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Still loving Scrivener and trying to stay sane

I’m still using Scrivener every day, and I gotta say, I love the little bugger. It’s so convenient.

  1. I can work on my computer *if* I get a chance to sit down at my computer during the day.
  2. If (more like WHEN) I get sidetracked, I can have my book in my pocket. Even if I don’t get a chance to do any hard-core writing, I can still go back and at least review my outline to keep the story and characters fresh in my mind. For me, that’s so important. Even if I don’t get a chance to sit down and do any writing for a week because I’m so burned out, I at least don’t lose the story. It’s so hard for me to come back from that because I feel like I have to start over when that happens. Jeff Goins explains the importance of writing every day on his podcast here.

For all you breastfeeding mommas out there…this little app, Scrivener for iOS, is a godsend. It syncs with the computer and the computer syncs with my phone. Brilliant.
Yes, for me there are a few little kinks. I’ve gotten some weird “conflicts” registered on my phone and computer. This happens if I don’t sync immediately after I’m done writing and then I switch to the other device to continue writing. It takes a little getting used to, but I’m loving it. Moral of that story is to sync immediately upon finishing writing on whatever device so that it syncs to the Dropbox. From Dropbox, everything syncs and it’s all good.

Today, I got another THOUSAND words done. I didn’t think I’d have the energy. It was a long day, but a good day with my kids. I love to be a SAHM and I’m writing at night now. It’s kinda killing me because I’m up so much at night nursing the baby, but I feel better after writing. If I don’t write, I might feel less tired because I sleep instead, but I feel more FULFILLED when I write.

I know there is a balance and a breaking point. If I write and don’t  sleep, sleep deprivation will catch up to me. I pushed that yesterday. I pushed myself too hard after staying up all night with the baby. My husband gets the brunt of my bad mood when I do this. Thankfully, he’s a very patient man and very supportive of my goal to finish my book. Don’t get jealous ladies, but he cleaned the house, did laundry and the dishes for me. Because he knew I was tired and stressed.

I’m tired because I’m nursing my 9-month-old all night. I’m stressed because I’ve been fighting to find affordable health insurance for my youngest son. I know there are many families with the same or worse challenges, but I’m bummed with this. So far my search has been fruitless, frustrating and depressing. But I always feel better knowing that, at the end of the day I can go write on my book for an hour or so. If I ever make money from this book, the proceeds will likely go towards funding my youngest child’s health insurance premiums. It’s more of an incentive to finish right now than anything else.

To the end of writing-to-keep-me-sane, I highly recommend using Scrivener in iPhone app and computer program form. It’s helping me knock those words out even on difficult days like my last few days have been.

I’m finishing this post while nursing my son back to sleep. He’s so sweet.

Everyone, keep writing especially if you’re doing NaNoWriMo. The world needs your stories!

happy-nano-wrimos-eve

NaNoWriMo is such a worthwhile endeavor, I hope that many of you will participate. It’s what really spurred me on to complete my novel last year! Sure, I cursed some of those daily 1,667 words, but I now look back on #nanowrimo2015 with the pride of a WINNER!

THIS YEAR…I’ll be finishing my #NaNoWriMo2015 prequel book. So, while I won’t be starting my book from scratch, I’ll participate by doing 1,667 words per day! I count myself in their REBEL category. : )

I am technically following the rules as I won’t count any of my previous word-count towards the 50K word November 2016 goal.

  • Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Only count words written during November. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works).
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.

I’m hoping that participating will help me to achieve my goal of FINISHING my prequel book this year. I had hoped for a publication date for this year, but I’ll be happy if I finish!

Please follow my progress HERE.

This is ludicrous madness, but like all my fellow writer-crazies, I hope that come heck or high water I will end up with 50K more words than I started out with come December 1st, 2016!

Is anyone else participating? Please comment to let me know.

Happy NaNoWriMo’s Eve!

