Christmas Countdown Post by SMJ

Christmas Countdown, Behind, But Still Trying!

I know, I’m lagging behind again. Sandra’s been writing like crazy and won’t let me near the keyboard! She also isn’t done with her holiday baking or shopping. That’s the only reason I don’t feel TOO bad. Actually, she just pulled four mini loaves of Cranberry Orange bread from the oven. I might have to see if I can sneak a piece after I finish this. With my luck, Lil Sock will beat me to it, though. That kid has a terrible sweet tooth. It doesn’t hurt that he lives with Sandra, too. Sock Mittens & Shovel

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a peek at the outside here. We got a little more snow last night. Here’s a pic of my buddies, the Mitten Sock twins. They just finished helping Sandra shovel the driveway and sidewalk. They don’t get out much except in winter. Sandra loves how they keep her hands toasty warm in the winter though. They’re her favorites on cold days that she has to go outside.

HeBirdhouse & sidewalkre’s a shot of the sidewalk and step to the front door. I think they did a pretty good job, how about you?

They worked extra hard because they wanted it to be safe for the mailman/woman, or any other folks who might be delivering packages. Those folks all work so hard. They shouldn’t have to trudge through snowy and slippery sidewalks. Sock Munkees salute all the U. S. Postal Service men and women for the extra hours and friendly greetings they share during this super busy time. Hats off to UPS, FedEx, and all the other delivery service personnel who try so hard to get everyone’s packages to them before Christmas. I added some links to these folks so you can check holiday dates and deliveries.

For now, Sandra’s clammering to get back to work. She’s almost done with the Valentine’s Day novella. Yeah! Anyway, here are a couple of more pictures of our snowy day here in Colorado. It’s not so much cloudy today (though it looks like it) as still foggy. If you don’t have any snow, you can use these pics to make it feel more like Christmastime for you.

Catch ya later!   SMJ

Hidden moutains

This is to let you see how the mountains have disappeared in the fog. Sorry about the screen being in there, but it didn’t really matter. The Rocky Mountains can’t be found. LOLSMJ

backyard snow

The view from our backyard toward the big field out back. This one is to show you how foggy it is. Those tracks in the snow are from Rudy playing.

front porch shot

Here’s our front patio. Since we don’t use it in the winter, we don’t shovel it. The foot prints are from fixing the fireplace vent. 🙂

 

 

 

SMJ’s Christmas Countdown Day 7

Decorating the Christmas tree. Yippee!

Sorry, everyone but I have to interrupt the tree decorating post for a special announcement.

I met SANTA CLAUSE!

Sock and Santa at Christmas Party

Remember I told you about Henderson Management donating a bunch of goodies for our Christmas packages? Well, they also host a Christmas party for children of their tenants every year and I attended. My mom works for them. Anyway, she asked if I could get my picture taken with Santa and they said yes! I was SOOOO happy.

Okay, SMJ and Christmas Lightsback to decorating the Christmas tree.

Like everyone else, I started with the lights. Obviously, that didn’t go so well. I was trying to untangle them when someone plugged them in. It startled me and I ended up in the middle of the tangled string of lights. It took quite a while for mom to get me untangled. By the time they freed me and we got the lights on the tree, I needed a break. So, mom fixed me some hot cocoa.Sock with Hot Cocoa in Sandra's favorite mug.

Mom’s the best. She even gave me extra marshmallows! Can you read the mug? We borrowed it from Sandra. It’s her favorite mug. My mom gave it to her as a gift one year because Sandra always says her characters talk to her until she writes their stories down. I like to use it once in a while in the hopes that characters will start talking to me and I can become a writer like Sandra.

Okay, if you haIMG_20151116_093513ve been following the countdown, you know I really decorated my tree earlier. You remember the picture with me hanging the shoes from the Mastering the Brides book on the tree? No? Here’s a picture of me with the shoes and other ornaments I wanted to put on the tree. It took some time to talk mom into puttiIMG_20151116_094218ng shoes on the tree, but I pleaded my case (and maybe whined just a little) and she gave in.

