The Best Way to Manage the To-do List, Fun Fact, and ROW80

This week served as a reminder of something I’ve blogged about before, but tend to forget on occasion: the best way to manage my to-do list is to not put too much on it in the first place!

This was one of those “took on too much” weeks. Not horrendously so, but there were things I simply did not get to. There are only so many hours in a day, and when a fixed amount of them must be spent on the paycheck job, and a necessary amount spent doing things like sleeping, and eating, that’s an even more limited time for the “other stuff,” which in my case includes writing, book cover designs, promotion of my writing (which I do next to none of anyway), projects and gifts for family and friends, spending time with those family and friends…

I read a business/productivity book not too long ago that suggested dividing the to-do list into an A-list, B-list, and C-list. The A-list are things that must be done that day, and should contain no more than three or four things. The B and C lists are nice-to-haves, with the B being the higher priority of the two, and both of these should ideally only contain one thing.

I have my three lists, but they’d grown longer than they should have. So this week, it’s back to basics.

One of those basics for me, of course, is writing, and my writing often necessitates research. I ran across an interesting tidbit a while back that I considered using, but decided wouldn’t fit. Still, it’s interesting enough to share here:

My Town Monday Fun Fact: Dayton’s First Murder and First Unsolved Death

Dayton was settled in 1796, but the frontier town managed to avoid the most heinous of crimes for its first ten  years. That changed on November 20, 1806, settler/farmer John Aiken beat his wife to death. No one had seen it coming–the Aikens had been good, upstanding citizens who paid their bills and got along with everyone, including, at least to all outward appearances, each other.

Aiken went to trial only five days later, speedy even for those days. He was a blubbering mess and couldn’t even speak for himself, so an associate (who’d also been charged with helping to cover up the crime) helped him hire an attorney. The men posted bail, and the trial was rescheduled.

John Aiken never made it out of the courthouse–he literally collapsed and died on the spot. There are no records to indicate why or how. The case against his associate was later dropped due to lack of evidence.

For more on this and other tales of historical bad-assery in Dayton, check out Spilt Blood by Curt Dalton, who operates Dayton History Books Online, one of my Best. Research. Sources. Ever. Mr. Dalton has published Spilt Blood, and several of his other wonderful books in their entirety on the site.

ROW80 Update:

ROW80Logo175Here’s how last week shook out. Not bad considering how much I’d loaded on:

  • 12,000 words on WIP – I actually only got 10,700, but I’m still on track for NaNoWriMo since I banked some words early in the month, so I’m going to count this as Done!
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop – Done!
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page for family member’s web site – This was the one I just. Didn’t. Get to.
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short – Done!
  • Book cover design – still have to make a few tweaks, but I’ll consider this one Done!

This week’s goals are a little different, since the workshop wrapped up. Also, I’m spending the day Saturday with some out of town friends, so I really need to bank the words for that, as I don’t have any more banked for NaNoWriMo. We’ll see how it goes!

  • 12,000 words on WIP
  • Review video lessons for Promotions workshop first three weeks and take notes
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page for family member’s web site
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short

What about you–have you found yourself taking on too much lately? Are you afraid you will next month, with the holidays on the way? If you’re doing NaNoWriMo and/or ROW80, how are you doing? Or if you’re not, how are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Do you know anything about the first murder to have happened where you live? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Scale Back for a Win! and Down in a Hole in Dayton, plus ROW80

Scaling down my fitness goals this week totally worked for me! I’m still dealing with some lingering health issues–again, nothing major, just enough that I don’t feel up to much of a workout. But telling myself “just five or ten minutes” did the trick, and I was able to do just that! It’s true, you really can do anything for five or ten minutes.

