Friday, December 21, 2012

What's Your Plan For 2013?

Every December I take a few hours to map out my business plan for the following year. Sitting down to do this is always one part daunting, one part exciting, and one part confusing. How can I possibly know what new obligations the next twelve months will bring? I can't! But I don't let that stop me.

I use Microsoft OneNote to organize my writing life. It's where I create my business plan each year, too. The main tab in my 2013 Business Plan notebook features my goals. I've learned the hard way not to etch a full year's goals in granite, so I create two tentative plans, and they each get their own sub-page.

The first is January-June 2013 and the second is July-December 2013. I copy/paste an annual calendar onto its own page in this tab, too, for referrals. Since I track my daily writing/revising/plotting progress, I know roughly how long I will need for each phase of writing a book. With these figures, I can accurately predict the amount of time to block off.

I always allot extra time in the schedule. An extra week here and there makes a big difference for me to stay on track.

Here is a sample of my overall January-June goals:

  1. Polish finished manuscript 1 and send back to agent
  2. Brainstorm and Plot  UNTITLED 1
  3. Revise first draft of manuscript 2
  4. Write first draft UNTITLED 1
  5. Send revised manuscript 2 to agent
  6. Brainstorm/OneNote Plot UNTITLED 2

Any number of things could throw this plan off, but I'd rather have a general plan than none at all.

The nice thing about OneNote is I'm able to create a little checkbox next to each goal (simultaneously press the "Control" and "1" keys). Love it!

If--let's face it, when!--I need to alter the plan, I change it and add a note on top of the page with the day I updated it.

I also keep track of my expenses, continuing education, and promotion efforts in my 2013 Business Plan notebook. Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency wrote a terrific post about her business plan and how she grades herself at the end of the year. The post is here, An Agent's Report Card, if you're interested!

Do you have an idea of what you want to accomplish next year? Have you written it down? Try it!

I'll be taking a nice, long break for Christmas. See you all January 7, 2013!!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Friends! One Minute Vacay: Dec. 19

One of my favorite things about December is that I always see  and hear from so many friends. I love getting Christmas cards, and I anticipate spending good, quality time with our families around the holidays.

This week a neighbor stopped by with a plate of homemade goodies. It made my night! We only chatted for ten minutes, but those ten minutes warmed my heart, something desperately needed in light of the tragedy in our country.

Both my parents and my husband's parents spent last weekend with us to watch our daughter's Christmas dance recital. Now, I know many, many women with strained in-law relationships. I also have plenty of friends with strained parent relationships. And, I hesitate to even write this, but in the end, I want you all to know what a blessing I consider our parents to be.

We have always been able to host our families in our house with no drama. Our parents are true role models, because they make an effort to get along with each other. My parents and my husband's parents place a high value on Christian morals--and they walk the walk.

How is this a one-minute vacation?

Some friends and family members make us better people. When they show up or call or write a card, our hearts expand--our lives improve because of them.

But some of our relationships bring stress--stress that we didn't cause, but that we have to deal with at high-tension times like Christmas.

When you dread the people who bring you stress, remember that you--like my parents and my husband's parents--can simply walk the walk. You might not be able to "fix" troubled relations, but you can be a light to the people around you.

In the meantime, think of the people in your life who bring you joy. Go ahead! Smile! They're wonderful, aren't they?

Do you have good role models? Who are they? If you don't, can you be the role model you always wanted?

Have a terrific day!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mixed Feelings? One Minute Vacay: Dec. 17

The preparations heat up, and for many, Christmas is eagerly anticipated, but for others, mixed feelings throw a thick, gray cloud cover over the month.

Let's face it--not everyone enjoys the holidays. There are hearts that rip open every December. The onslaught of merry music sounds shrill, the endless Christmas miracles on television movies don't help, and there's a vague feeling of, shouldn't I be enjoying this more?

I understand. I've been there. Christmas usually brings me joy, but I've had years where I've gone through the motions, not quite knowing why the cheer skipped me that season.

Christmas magnifies how we feel life should be as opposed to how it really is.

