Autumn Magic

Vienna-Fall-Resized-4-WebThere is something magic about fall, which is hard to explain. The green leaves turn into brilliant shades or red, orange and yellow. The air is rich and crisp, sometimes even foggy here in Vienna and that reminds me of being in London or in a US west coast city.

As a kid, Halloween intrigued me to no end and as an adult, the books I love to write the most are paranormal in nature. Today, I write about witches and warlocks, sorcerers and sorceresses, angels and demons or even the common person who somehow has the inside scoop on keeping us all safe and sound.

While some people are bothered by what I write occasionally, I know it’s the product of my hyperactive imagination and the never ending question of what if…what if demons really did exist? What if God needed help in keeping them in check? What if my heroine had to travel back in time to right a wrong without disrupting the space-time continuum? You know, typical writer-type questions.

For whatever reason, like I said in my last column, I tend to be rejuevenated during the fall. I plan stories, I start writing more and I keep to my plans better. I am a lifelong learner and have decided to add some classes into the mix as well. There is nothing wrong with a writer learning about things that will make their writing stronger.

Along with those classes, I’ve been reading more craft books than usual as well. By craft, I’m talking about the craft of writing books. I recently read a great one from Steve Windsor about the fear of writing called Authorphobia. Yeah, the title is exactly how the book is and if you don’t mind a rather sarcastic approach, I’d say check it out because the author has some good points. I’ve continued on with his series with a book on writing a complete novel in nine days. That’s even a little fast for me but I’m sure there are techniques in the book that will help any writer.Tree-Alley-at-Praterstern-F

I’ve also discovered Udemy where you can find a lot of online courses, some of them even free. So far, I’ve found ones on proofreading and designing your own book covers. There are hundreds to choose from and since I love taking classes, this is another win-win for me.

Then there is one more place I love to look for classes and that’s at edX. Here you can learn all sorts of things from leading university’s such as Berkley, Harvard or Rice University. I took an incredible course in Genetics from Rice University as research into on zombies. Basically, I was looking into if zombies are actually possible. Guess you’ll have to wait to see what I learned on that one…LOL!

With all this planning and class taking, I’ve also found time to write more, faster and in my mind better. I love fall with all the newness it brings to learning and doing more to enhance my writing.

What do you do in the fall to enhance your life? I’d love to hear from you and see how autumn is special to you.

Until next time…

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

End of Summer Funk ~ @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #amplanning #PCers

By this time next month, fall will have begun and summer will be fading into memory. But in this moment, I can say I have what I call an end of summer funk.

It’s the time right as school starts, when one is planning out their next moves and how to accomplish them. It is also the time of new beginnings, maybe it’s the end of a special summer or even just starting a new school. Every fall, something begins and something ends.

This year, it has made me reflective and almost sad. My kids are all grown and out of the house, we’re in Austria as life moves on. I noticed it in the pictures of my grandkids at their first day of kindergarten. They were full of happiness for new adventures. Full of those things that had somehow slipped away from me over the hot summer.

With the heatwaves here in Europe, I felt a little more defeated and aimless in my efforts. Then I saw the boys and realized that maybe I wasn’t so aimless but more lost because of my lack of focus. Heat with humidity does that to me. And I just didn’t realize how much until this year. But somehow, somewhere, I know I was thinking along the right path because of a few steps I’d taken earlier in the month.

Before any of the above happened, I had a moment of clarity where I ordered planning materials designed to help me focus and maintain my momentum. I have a lot of writing to do this fall through next spring and unless I can keep on task, it won’t get done. Now this is hard because I can’t use anything from here because it’s all in German. I don’t know enough of the language to think in it and that’s what one needs when using a planner.

I was in luck as my husband’s work was having a working group where a lot of Americans come to Vienna for updates and training. These are people I knew well and who frequently deliver things I can only get from the US. So I went on a hunt for a planner that would do a writer justice. Now, this will help me plan my time, my projects and my priorities, which always seem to get skewed this time of year. When I do a plan then work the plan, I stay focused and on track.

While I’m a pantser at heart, doing this type of focusing will always help me write better. Once I’m on this track, I will start doing outlines that help me in general. I tend to deviate away from most outlines because my characters talk to me differently when I actually do the writing but at least I have an idea of where I’d like them to end.

Yeah, characters sometimes – wait, revise that – many times will not go where I think they should go. That is the number one reason I will remain a pantser because I can’t force them to do what I want any more than forcing my kids to do something either. Characters are living things and if I can just plan little things, names or likes or dislikes, I’m at least ahead of the game.

For me, it is the life planning of my day, what projects I want to do and how I plan to do them is what keeps my writing career on an even keel. And I was extremely blessed to have found something at Amazon from the group Tools4Wisdom called a Month-Life-Planning-Agenda because that’s what I needed. I was immediately impressed with the cover because it’s a trail through an autumn forest. I love walking through places like that.

