Healthy Living Motivation

Healthy Living Motivation

Wow, January 20, 2107! How many of you are trying to improve your health this year?

Me! 

To be fair, I’m always trying to improve my health. Last fall I started a regular workout regime. There were weeks I skipped a few workouts, but overall, I stuck with it. This year, I’ve made weekday workouts mandatory. I have no excuse–none–not to fit 30 minutes of exercise into my weekdays. But…sometimes I lose my motivation and have to force myself off the couch.

 

Healthy Living Motivation

 

I saw a quote on Pinterest this week, and I thought how true.

“In two weeks, you’ll feel it. In four weeks, you’ll see it. In eight weeks, you’ll hear it.”

It’s been about two weeks since sticking with my weekday workouts, and I do feel it. It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see big results though. I’m just reminding myself this isn’t about big results. It’s about daily habits that add up to strength and health.

In four weeks, I’ll see it. My jeans will no longer feel tight when I button them. I believe this.

In eight weeks, I’ll hear it. Eight weeks of consistent exercising is noticeable on anyone. But if I don’t hear it, that’s fine, too. For me, investing in myself three to four hours each week is the reward I seek. Every time I get off the couch and do the workout, I win.

What does a win look like to you in regards to healthy living?

Have a fun weekend!

Scheduling Creative Sessions {Writer Wednesday}

Scheduling Creative Sessions {Writer Wednesday}

Creative Sessions = Dedicated time to problem solve, plot, explore ideas.

In the past two weeks I’ve read two nonfiction books that made a big impact on me. The first was The Wright Brothers by David McCullough and the second was Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Although very different books, they shared a common theme–focus. The Wright brothers devoted much of their free time to solving the dilemma of human flight. Their passion helped them focus, and they spent hours, weeks, months and years experimenting and problem solving. In Deep Work, Cal Newport puts forth a compelling argument why anyone who wants to excel in their field needs to be deliberate about what they’re spending their time on. In other words, excellence requires focus.

 

Scheduling Creative Sessions

 

Writing, like inventing, involves a LOT of creativity. And creativity is a form of problem-solving. Fictional characters don’t always behave, and plots get off track. And then there’s the issue of what to write next.

I have many ideas I’d love to explore, so many books I want to write. Time always feels like the deciding factor. But over the past couple of years, I’ve broken free from my belief that producing a higher volume of quality books requires putting in massive overtime hours.

Last year I was tired of constantly setting aside a pet project to work on my contracted books. It hit me that if I didn’t schedule time for it, I would never finish the project, let alone publish it. I had to figure out how to work on it while fulfilling my contracts. I sensed that I could accomplish far more than I thought possible, but I didn’t know how. So, I read several time management books, prayed, talked to trusted writer friends, and finally decided to go for it.

Through trial and error, my beliefs shifted. I reworked my daily schedule, limited the frequency of social media breaks, silenced my phone and pushed myself to meet daily and weekly goals. I also added more time to studying the Bible and praying each morning which had a direct impact on my day by giving me the boost necessary to believe I could meet my goals.

In 2016, I plotted several books, wrote two category length books, a novella and a nonfiction book, promoted two novels, and organized my writing business. This was far more than I’d produced the previous year, and yes, sometimes this meant working overtime, but overall, I fit these projects into normal working hours. How? By deciding in advance what I would work on each day, devoting 30-60 minutes to my nonfiction book (the one that kept getting neglected), and limiting distractions.

The great thing about revising my schedule? My writing continues to grow. I’m confident about the books I’m writing because I’m making the time to thoroughly plot, write, revise and polish them. If my only goal was to publish more books, I’d be tempted to use shortcuts and skimp on the quality. My goal has always been to write the best book I’m capable of and that means no skimping.

One thing I’m adding this year: scheduling regular creative sessions just to think and jot notes. These time blocks will be used to plot, work through a current book problem, explore ideas for new books, and creatively solve any business issues. Setting aside 2-3 hours a week, or even 30 minutes a day, to just “sit and think” seemed absurd until I realized my brain does so much heavy-hitting for me beneath the surface of my consciousness. Scheduling regular creative sessions is another tool to get more work done in a limited time frame. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Do you ever sense you could accomplish more in the limited time you have? What strategies do you currently use to make the most of your hours?