Write Your Novel on a Smartphone: 5 Useful Apps

Write Your Novel on a Smartphone

Write Your Novel on a Smartphone

You cook your own simple meals and iron your own shirts. You know, like normal people. You clean your bathrooms and do your own dishes. You don’t have the money to “outsource” your everyday chores to make time to write.

You certainly don’t have a ghost writer. The only person who will get your writing done is…you.

When I sit down to write, I remember the literal laundry list of dirty clothes and folded laundry. The sticky floors, the dirty dishes, the overflowing trash is all calling my name. It’s hard for me to be tied to a chair in front of the computer for 30 minutes when I know I have to get lunches packed for the next day.

Does this sound familiar?

Sure it’s hard. It’s a fight every day for mommas to carve out time to pee much less to write for thirty minutes. I do sometimes write on my phone WHILE I’m peeing. As long as the baby is in his playpen and not crying (he cries because I’ve put him down for literally a minute.) He’s been very attached lately. He’s an eight-month-old so I can’t really blame the poor little guy.

Lately, the best time to get a little revision or hurried writing in is while I’m breastfeeding. If have more energy than the bare minimum that allows me to scroll aimlessly through Facebook in order to keep my eyes open, I will whip open one of a few apps. Here are a few that I find useful to get some writing in while I have a few minutes during my day.

Scrivener

The app that I use most often lately is Scrivener. The app has only recently become available at the time of this blog post. It’s awesome. Well worth the money I spent. It syncs with my computer via Dropbox.

Google Drive/Google Docs

Google Drive allows me to basically brain-dump ideas for books, articles and blog posts. I have designated folders for blog ideas and creative writing for books.

Notes

Notes occasionally serves me well as a quick spot to write down a story idea. Mostly I use it for grocery lists and copy/paste recipes from Facebook.

WordPress

WordPress is an excellent way to post pictures from your phone onto your blog without having to upload them to your computer. It’s also nice to do some last minute revision.

Evernote

I used this for a while. It didn’t do anything for me. But you can check it out for yourself via the link above. It’s supposed to be like a notecard and file folder all-in-one.

Also helpful are some pointers from Michael Hyatt on strategic iPhone use.

I hope you find these useful and get some writing done, especially if you plan on doing NaNoWriMo this year. Every extra word counts!

 

Why I use a smartphone to write my novel


I’m a mom to two small children. I understand the struggle to find time to write.

Most writing advice includes many references to “just do it” involving the phrase, “get your butt in a chair” or “sit down and do it.” This advice is all well and good, but if you DO NOT EVER SIT DOWN because you’re a mom, this advice doesn’t work for you. In fact, this advice can become downright discouraging. If you can never sit down, this post is for you, mommas!

Sitting down at the traditional “writer’s desk” to get a significant daily word count is next to impossible for me at this stage of my life. Especially since #secondbaby, my 8-month old, is still #breastfeeding. He’s up eating every two hours. #nanowrimo is almost upon us and this year, if you want to participate, I say go for it! Go for it even if you have no time to “get your butt in a chair and write.” Here’s how I did it!

I’m so busy. I still want to pursue my passion for writing and become an author despite limited time. Over the last year as I experimented with time savers I realized I needed something that would allow me to multitask. That something is a smartphone.

Over the last year, and especially the last 8 months, writing on my smartphone has helped me stay on track with my novel by enabling me to write every day, even if it’ only a few words here and there.

I am a SAHM/WAHM so I stay busy with my two kids and housework. But I found that I can use a few ten minute to thirty minute time slots throughout my day. Breastfeeding is a great example of time that can be used to multi-task. I also can write while my boys are playing quietly together (this is rare). Or, and let’s get real here, during bathroom breaks. Just remember, when you’re determined and crunching time, you gotta take time where you find it. Just sayin’…

Over the past year I’ve used my smartphone to write. Even hunched over a baby nuzzled to my breast, bleary-eyed at 3am, I can still text words into my smartphone. That’s mostly how I made it through #nanowrimo2015 (aside from my husband’s heroic efforts to buy me time. @knightsbayne ) It works.

