More Productive

3:08 PM 0 Comments
The 3rd in a series on organized writing

In the last post, we jumped in and found you an extra hour each day. Hopefully you have already made use of it! Today we’ll use that approach to find you an extra day each week, and then we’ll get right down to laying out a writing regimen you can stick to.

Pop open that calendar program and select the week view. Now you’re ready to move onto step 2.

2.    Pick one day of the week and label it OFF.
Do this the same way you found your extra hour—look at the week and decide which day appeals to you. You’ll want a day you aren’t normally at work, and ideally one that’s free of recurring obligations like Johnny’s soccer games. If you have a rotating or otherwise variable work schedule, you can shift your OFF day as needed or keep it the same each week regardless of your work schedule. More on that in a minute. For many people, the OFF day will be on a weekend, but it doesn’t have to be. My primary OFF day is Wednesday, because I’m off work then and I do work alternating weekends. (I also have progressed to a second OFF day on the weekend, however.)

About that…how can it be an OFF day if you’re at work? For the purpose of this system, I’m defining OFF days as times when you do not write, edit, or promote. (For those of you cringing at this, I’ll explain the logic momentarily.) While OFF days may sometimes happen when you’re at the day job, they are also the days we’ll be adding fun items to later. So at least one OFF day per month should fall on a day you’re not working. More is preferable.

Many pros will tell you writers must absolutely write every day of the week. Some don’t even take holidays off. That’s all well and good for those who can make a go of it over the long term, but they probably aren’t the ones who need this post. For the rest of us, downtime from writing is an essential tool for keeping our sanity intact and our word counts flowing. Even well-oiled machines need to come offline regularly for routine maintenance. So do yourself and your muse a favor by stepping away from that keyboard once a week.

Now that you’ve got your hour a day and day per week, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and take a hard look at writing time.

3.    Decide What Days to Write, Edit, and Promote
A time for each hat you wear!

The reason we’re filling out our writing schedule before adding jobs, classes, or other to-do’s is because writing is a top priority—right behind the need to nurture our health and creativity with downtime. So with that week view still open, consider how you want to divvy up the six remaining days in your week between the writing, editing, and promotion.

There are two ways to tackle this: either have set days for each, or set times each day.

If you don’t have another job, scheduling time slots for each task every day (or most days) may be the ticket to keeping things flowing regularly. If you work a significant number of hours outside the home, however, you may find it best to set up dedicated days for each task. Otherwise you’ll be trying to squeeze in too much, and productivity for each will suffer. If you aren’t sure which way to go, pick one intuitively (or use random.org: 1, do the dedicated plan; 2, go with splitting tasks daily). Experiment with it! If you find one way isn’t flowing right, switch to the other.

If you decide to have dedicated days, I don’t recommend going more than two in a row between writing sessions. Your flow will drop off and it’ll be harder to pick up again.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to divide the time equally between all three. You’ll want more time for writing than editing or promo. But don’t minimize those too much or you won’t get enough done. Here’s a couple sample dedicated day schedules:

M,T,Th,Su: Writing
W: Editing
F: Promo
Sat: OFF
OR
M, W, F: Writing
T, Th: Promo
Sat: Editing
Sun: OFF

And some daily schedules:

M,T,Th,Sat 8 am-12pm: Writing; 1-2pm: Promo
W,F 8-10 am: Promo; 10am-12pm: Editing
Sun OFF
OR
M,W,F 10am-2pm: Writing; 5-6 pm: Promo; 6-9pm:Editing
T, Th, Sun 10am-12pm: Promo; 2-4pm: Editing
Sat OFF

And so on. Getting into a regular rhythm is quite useful, because your brain will start intuitively knowing when it’s Writing vs Editing day and will start firing the proper neurons. That’s a productivity boost by itself! However, you can opt to change up the schedule periodically based on where you are with a project. Increase writing days when you are starting your book. Once it’s finished, push up the editing days. And when the book comes out, bump your promo time to give the new release a good send off. Whichever area you’re focusing on, make sure not to totally neglect the others.