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Reading Goals

Reading Goals

Do you set reading goals for yourself each year?

I’ve always been an avid reader, so setting goals for reading books comes naturally to me. Last year, my goal was 50 books, and I ended up at 53. I added more Christian living books as well as several business/productivity books to the mix. I’m glad I did! They were terrific additions to my list.

 

Reading Goals for 2017

 

The first book I read in 2017 was The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. What an inspiration! I learned so many things from this one. Dayton, Ohio was a hotbed of new ideas around the turn of the twentieth century, and many inventions originated in Dayton. Wilbur and Orville Wright fascinated me–how in the world could two brothers work together constantly, not to mention live together, and not drive each other bonkers? The book does mention their tempers and stubbornness, but I’m impressed by their dedication to the pursuit of flight.

Right now I’m reading Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. This book isn’t for everyone, but it IS for me. I love data and theories and trying different ways to get more done. It’s really helped me think about how I structure my day.

I’m still debating what my first novel of 2017 will be to read, but I’m guessing it won’t take me long. Fiction is delicious! The bulk of fiction I read is Christian romance, but I throw a classic or two in and sometimes I even try a new genre. Last year I read my very first cozy mystery. It was a fun read, and I plan on trying another author this year.

Here are a few titles I added to my Must Read in 2017 list:

If by Mark Batterson (Christian living book)

Their Surprise Daddy  by Ruth Logan Herne (Love Inspired)

Still Life by Dani Pettrey (Christian Romantic Suspense)

True to You by Becky Wade (Christian Contemporary Romance)

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (Classic Literature)

The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales (General Fiction)

Additionally, I always read several Love Inspired novels, a few random novels from the library, a handful of business books and any nonfiction that catches my eye. Fifty seems to be a good number for me, so I’m sticking with it!

Do you always read the same genre? Do you add non-fiction to the mix? Any reading goals this year?

Have a terrific weekend!

Self-Discipline and Meeting Your Goals

Although I gave up New Year’s resolutions years ago, when January rolls around I usually take some time to think about my life. What worked well the previous year? What didn’t? In what areas have I slipped into poor habits? What habits are improving my life?

 

Self-Discipline and Meeting Your Goals

 

I also think about my goals, professionally and personally. Did I meet my goals? Exceed them? What allowed me to gain momentum? What halted my progress on goals I didn’t meet? Is my current schedule supporting my goals? Am I wasting time? What needs to change?

If I hide away to a quiet place, this reflection period comes easily. I’m able to identify what habits are hurting me and which ones help me.  The solution to my weak areas is usually self-discipline.

When I consistently exercise and eat more fruits and vegetables, my clothes fit better and I don’t have a lower backache. When I automate both–setting a time each weekday to exercise, and prepping my fruits and veggies ahead of time–taking care of my body suddenly becomes easy. I know this. I’ve done it in the past. So why do I slip out of the habit?

It’s the same way with my writing tasks. When I take time each month to set weekly goals, then take a few minutes each week to set daily goals and review these goals each workday, I get a lot done, more than I think is possible. But when I leave each day up to chance, I tend to meet my goals, but I don’t always feel great doing it. And there’s never extra time to work on a pet project. I like pet projects. I must make time for them.

Self-discipline, for me, is a breath of relief. A sign I’m investing in myself. I trust I’ll see results when I stick to a plan.

So why is it so easy to stray from the plan? One day without exercising becomes two, and by day four, I’ve completely forgotten how great I felt on day one! I no longer believe I’ll achieve what I want. And for some crazy reason, I have this false idea that at some point the work ends while the results remain.

The work doesn’t end. I will always have to consistently exercise and eat more produce if I want to fit in my clothes and avoid the lower back pain. I’ll always have to carefully schedule my working time if I want to meet my professional goals.

You might be different. In fact, I’m sure you ARE different! We’re all individuals with unique habits, schedules and demands. But if you want to improve an area of your life, you will need self-discipline, too.