I also did well in getting the middle of my book mapped out, and feel good about the direction it’s going. I did a lot of research reading, which leads me to this week’s My Town Monday Fun Fact:

My Town Monday Fun Fact: Dayton’s First Jail

Newcom Tavern

Newcom’s Tavern today, in Carillon Historical Park

The first substantial building constructed in early Dayton was Newcom’s Tavern, built in 1798-99. The two-story log cabin was unique at the time, the first in the budding town to use mortar as log chinking. In addition to being the general gathering place for the small community, Newcom’s was also the sheriffs’s office, courthouse, church, school, and general store. Its proprietor, George Newcom, served as the county Sheriff until 1809.

But the town didn’t have a real jail until December of 1804, when a sturdy log structure featuring iron-barred windows was completed. And while there were only a couple dozen families living in Dayton (if that), there were enough people there that disagreements happened, and someone occasionally decided to solve a dispute with his fists, or by taking it upon himself to collect payment in the form of livestock, etc. Natives also lived in the area, and while they adhered to the 1795 Treaty of Greenville and no longer attacked settlers, they occasionally helped themselves to someone’s chickens.

Native American offenders were locked up in the corncrib behind Newcom’s until they were brought to trial (which was a much speedier process back then than today). But white offenders were lowered into Newcom’s well! (It was dry; Newcom must’ve dug another one). Today, “the hole” refers to being in solitary confinement, a practice decried by some prisoners’ rights advocates. Imagine what they would have thought of Dayton’s first jail!

ROW80Logo175So now back to my ROW80 Goals. Last week’s were:

  • Finish sketching out/outlining middle of WIP – Done!
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop – Done!
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page and individual product page for family member’s web site – No
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short – Done!

I didn’t get to the web site, so that stays on the list for this week. Things are going to change a little bit too, because I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, and that starts November 1! Yes, I’m planning to get that 50,000 words written this month. I’ve done it twice before, so I know I can, even though it’s ambitious. I’m not even shoving other stuff off to do it–it really doesn’t take that long to get the words written, once you sit down and do it. I am, however, going to stick to the shorter workouts, though I’ll spend longer times on the treadmill if/when I feel up to it. So here are this week’s goals:

  • 4500 words on WIP
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page and individual product page for family member’s web site
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short

What about you–if you’re a writer, are you, or have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? (If you are, I’d love to be your buddy – I’m jennettemariepowell over there.) If you’re not a writer, or not doing NaNo, have you taken on any super-ambitious goals lately with something else?  Can you imagine being jailed by being tossed into a well? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

 

When is it Time to Push Back on our Goals? and the Man who Saved Dayton, plus ROW80

The best thing about ROW80, the writing challenge that knows you have a life, is the fact that we’re encouraged to be flexible. That’s good, because a couple of my goals are already presenting challenges for me.

One of those is fitness. I try to do a good half-hour interval workout on my treadmill three times a week, plus a shorter workout of weight-bearing exercises a couple times between them. It doesn’t sound like much, but it works for me and I can tell a difference when I keep up with it. But lately, I’ve had some health issues – nothing major, just enough that I don’t feel up to doing that half-hour on the treadmill, or doing push-ups, etc. So it’s time to cut back. Lately, I’ve read that three ten-minute sessions is just as good or better than one half-hour long one anyway. Even five minutes is better than nothing, so I’m going to try doing something–anything–for those four workout sessions this week.

I’ve also had some challenges  with the writing, as in I’ve been doing more procrastinating than writing (or even outlining). I know that procrastination is usually a symptom of something else. Sometimes it can happen because we don’t physically feel well, but it often happens when we don’t have the proper tools, information, or preparation to do a job. In my case, I need to do some more research. So I’m going to leave my goal the same there, but focus more on the research, which I already started on last week. Which leads me to something interesting I learned:

Daniel C. Cooper (1773-1818)

Daniel C. Cooper (1773-1818) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Town Monday Fun Fact: The Man Who Saved Dayton

In 1787, John Cleves Symmes claimed the land between the Great and Little Miami rivers without waiting for approval from Congress. The first settlers moved into the area in 1796, only to learn two years later they might have no legal right to the land they’d paid for and worked to clear and build on. In 1799, congress set a price of $2.00 an acre–$1.17 more than they’d paid. Many didn’t have the cash, and left. Most of the rest would have, until Daniel C. Cooper, one of the original surveyors, bought the land that included the town–around 3,000 acres–for the government’s asking price, then sold it to the settlers for whatever they could afford, offering payment plans to many. He also gave the town land for churches, the courthouse, jail and other civic buildings, a park, marketplaces, and a graveyard. The park is still called Cooper Park today, and is includes the main branch of the Dayton Metro Library.