Okay, so your task today is to find your day OFF and add the writing schedule you feel will work best. Tomorrow we’ll get down to business with some of the Must Do’s, but don’t worry! After that I’ve got some more fun things to plug into your schedule.


Happy planning!


Part 1: The writing schedule you need RIGHT NOW
Part 2: How to gain an extra hour every day
Part 3: Take a day OFF and be more productive
Part 4: The Smart Time approach to cleaning and appointment management
Part 5: Find Time for Everything You've Always Wanted to Try
~~~~

I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people! And if you enjoyed this post, consider sharing with friends and subscribing for updates.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How to Gain an Extra Hour Every Day

10:30 AM 1 Comments
The 2nd in a series on organized writing

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about my totally backward system of organizing, why it works, and why you need it. I described how to get started with no more than a simple computer-based calendar program/app and a desire to streamline your time and writing process. I also promised to find you an extra hour every day by magic. Today we’re not only going to do that, we’re going to build into your system the most essential secret to its success.

Okay, by now you should have created your blank calendar. Open it up and get started RIGHT NOW while you’re reading this. Don’t tell yourself you’ll work on it later when you have some free time—you probably don’t have much or you wouldn’t be trying this system! And by doing it now, we’ll find you that free time you need for other things.

IMPORTANT: In the next few posts, I’ll be detailing how to fill out your schedule calendar step by step. Follow along in the precise order given—no cheating by jumping ahead to add obligations, job hours, Mom’s birthday, etc. Why? One, the reason so many of us can’t find the time we need is that we try to squeeze it between too many obligations. We’re about to fix that flaw. Two, the order of steps will begin shifting your mindset away from focusing on the Must Do’s, freeing yourself take a more balanced approach to your days. This will reduce stress while boosting creativity and productivity.

You may find the change in prioritizing difficult, since we’re taught that grownups put responsibilities first (and second, and third…). Fun and free time comes way down the list—if at all. Turning that perception on its head is a vital reason why this schedule truly works. So trust me on this. Do the scheduling list IN ORDER.

Now for the magic trick: how to make an extra hour appear in your day, every day.

 STEP 1: Pick one hour of the day and label it FREE.
Yep, the first step in this scheduling system is to create that elusive free time—every day. You might be asking, “Shouldn’t I fill in other tasks so I know when I can have free time? Nope. We’re shifting our mindset, emphasizing the importance of downtime. It’s a habit that can only be obtained by practice.

You don’t need to overthink this—simply pop open tomorrow’s daily view and pick an hour that appeals to you. Trust your intuition in choosing a time that will be beneficial and not inherently impossible because you’ll be at work or picking Johnny up from school.

So what time will it be? Want an hour to yourself early in the morning? Or maybe at night after the kids are in bed? Perhaps a break after writing or midday. Whichever you choose, click that hour, type in FREE, and use the repeat/recurring event feature to make it a daily occurrence forevermore. Voila! An extra hour of time just for you.

FYI, this hour is not where you’ll be fitting in writing. FREE means just that, and we put it in all caps as a reminder of just how vital downtime is to our health, stress level, and writing flow. This also builds in some automatic padding to the schedule to give you breathing room on days when something unexpected pops up.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Don’t fall into the trap of routinely filling your FREE hour with extra tasks and busywork. This time is for you to engage in things that are fun or relaxing. Engage in a hobby, do meditation or devotions, read a book, take a long bubble bath, sit in the garden with a cup of tea, talk on the phone to a good friend, or put your feet up and do absolutely nothing at all.

Start this part of the schedule immediately, even though we haven’t yet gone on to finish filling out the rest. Take that hour and let the rest happen as it can.

When you first start taking your FREE hour, you may find yourself preoccupied with thoughts of other things you should be doing. You might feel guilty that you’re not writing/cleaning/saving the world. And you may very well be tempted to squeeze in some extra word count—writing counts as fun, right? (Repeat after me: No. Well, yes, but not right now.) Banish these thoughts the minute they come along. You can relax and enjoy yourself without guilt, for soon enough you will have a completed schedule with a specific time for everything else. At the end of each day, you’ll go to bed satisfied that you accomplished what you needed to, rather than fretting over the fifty random things that didn’t get done.


In the next post I’ll help you find an extra day every week, and we’ll plug in a writing schedule carefully crafted to maximize productivity while reducing the chance of burnout. In the meantime, feel free to post your questions or comments below. Happy relaxing!

Part 1: The writing schedule you need RIGHT NOW
Part 2: How to gain an extra hour every day
Part 3: Take a day OFF and be more productive
Part 4: The Smart Time approach to cleaning and appointment management
Part 5: Find Time for Everything You've Always Wanted to Try