I tried using a laptop computer while breastfeeding but the “clack, clack” of keys as I typed one-handed woke up the baby.

While I looked for ways to get extra word count for #nanowrimo before the baby was born, I used Google Docs for iPhone to write. Now, since I find myself using my smartphone more and more for novel writing, I’ve explored several apps. There’s a lot out there. I will cover what apps I found most useful in my next post. The app I use now for novel writing is Scrivener by Literature and Latte. This is a link to a FREE TRIAL. I DO NOT get any money for sharing this. It’s just a great program.

I’m a mommy and I’m a writer. Mommy-writers, especially of small children, need all the help they can get to achieve their goals. I know I do. While I have far from mastered writing or time management, I hope to help in my small way by sharing my experience, even if only to provide encouragement. Writing can get done even when you have no time to “get your butt in a chair.” You just have to think outside of the “box” where the traditional writer’s space is concerned. Maybe even if your writer’s “chair” is a “white throne.”

Gumbo With a Side of Poo

Baby boy is sleeping soundly (finally!!!) in his crib as I write. My husband made gumbo tonight, and baby boy stayed up with Mommy and Daddy wayyyyyy too late. We put my oldest (4-years-old) to bed on time, but our youngest had other ideas. He was super squirmy while I tried to breastfeed him to sleep. Then Daddy walked in…and it was all over. My baby boy grins so big when he sees his Daddy. He was definitely awake.

I try to get writing done while baby is asleep. I knew that idea was gone.


So, I was starving and it was about 9pm. Baby boy sat in his highchair playing with toys. Then, an amazing thing happened. My husband and I actually got to sit down across from each other and eat together. I mean, share a meal. Meaning at the same time. Looking at each other across the table.

Usually we take turns eating and chasing kids or we’d starve to death!

My husband had just served me from the hot fresh gumbo pot (saint of a man that he is, no matter how dirty that previous sentence actually sounds.) I was staring at my volcanically hot gumbo waiting for it to cool down (chicken and sausage gumbo. It’s a food people. Turn off the dirty mind for a second. lol.) My husband, who is an awesome cook, asked if I liked it. He was concerned that I didn’t since I hadn’t tucked in and started eating. I told him, “I want to eat, but I don’t want to boil my face off.”

Face Off, that’s a good movie,” he said.

So, then we talked about Nick Cage movies while my contented 6-month-old sat next to us making loud shitting noises until his face went red.

That was the most my husband and I have talked to each other over a meal in probably the last 6 months. Such is parenthood. So, please excuse my 6 month blog posting absence. I was dealing with chapped nipples and lots of shit.

However, I have been writing. I finished my first draft of my book during NaNoWriMo last year and I’m hoping to publish on Amazon Kindle this December. I’m writing a werewolf fantasy.

Ok, baby is up and wants boobies. TTFN!

 

Come, Momma


Our Kids Are On a Journey and They Want Us to Come With Them. 

The daily “momma grind” puts me on auto pilot some days. That’s how I stay focused enough to get us out the door on time every school day morning. Routine is important, but sometimes it blocks us from seeing things outside the proverbial “box” that our routine has put us in. 

My list of to-dos rattles off in my head as I try to get a toddler and infant ready to get in the car first thing in the morning. I can only pray that my 2-month-old sleeps long enough for me to get dressed and get my toddler sitting down for a quick breakfast. It’s a constant pressure, a drive, to get going, get it done, get there. 

I have to make myself stop, think, and listen. 

We are mommas. We are so loved by our littles. So, I have to remind myself when my 4-year-old takes my hand and says, “come,” it is so much more important than pretty much anything else I have on my to do list (obvious exceptions apply. Like going to the bathroom, etc.). It really is important most of the time to go see what he wants to show me. I have to remind myself of that. 

Today, Mother’s Day, my 4-year-old took my hand and my husband’s hand (I was holding the 2-month-old) to the big bed and wanted us all to get in it. We all climbed in together. A family. 