ROW80Logo175So now back to my ROW80 Goals. Last week’s were:

  • Finish sketching out/outlining first quarter of WIP – No
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop – Done!
  • Refine layout of product listing page and individual product page for web site – Done!
  • Fitness 4 times – No

This week, I’m going to keep the same list, but with “fitness” referring to smaller workouts if necessary and the outlining focusing on research. For the website, it’s time to develop the Shopping Cart page.

What about you–whether or not you’re doing ROW80, have you needed to adjust your goals or expectations lately? Do you have trouble with procrastination–and if so, do you know why? Have you learned anything interesting about your hometown lately? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

 

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How to Tell if Something is Worth Your Time, Fun Fact, and Goals Update

It’s been said many times (including by me) that we don’t find time to write (or do whatever it is that we want to do), we make time. But how can we make time when so often, our days are so full?

One way is to eliminate activities that don’t contribute to the things that are important to us, and when faced with a particular activity, ask whether–and how much–it does contribute.  I might ask myself, does this enhance a relationship? Am I learning something? Is it getting my novel written, or giving me a new/more practiced skill I can use in my day job? If not, I think of how I can eliminate that task, or at least reduce the amount of time I spend there. You can guess where housework falls on that continuum. 😀 Same with much of what’s on TV, or playing level after level of computer games. But taking a break to play Candy Crush for five minutes can be some much-needed downtime. So if you’re trying to eke out a few more minutes here and there for something that’s important to you, see where you can eliminate time spent on something that’s not!

My Town Monday Fun Fact

Wright Flyer IIIEven though I’m posting this on Sunday, many people don’t read until Monday, so I figured why not keep up the My Town Monday Fun Fact? Here’s this week’s: Many people think that the only mobile National Historic Landmark is the San Francisco Cable Cars. Not true! There are others, and one of those is right here in Dayton. It’s the Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane. Built by Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1905, it’s the first Flyer that could turn, make circles, and fly in the more variable winds we have here in Ohio. And even though it’s a National Historic Landmark, and part of the National Park System, you can see it today: it’s housed at Dayton’s Carillon Historical Park, which is operated by Dayton History, and unaffected by the government shutdown.

ROW80 Goals Update

ROW80Logo175My goals for this past week were:

  • Finish sketching out/outlining first quarter of WIP – Done!
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop – Done!
  • Refine layout of product listing page and individual product page for web site – Partial
  • Fitness 4 times – No

I am going to keep those same goals this week, and try to outline/sketch out the second quarter of the WIP.

What about you – do you sometimes struggle to find–I mean, make–time for the things that are important to you? Which activities would you like to eliminate? Did you know the Wright Flyer III is a mobile National Historic Landmark? How are you doing on your goals, whatever they may be? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

WANA Wednesday is Back, with Romance, Horror, and Historical YA!

Life: the Good Stuff has continued to defeat my best intentions of keeping up with the blog this past month, but I’ve still noticed a bunch of fine new releases! Here are several that came out during the month of May:


Paris Love MatchFirst, we have a debut release by Nigel Blackwell: Paris Love Match is a caper in the style of the accidental tourist. The action occurs in just a single day in Paris.

The hero is Piers Chapman, an engineering geek whose jeans are too short, whose mother phones him too often, and who is in Paris to update the software in one of his company’s cranes.