Planner-Cover

Then I looked at the pages and saw a Goals page where I could put in my individual projects, namely books, into perspective. This would help me tremendously because I could plan for the whole year. And for me a year runs from September to August because I guess I’m still on the school year or government plan. It just seems to work better for me.

Goal-Page-#2

The next page I saw was the Essential Goals page. This page is gold because it lets me name a number one priority for the month then I can add some other smaller items to be finished. Every item is accompanied by a why and how accomplishing that goal will add value to my life. While I’d never thought of my writing in that manner, I could see where it would be beneficial to my overall plan.

Goal-Pages

Then comes the daily pages where you actually set out to do the work. The time increments are in 30 minutes and start at an early 5 am then don’t end until 9 pm. Just perfect for a writer since we do work at all times of the day. Now, you can also flip that so it starts at 5 pm and doesn’t end until 9 am. It all depends upon when you work best. I work best first thing in the morning then I get a second wind later in the afternoon. Normally, I need my coffee first before I do anything. Weekends you have hour increments and not as many.

Day-Pages

Each day has a place for Top Priorities, Secondary Priorities and other. You also have a section for Vision, Purpose and Action. All these are necessary if you want to remain focused and totally on task. This is something I definitely needed as I’m always at my best when I plan. So I ordered it.

Priority-Page

The bad thing was that I had to wait a couple of weeks before it would be hand delivered to me. I decided I’d use those weeks for reading, watching movies or shows, critiquing and trying to do some organization. This plan worked pretty well since it was still very hot. At least for a while, then the rains came. Sigh.

Finally, the day arrived where I was getting my planner. My anticipation level was high and I wanted to get my hands on it to get planning. The first thing when I got it was I marveled at its size as it was twice as big as I thought it would be. This is good since I wanted lots of room to put items down. I felt energized and somehow accomplished. I was holding in my hands the instrument needed to take my writing career to an even higher, more focused level. I loved the feeling just holding it gave me.

I thanked my friend for delivering it and put it in my backpack. Pulling it out once I was in my office, I realized I needed to clear a larger space for it. When my planner is open next to me is when I get the most from it so that I can frequently refer to it when I see myself deviating from it. Yes, there will be some days that it’s going to be too structured for me as I’m more of a free-bird type person. But for the long haul, this was definitely the way to go for me as it has already pulled me out of my funk, forcing me to embrace a wonderful well-planned future.

What about you? Do you need to plan major things out or can you accomplish your goals with little forethought? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ll keep everyone updated at my weekly blog column just how using the planner is going, My So Called Writing Life, and hopefully, some of you will join me there.

Until next time…

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Teaching An Old Dog ~ @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #PCers

Autumn-Tree-RS4Web-600x514There’s a saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, I’m here to say that learning, be it a human or a dog, is a life-long experience and one that can’t be turned off. Fall is the time for new classroom beginnings. It’s a time to reflect on if a class will help you do something better. Writers by nature know that learning can enhance what they put down on paper, or screen in this case.

I love to learn and I love to help other writers do the same. This year, I decided that since my husband was going to be on a five, yes count them as I did say 5, week business trip spanning November and December.

At first, this made me want to cry because I’m in a city where I know few people and most of those are associated with his work. Many of those will be with him on that same trip. Then there was the fact that one of the most important holidays, American Thanksgiving, would occur when he was gone. It’s been years since I spent a Thanksgiving alone and I didn’t want to make this the first but again, I have little choice in the matter. So far, it’s just me and Pup Harry but I have hope that it will turn out to be something better.

By deciding to start taking some classes, I had to see where I stood and where I wanted to go. My field of study when I was in college was Nursing and Geology then I added computer science by getting a professional certificate and almost a Masters degree in Computer Management. I was just a couple of classes shy when I realized that being stuck behind a computer coding or managing the geeks, this is said in a good way with utmost respect, wasn’t really what I wanted to do.250x226

This time around, I knew that it had to do something with my writing. It could include writing classes themselves or classes on research. I signed up for a lot of them…probably way too many…but so far, it’s been fun. The first writing class was one where I had to write and revise a whole book in a month. That one is still going pretty well but I have to admit, I was totally burned out after the writing part and have been very slow in the revising part.

The other classes I’ve been doing are more on the science side since that appeals to me. The plan is to start going back to write the things I love and that is sci-fi/fantasy with or without romance. Then there’s all things paranormal as well. I can practically write those with my eyes closed but I have some ideas where I felt my science needed to be a little stronger. Therefore with that in mind, I’m taking Immunology, which is kicking my butt, and Epidemics. Both are reminding me of the things I’ve forgotten over the years about the human body and all the biology involved there. I’m also taking a water class, some planetary astronomy classes and a few more thrown in.