The biggest problem I face with new routines is not sticking with them long enough for them to become a habit. Turns out, I’m not alone and there’s a reason for it. In the Forbes.com article, “5 Proven Methods for Gaining Self-Discipline,” Jennifer Cohen states, “When a behavior becomes habit, we stop using our decision-making skills and instead function on auto-pilot. Therefore, breaking a bad habit and building a new habit not only requires us to make active decisions, it will feel wrong. Your brain will resist the change in favor of what it has been programmed to do.” This information is based on Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit.

It makes sense. When I’m trying to establish a new exercise schedule, I find myself questioning if I want to do this workout or that one, which, sadly, sometimes resulted in me not doing any workout. But when I decide in advance what workout I am doing on certain days and set the time for these workouts, I no longer have to make the decision. I just have to show up. This tells me I need to avoid having to make decisions about a new habit. I take as much guesswork out of it as possible, because my brain is already resisting the change.

As for my health goals, I automated my workouts in mid-November, and it’s working well for me. Sure, I skip a day here or there, but not having to think about when and what I’m doing each day has made a world of difference. And my writing? Scheduled well in advance. I’ve got this!

How do you approach new habits?

Have a terrific day!

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season! As much as I adore Christmas, I can’t ignore the fact my Facebook feed tugs my heart. Not everyone is happy and jolly right now, and that’s okay.

 

Merry Christmas

 

You might be struggling. Health scares, job problems, relationship troubles, money issues, grief, loneliness–all hit us hard around the holidays. If you are less than jolly this year, I’m sorry. I pray God brings you comfort.

You might be overwhelmed. Yeah, I get this, too! Too much to do, too few hours to do it all. Hang in there and be kind to yourself.

You might be overjoyed. A new baby, great job, the love of your life, reconnecting with family–all are exciting, wonderful things to celebrate. I’m cheering with you!

Whatever you’re going through, I pray you find the peace that only comes through faith in God this Christmas season. As Philippians 4:7 states, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Eat a cookie for me and heat up some cocoa! It’s Christmas!

I’m taking a nice, long Christmas break, so I’ll be back to blogging in January.

Have a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year!!

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway~Day 8!

12 Days Of Christmas Giveaway~Day 8!

On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

It’s Day 8 of the #12DaysofChristmas giveaway! If you haven’t heard of it, ten inspirational authors joined forces to shower readers with gifts! Each day a new gift is added, which means the prizes are growing. Woohoo!

 

12 Days of Christmas Givewaway!

 

Each day the prize builds with another book or book-related goodie, AND the Rafflecopter entries roll over so every day you have a new chance to win!

The winner of Day 8 will receive:

 

Yuletide Redemption

YULETIDE REDEMPTION:

A Mother’s Christmas Wish 

After an accident leaves Celeste Monroe to raise her baby nephew, all she wants is to provide one-year-old Parker with a happy life. She hopes taking a job caring for injured Sam Sheffield will help fulfill that goal. But Sam’s determination to avoid the world throws a wrench in her plans. Despite his best efforts, Sam can’t take his eyes off the pretty caretaker. Her strength and her loving nature has him falling for her—and her baby. But he refuses to burden them with a man who’s not whole. Can Celeste convince Sam he’s daddy—and husband—material in time for them to celebrate Christmas together?

And that’s not all! Day 8’s winner will also receive:

The Gingerbread Pony by Patricia Bradley
Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson
His Prairie Sweetheart by Erica Vetsch
A Family Arrangement by Gabrielle Meyer
Concealed Identity by Jessica Patch
Watercolor Dreams audio book download by Sherry Kyle
Hazardous Holiday by Liz Johnson

Are you as excited as I am?? Wheee!!!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below (US only) by following some of your favorite authors on social media and signing up for their newsletters. Every entry carries over–so the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win. Here’s the entry form!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 Be sure to stop by Susan Tuttle’s blog, Steps, tomorrow for Day 9’s prizes! (FYI, Steps is one of my favorite devotional blogs. If you need a pick-me-up and some Bible truth, follow her blog!)