The heroine is Sidney Roux, a worldly-wise, drop-dead beauty who is tired of falling for good-looking men who treat her badly. Mind you, she carries a little bit of an attitude and something of a secret, but she’s lived in a world that never gave her anything, and she’s learned to look after herself first.

When the sale of a painting between a ruthless dictator and a murderous mobster turns into a raging gun battle with the police in tow, Piers and Sidney get caught up and wanted by all sides.

If they’re going to stay alive, they’re going to have to put aside their fears and prejudices, and work together. It’s not an easy thing for either of them to do.

But if they can, they might just find more than stolen goods …

More info is on Nigel’s site, along with buy links and info on his Goodreads contest, where you can win a signed copy (entries open until June 7th).


Maid Of SecretsNext up is another debut release, from Jennifer McGowan, one of my Ohio Valley RWA buddies: Maid of Secrets, a YA historical.

Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom–and her deadliest peril.

For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle.

A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace.  And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love…

More info and buy links are on Jennifer’s site.


Hayden's ChoiceJennifer L. Oliver‘s first novel-length work came out last month: Hayden’s Choice, a dark urban fantasy/horror novel.

The demon Azazel knows an opportunity when he sees one. That’s why he took the Unnamed abomination, Haedyn, under his wing and honed her skills. Now she’s a predator, like him, but far more dangerous because she holds the potential to wield great power. The kind that humans and supernatural creatures alike will bow down to worship. The kind that will let him create his army of evil-born souls without challenge. And when the full moon rises and a human’s rare blood is spilled, Haedyn will be the key to unlocking hell on earth.

Former investigative reporter Lexington Carter saw his brother murdered by vampires, but no one would believe him. Now it’s his mission to learn everything there is about monsters, how to kill them, and what happens to their victims. But when he’s kidnapped by a super-human albino chick who claims she’s protecting him, he realizes that not all supernatural creatures are monsters and there might be one that’s worth saving.

Haedyn is the last Unnamed and Azazel’s personal assassin – his most prized servant. It’s not a title she wants, but it keeps her alive and that’s all that matters. But when she is tricked into protecting Lex, the same human her master is hunting, she learns of Azazel’s terrifying plan to create an army of evil souls – and that Lex isn’t the only one slated for sacrifice.

More info and buy links can be found on Jennifer’s website.


Laying Low in ParadiseFinally, we have new romance from Kristy K. James: In Laying Low in Paradise, Laura Keane and her son have been spending summers at their chalet on Bois Blanc Island since her husband was killed in the war. She never let anyone else in after the chaplain delivered the sad news four years ago, so it’s just the two of them, and she wouldn’t change that for the world.

Cameron Rafferty and his friends were keeping secrets. Dangerous secrets, and they’d hoped the little island paradise would be a safe place to hide out. The plan to keep a low profile quickly unravels when an accident changes everything. Cameron soon finds himself becoming more involved with the Keane family than he’d intended -and wishing for things he shouldn’t. More info and buy links can be found on Kristy’s website.


 

ROW80Logo175Time for a quick ROW80 update, especially since I’ve skipped the past two weeks of check-ins! As mentioned at the beginning of this post, most of that’s been due to “Life: the Good Stuff” which in this case is my daughter’s high school graduation, subsequent party (which was great!), and preparations and recovery thereof. But it was also due to me hiding out in my revision cave the rest of the time, getting my next short story finished, and turned in for the anthology within about a half hour of the deadline (I know, I know!). So I will have something new for readers of my Saturn Society series soon! My ROW80 goal for the rest of this week is to complete three book cover designs that have been pushed to the back burner while I survive the end of my daughter’s high school career, and revisions on my story (thank you for your patience, friends who I owe these to!).


What about you – do you have your summer reading lined up? Perhaps one of the books above will fit your bill! Ever had to step away from something you are normally consistent with due to good life happening? How did you get back into it? Please share – I’d love to hear from you!