Because we decided to let him take our hands and lead us a little on his journey rather than our own, we got memorable family snuggle time. 

As I celebrate the joy of motherhood today, I also want to remember the joy and fleeting time that is childhood. My kids will not always want to hold my hand. My kids won’t always need family snuggles. 

I love my children. I love being momma. I just need to remind myself to stop and help them on their joyful journey. 

The Perfect Stay-at-Home Mom

Ah, the perfect stay-at-home mom. The fictional woman whom we all hold ourselves up to as the standard of motherhood. The mom who has perfectly dressed kids, a clean house and managed to apply mascara. The embodiment of a completely attainable dream, right? *insert sarcasm*

We’re moms at home all day, we should be able to be the perfect moms, right? Well, that’s kinda what I thought for a while.

I thought that I should be able to do it ALL if I could just be home with my kids.

When I was working outside the home, I would day-dream, surely I would be able to (insert fantasy SAHM scenario) if I were home all day!

Boy, was I delusional.
I’ve worked either part or full-time since my now three-year-old was born (with a brief stint as a work from home paralegal somewhere in there). Through it all, I always wanted to be a SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom). I finally got to be SAHM with my second baby boy thanks to the generosity and sacrifice of my long-suffering husband to whom I will be forever grateful.
I have been home two months with my newborn baby. And I love it! Truly and completely. It is absolutely my calling and vocation. But… it’s not at all how I pictured SAHM life would go for me.

As a newly SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) and aspiring WAHM (Work-At-Home-Mom) romance writer, I’m still figuring things out. Like how to open a bottle of water with one hand while breastfeeding. Or how to get the infant car seat straps to tighten without trying it five million times (!!!!!). However, to my credit, I have mastered the 6 minute shower.

Some days I feel like I have it all together. Other days, I feel exhausted and behind. And, despite the undeniably challenging circumstances surrounding being a SAHM mom to an infant and a toddler (including a long stint of c-section recovery), I’m actually surprised at myself when I feel exhausted by my efforts. I’ll even feel guilty for being exhausted. Being at home is supposed to be easy, right?

There is no doubt that I am happier now than I have ever been before. And I’m certainly happier now that I’m not working full-time and leaving my babies with someone else, regardless of how caring the “someone else” is. A couple years back, my loving mother-in-law kept my first baby for me when I had to go back to work. She’s amazing, but that didn’t stop the tears and panic attacks I experienced every work day by leaving my baby for a desk job.

Even though I now have my “dream job” of being SAHM (along with writing my romance novels) there are challenges that I did not fully anticipate in full-time-mommy land.

I did NOT anticipate what I would expect of myself versus what I could feasibly do.

I Expected to Keep a Perfect House

The table was going to be set every night with a home cooked meal and a table cloth. My floors would be spotless and the toys would be put away.

Yeah right.

Fast forward to reality…forget a table cloth and insert leftovers for dinner. I’m lucky enough that my husband loves to cook. But, we can’t even eat at the table most nights because my half-folded mountain of laundry is piled on it!

I Expected My Parenting to be Perfect

My kids would sit quietly on the couch and listen as I read Watership Down from a pristine library book. Then we would all go outside where they would help me plant my seasonal garden. My baby would coo happily at me from his place in my hip and stylish baby-wearing wrap.
Newsflash!

I’m way too exhausted to fight for a lengthy story time. My infant is crying and my three-year-old kid keeps turning the pages on the picture book I’m trying to read to him. I can’t get out the two whole sentences printed on each page before he turns each page on me. I’m too tired from being awake every thirty minutes the night before with a nursing infant to fight him, but I give it a try. Then, the baby poops. While I change him my toddler wanders off having listened to what amounts to about twelve words of book.

And a keeping a garden? *phbtt*

I can’t keep one pot of flowers from dying much less a garden of vegetables.