Of course, she wasn’t thrilled when I climbed up the tree to hang them. She told me I was supposed to use a step stool or some such thing. Personally, I thought climbing was fine, but then, I AM a monkey. 🙂

Next post I’ll show you some of the Christmas treats I made.

So, do you have characters talking inside your head? Or, have you silenced them by writing their stories? Any Christmas stories?

Until next time, this is SMJ signing off.

What I Learned this Morning

wakeupI admit; I’m a morning person. Ask my sister, she’s probably wanted to throw shoes at my head since I was five. FYI, she’s NOT a morning person. IF I set an aalarm clocklarm, I pop out of bed when it goes off and the day begins. The idea about staying in bed after the alarm and easing into my day doesn’t work. My brain immediately starts listing all of the things I could be doing and the ‘ease’ part of the scenario goes out the window. Hitting snooze i s a sacrilege in my book (hubby does not agree). If I wanted to sleep for fifteen more minutes, I would have set the alarm for fifteen minutes later. Just doesn’t make sense to interrupt my sleep with an alarm so I can get a few more winks.

teaSo, I hit the floor and am ready to roll. This does not mean I want noise, conversation, or company at that time, just that I am up and mobile. I may be a morning person, but I am not, as a rule, a loud one. I like to fix my tea (yes, coffee drinking friends, I start out the day with tea, coffee comes later) and head downstairs to quietly start clearing out the ‘busyness’ (read as email and other social media, etc.) that built up overnight. Then feed the dog at 6:30, refill my teacup, eat some breakfast (although that sometimes comes much later), send hubby off to his job (he doesn’t get to work from home as I do), and head back downstairs to write.???????????

Sounds great, right? Here’s the problem – some days I pop out of bed with a headache. Even a small just letting you know I’m here headache can set a bad tone for my day.

nanoThis is where the ‘What I Learned this Morning’ part comes in.

Today was such a day. I woke up a minute or two before the dog. I rolled over debating the merits of trading my warm bed for getting tea in a cold kitchen and BAM – it hit me. No, no, no, no, no! I do not have time for a headache today. It’s Thanksgiving week for crying out loud. I have an upcoming promotional event this weekend, a novella due to my editor, pies to bake, soup to make, NANOWRIMO to catch-up on, a scuba class, an the list goes on. I don’t have TIME for a danged headache.

I climb out of bed, grumbling in my head and put the tea water on to boil in my electric teapot. After letting the dog out, and popping 3 aspirin, I pour the now ready water into my cup that holds 2 Morning Thunder Celestial Seasonings and 1 Green Tea with Ginger, teabags (both contain ample amounts of caffeine) and let it steep for a minute. While I wait, I pick up FullSizeRender (4)the Sunset magazine that came in the mail last week and is still sitting on the kitchen table unread. I walk back to the counter and stand beside my steeping tea hoping proximity will pull some of the caffeine into my system. I start thumbing through the magazine and find an article about living a ‘celebrity’ life for a day. Intrigued, I set the magazine on the stovetop and start reading.

Half a cup of tea and ten minutes later, I smile and chuckle. As I close the magazine, I realize my headache is gone. What’s more? I’m relaxed. Hmmm, maybe there is something to this easing into the day.

There you have it; what I learned this morning. Sometimes, I don’t have to rush into the day. Point of fact, I may end up getting more done than expected (or required) because I feel well and relaxed. MAYBE, taking that ten extra minutes to read something fun rather than actually doing something I’m supposed to was smarter than I ever imagined.

Maybe and maybe not, you decide. Here’s my overall take on the situation.

Tea (or coffee) + slow time focused on something unimportant = no headache + positive attitude + more energy to do the important things.

Author Sandra KernsI’m taking it under advisement. More testing of the hypothesis is probably required, but I’m feeling pretty good about the outcome. I’m ready to get to work!

Have a great day everyone! If you don’t happen to have a Sunset magazine to pick up, you can check out one of my books by clicking on this link: Published Novels.  Or check out #beezeebooks for all kinds of books from myself and other authors.