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Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

 

WANA Wednesday is back with Exciting New Releases! plus ROW80 update

smallsultryWhile I was away on blog holiday, my writing friends were busy! I have four releases to share this week. First up is one from my RWA chapter buddy, Macy Beckett, who also presented with me at the Dayton Metro Library a couple weeks ago! A Shot of Sultry is #2 in her Sultry Springs series, about West Coast filmmaker Bobbi Gallagher, for whom going back to Sultry Springs is a last resort. But with her career in tatters, a quick trip to her hometown might get Bobbi the footage she needs to salvage her reputation. She just can’t let anything distract her again. Not even the gorgeous contractor her brother asked to watch over her. Golden boy Trey Lewis is a leading man if Bobbi ever saw one. He’s strong and confident and–much to her delight–usually shirtless. But if he thinks keeping his best friend’s baby sister out of trouble will be easy, he has no idea of the trouble in store for him… Visit Macy’s website for more info and buy links.


Dangerous and UnseemlyMystery author KB Owen released her debut novel a couple weeks ago. Dangerous and Unseemly: A Concordia Wells Mystery, is an unseemly lesson in murder. The year is 1896, and Professor Concordia Wells has her hands full:  teaching classes, acting as live-in chaperone to a cottage of lively female students, and directing the student play, Macbeth.

But mystery and murder are not confined to the stage.  Malicious pranks, arson, money troubles, and the apparent suicide of a college official create turmoil at the women’s college.  For Concordia, it becomes personal when a family member dies of a mysterious illness, and her best friend is attacked and left for dead.

With her friend still in danger and her beloved school facing certain ruin, Concordia knows that she must act.  But uncovering secrets is a dangerous business, and there are some who do not appreciate the unseemly inquiries and bold actions of the young lady professor.  Can she discover the ones responsible…before she becomes the next target? Visit KB’s website for more info and buy links.


Come Back To MELast week also saw a YA debut from Coleen Patrick, with Come Back to Me. In this contemporary story, Whitney Denison can’t wait to start over. She thought she had everything under control, that her future would always include her best friend Katie… Until everything changed. Now her life in Bloom is one big morning after hangover, filled with regret, grief, and tiny pinpricks of reminders that she was once happy.  A happy she ruined.  A happy she can’t fix. So, she is counting down the days until she leaves home for Colson University, cramming her summer with busywork she didn’t finish her senior year, and taking on new hobbies that involve glue and glitter, and dodging anyone who reminds her of her old life.

When she runs into the stranger who drove her home on graduation night, after she’d passed out next to a ditch, she feels herself sinking again. The key to surviving the summer in Bloom is unraveling whatever good memories she can from that night. But in searching for answers, she’ll have to ask for help and that means turning to Evan, the stranger, and Kyle, Katie’s ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, life flips again, and Whitney finds herself on not only the precipice of happy but love, too, causing her to question whether she can trust her feelings, or if she is falling into her old patterns of extremes. As she uncovers the truth about her memories, Whitney sees that life isn’t all or nothing, and that happy isn’t something to wait for, that instead, happy might just be a choice. Visit Coleen’s website for more info and buy links.


purpleSF/Fantasy author and editor Marcy Kennedy also gave us an unexpected treat and is offering a free e-copy of her short story “Purple”  to anyone who signs up for her mailing list on her newly-revamped website. “Purple” is a thriller, and won the Writers Digest Popular Fiction Competition in 2008. It’s not a new release, but I haven’t read it, and if Marcy’s blog content is anything to go by, it’ll be a great read for sure. It’s free, so what do you have to lose? Head over to her website and sign up!

The giveaway has ended. Thanks for your interest!

Quick ROW80 Update: Yes, those are back too, even though I don’t have much to report in this area. I’ve done part of my writing workshop assignment, and have some notes made for the workshop I’m presenting on Saturday. I normally don’t get much done in the early part of the week anyway, and this week I’m still fighting this cold, AND dealing with the time change – UGH.

What about you? Are you up for some mystery or a bit of romance? Have you grabbed “Purple” yet? Who besides me thinks it’s time we just dispense with this nonsense, and either stick with standard or daylight time year ’round? I’d love to hear from you!