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Chapter Five of A Cradle for Christmas released on Monday! If you’ve been following my FREE Christmas novella being released one chapter at a time on Harlequin’s Online Reads page, you’ll want to jump right in to the next installment! If not, you can catch up below. I have all the chapters linked! You don’t need to download them or anything–you can read them right from Harlequin’s website on your phone or tablet, or you can print them out!

A Cradle for Christmas Graphic

 

A CRADLE FOR CHRISTMAS

With just days to go until Christmas, Heather Springfield is nine months pregnant and all alone. So she escapes to her family’s old cabin in Michigan. The happiest summers of her life were spent there…all until that last one that ruined everything. But she’ll have to do her best to focus on her baby and avoid Mason Aldridge, the boy next door and the one who got away

Mason’s never forgotten the sweet girl who once held his heart. So when Heather arrives one snowy night, her very pregnant belly triggers a fresh round of regrets. If things had been different, he might have been the man fortunate enough to call her and the baby his. But in the spirit of the season, forgiveness is in the air, and two old friends may just find their way to the best Christmas gift of all—a brand-new family.

Chapter Five

Chapter Four

Chapter Three

Chapter Two

Chapter One

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Who is baking Christmas goodies? I haven’t started, but I always find time to make Christmas cutouts!

 

I’m busy with a few deadlines, so I won’t be posting on Friday, but have a delightful weekend!!

{friday five} Fun Stuff Galore!

Welcome to the first Friday Five of December! It’s been a very special week. My new Christmas book, Yuletide Redemption, is available in stores, and the digital book released yesterday. I’ve been blessed to take part in some really cool promotions, and I want to make sure you get the scoop!

 

Yuletide Redemption Tiny

Friday Five: Fun Stuff Galore!

1. “When Your Calling Flatlines” on Seekerville.

I’m sharing encouragement for aspiring and published writers who wonder if it’s time to give up (12/01/16). If you’re not familiar with Seekerville, it’s an amazing blog formed by thirteen Christian authors who kept finaling in the same contests when they were unpublished. In the nine years since the blog was formed, ALL of them have gone on to be published. These ladies are so generous with writing advice, and they have terrific readers! Check the comments out every day–I learn from both the posts and the comments.

2. “Friday Fun: Cozy Christmas Reads!” on The Pink Heart Society.

I’m sharing favorite Christmas books I read growing up. (Hint: Sweet Valley High makes the list.) Stop by–I’d love to know what yours were!

3. “#12DaysofChristmas” was the spectacular idea of Liz Johnson’s, and she kicked off this mega-contest yesterday!

Eleven authors, including myself, are giving away oodles of books, bookmarks and even one $25 Amazon gift card. There’s a winner every day, and the prizes snowball as the days wear on. Go to Liz’s blog and check it out! My post will be on December 8, right here!

4. #CategoriesForChristmas sponsored by #1 New York Bestselling author, Susan Mallery, is another huge contest where one winner will over 20 category novels (including one of mine) and a cute Harlequin tote bag!

Simply sign up for Susan Mallery’s newsletter (linked), and after you confirm the subscription, you can go to her “Members” tab, click on “Contests” and enter your information in the form at the bottom of the page. Easy!

5. Chapter Four of A Cradle for Christmas is live!

My FREE novella on Harlequin’s Online Reads releases one chapter at a time every Monday. You can read it on your phone or tablet or print it out!

What fun stuff have you enjoyed lately?

Thanks for joining me today! I hope you have a very lovely weekend.

Need a Black Friday Break?

Need A Black Friday Break?

This post is super late, but I’m having a great time hanging out with my family! We did some black Friday shopping earlier, and now I’m settling in for an afternoon of relaxation.

I’m guest blogging at Inspired by Life and Fiction today, and I’m hosting a giveaway. Stop by for some Vince Guaraldi, “O Tannenbaum,” and scroll down to the easy entry options for the prizes (US only)!

 

Cozy Christmas Giveaway at Inspired by Life and Fiction

 

Have a terrific weekend!!

Chapter 3: A Cradle For Christmas {free novella}

Things are heating up in Lake Endwell! The third chapter of my free serial Christmas novella released on Harlequin.com today. All the live chapter links are below. You can read them on your phone, tablet or even print them out! A new chapter is released every Monday until December 26, 2016.