The point is that like I previously said, learning is a life-long process. Whether you know it or not, learning happens every day. You won’t notice it until you realize you’re doing something slightly different than before. Usually, it’s because it’s more efficient and your subconscious helped you to make it a part of your conscious being. Biology is interesting that way and immunology is reminding me just how interesting.Vienna-Fall-Resized-4-Web

If I can learn new things via the classroom route, anyone can. This can keep you more engaged with new things, reinforce older learning and keep one’s mind sharp, fresh, new. How are you all doing with your fall regime? Taking any classes? Truly, I’d love to hear about them. You can reach me at lynncrain@cox.net with all the great things you’re doing this fall. See you next month!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

New Beginnings

I love autumn.

Cleveland Heights-20111010-00114

I love the back to school season–mostly because I’m only one in the family who doesn’t go back to school every year. I love the smell of the fall, the nip in the air, the fruits and vegetables that reach their peak, the brilliant colors on the trees, the beginning of hockey season.

To me, autumn is more a season of new beginnings than the spring. School is starting, which for teachers means a new crop of students. For students, there are new schools, new friends, new challenges. For athletic teams, the promise of a winning season still looms large, and anything is possible.  Yes, leaves are dying and starting to fall off the trees, but that has its own beauty as well.

This fall, these feelings of new beginnings are particularly strong because my first book is on its way to publication. This brings plenty of new challenges–having to surrender my book baby to the publisher and accept that my editor knows much more than I do about this business, for one. Forcing myself to come out of my introverted shell to market my book is another. I have never been one to toot my own horn, and I am always my own harshest critic. Things are largely out of my hands, which is always hard for a control freak like me, but it’s good. It’s a new beginning I always hoped I’d experience, but never truly expected.

And so as the leaves start to turn and the arguing with my kid over homework begins, I will surrender myself to the the season and let all the new experiences take me where they will.

How do you feel about fall? New beginnings, or end of summer?

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Once is Never Enough

School. Ack! I remember being so excited to graduate because it meant no more school! I would be an adult and could make my own way. And that way certainly didn’t include any more school. Riiiiggght. We all know the many myths of adulthood and being finished with school is one of them. But it’s okay.

Young Girl Does Her Math HomeworkAs I’ve grown one of the things I’ve come to realize is just how much I don’t know. Ahh, I miss the days when I knew everything. It took a while before I could say it out loud, but I love learning. I really do. If my finances were to ever permit it, I’d probably be a professional student the rest of my life. Since I don’t see that in the near future, I depend a lot on technology to provide access to things I need to learn. Do you ever find yourself doing this?

If I want to do something different with one of the many programs on my computer the first place I go is usually YouTube. It can be Excel, Illustrator or anything in between. It amazes me how many people are willing to share their knowledge. I love it! If it involves writing, its online courses like those from RWA or SavvyAuthors. I really enjoy the courses at Lynda as well. Video has made it so I can watch them as many times as I need to understand the point, or reach whatever goal I’ve set for myself. Gone are the days when you get to see something once and if you don’t get it, too bad. I don’t miss them.

I love attending classes, but I find I can teach myself just as easily if the material is provided. What about you? Do you prefer a classroom setting, or does learning on the fly work for you?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

I’m an office supply predator

20140905085424_kindlephoto-16632292Back to school sales

I am such a sucker for back-to-school sales. I mean, I know, all writers are. We can stock up on pens, and highlighters, and post-it notes. Same here. But, I enjoy them in a gleeful, cackling like a witch as I examine every bin, sort of way.

Story Notebooks

I always buy a five-star five-subject notebook every year to be my story notebook. Believe me, it gets used until the papers are creased and crinkly. Then I file it away, once the story is done “just in case.” Just in case has never happened. I’m not even sure what just in case is.

Sticky notes here, there, and everywhere

I buy post-its. But I don’t buy a pack of post-its (although I did recently acquire one of the Colors of the World collection; I chose Rio de Janeiro). I go through the bins, picking up and tossing pads (either into my ever-filling cart or back, like a fish that’s too small to eat). I’m a predator of office supplies.

One word: pens

I don’t think I am exxagerating when I tell you that I could never buy another pen and I would still have leftover pens when I die. Now, let’s all laugh at the idea of me not buying pens. I’m an addict.

In fact, I wanted to share a picture with you that I shared on my blog.

wpid-2014-04-15_11_21_55The box is to hold the little minutiae that I may need at any given time, that I need regularly enough that I don’t want to search for it when I need it.

These are the office supplies I pulled out. Four highlighters, two Sharpies, a pair of scissors, a pad of blue Post-Its, three pencils, and approximately seventeen pens. Let’s not forget, these are not all my office supplies. This isn’t from my desk, which holds more, or the kitchen, where I keep pens, Post-Its, Sharpies, and scissors for mailing, labeling, etc. This is from one container in one room of my house.

Those aren’t even a sliver of my supply.

Office Organization

I may need to start searching pinterest for office supply organization. In fact, I’ll leave you with this: how big is your stash and do you have a specific organization scheme?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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