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Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

 

Behind the Book: the guy behind that Kepler guy, Jim Winter

I have a special treat for WANA/Writer Wednesday! Jim Winter, author of the Nick Kepler crime fiction series, has stopped by to answer a few questions, and give us some insight into the books, and what makes him (and P.I. Nick Kepler) tick.

JJim WinterMP: How long have you been writing? How many books did you write before publishing?

JW: I’ve been writing for myself since I was a kid. I did a novel-length story back in 1990 just to see if I could handle the form, but I didn’t attempt a “serious” novel until about 2001.

JMP: Sounds familiar, at least the beginning! I did the same thing, but didn’t do much with shorts after school. Have you been published by a big publisher? Small press/epub? Independently? Please share your publishing experience.

JW: Northcoast Shakedown was originally published by a small press in the Baltimore area. Long on good intentions, short on resources, they folded just as Second Hand Goods was going to be published. The sad thing is if I’d waited just another week, I could have been with an agent shopping those books to the Big Six.

JMP: Then again, with some of the horror stories I’ve read about agents, maybe you dodged a bullet! What made you decide to take this publishing path?

Compleat KeplerJW: I didn’t want to bury the Kepler books. I knew a publisher would not really want something someone else had already published unless I had a track record. So I decided to release them myself when ebooks made that feasible.

JMP: Totally makes sense, and I’m glad you did! What do you do for a day job? Has this informed or inspired your writing in any way?

JW: I do web programming for a living. Originally, I was an IT drone at an insurance company. Some of that job provided background for Nick Kepler, namely how he got his office, the type of work he does, etc.

JMP: Hehe, great how that works, isn’t it? How does you day job and other responsibilities, like family or school, impede your writing progress?

JW: The biggest impediment to writing for me is my education. I’m currently working on a dual major (because I was too lazy to do it in my late teens and early twenties), and the work involved sometimes takes time away from writing time.

JMP: I hear that! But as noted above, those day jobs can inspire us too (says the author who works at Hangar 18 🙂 ). So tell us about your upcoming release, Jim.

JW: Bad Religion is the third Kepler novel. Nick is hired to look into possible skimming by a young, popular minister only to discover it’s a ruse to hide someone else’s wrong-doing. We also find out what happens to Nick and Elaine after the events of Second Hand Goods.

JMP: I’m so glad you’re releasing this one! I remember reading it during a slow time at work, and my coworkers kept giving me weird looks because I kept laughing! Bad Religion is definitely the best Kepler yet. In the meantime, what’s on your nightstand or up next in your e-reader queue?

JW: Well, I’m getting ready to read John Rickards’ Winter’s End, which I’ve had for a long time, but never got around to it. I also have this novel about a mysterious hangar at Wright-Patt AFB that a very familiar author has just released.

JMP: 😀 I hope you like it – and thanks for reading! What’s the most recent nonfiction book you’ve read? What did you get out of it?

JW: I just finished Truman by David McCulloch. I’m a big history buff, and this was a fascinating look at the beginning of the Cold War and the Red Scare.

JMP: I may not comment on them often, but I’ve really enjoyed your posts about these books. For those who don’t (yet!) follow Jim’s blog, he’s been reading a biography of every U.S. president, in order, for about the past year and a half, then posts on his blog what he’s learned as well as what he thought of the particular book he read. In addition, he reviews fiction every now and then, and blogs about all kinds of other things in addition to his own books and short stories.

Jim, thanks for being with us! I’m looking forward to seeing the finalized Bad Religion, as well as digging into his newest release, The Compleat Kepler!



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Quick ROW80 upate:
I’ve spent a little time brainstorming my next book, but nothing concrete. I’m re-reading Holly Lisle’s Create a Plot Clinic to see if that shakes some more ideas loose. I’ve done only one workout so far, but did get around to visiting some other ROW80 blogs. And finally, I’m changing one of this week’s goals: instead of doing a chapter in the estate planning book, I need to collect all of our tax stuff for the accountant.