Happy reading!

 

Five Reasons you need an Author Business Plan

Picture of me 1 (1)

Please welcome author Amy Denim. Amy is joining us to discuss the importance of a business plan for our writing careers. Amy will be available to answer any questions you may have after reading the post.

Five Reasons you need an Author’s Business Plan

Thanks for having me on your blog to kick off the Coffee Break blog tour, Sandra. I love talking the business of being a writer, which is, of course, why I write books about it!

Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans copy

The second book in my series of business books for writers, Coffee Break Guides, just released on Christmas day. The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers: The Step-By-Step Guide to Taking Control of Your Writing Career came about when I started out to write my own business plan.

Why would an author need a business plan? I’m glad you asked. *wink*

1) You are a business. No, really.

The second you made the decision to get your work published you became a business. Unless you truly are just writing for yourself, your grandma, and your dog and don’t plan to ever sell your work, than welcome to the publishing industry. It’s big business. We may write for years and years before getting published, and it could be years after that before you actually make any money from your efforts, but every business has a start-up phase. No, we aren’t a traditional business that goes to the bank to get an SBA loan that required a spreadsheet-filled tome. But applying for funding is only one small part of why you might want a plan. What that means is that you, writer, don’t need a boring traditional business plan. Because you’re in a creative industry, you get to create a right-brain business plan. Yay!

 2) Keep the taxman happy.

Okay, you’re on board with the whole “I’m a business” thing now, right? Right. And what do businesses do? They file business taxes. *cue scary slasher movie music*

The IRS has a really “interesting” page on their website with questions to help you determine if your writing is classified as a hobby or a business. Having a business plan can help you answer “yes, I’m a business” to five out of the eight questions. Here’s an example:

The IRS: Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?

Your Business Plan: Why, yes. Just look at my word count/time tracker, my detailed ten-year goals plan, my budget, my marketing plan, and my competitive analysis.

(All the resources listed in that answer are available as templates you can download at www.coffeebreaksocialmedia.com/books/resources.)

I really, really, really recommend you get yourself an accountant to help you file your taxes, especially if it’s the first year you’re going to file for your business. It will cost a little bit more than say, buying TurboTax, but not too much. And in the end, it’s totally worth it when you avoid (or win) the audit game.

 3) Keep yourself accountable.

I have manuscript ADD. A shiny new idea for a book easily steals my attention from my current work in progress. Instead of Ritalin, I have a business plan to keep me on task. And if I use that plan to hold me accountable, at the end of the year I’ll have three beautiful manuscripts completed instead of twelve half –finished, semi-plotted, next best-sellers waiting for me to find the time and dedication to write them. An important part of any business plan is a production schedule. If you’re traditionally published you already know that publishing waits for no (wo)man. If you don’t turn your next book in on time, you’re book’s release day could get pushed anywhere from a month to two years! If you haven’t sold or published a book yet, it’s a great idea to get into the habit of creating deadlines for yourself and keeping to them to practice up. You won’t need Jiminy Cricket to keep you on task. Always let your business plan be your guide.

 4) Increase your productivity.

Accountability and productivity are totally BFFs. I know when I first started writing seriously I had grand goals (and they were all over the place – see the previous comment about ADD.) But did I achieve them? Not even close. Why? Because I hadn’t written them down and didn’t really keep track of what I had to do, or what I had actually gotten done. When you create a business plan those things you need to be successful become much more real (and easier to keep track of.). If you laminate that sucker and put it up on your wall/mirror in your bathroom/mobile above your bed you’ll be able to check items off as you complete them. How great would it feel at the end of the year to know you actually accomplished your career goals? Yeah, that’s right. It feels party on, excellent.

 5) Measure your success.

Have you ever told someone you’re a writer and have him or her ask you how it’s going? What was your answer? Anything like, “Umm. It’s good.” But did you really know? I didn’t used to. How do you measure your success? I know a great way. Create a business plan and at the end of the year evaluate how you did. (You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?) The great thing about creating your own goals, budgets, and evaluations is you get to decide what success means to you. The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers can help you make those decisions and even has a whole section on evaluating yourself at the end of the year. The next time someone asks you how your writing career is going you can answer with a resounding “amazeballs!”