So many people deal with broken families, sad memories of past Christmases, loneliness, tragedies, and depression. My heart goes out to all who want that "perfect Christmas" but for circumstances beyond their control, must settle for getting through Christmas.

Today's one-minute vacation is this:

It's okay to have mixed feelings.
It's okay to cringe at happy Christmas letters.
It's okay to not want to throw another five bucks into the charity-of-the-week collection at work.
It's okay to get McDonald's for dinner because you're too tired to make a meal.
It's okay to buy store-bought cookies.
It's okay to turn off the made-for-television Christmas movies and watch horror films.
It's okay not to donate a dollar as you check-out at stores.
It's okay to jam to sad songs instead of the Christmas music station.
It's okay to tell yourself "it's just 24 hours," when you're dreading a strained-extended family Christmas party.
It's okay to buy two boxes of chocolates for yourself.
It's okay to skip gift-wrapping and buy gift bags for every present.
It's okay if your kids get on your nerves within three hours of being out of school for Christmas vacation.

It's okay.

We do not live in a perfect world. It's full of sin and pain and hard things.

It's also full of people who want to help, who truly care, whose heart breaks at the thought of anyone being sad or alone at Christmas.

Let's not be too hard on ourselves this time of year.

It's okay.

Do you struggle with mixed feelings this time of year? How do you deal with them?

Have a fabulous Monday!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fudge! One-Minute Vacay: Dec. 14

I've been craving the sweet stuff, the Christmas cookies, the boxes of Hershey's Pot O Gold, and yes, the fudge! Fudge!!

My aunt made me my own small tupperware of her delightful fudge one year for Christmas, and it was one of the best gifts ever! I try to make at least one batch each Christmas season, and whenever I do, I think of my aunt. :)

For me, the sweetest one-minute vacations usually involve memories of family and treats.

Now, I realize not everyone loves fudge the way I do, so here is a lovely slice of chocolate cake instead.

And if you don't like chocolate, how about sugar cookies?

Thanks so much for sharing a fudgy minute with m. Lindsay Harrel is hosting me today at her blog! We're talking about Secret Santas, and I'll bet you'll never guess what I do about them. Stop by and find out! :)

Do you like fudge? What's your favorite Christmas treat?

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tis the Season: Interview with Jennifer Shirk!

Ho, ho, ho!!

Guess what? Jennifer Shirk has a new release!! Kissing Kendall came out this week through Entangled Publishing's Bliss line. Naturally, I needed to learn all about the book and the scoop on Jennifer's Christmas plans!

Let's get to it!

1.      Does your family have any holiday traditions?

Yes! We eat a meatless Christmas Eve every year. (I pretty much go meatless year round but for the family this is a big deal). We only have fish. And because my mom was a stickler for Lithuanian/Polish traditions, we have potato pancakes, herring, and sometimes pierogies with our main fish meal.

Another tradition we have is that we all are allowed ONE gift to open before we go to bed. (This is the kiddo’s favorite tradition because she NEVER lets me forget it) Be careful when you start that one! LOL

2.     Christmas shopping: are all the gifts bought, still working on it, or do you wait until Christmas Eve?

I am about 75% done (NOT wrapped…YET). I know. I’m anal. I never wait to the last minute for anything. It stresses me out too much!

3.     Do you bake Christmas cookies? What's your favorite holiday treat?

I DO bake cookies! At least 7 different kinds. That’s what I like to have for breakfast on Christmas Day while we open gifts. (Hey, don’t judge! It’s the holidays)

I make a brown sugar ginger crisp that is sooooo good with a cup of tea.

4.     You're a gadget gal--what gadget can't you live without this time of year?

Oooh gadgets…I recently bought myself one of those light-pro Christmas light guns, but I haven’t had to use it yet. LOL And I bought myself a YONANAS—to make desserts out of frozen fruits!

5.     What inspired your new book, Kissing Kendall, and where can we buy it?

 I wrote Kissing Kendall because I had enough people who read GEORGIE ON HIS MIND to ask about Brad’s story (Georgie’s brother). The problem was I wasn’t really thinking about getting him together with Kendall in a book because in the old book she was getting married to someone else! So I decided to make her a widow (yes, I can be evil) and thought I could grow a nice emotional conflict from that.