I Expected Myself to Have Perfect Time Management

I would be up and ready to go promptly at 6am and get 500 words of writing in before my baby woke to quietly breastfeed as we stared lovingly into each other’s eyes.

Hola, chica!

6am was when I finally got the baby to go back to sleep. No way was I dragging my sorry butt out of bed. I could make to my 8am appointment it if I slept til 7…right? *snore*

I Expected to be Perfectly Organized 
I thought I could leave paperwork behind at my desk job.

Nope!!!

I’ve done so much paperwork every day for my kids in addition to regular bill paying, taxes and insurance junk that I’m starting to wonder if I’m their mother or their secretary! I have a huge pile of unsorted various papers piled in boxes waiting to be filed and my desk is always covered with papers associated with a mile long to-do list.

WAHM/SAHM life is not easy. It can seem like you’re spinning your wheels or even spinning out of control.

In the middle of the craziness while listening to both kids screaming at once, I took a breath and remembered something crucial.

Even on the hard days, being a WAHM/SAHM allows me to be there for my kids and my family when they need me most. And I deeply appreciate this gift…

This SAHM/WAHM gig may not be easy, it may be 24/7, and it’s certainly not something I will ever achieve perfection with, but I wouldn’t trade with anyone.

It’s not about perfection. It’s about being there for the people you love the most. 

Have you ever felt overwhelmed as a SAHM? Comment below…

Making Time to be a Writer When You are a Parent to Little Kids:

You CAN be a Parent and a Writer!

It’s REALLY hard…but you have to ask yourself, what do you really want?

Being a writer has been my dream since I was a little kid. I want to use writing as a way to make income from home as a WAHM. 

  • What do you want?

If you DON’T want to be a writer, then do yourself a favor; don’t do it! There are lots of ways to make an income from home. INSTEAD: Find something that will make your heart sing. That’s where you belong. ❤️

But if you DO want to be a writer and you have small kids, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

How to Make Time to Write When You Have Small Kids graphic3

  • What Are Your Priorities?

Crystal Paine in a interview with Jeff Goins on his podcast, My Portfolio Life With Jeff Goins said,

“I think you make time for what is a priority to you, and if it’s not a priority, you make an excuse.”

This speaks to me about how I make time for my writing. If you don’t really want to do it, you’ll find some way not to. Sure, you’ll have off-days where you get nothing done. That’s the nature of parenthood. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about consistently carving out time for yourself to do what you know you need to do despite obstacles.

  • What Will I use to Write With?

As moms/parents, we rarely have a hands-free moment. If you want to be a writer, you need to find a way to get your ideas down on-the-go.

I use a smart phone. I’m using a smart phone this very second to type out this blog post. It’s 3:30am and I have a sleepy nursing baby in my lap who cries the instant I set him down. But with a smart phone, I can use this down-time to write. If you can text, you can write. E.L. James wrote much of Fifty Shades of Grey on her blackberry!

There are a few essential Apps I use to write on my iPhone, but it’s whatever works for you. You can even use your email feature or the “notes” app that comes with the phone. The idea is that you should be able to transfer your writing to a computer.

If you don’t have a smart phone, don’t despair! If you still want to write on a one-handed apple device, the old iPod touch models and even just an iPhone that’s not connected to a phone service (wifi is helpful) would be excellent tools. I saw one offered for as low as $50 used and refurbished on Amazon.com.

If you’re not a smartphone user, consider a notebook and pen that can fit in your pocket. The downside is it requires two hands for these tools. If you can do a vocal recording to transcribe, a mini recorder might be best for you. You can also do vocal recordings and even voice-to-text on an iPhone. That way you can still be one-handed.

  • How Can I Create More Time?

Streamline

Writing takes up a lot of time. Sure, you can get a lot done if you do a little at a time, but there is something to be said for MAKING a dedicated chunk of time. That chunk could be as small as ten minutes as long as you have focus. But how will you come up with that time? Streamline!

Is there a chore that could be delegated to your spouse/significant other?