~~~~

I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people! And if you enjoyed this post, consider sharing with friends and subscribing for updates.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Writing Schedule You Need Right Now

12:43 PM 0 Comments
The first in a series on organized writing

Maybe you follow this blog regularly, or perhaps you’re looking to streamline your writing and the title of this post caught your eye. Either way, I know of few writers who don’t feel they could use more time. So I’m doing a week-long series to help writers find more time—and fun—in their day. This will not only help productivity, but it can change the way we think and live.

How many of the following statements can you relate to:

-There never seems to be enough time for writing.
-When I write, I am easily distracted by the internet.
-When I write, I find myself thinking of other things I should be doing.
-At the end of the day, I rarely feel I’ve done as much as I needed to.
-I spend so much time writing there isn’t enough time to promote.
OR
-I spend so much time promoting there isn’t enough time to write.
-I don’t get much time for myself.
-I get burned out on writing.
-There are new things/places I’d like to try out, but I never get around to it.
-I feel guilty that my writing takes away from my friends/partner/family.

Did you nod at two of these? Four? All? I’ve faced each of these at one time or another, but I have found a way to alleviate most all of it with one simple idea. Implementing it is free, available right on the computer, and takes no more than an afternoon’s worth of time to set up. It’s called a schedule calendar.

Before you groan and stop reading, I’m not talking about just another rigid, boring writing calendar. There are schedules and there are schedules that work, and this is one that will work. What’s different about this is the method we will use to make the scheduleand why. The approach is what makes this the writing schedule that will change everything.

How? By doing the exact opposite of how most schedules are set up. You will not begin by penciling in a laundry list of must-do (and likely boring) tasks. The focus begins with scheduling blank time and FUN. Yes, fun. The rest flows in organically around that. (I promise.)

Sound like a five-year-old’s dream? Precisely. There’s no better way to kill off the creativity we are all born with than to focus the bulk of our energy on rote obligations. When was the last time you gave yourself permission to let go and enjoy life? To emphasize de-stressing activities—or even doing nothing at all?

Free Yourself!
This schedule will teach you to focus on making essential downtime a priority, which in turn will allow you to fill your cup so you can give more to your writing, your relationships, and your responsibilities. It will let you free yourself to be happier and more productive at the same time. And what’s better, this method guarantees you will find time to implement it, regardless of how busy you are.

During this week-long series, I’ll be taking you step-by-step through the simple process of setting up the system. The schedule is easy enough to do, but it requires an open mind and willingness to shift how you prioritize yourself.

Today’s Assignment: Get a Scheduling Calendar or App

The first thing you’ll need to decide is what to use for a scheduler. There are fancy planners and daily organizers you can get, both paper varieties and online. You can certainly use them, but I prefer a simple calendar program. I also recommend web-based calendars over paper, not only because it’s one less thing to misplace, but because recurring tasks can quickly be added forevermore with the click of a button.

Some free calendars include Windows Calendar, Google Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, and the one I use currently, Keep and Share (a free, web-based calendar and organizing system). If you want a scheduler for your phone or tablet that’s a little more upscale, I also recommend Cozi organizer. Search for it in your device’s app store.

Whichever calendar program you select, they all work basically the same way. For this system, we will take advantage of color coding entries and the option to automatically fill in future activities with the repeat/recurring event feature. 

