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IMG_2503If you’ve been dedicated and written on a regular basis, you now have a bunch of scenes or chapters in your story. However, any progress is better than none, so keep at it until you have created a habit that works for you. Don’t be discouraged if your computer sat untouched for days. As I am fond of saying,It is okay to make today the next first day of the rest of your life. Write down your dream and stick it where you can see it. “I am a writer.” Write it in lipstick on the bathroom mirror, or with colorful markers on the white board at work; post it wherever you will see it multiple times each day. Find a local writers group and make some writing friends. Join a critique group where you are required to submit a set number of pages every month. Do whatever it takes to step out of your old habits and into the life you have dreamed of.

As previously mentioned, I choose to write each scene in its own word document. I write each scene ‘title’ on a sticky note and stick it to a piece of poster board. After I have a handful of notes, I arrange them in the order they will appear in the story, leaving space for the scenes which still need to be written. The more I write, the more sticky notes join the others, which further motivates me to write more.

Sometimes it is helpful to create a timeline to identify the missing scenes in the story. After drawing a line horizontally across the poster board, I identify the months/seasons/years that pass. I write the names of every character on smaller sticky notes and stick them under the scenes in which they appear. This ensures that I have no characters who do not serve a purpose or who appear once and never again.

Utilizing the poster board and sticky notes, I put my story together visually. It’s much easier to rearrange scenes or chapters this way. Then I assemble the manuscript into one document and read it start to finish. If something jumps out at me as incorrect, I make a note in red (or add a Comment using Microsoft Word’s tool). I don’t spend a lot of time in the first pass. Then I go back and make the changes I previously identified. Reward yourself for the progress you have made.

The next step is the most difficult. Set the manuscript aside for at least a week, but a month is better. Pick up another project, but put this manuscript on your calendar for a future date. Read it again, start to finish, making additional notes and/or corrections.

Next: preparing your manuscript for proofreading and editing.


A new friend recently asked me for support as she wrote her memoir.  I happily agreed.  Writing my own memoir proved to be very healing and hearing from others who were helped by my story empowered me.

There is a lot of conflicting information out there.  Write for the reader.  Write for yourself.  Have an outline.  Don’t outline.  Edit as you go.  Get the words out and edit after you finish the first draft.  Let others read your words as you write them.  Keep your writing private until your manuscript is as perfect as you can get it.

What works for one author probably won’t work for every author.

Personally, I believe we should write for ourselves and edit for the reader.  The most difficult part in my writing life is staying at my keyboard.  I’m easily distracted and echoes of self-doubt try to push me away from my own writing.  It’s easier to edit for others than to write for myself.  But the use of a simple kitchen timer works for me.  For one hour every morning, I write for me.  No distractions allowed.  I can’t argue with the timer.  It doesn’t hurry up, no matter how much I beg.  When the timer goes off, I can decide to keep going or stop and work on something else.  An alarm will tell me when I have to absolutely get up from the chair and get ready for my day job.

I always make an outline.  I use post-it notes on a poster board so I can rearrange and add/delete as I work.  It keeps me focused and orderly, and the artist in me loves using multiple colors of post-its and pens.

I try not to edit as I go.  Getting the words out is my most important task.  If I can’t think of the right word, I type a ____ and keep on going.  I also keep a second document open for notes and thoughts about what I’m writing.  Then if the dreaded writer’s block rears its ugly head, I have a list of things to get me going again.

Belonging to a critique group is the best thing I ever did for my writing.  It’s all about accountability.  Knowing three other writers will be reading 10 – 12 pages of my words each month keeps me working.  Critiquing their pages broadens my world.  Talking about our critiques and hearing what they felt while reading my pages helps focus my rewrites.

If you are writing, and I hope that you are, do what feels right to you.  As I told my new friend, the only wrong way to write is not to do it.

Hugs and Happy Writing.


Join me and 59 other authors at the Payson Book Festival this Saturday, July 25, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Gila Community College, located at 201 N. Mud Springs Road, Payson, Arizona.

The $35 Wife

The $35 Wife

Tick Tock, Pokey Clock; time to earn a paycheck.  Tick Tock, Speedy clock; time to fix my lifewreck.

My life really isn’t a wreck, but my house is.  My ToDo list would wallpaper a large barn, which is appropriate considering how much love abides under my roof.

