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Are You Picky About T-Shirts?

It’s March, which means soon I’ll be living in T-shirts again. For a few years I’ve struggled to find comfortable tees that fit me well and are reasonably priced. This means the majority of my tees have been worn out. They’re destined for the trash bin.

 

Are You Picky About T-Shirts?

 

If a T-shirt is too baggy, it swallows me up and gives me no shape. If it’s too form-fitting, I look like a stuffed sausage.  Some are too short–please, let me find some that don’t expose skin at my waist. And I love soft material, but not if it’s see-through! When I add my price limit, finding new shirts feels like mission impossible.

I can’t resist T-shirts with cute sayings or references to cats, bunnies and mini-dachshunds–unless they’re not in my price range. Then I sadly put them back on the rack with a sigh and tell myself they’ll go on sale.

Where do you buy T-shirts? Are you as picky as I am? If you know of a good resource for shapely, not too short tees, please let me know!

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

{Coming Soon} Game On

{Coming Soon} Game On

In April 2015, I sat down in a Panera with a coffee and ginormous triple-chocolate cookie. I was exhausted. But I knew it was time to start the project I couldn’t get off my mind.

As many of my ideas begin, this one started while I’d been trying to fall asleep. Two words had been seared in my brain.

Surviving Sports.

I’d been a sports mom for years at that point. If you’re not familiar with having kids in sports, it’s not all happiness and sunshine. Sure, it’s great having athletic kids, but the competitiveness and insecurities among parents can be contagious. I didn’t always like what the games did to me, and I often prayed for help. I wanted to be the calm mom, the one who brushed off bragging, politics, rough games and all the other anxiety-inducing elements of being a sports parent.

My prayers were answered, just not in the way I expected. When surviving sports flashed in my brain, I knew it was a book I needed to write. But how could I? I’m not an expert. I don’t write nonfiction. I write Christian romance novels! All I could think was I’m not qualified.

Back to the beginning of this post. Me. Panera. Coffee. Thousands of calories in that cookie. I had to answer this call. Had to write the book. I couldn’t drop everything and start writing, though. I had deadlines to meet. Instead, I decided to chip away at it even if only in ten minute increments stolen at odd times. I took a big bite of the cookie, created a new Google Doc and started to type on my phone’s teeny-tiny keypad.

Minutes turned into pages. Weeks went. The book grew. With each new section, another idea popped up. I found myself researching and gaining a better understanding of why I get so wrapped up in my children’s sports. Slowly, I changed. I couldn’t help it. As a Christian, I try to live my life according to Biblical principles, and one of them is raising my kids to be moral adults. I changed because my kids needed me to be a better role model, and I wanted to be one, too.

I still have my moments. I’m not perfect. Never will be. But I love being a sports mom, I love my kids, and I can keep the game in perspective. If you’re curious about the book, click on Game On for more information. I have a few spots open for digital advance review copies. Leave a comment or email me at jill(at)jillkemerer(dot)com if you’re interested.

Coming Soon!!

 

Game On: The Christian Parents' Sports Survival Guide

 

A GAME PLAN FOR CHRISTIAN PARENTS

For years I couldn’t escape the anxiety that came with my children’s sports. The competitive atmosphere prevalent among parents often left me anxious, upset—even bitter. But all that changed when I defined why I wanted my kids playing. Instead of fretting about their performance, I saw opportunities for them to grow. Now I enjoy watching them play without letting politics, other parents, or my own unrealistic expectations get in the way.

Join me in exploring the realities of sports, the reasons parents get caught up in unhealthy competition, and strategies to keep the big picture in mind when we’re too close to the game. We can be composed and confident while our kids are in sports.

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Game On: The Christian Parents’ Sports Survival Guide will be available in paperback and digital books online at major retailers in early April. And I’ll be hosting a Game On giveaway next month on my home page, so be sure to check back!

Do you have children or grandchildren in sports? What do they play?

Have a terrific weekend!

 

Messy Desk {Writer Wednesday}

I’ve been quiet on the blog. Last week I was sick, and I’m playing catch-up. With all the tasks piling up, I’ve let my desk get VERY messy. *sigh*

Here’s a picture of my work space. I think it’s funny my Bible promise book fell on top of the chaos. Maybe God is trying to tell me something!