A Cradle for Christmas Graphic

 

Chapter Three: A Cradle For Christmas

 

If you missed the previous two chapters, links are below.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

 

There is still time to enter my November giveaway!

 

Yuletide Redemption Giveaway

 

 

 

 

I’m also giving away two copies of my December release, Yuletide Redemption, on Goodreads! The entry form is in the sidebar of this blog.

Yuletide Redemption will be in stores tomorrow! Whee!! Purchase links to all major retailers are HERE if you’d prefer to order it.

Have a lovely Monday!

The Inside Scoop with Nicole Deese #WW

The Inside Scoop With Nicole Deese #WW

Today Nicole Deese is graciously answering questions about her writing life. Nicole writes sweet romance novels, and I had the pleasure of meeting her at the ACFW conference this summer. Her new release, The Promise of Rayne, just released! Don’t worry–I have all the links and info below.

Let’s get to it!

 

 

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH NICOLE DEESE #WW

 

1. How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always had a love for story and a HUGE love for the written word. About five years ago, after a super intense reading binge, I literally closed my latest read (which was the fantastic Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi), set it on the arm of the sofa and said to my husband, “I want to do this. I’m going to do this.” And just shy of a year later I independently published my debut novel, All For Anna. I’m extremely blessed to do what I love.

2. What is unique about your process?

One of the unique parts of my process is the feedback I rely on from my writing partners. Upon finishing a chapter in my first draft, I send it off to my two faithful pals for an overall content check, and then again for a more thorough critique on the second (or third) draft. I can hardly remember when I used to write “alone”… and honestly, I’d never go back. I love living in community.

3. What inspired your book?

About a year ago I was meditating on the love your enemies passage in Luke 6. And while I sat pondering one morning, overlooking our property in north Idaho, the beginnings of The Promise of Rayne started to spark. Just a few weeks later those little sparks ignited into a raging fire of conflict, characters, and a story that seemed to grab ahold of my heart until I’d written those last two words: The End.

4. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

If you make your readers worry… they’ll keep turning pages.

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I’m getting all goosebumpy over here, Nicole! I love that you told your husband you were doing it, and you did. I remember the day I realized I could “try” to write a novel. So exciting! I agree with you on the writing community–how does anyone do it alone? I rely on my writing friends for moral support and writing support. We need each other. And by the way…the advice  you shared is really good advice! Thank you so much for being my guest!

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THE PROMISE OF RAYNE

The Promise of Rayne

Rayne Shelby has spent her entire life trying to earn the approval of her high-powered family, with the hope of one day managing her late grandfather’s prestigious Idaho lodge. But when she makes a mistake that puts her future in jeopardy, she faces an impossible choice: defy her family or deny her dream. The only way to fix the mess she’s created is to enlist the help of her neighbor, Levi, the apprentice of her family’s greatest enemy. And if Rayne gets caught crossing the divided property lines, the consequences will be irreparable.
Levi Harding has never forgotten the August night he shared with Rayne when they were teens—or the way she later rejected him. Despite his warring instincts, he can’t ignore her plea for help or the spark that’s ignited between them. But now, as wildfires bear down on their town and family secrets are revealed, their newfound alliance might just go up in smoke.

Purchase THE PROMISE OF RAYNE HERE!

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Nicole Deese

 

Nicole Deese is a full-time lover of humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled fiction. She is the author of seven published novels including the Love in Lenox novels, A Cliché Christmas and A Season to Love, and her newest standalone release, The Promise of Rayne. When she’s not writing sweet romances, she can usually be found reading near a window while sipping a LaCroix. She lives in small-town Idaho with her handsome hubby and two sons.

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What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

  1. FREE Christmas novella!! Chapters one and two of A Cradle for Christmas are now live on Harlequin.com! Click HERE, and select “Love Inspired” to read them!
  2. There’s still time to enter my November giveaway full of Christmas goodies! Go to my HOME page (linked) and scroll down for the entry options.
  3. I’m giving away two copies of Yuletide Redemption on Goodreads. The entry form is in the sidebar of my blog!

Have a terrific day!