Getting Organized

Julie here! I’m in the midst of a Book in A Month Workshop led by Candace Havens. It’s a whirlwind to write and edit a book in a single month. Throw in a 6-month-old, a 6-year-old, and a job in marketing, and it would be easy for things to get out of control. Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tools for staying organized.

Writing: Along with a lot of writers, I love Scrivener. It’s a word processing program made specifically for authors. It allows me to rearrange scenes and chapters, make saves at different stages of the process, and keep all my notes and research in one place. I’d be lost without it.

Work: When I moved from a paper planner to an Outlook calendar (which is on my computer and my iPhone), I struggled with how to organize my notes. After a lot of searching, I finally found a notebook that I love. It’s called “Better than a Yellow Pad” made by Franklin Planner. It’s spiral bound, so it can lay flat for easy note taking during meetings. The pages don’t fall out like they tend to do with a traditional notebook, and it has a place for the date and a column for to-dos on the side of the page. It comes in two different sizes. I prefer the smaller one because it fits perfectly in my computer bag or my purse.

To Do List: Task Task is an app I use to keep and organize my to-do list. I can sort my list into categories like work, writing, home, errands, etc. It even syncs with my Outlook task list at work.

What tools do you use to stay organized? 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Four Ways to Declare Independence

Patriotic Pampered Pocket Pooch Posing Proudly from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Randy Robertson, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Julie here! Tomorrow is Independence Day, which we usually celebrate with fireworks and cookouts. This year, let’s celebrate by declaring independence from all the things that hold us back.

1. Independence from other people’s expectations. Sometimes women tend to care too much about what other people think of them. It’s time for us to break free and follow our hearts.

2. Independence from our body issues. I just had a baby in March, so I get it. Sometimes we don’t love the way babies or age changes our bodies, but it’s time for us to stop letting the way we look in a swimsuit rule our emotions. Sitting on the sidelines isn’t going to make us feel better about ourselves. So accept your body at whatever stage it’s at and dive in.

3. Independence from comparisons. In this age of being surrounded by glossy marketing and social media, it’s difficult not to compare our lives to the things we see around us. Whether it’s the cover of a magazine or our Facebook friend’s seemingly perfect summer vacation, keep in mind that things aren’t always what they seem. You’re seeing photoshopped pictures and edited versions of other people’s lives. Embrace your authentic life and take everything you see with a grain of salt.

4. Independence from our own high expectations. Being in a critique group with the other ladies here on Heart-Shaped glasses, I’ve learned that we’re all our own worst critic. We need to learn to give ourselves as much forgiveness and understanding as we give others.

How are you celebrating 4th of July this year?

 

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

My Valentine

Valentine's Day Candy

 

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which I think is such a fun holiday! I enjoy taking my son to pick out Star Wars Valentine’s for his pre-K classmates. Cards and heart-shaped balloons are great, but after being married for almost thirteen years, my husband and I have probably become a little more practical about the holiday. We usually don’t go out to dinner on Valentine’s Day because we avoid the crowds, and with a joint checking account, buying extravagant gifts for each other just doesn’t make much sense. But that doesn’t mean the romance is gone. There are things far better than flowers and candy that show me how much he loves me.

* He tells me I’m beautiful even when I’m swollen and grouchy at seven months pregnant.

* He does little things like going to the pharmacy for me at 10:00pm and taking my car to get the oil changed when he notices I’ve forgotten.

* After a long day at work, he still spends hours on the floor wrestling and playing with our five-year-old.

* He can still make me laugh so hard I cry.

I could go on and on, but the fact is that writing romance is a blast and celebrating Valentine’s Day is fun, but there is nothing better than living life every day with my with my real-life hero.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

The Power of 15 Minutes

The Power of 15 Minutes

The new year always makes me think about how I can be more productive. One of my favorite productivity tools is setting the timer on my phone for 15 minutes. Over the holidays, I wanted to make sure I kept the momentum going on my book. I knew I wouldn’t have big chunks of time to devote to writing, so I committed to writing at least 15 minutes per day (even on Christmas Eve and Christmas!) It worked out great and my 15 minute sessions added up to some worthwhile progress.

Here’s why 15 minutes is so powerful:

* You can get a lot accomplished in 15 minutes. Really. Just try it. Set your timer and clean your house until it goes off. You’ll most likely get more done than you expected.

* It’s easier to keep 100% focus for 15 minutes. If you say you’re going to spend an afternoon writing, you’ll probably spend more of that time than you realize messing around on the internet, getting a snack, checking your phone, etc. If you say you’re going to write for 15 minutes, it’s much easier to do nothing else but write for 15 minutes.

* Ignoring distractions is possible for 15 minutes. It’s not always possible to turn off our phones or lock ourselves in another part of the house for long periods of time. We have friends and family who would worry if they needed to reach us, but it’s not unreasonable to cut off contact with the rest of the world for 15 minutes. Even the biggest worrier probably won’t call the cops if you don’t answer a text in 15 minutes.

* 15 minutes isn’t overwhelming. Committing to only 15 minutes can break through self doubts and fears and help you take the first step on a task.

* It’s easier to carve out 15 minutes than to carve out an hour. We’re all busy. I may not have an hour to get something done before I need to get ready for work or pick my son up from school, but I often have 15 minute increments that could be filled with something more worthwhile than checking my Facebook page.

* 15 minutes usually turns into 20 minutes or 30 minutes or an hour! It turns out that getting started is usually the hardest part, but once I get involved in a project, I usually don’t want to stop.

What could you do for 15 minutes?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Reading – Year in Review

Today I was scanning through my Goodreads bookshelf and realized I’ve read some great books this year!

Unlike some novelists, I love reading nonfiction. I like books on business, marketing, parenting, and faith.  I read several non-fiction books for writers, including The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke and 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron. One of the best books I read this year was a non-fiction book titled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I recommended it to several people at work, and they also loved it.

I read several Christian novels this year. I especially like romances with a good dose of comedy like Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt and Sandwich with a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips. I also read Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade, one of my favorite authors. I love her voice, and she creates some of the best heroes around.

I read sweet romances, including The Husband School by Kristine Rolofson and A Little Bit Cupid (which I highly recommend) by our very own Jennifer Shirk.

And when I wanted something different from all that romance, I read Proof, a great medical thriller by Jordyn Redwood.

Over Thanksgiving break, I read three different Christmas novellas. Mistletoe Magic by Terri Weldon and Faith House by Robin Patchen, two talented authors from my local writers group, and Muffins and Mistletoe by an extremely talented Heart Shaped Glasses author, Debora Dennis. There’s nothing better to get you in the holiday spirit than a great Christmas romance.

Well, those are some of the amazing books I read in 2013. I can’t wait to see what wonderful books 2014 has in store for me. What are some of the books you read this year?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

A Taste of Autumn

Pumpkin Latte

I love fall. I like pulling my sweaters and boots out from the back of my closet. I adore the leaves changing colors. And I love curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. Right now, I’m also enjoying all the great autumn foods. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Acorn Squash – I’m not much of a cook, but this is one thing I love to make. I slice the squash in half, clean out the seeds, stick it in the crockpot and add butter and brown sugar on top. By dinner time, it’s soft and delicious.
  • Chili – Actually, my husband is the one who makes the chili, but there is nothing better than a warm bowl of chili on a cold day – especially if you add a little cheese and sour cream on top.
  • Pumpkin – I pretty much love anything with pumpkin – pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice lattes. It tastes like fall.
  • Thanksgiving dinner – Turkey, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy. Yum! What could be better?

 What are your favorite fall foods? 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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