Does anyone have any questions or comments for Jim? Questions about his books, writing in general, Cincinnati or Cleveland, or whatever! Jim and I would love to hear from you!

You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached

Ever feel like that? I feel like that… um, on a regular basis. Pretty much every day.

Do you ever feel like this?

Do you ever feel like this?

There is so much minutiae in our lives (don’t you love that word “minutiae?”) that it’s sometimes overwhelming. Actually, it’s often overwhelming. There are groceries to get–or in my case, since my DH does the shopping (bless him!), groceries to remember to put on the store list, or he won’t get them. This is why, as I write this, we are collecting kitchen trash in one of those little grocery store plastic bags. No one remembered to put “trash bags” on the list.

There are appointments to remember–dentists, doctors, the tax accountant. My husband’s in the process of doing some work on the garage, so there are things to remember related to that. There are school projects for our daughter, and programs we want to attend for her. There are things to do related to those appointments–medical info to collect, tax info to collect (and with three businesses, there’s a lot of that), lists of things that need to be done to the garage by the construction guy. Oh, and we’re almost out of turtle food. And will you pick up this prescription on the way home?

And that’s not even counting my to-do list relating to my books and being an author–a to-do list that’s even larger when you’re also your own publisher. I thought I had a lot to remember before I published. I’d always heard that it got worse after you published, but that’s one of those things, like having a kid, that you know mentally before, but have no idea until you have one, how much more there is to do. (And like kids, it’s very worthwhile, so I’m not complaining, just explaining.)

Add in the holidays, and there are presents to buy, parties to attend (or host, with all the additional things to remember for that), kids’ programs to see, wrapping to do, cards to buy, sign, seal and send….

Just typing that is making me stressed, and it’s over until December comes back around!

How do you manage it all?

I used to write notes. But there were problems with that. One, there ended up being notes lying all over the place. My husband still does this, and our daughter and I are constantly clearing the clutter, tiny slips of paper, used envelopes, sticky notes with a phone number or a cryptic few words scrawled on it. When I ask him if he still needs them, he almost never does, but invariably, if one gets tossed without us checking first, that’s one he still needs. As for me, when this was my MO, the biggest problem with the notes wasn’t even the clutter, but I’d lose the note.

One year my company bought me a big, thick day planner, but it was so big and thick (and heavy), it never left my desk. It did help me with stuff I had to do there, but did little that a to-do list I’d scribble on a piece of paper didn’t.

Cozi Planner screenshot

My Cozi to-do list: It’s frightening

Now we have Cozi Organizer to help, but even that’s imperfect. First, we have to remember to put something on it to begin with (trash bags?). Then, if it’s an appointment, we can put in a reminder that will ring an alert on our phone or email us at the specified amount of time before it, but that only helps when I’m actually sitting next to my phone and hear the notification when it goes off. My daughter got a tablet computer for Christmas, and one of the first apps she downloaded was Cozi. She’d used it on her computer before, but that only helped if she was actually sitting at her computer when she thought of something to add to it, or if she had her phone in hand when a text notification came in. The tablet is in her hands enough that this will help, one hopes. 😀

What do you do to rein in all the minutiae of day-to-day life? Do you take it in stride, or are you constantly in danger of forgetting something, like I am? What tools do you use to help, and how do you get the most out of them? Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling like the person in the photo!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

 

Changing the calendar, or something more?

Today is New Year’s Eve. Historically, this (and the real holiday, tomorrow) used to be my least-favorite holiday.

CalendarNew Year’s Day was just like any Sunday in the winter when I was a kid, except that you couldn’t go anywhere because everything was closed. It was boring, because it was nothing but the parents sitting around watching football, which I was never into. Then the retailers started wising up, and realized not everyone was into football and there was money to be made from those of us who weren’t. Now everything’s open, so there’s shopping to do if you need or want something, and it’s less boring. Football is spread out for several days both before and after New Year’s Day, so that’s less of a Big Deal too.