To get started, begin a new blank calendar and call it MY SCHEDULE or something clever. If your program has the option to show or hide holidays, you may turn on the holidays relevant to your country. You can try it out by adding a test entry to see how it works, then delete it. That’s it for today. Do not start adding anything yet! No doctor’s appointments, work schedules, writing deadlines…nothing. You will be filling in this schedule in a very precise order, step by step as I list it in the coming week. No cheating!

IMPORTANT: IF YOU’RE ALREADY USING A CALENDAR PROGRAM…

…Great! You’re already familiar with how to use it. However, we’re starting with a fresh slate and a whole new approach, so you will not be using a calendar you have already been filling out. Start a new blank calendar and call it NEW SCHEDULE, FREE AT LAST, or something to that effect. Turn off the other calendars you have so you don’t see them while you’re working—for now, at least.

Tomorrow will be quite exciting—we’re going to dive right in and make an extra hour of time appear by magic!


If you have any questions thus far about the method, or questions/recommendations about what calendar to choose or how to use them, please feel free to post them in the comments below. Otherwise, go out and get that calendar ready for the next post!

Part 1: The writing schedule you need RIGHT NOW
Part 2: How to gain an extra hour every day
Part 3: Take a day OFF and be more productive
Part 4: The Smart Time approach to cleaning and appointment management
Part 5: Find Time for Everything You've Always Wanted to Try

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I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people! And if you enjoyed this post, consider sharing with friends and subscribing for updates.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hanging on the Edge -Snippet Sunday

12:00 AM 12 Comments
~~It's Snippet Sunday!~~

On Sundays, I share tidbits of my works in progress as part of Weekend Warrior’s 8-Sentence Sunday. This week's snippet is from my work in progress DISORDERLY COWBOYS, book 6 of my LONE WOLVES OF SHAY FALLS cowboy/werewolf/menage series.


last week, Lana decided to climb a ladder and found herself clinging to the roof...


Lana started to pull her leg back up, freezing in panic when the movement threatened her precarious balance. She’d wanted a mild dose of fear, not abject terror.
“You’re so stupid, so damn stupid,” she whispered through clenched teeth.
She was trapped on a roof because she was that desperate for attention from two hot studs who didn’t even want her anymore. How utterly pathetic.
Her cries for help turned to tears squeezing their way through the eyelids shut tight to block the reality of how far away the ground--and her dignity--had become.


Trailer for my LONE WOLVES series:

Find these books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or at Bookstrand here:



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For more awesome snippets, check out 

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I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Favorite Hot Summer Hero

12:00 AM 16 Comments
I’m part of the Hot Summer Heroes blog hop! Follow the hop for a chance to win prizes! I’m giving away an eBook copy of either Bewitching Love or Tropical Heat to one random commenter (see rules below).

My Favorite Hot Summer Hero
Romantic heroes and summertime go together like peaches and cream, don’t they? Both are hot, sultry, and produce a distinct need to fan ones self vigorously. And hey, summertime romance novels give heroes a legitimate excuse for peeling off their shirts. I suppose it’s not surprising, then, that I’ve written several romantic tales set during summer. But my favorite summer hero has to be Grant Decker from Bewitching Love. I think...

Grant Decker- a sexy Midwesterner who moves into a beachfront lot overlooking the glittering Pacific Ocean to build his dream home. He soon meets the neighbor across the street, a beautiful blonde with a stellar bikini body and highly opinionated—and aggravating—ideas about his proposed construction. His looks and accent are enough to charm several women throughout the book, such as this scene:

Grant’s smile shot through Dream and ricocheted off all the important parts. Oh, the things she could be doing with a sexy hunk like Grant Decker, with those broad shoulders, narrow hips, and burnished brown hair that fell across his face in reckless disarray. And gods, those chocolate, brooding eyes pierced her with a chaotic sensuality that took her breath away.