Can you pre-make freezer meals in batches to give you an hour or two of free time on other nights?

Can you turn of the television and give yourself that time?

A great resource for mommas trying to find time is The Fringe Hours. I loved this book.

Budget Your Time

You can start by budgeting your resources to make sure you don’t over-commit. Make a list of only a few things. Only what you can accomplish in one day. I have a list nowadays if about 3 items. Sometimes I get more done and that’s great. But I’m not overwhelmed with a huge list.

A great resource for this is Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.

Set Priorities

Everyone only has so much time and energy. Don’t be afraid to say, “No!” Here are some tips by Crystal Paine on how to say no in a productive way.

Think About money

Also, be sure to budget finances. That way if you need new writing software or want to purchase a domain name for your blog, you will know if you can afford it. A great resource for financial budgeting is Dave Ramsey. He changed my life with the audio cd set, Financial Peace University.

It’s very hard to concentrate on writing if you’re not sure if your rent check is going to bounce! Do yourself a favor and use a budget.
My family uses an easy and free app/website by Dave Ramsey www.everydollar.com. 

Another great resource is The Money Saving Mom’s Budget.

  • Decide

Decide that it is a priority to be a writer, use a tool to make it easier, and budget your resources.

You CAN be a mom and a writer!

What better example for your kids than to have a dream, make a plan and follow through?

Are you a parent and a writer?

Please share your struggles and successes in a comment. 

 

Additional resources:

Michael Hyatt Podcast on Productivity

 

How to Make Time to Write When You Have Small Kids

Cloth Diaper Mommies and the Secret “Fluff” Society

Today was “day one” of cloth diapers for me. My little guy, #secondbaby, is only 4 weeks old. That’s also how old my career as a full-time WAHM writer is. To put it bluntly, we’re both shitting our pants. 

Our family is officially down to one income (and also one car, but that’s another story), so my husband and I have been looking for (more) ways to cut corners. This search includes a foray into cloth diapers. 

I’ve entered this world… And it seems there’s no turning back…*cue dramatic music*

I was given a “stash” of cloth diapers by a very generous friend (those are not cheap) and I’m learning how to use them. I tell you what, all those damn snaps and inserts are the devil! 

I mean, what the hell is this? 

  There are snaps and plastic liners and Velcro everywhere. And how is my baby supposed to NOT poop through this stuff? It’s cloth?  

 Obviously, it can be done extremely successfully as so many mommas have proved before me so splendidly. But starting cloth diapers is proving a challenge to me personally.

 Putting my kid in a diaper has be come less of a “change” and more of a put-the-puzzle-together -and-fold-it-just-right-snapping -everything- with-5-million-snaps and THEN…pray your kid doesn’t have a shit in it before you’re done.  Oops! Too late. Start over!

Cloth diapering is a steep learning curve for me and I’m only just realizing that there’s this cloth diaper mommy “cult” with their own shorthand language and extensive knowledge of everything from the methods of folding to the sheer”fluff” madness that accompanies the release of a new pattern of diaper. I had no idea that mommies would anticipate a pattern of a cloth diaper from a particular company and go crazy waiting to buy it like a teenager with the latest video game. It’s madness I tell you!

But they are also a group of caring loving mommas who generously reach out to one another. Even in “diaper only” blogs where the topics are limited to diapers, mommies lift eachother up and encourage one another even in more personal matters that are somewhat off-topic from diapering. 

 It’s a community held together by mommyhood and glorified poo catchers. “Fluff” mommies even reached out to me, almost instantaneously, when I cluelessly asked about cloth diapers on a few forums. I clearly didn’t know the first thing about cloth. But their generosity with their advice and encouragement was good for my soul even as I struggled with poop and pee leaking out of my new-to-me diapers. Mommy forums on Facebook can be such generous uplifting places. The rest of the world should take note and follow suit. I would happily be inducted into the secret “fluff” society if they will have me. They’re some sweet mommas.