What I’m concerned about is the inconsistency with which time moves.  When I’m at work (the one away from what I do at home), time slows down.  I looked at the clock at 1:18 on Wednesday afternoon.  Three hours later, it was 1:43.  But after barreling in the door at 3:50, I blinked and it was 4:59 and the dogs were begging for their supper.

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”  True.  When I went to Disneyland, the hours just rushed by and all too soon it was time to head home.  However, sometimes time flies when you have too much to do.  Sometimes I’m so busy at work that I think lunchtime has passed without even a visit to vending machine.  But no, it’s only 9:45 and the rumbling in my stomach can’t be trusted.   But when I’m at home, with a mountain of laundry and the good intention of writing a blog post between loads while scrambling up a healthy dinner, paying the bills, and bathing a dog, time flies too.  I guess it sneaks right out the window, because I never catch it leaving.

Back in High School, I got in trouble for refusing to understand why people run in the rain.  My professor said they run to keep as dry as possible.  But consider driving in the rain.  You’re sitting at a traffic light.  Pit Pat on the windshield; the wipers chatter against the glass they’ve just wiped clean.  The light turns green and off you go; the wipers barely able to keep up with the torrent of water attacking your line of sight.  I insist: the faster you go, the more raindrops you hit.

Eureka!  I’ve got it!  “Time flies when you’re having fun or enjoying getting things done.”

The dryer just stopped.  Not so for the clock.

I am a planner.  Checklists are one of my favorite ways to plan.  I can break just about any task, goal, or project down into individual steps.  Checking off these ‘baby-steps’ gives me a sense of accomplishment.  But at some point, I have to say, “Enough.”  I have to get moving or all I will have is an extremely thorough list.

Done is better than Perfect

My word for 2013 is ACTION.  While I was thinking about my goals for this year, I realized I have more to get done than ever before.  My habit of starting many projects (and finishing few) has got to be broken.  Tasks need to be finished.  It is not enough to just start.

For most people, the first step is the hardest.  Not for me.  I love to start.  But that’s often as far as I get.  I have searched for a reason for this annoying habit.  Perfectionism may be to blame.  I always believed that it was better to leave something undone, than to have it done imperfectly.  Where did I get this crazy idea?  The Flylady ( teaches, “Housework done imperfectly still blesses your family.”  2013 will be the year my family is finally blessed in the housework department.

The last time my house was really clean was when my mother-in-law spent Christmas with us.  That was 2006.  But even then, the house wasn’t perfect.  My mother came over and we did what we do best.  Crisis Cleaning.  Random stuff was thrown in laundry baskets, boxes, and bags that we stuffed into the shed in the backyard.  I am ashamed to admit that most of them are still there.  This is not the way I want to live.

A couple of years ago, we turned an old bedroom into a sitting room.  Two love seats, a recliner, and a TV made for a cozy place to escape.  That room stayed neat until my last two classes.  I had to have a place where I could leave my books out.  Then came Christmas, and I used that room to hide and organize presents.  I also bought some pictures to hang on the walls, but they haven’t made it there yet.

The old master bedroom has turned into a storage room.  It’s going to be a guest bedroom, although I still dream of having an office with a door that shuts.  But for now, it’s no good to anyone or anything, except the breakables from the front room and the extra paper towels and groceries from our last two Costco trips.

My memoir sits unfinished in multiple files on my computer.  I also have a notebook of notes and paragraphs.  And there’s a binder too….

Action (noun): the process or state of acting or being active, something done or performed, an act that one consciously wills and that may be characterized by physical or mental activity, energetic activity (from  The opposite of action is rest or inactivity.  I’ve had enough of that.

My new plan is to devote a specific amount of time each day to one or two projects.  How much time does one extra load of laundry take?  I can sort through a bag of papers in less than 15 minutes.  I’ll use my checklists when I have to, but perfection doesn’t matter right now.  It’s time for action.


on January 2, 2013 in Uncategorized No Comments »

We made it (not that I ever doubted it; I had too much planned for this year)! I just love new beginnings and January 1st fills me with energy and motivation. I started a new Gratitude Journal, and I’m rapidly filling my planner with goals of various sizes and deadlines.

The recent holidays were filled with unexpected twists and turns.  Tim continues to have intractable hiccups, lasting between 2 and 48 hours at a time.  Before Christmas, we were in the ER again as his prescribed medications weren’t offering any relief.  A chest x-ray revealed he had pneumonia and we stayed in the hospital for a few days while he hiccuped and received IV antibiotics.  Our girls were beyond wonderful, staying with Tim while I ran home to shower and change my clothes, and keeping the critters fed while we were away.  When we finally came home (after I caught a bug that turned into pneumonia of my own), the girls kept taking care of us, running errands and cooking.  We are still not back to our healthy selves, but we’re getting there.