But Grant is more than a hot Midwestern hunk—he deserves the title of hero:

Crouching beside his fallen love, he stroked her head. “Dream. Can you hear me?” His voice all but failed after having the life nearly choked out of it. “Wake up, baby. Please.”
Nothing.
Flames sizzled and cracked louder, moving up the stairwell where it would soon block any chance of exit. It had to be now. Grant slid his hands beneath Dream and hoisted her into his arms.

Yes, I think he’s my favorite. Hm. Wait a minute…maybe it’s my hot summer hero Steve Detroit from Tropical Heat.
 
Steve Detroit- A sexy ex-P.I. goes undercover at a highly exclusive Bahamas resort in search of a cheating spouse. In between discoveries of paranormal secrets and reading highlander romance novels on stakeout, he meets an exotic island blossom who sets his pulse on fire.

Is he hot-and-handsome? Check:

Steve was all kinds of gorgeous. Every time Jessamine inhaled his scent, her legs turned to rubber. And when his smoldering green eyes found hers, something primal inside of her came unhinged. Since when did Jessamine Valentine lose her wits over rippling muscles, no matter how artfully arranged? Yet she’d let a man drag her into a closet, for god’s sake, while she was on duty. Maybe she was delirious, gripped in the fever of some rare tropical disease.

But is he a hero? First, he…well, I can’t give it away! And THEN—nope, can’t tell you that either. But yeah. Oh, and he’s a hero with a sense of humor:

A couple hours ago, Steve would have thought up some wisecrack about the resort’s costume supply shop running a clearance sale on creepy monster-eye contacts and plastic fangs. Now, he knew better.
So what now?” Steve asked, folding his arms. “You growl, flash your fangs, and scare me into silence? Threaten to cancel my tropical-fruit-of-the-month membership?”

So which is it, farm boy hotness or hard-boiled city charm? Oh, rats, I just can’t make up my mind. I suppose both are my favorites! Maybe there's a reason I also write menage…

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Which hero do you think is hotter? Share your thoughts in the comments below and you'll be entered in a random giveaway for a free eBook copy of Bewitching Love or Tropical Heat, your choice!
Dream Ballantyne has looks, money, a beach house and magic powers. But her love life is a complete zero. She takes matters into her own wand and conjures a spell to lure passion, unaware that more fire than she can handle is already en route.
Grant Decker is a sexy Midwesterner who moves into the beachfront lot across the street to build his dream home. The neighborhood welcome wagon includes a warning to steer clear of the blonde seductress across the street, who tries to impose construction demands on Grant to spare her precious ocean view.
Their battle of wills quickly sparks into flaming erotic attraction, but when Grant learns witchcraft is responsible, he refuses to be taken in by her enchanted charms. But forgetting the passion of their lifetimes is the least of their worries—surprises and supernatural danger lie in the wake of one enchanted evening.

About Tropical Heat:

When Steve Detroit goes to a swanky Bahamas resort in search of a cheating spouse, he uncovers a lot more than he bargained for. Sexy hostess Jessamine Valentine stirs a fiery passion in him that threatens to distract him from his mission and swallow his heart whole.
Jessamine could care less about the paranormally-enhanced eroticism all around the island hotel where she works. Then a guest with smoldering emerald eyes awakens a need she has tried hard to forget.
Steve soon discovers Jessamine holds the key to finding his quarry, and unlocks the most intimate secrets of the island beauty, as well as the resort itself--top-floor mysteries kept hidden from mortals. But when one of those secrets threatens to separate them permanently, how will Steve find a way to keep their love alive?
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J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Goodreads. She loves talking to people!

Giveaway rules: 18 or older to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary to win. Prize to be awarded at this blog stop: one eBook copy of either BEWITCHING LOVE or TROPICAL HEAT , winner's choice of title and digital format. Odds of winning dependent upon number of entries. Enter by adding a comment on this post before midnight PST, Sunday, August 18, 2013. Make sure valid Email address is included in the comment or your profile. Winner selected at random and notified/prize delivered by email. Winner must respond to notification email within 72 hours or prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner selected at random. 


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