But for many, the real holiday comes the night before, when we gather with family or friends to cheer the clock striking midnight.

New Year's EveThe allure of this, too, escaped me for many years. Of course, the big attraction for many is drinking. I was a boring, rule-abiding teen and didn’t drink. In fact, I was usually babysitting for people with glamorous parties to attend. I didn’t even get dressed up, and I drank Coke. TV was usually boring–I never liked any of the entertainment on those New Year’s Eve shows (still don’t). New Year’s Eve got better when I met my husband, and actually had someone special to kiss at the strike of midnight, but it was still just another night at the bar. When we owned the bar for over ten years, it also meant I saw little of my husband, as he was always working, and I needed to help distribute the champagne. This was okay in and of itself, but there were always the one or two PITA patrons who either tried to scam us out of an extra bottle, or who bitched because we hadn’t gotten around to them yet (everyone always got their champagne before midnight). The best part of New Year’s Eve was having my best friend from college over–there is no such thing as a dull moment with her around, especially with alcohol! 😀 But that stopped when she found a significant other of her own, and they stayed closer to home.

At any rate, all the New Year’s Eve stuff seemed a big, freakin’ deal to make over what, IMO, amounted to nothing more than swapping out the calendar.

It got better after we sold the bar. All of a sudden, my husband didn’t have to work!

We got together with friends, and went bowling a few years there. I suck at bowling, but it’s still fun. The past few years, we’ve gotten together with neighbors, either at our house or theirs. We aren’t friends with them any more (long, stupid story), so I’m not sure what we’ll do this year. I’ll leave that up to my More Sociable Half to determine.

But it doesn’t matter. Because somewhere along the way, New Year’s Day became more than getting out a new calendar, more than a day to put away Christmas stuff while my husband went somewhere to watch football.

It became a new start, a time to set goals (never resolutions for me!), a time to evaluate last year’s goals and accomplishments. I’ve revised one long-ass book and published it, written and published a short story, written another short book (and won NaNoWriMo!), and designed covers for/formatted two anthologies, plus my Saturn Society Boxed Set, and revised a third novel, which is currently with my editor. It didn’t feel like I’ve done that much, but when I list it out like that… yeah!

I’m in the process of that evaluating of goals now, and it’s exciting to see not only what I’ve done, but what’s to come. I think 2013 will be a good year.

What do you do to celebrate New Year’s Eve/Day? Is it something special to you, or just time to change the calendar? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Cruising through the Holidays

Planning ahead makes all the difference! That’s what I say when people ask me if I’m stressed this holiday season. No, I don’t have all my shopping done, but I feel good about where I am with it – and everything else.

I decorated two weeks ago. The main reason that’s done is because I kept it simple: Christmas tree, mantel decorations, nativity scene. My family doesn’t care about elaborate decorations, as long as we have the basics!

As far as keeping up with writing goes, I managed that by setting smaller goals. This is an area where I’m not always successful–I’m hopeful that means I’ve learned from those times I wasn’t!

Here’s what I accomplished this week:

  • Hangar 18 – write up front and back matter
  • Hangar 18 – create full cover for paperback
  • Physical activity 5x this week – partial – got it in 4x

I’ve already met my ROW80 goals for the overall quarter. In addition to Hangar 18: Legacy, which is now with my editor, I’d like to release Times Two, the ebook-only boxed set of my Saturn Society novels. Since they are all already written and edited, and I already have a cover design, that leaves formatting. It would be great to get this out before Christmas. The ROW is over on Thursday, and check-in day is on Wednesday, so before then, I’d like to accomplish:

  • Times Two – assemble boxed set and format for Smashwords
  • Physical activity 5x this week (2-3x by Thursday)

If you’re participating in ROW80, how are you doing so far? Are you ready for the ROW to be over–and are you ready for the holidays??

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.