What do these five reasons for having a business plan mean when you put them all together? It’s about you taking control of your writing career. Really successful businesses have really strong business plans. Really successful authors do too. I encourage you to become the writer you really want to be, to realize your dreams this year, be it to publish your first book or become a NYT best-selling author. And let a business plan help you do it. Make your 2014 ROCK!

 

Amy Denim’s Bio:

Amy Denim writes business books for writers and contemporary romance. She loves hot heroes (like chefs and cowboys) and curvy intelligent heroines (like chefs and cowgirls.)  She’s been a franchise sales coordinator, a lifeguard, a personal shopper, and a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. But now she spends her days reading and writing at her local library or in her book cave.

Amy started out her writer’s life scared out of her wits because she didn’t have a business plan, hadn’t yet created an online platform, wasn’t on twitter, didn’t have a Facebook fanpage and had never even heard of Goodreads. She just wrote books. So she spent a year becoming a publishing industry information fiend and now does consulting for creatives on how to use take control of their writing careers. She started Coffee Break Social Media to help writers and artists learn to use SM platforms effectively (without the scare tactics) but still have time to create. She believes business plans and social media can be every writer’s friend, sometimes they just need an introduction.

Visit Amy on her author website at www.AmyDenim.com or for tips and tricks on the writing business at www.coffeebreaksocialmedia.com.

Preview about upcoming Blog Guest Post

Hi everyone! Happy New Year!

Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans copy

I’m gearing up for an exciting, busy, energizing, focused, prosperous, and enjoyable new year, what about you?

Do you have lots of resolutions? If not, lots of plans both business or personal? Have you figured out how to make the most of your time, talent, and money? OR, are you still wringing your hands hoping next year will be smoother seas?

I hate to burst your bubble, but it isn’t likely. Life happens. It isn’t always easy or pretty. It usually smells like a gym  rather than a rose garden. However, there are ways to make it less stress-filled and more joy-filled.

Take my first blog guest for the year, Amy Denim. Amy is the author of the Coffee Break Series of books to help writers with the ‘business’ side of writing. That is, the part of writing most of us creative types resist – promotion, scheduling, deadlines, goals. She does it in a very comfortable, laid-back style that is easy to read and almost easier to understand. I say almost because I still struggle with putting myself into the business cage, but I’ll admit, Amy makes it easier.

I’m about halfway through “The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers,” and have already filled out some of the forms she lets you download for free! Her conversational style makes you feel like she is sitting right beside you guiding you each step of the way. How comforting is that? It’s like having your own personal business planner only better.

Why better, you ask? Because instead of someone doing it for you, you LEARN, really learn how to do it yourself. I don’t know about you, but I always feel such a sense of accomplishment when I learn something new. Add to that, the fact that this is about making my business (yes, according to Amy, I AM a business) successful. Who could ask for more than that?

So, folks, click on the book cover to the left. That will take you to Amazon where you can buy Amy’s new book for just 99 cents. Yep, you read that right. 99 cents through tomorrow. I guess she wants everyone to have an opportunity to set up their business plan before the year gets too busy and at a super fantastic price!

Then, after you’ve bought the book, start reading it. As I said, I’m already about halfway through it (and no, I bought it – I didn’t ask her for one because she would be doing my blog). While you’re reading it, jot down any questions you might have because Amy will be here on Thursday, January 2nd to answer all of your questions. If you don’t buy the book before her ‘blog appearance,’ that’s fine, her post will give you more inspiration to set up a business plan and then you will want to buy it.

Stop back by on January 2nd for Amy’s post – Five Reasons YOU Need an Author Business Plan. She will  give a copy of the book in the winner’s choice of Kindle or paperback, too. There’s another reason to stop by!

Now, sorry, but I have to get back to reading the book so I can ask more questions.

Happy reading!

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