Love is in the air!

The days are getting longer and the outdoors call to those of us who live in the northern hemisphere.

Be sure to keep a book handy. You still need quiet time and what better way to fill it than with a book?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Redux

I am giddy. Daughter #3 just came home from work with presents for moi! 

I must admit, I usually receive Llewellyn's Witches' Datebook for Christmas and this year I didn't receive one. I was gravely disappointed.

True, I start off the year putting my appointments into the book, but gradually I forget to add them in or I forget to check the book to find them. My mind is usually buried deep inside a story, either one of mine or one I am reading, and mundane things like a check-up just doesn't occur to me.

While my alter-ego was publishing her Totems and monthly horoscope books, the Witches' Datebook was crucial. And it still is!


(Please ignore the dates on the pictures, I haven't figured out how to change them or get rid of them yet!)

However, last year I remembered the joy I had when I was a list maker. (Only on projects, not on life or ~gasp~ cleaning!)

When I used to earn money from my needles, (knitting, crocheting, and sewing) I always had a project list. It always gave me great joy to cross a project off the list and date it. It helped to see the finished products listed so that when I was feeling like I was floundering rather than treading water I could see that I had actually achieved goals I had set.

(I always set the bar high. If the goals were too easy than I wouldn't really be accomplishing anything.)

After decades of writing, it was only in 2013 when I decided to write the Boundless Billionaire series and I compiled a list of possible titles for later books. That was when I realized I was back to list making.

I also know myself well enough to realize that I am a deadline person. The closer the deadline the harder I work. (You don't want to know when I decided what I was making everyone for Christmas or when I began making them!!!)

Daughter #1 lives in a rural part of another state, so when I go to visit her we always make a trip to the local stores to load up on things we both might need. It was while we were there that I saw a pretty little desk calendar blotter. 

I didn't buy it that day, but I went home and obsessed about it for weeks before I finally found the same thing in my closest store with a big blue sign. (They get enough business so I'm not naming them here, but they use a yellow smiley face in their commercials!)

I needed that desk planner to post my goals in writing. In INK!!! I ignored the fact that my desk is just a catch all surface and doesn't have a chair. I usually pile the pillows behind me and work on my bed or go to the library when I want to sit like a grown up.

Anyway, the pretty pink blotter was hung on my door with the schedule of children's events written on it. In ink!

In the meantime, before I bought the pretty pink blotter I was whining to Daughter #3 about how I had to find a planner that was set up with each week set across the page and a place to write the weekly goals. I wanted to know if B&N still had any for 2013 in stock. Finally she pulled out the one she had bought for herself and had only used for the first week of the year and gave it to me.

A page from the 2014 planner. (Not yet used.)


I was thrilled and overjoyed. I didn't know she had one, but suddenly it was mine.

I had a goals partner, and I am very good at cracking the whip and giving out advice, but very bad at taking my own advice. I needed that planner to hold my feet over the fire.

So, beginning in June I began writing my writing totals for the day on each day. It even involved math, because I would write the entire amount written to date on the project and then find the total amount of new words for the day. 

If I did not write that day I had to write in "0" and write the reason for not working on my story.

I set weekly goals and a completion date for each project. I might not always reach my goals, but I do my best to finish on the completion date! (Afterall, I am a Deadline Ho!)

The new planner has a month at a glance feature.




I have since expanded the tracking to include when I write a blog, newsletter, or work on my website. (It is so easy to lose track of time.)



In December, courtesy of the Christmas rush to make gifts, I added when I finished each gift. I have decided to continue the practice throughout 2014. Perhaps I will get presents done in a more leisurely manner. (Yeah, right!)



The presents also included a new crochet book.

 

It's amazing where you can find some good patterns. Some of the best come in the "How To" books.

The fourth gift she brought home was this pretty felt tote bag. I am a bag lady and proud of it. The felt has nice stiff sides, so it should be hold a couple of skeins of yarn without collapsing.



If you don't already make lists and you are searching for a way out of chaos, or at least to get something done, try making a list or adding a break down of what you have to do to your agenda. It not may help, but it might, and it won't hurt.

You'll also be in great company. Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and Martha Stewart made lists, and look at all they have accomplished!

Now I hope you will all excuse me, I have my goals to set for next year. I'm going to put them into my planner . . . in INK!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

New!!!

I just sent out my very first newsletter!!!