When I’m sick, I like to escape into other worlds.  Usually I read, but pneumonia does funny things to a person’s head.  Fortunately, my sweet husband bought me the Harry Potter movie set for Christmas.  It’s so much easier to forget what troubles you when you’re immersed in a good story.  You don’t have to be physically sick to enjoy a short vacation from the real world.  I recommend such an escape for anyone feeling depressed, overwhelmed, or just plain tired.

Back to the real world now.  As usual, I’m not going to make New Year’s resolutions.  I prefer Christine Kane’s way of choosing a word to guide my path.  Due to being sick, I haven’t chosen my word yet… but the main contenders are:

  • Now
  • Progress
  • Completion
  • Satisfaction

Hmmm… I need to peruse my list of goals for this year again and decide where I need the most guidance.  But first, I have to go back to work today.

Have a beautiful day!

I didn’t throw up and I didn’t pass out.  No one was more surprised than me!  Let me start at the beginning…

I belong to the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers.  It’s a fabulous group of women who support each other in our writing goals.  Every month, we have a dinner meeting.  The inspiration and motivation I receive from being with these remarkable women is priceless, and that doesn’t even include the wealth of writing and publishing information I have learned from the speakers.

Every meeting starts with a ’round the room’ opportunity to briefly introduce yourself to the group and talk about where you are in your writing goals and accomplishments.  I have belonged to the group for over a year now and I have never taken this opportunity.  Talking to the women seated at my table was pretty painless; there are about 8 of us and usually at least 3 conversations going at the same time.

January’s meeting started in the usual way.  Patricia’s working on a book she had set aside for quite a while.  Betty’s 11th book will be out on the 31st and we are all invited to attend the book launch.  Nancy is attending the Writers Unite to Fight Cancer conference in late February.  Then it was Maria’s turn.  She was at my table that night, instead of her usual spot.  We’re known as the ‘shy table’ because I’m not the only member that hasn’t spoken and we tend to huddle in the back.

Maria spoke about her book, then she challenged us shy people to get up there and speak.  I can’t remember her exact words, but I promised myself (and Susan, who was sitting next to me) that I would do it… next month.

The meeting continued and Larry James spoke.  I had never even heard of him, but I was immediately in awe.  He talked about networking and had personal examples to prove he knew what he was talking about.  He got a photo opportunity with Barbara Walters after being on her show, just because he asked!  Apparently she doesn’t do that.

As he winded down his very motivating talk, he offered a printed copy of his e-book to one of the ‘shy’ members if they would get up there and speak.  A woman at the table in front of me immediately jumped up.  What a relief!  She did great and we all applauded her.  Larry answered a few questions and then he changed my life.

He said he wanted another shy person to speak.  He offered the bribe to autograph his story in A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul.  Susan (on my right) said, “Kitty, go for it.”  Nancy (on my left) said, “You can do it, Kitty.”  As Nancy said this, she bumped my elbow, causing my hand to go up a little… and I finished the job by raising it the rest of the way up.  Then I stood up and took a deep breath.

I wasn’t dressed as nicely as most of the women.  Everyone dresses so professionally; the beauty in the room would make any man stare.  My pants were baggy, my blouse was tight, but I knew the vibrant shade of teal blue looked good with my hair.  I put one sneaker in front of the other and was in the front of the room before I realized it.  I tried to swallow as I took the microphone Larry offered, but my mouth was dry.

I introduced myself… said I was working on my memoir and mentioned that I had recently joined Toastmasters.  Then I said I spoke to Patricia earlier about how grateful I was for this group of supportive women that she had brought together.  There was applause as Larry signed his story and I hustled back to my chair.  Larry answered another question and Patricia ended the meeting.  It was a blur to me.  My heart was pounding with excitement!

The women at my table complimented me, saying I did a good job.  Dee came over and asked about Toastmasters and also said I did great.  I felt empowered!  I went up front to purchase Larry’s networking book, and when I said “Thank you” I hope he knew it was for more than the book.

When I got to work the next morning, I asked to be put on the Toastmaster schedule to give my first speech.  I told everyone who would listen about my speaking in front of my writer’s group.  I’m going to be ready to speak when we go around the room at February’s meeting.  No… I’m ready now.