Jennifer, your YONANAS machine sounds pretty awesome. I love fruit smoothies, so I know I would love frozen whipped fruits too. :) I'm jealous of your Christmas shopping progress. You're motivating me to get mine done. I don't have much time left! And of course I wouldn't judge the cookie breakfast. It's my favorite type of meal! ;)
Jennifer has graciously offered to give one lucky commenter an ebook copy of KISSING KENDALL! Just leave your e-mail address in the comments to enter. The contest is open until midnight of Friday, December 14, 2012. Winner will be notified by e-mail.
**Must be from the United States and at least 18 years old to enter.**

 If you’d like to purchase KISSING KENDALL, it is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!


Kendall Grisbaum is finally taking charge of her life—pouring her heart into opening a new bakery business and even allowing her best friend Georgie to play matchmaker for her. Trouble is, the one guy she secretly wants is Georgie’s older brother, Brad.

Brad can’t seem to get his little sister’s best friend out of his mind. He and Kendall used to be close friends, too, though they drifted apart years ago. But as a local policeman, Brad can’t help but play protector, looking out for Kendall. And when he offers to help her renovate her new bakery space on the side, their attraction flares back to life.

Amid the temptation of doughnut muffins and blueberry cobbler, a new temptation draws them both closer. Can two friends take a chance on love when it means risking everything?


What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Have a fabulous day!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Lights! One Minute Vacay: Dec 10

Who else LOVES outdoor Christmas lights?

The Toledo Zoo hosts an annual outdoor light display, and it is amazing. On weekends, people wait in line for up to an hour to get in and see the "singing trees," the colorful lights dripping from every bush and tree, not to mention the lights shaped like animals or the tunnel made out of light hoops. It's festive, fun, and worth every penny.

Since not everyone can make it to the zoo, I found this fun outdoor light display for you instead!


Do you decorate the outside of your house for Christmas?

Have a fabulous Monday!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Shopping Woes with Jill Kemerer: Vlog

Today's webisode of "...with Jill Kemerer" is all about my shopping woes. I'm not a good shopper. Never have been, probably never will be. Even online shopping gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Here's a slice of my shopping problems--and yes, my mini-wiener dog photo-bombed the video again!

December 2012 webisode: Christmas Shopping Woes with Jill Kemerer

How do you do it? How do you Christmas shop and maintain your sanity?? Help!

Have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Paris! One Minute Vacay: Dec. 5

Today's one minute vacation is sponsored by Paris. :)

I've never been to Paris, but I've watched plenty of movies featuring the gorgeous city, and I love books set there too. Ernest Hemingway brought 1920's Paris to life for me in his set of memoirs, A Moveable Feast. And Woody Allen's film, Midnight in Paris, while not my favorite story-wise, features beautiful sets of, you guessed it, Paris!

Ooo, this looks cold but delightful! To spend a day or seven in the Louvre? Yes, sign me up!

I would LOVE to see the Eiffel Tower at Christmastime. Lucky for me, someone did and took a picture! I feel as if I'm the one staring up at that incredible structure.

Paris wouldn't be complete without coffee and pastries. Drink up!

I don't know about you, but staring at these lovely Paris scenes makes me a little nicer, a little more relaxed, and ready to tackle my Wednesday.

Have you been to Paris? Share the details!

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, December 3, 2012

One Minute Vacay: Dec. 3

It's that time of year again! All month long, I'll be featuring One Minute Vacations! Each post will be a chance to rest and smile and just catch your breath for sixty seconds.

Today's drop of bliss?

Snow and coziness!

Doesn't that snowy lane shout "Christmas"? It does for me! I would love to walk under those beautiful pines. Maybe a deer would hop out onto the pathway. Maybe not. I just like to think it would. :)

There's something  magical about stomping inside after a nice, winter's walk and warming up by the fire. It's even better when there is a gorgeous Christmas tree by the fireplace.

The contrasts of a walk in crisp, winter air and relaxing by a cozy fire make December lovely.

What relaxes you in December?

Have a terrific Monday!