If you haven't signed up for it already, just send me your email addy and I will be happy to add you.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

More Holiday Ranting

I remember when I was little and I would watch Miracle on 34th Street every year. I've watched all the incarnations and none are as good as the version with the adorable Natalie Wood, the beautiful Maureen O'Hara, the handsome John Payne, and the quintessential Kris Kringle . . . Edmund Gwenn.



I grew up believing that Macy's was the best! After all, it had the only Thanksgiving parade worth watching. (It was the only one network television showed!) They had fabulous balloons and the Rockettes. 

Macy's was the store with a heart and the true spirit of Christmas.

On my very first trip to the city, as a young adult, I made a special point of going to Macy's and purchasing important items there. After all, it was the miracle store and a landmark.

I had innocently kept this view of Macy's well into adulthood. 

In Boston we had our own landmark store, Jordan Marsh, which was actually older than Macy's. 



Every year my grandmother would dress me in my best party dress. We would get on the bus in front of our house and go to Newton Corner, transfer to a trolley that would take us to Kenmore Square, go below the surface to the subway, and take the subway to downtown Boston. I shivered in delight at the thought of going into the city to see Santa Claus. It was a major undertaking for an elderly woman and a shy little girl.

Jordan Marsh also had a Christmas tradition which began in the 1940s. It was an Enchanted Village. It occupied an entire floor and people would come from all over to stand in line to see the village and end their pilgrimage with a visit with Santa and a photo. Then they would shop. You couldn't go to Jordan Marsh and not shop, and then end the day in their bakery with a fabulous blueberry muffin and a hot chocolate!


The Enchanted Village was an incredible draw, until for some reason, Jordan Marsh did away with it in the 1970s. 

It was revived again in the 1990s and masses of people once again stood in long lines to view the Village and to purchase gifts they could just have easily obtained at their local mall.

Then in 1998 the dastardly Macy's took over the iconic Jordan Marsh and said, "There will be no more Enchanted Village, we want to use the space for offices."



People were devastated. Why would the legendary purveyors of Christmas, the store that was made famous by the best of all Christmas movies, Miracle on 34th Street, why would they want to destroy a Boston Christmas tradition. 

What would they do next? Replace Santa in the parade with a robot?

I may be too sensitive, but I have not been able to watch the parade nor the movie since.

After the demise of the Village in the department store, it was moved to City Hall Plaza and the city sponsored it until they decided it was something they could no longer handle and sold the Village at auction on June 16, 2009. At that time it was bought by Jordan's Furniture (no relations to Jordan Marsh - it is a unit of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway and still operated with one of the original owners guiding the business) and moved to their Avon store.





Now when I go to visit the Village and see Santa I am tempted to buy a new desk or living room suite instead of a porcelain doll or a cashmere sweater.



It may be unreasonable, but I still blame Macy's for killing a local tradition. They could have found another space for their offices!

What holiday traditions in your area have been destroyed in the name of profit?


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

We are in the season of giving and all the stores and advertisers intend to take full advantage of this. 

Usually the big sales begin on "Black Friday". So named because it is the day the stores' books magically turn from red ink to black. Or so they hope.

This year many retailers hoped to cash in early and began their "door busting pre-black Friday" sales in early November. Which meant the advertising began before Halloween.

Was this too early for you?

I had a new romance novel out this year titled Christmas Lights. I agonized over the release date. 

If I release it before Thanksgiving will I offend all the traditionalists that hate to see the season rushed? If I wait until Black Friday will my window to sell the book be too short?

Amazon settled the problem for me by sending me a letter saying they expected a glut of books to be uploaded for release over Thanksgiving weekend and if I intended to release a book at that time I should do my best to plan accordingly. 

That was it. I decided to release the book on November 12th. 

I did not hold an "event" or a "release" party. Too many others had them planned and they have bigger names, bigger reader bases, and much, much bigger prizes to give out. I decided my time and money was better spent with my family.

And isn't that what the holiday is really about?

As a reader, how do you find new books to read? Do you attend the events? 

Writer friends, how do you promote your new book? 



Monday, December 9, 2013

Ugh!

I cannot believe how time is flying past. I am enjoying the time and making the most out of it, but it seems like only yesterday when I wrote the Thanksgiving Fast post.

I have not forgotten, not forsaken, you. But I must admit . . . I do lose track of time.

Where is a Time Lord when you really need one?