 

Messy Desk

 

What you don’t see is the mug of tea, scratch paper with scribbled notes, cell phone, pens, ponytail holders and who-knows-what-else. The trash can is overflowing. Much like my brain and day-planner entries for this week.

This morning  I’ll spend ten minutes organizing and tidying. I’ll push the papers into a neat stack. Throw away the baggies of pretzels and Chex Mix. Light a candle. Empty the trash.

And then I’ll mess it up all over again because that’s the kind of week this is!

Does your work space get messy when you’re busy? Or do you keep it tidy at all times?

Have a terrific day!

Spring Pinterest Board

I am itching for spring! Itching for it, I tell you. We’ve had a gloriously mild winter. But…winter is still gloomy. Overcast skies, chilly temperatures, dead grass, no leaves or pretty flowers or any color to look at. So I’m sharing my Pinterest board with all things spring today.

 

Spring Pinterest Board

 


 

If the board doesn’t show up, here’s the link to it. http://www.pinterest.com/jillkemerer/spring/
 
I can’t wait to walk outside without wearing gloves, a hat or a winter coat. And I love it when our grass turns green. And when our flowers start to bloom. Well, you get the idea. I am DONE with winter!

What says spring to you?

Have a terrific day!

{Movie Romance} Inferno

My husband and I have been watching a lot of movies at home lately. Last weekend we watched Inferno, the third installment of the Robert Langdon film series, loosely based on Dan Brown’s books. I haven’t read the books, so I can’t tell you how the movies compare, and I’m not reviewing the movie. Instead, I’m focusing on the romance elements in the film.

SPOILER ALERT!! If you haven’t watched Inferno but plan on doing so, do NOT read further! I give away several key plot points in this post!!

 

Dr. Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) is the main character, and he interacts with two women throughout the movie. One is the ER doctor, Dr. Sienna Brooks (played by Felicity Jones), who looks to be in her late twenties and is thrust into a dangerous situation when she treats Langdon for a head wound. She’s a prodigy, a former child genius, and knows Dr. Langdon (he’s a professor) from reading his books and attending one of his lectures. The movie takes place in Italy. After a police officer tries to kill them in the hospital, they’re forced to go on the run, searching for clues to prevent a deadly plague from being released.

They are being hunted by several government agencies, and they don’t know who to trust. Langdon has few memories of the previous three days due to his head wound. He recalls meeting a mysterious woman but he doesn’t remember if he can trust her or not. Later, he remembers the woman was Elizabeth Sinskey, a World Health Organization agent and former girlfriend.

As the movie progresses, Sienna double-crosses Langdon, and we learn she was the lover of the man who invented the deadly plague. We also learn that Langdon and Elizabeth were in love when they were younger, but neither wanted the other to give up their life’s work to be together.

While the movie was action-packed and not a romance by any means, I was struck by the fact the writers never gave in to the temptation of letting an attraction blossom between Langdon and the much-younger Sienna. A decade ago, these two would most likely have made googly eyes at each other and possibly shared a kiss or, at the minimum, an embrace. Personally, I’m glad we were spared that. The only time a romantic connection was hinted at was by another character, and Langdon seemed appalled at the thought. It was very refreshing to have the older-man/younger-woman element off the table.

On the other hand, Langdon does  have a romantic past with Elizabeth, and the race to find the plague draws them closer together. Elizabeth is played by the talented actress, Sidse Babett Knudsen, whom you might have seen on the new HBO series, Westworld. She’s a fantastic actress–and get this–she’s in her late forties. Yes, Tom Hanks just turned sixty and that is still a sizable age gap, but the romance felt spot on. These are two mature people who shared a past and deeply cared about each other. It was very believable, and one of the reasons was because they shared common goals. They were both dedicated to helping others and willing to sacrifice their personal lives to achieve this.

The movie was entertaining and action-packed, if confusing at times, but the romance element was my favorite part. 

What movie have you watched recently? Was there anything about it that struck you as inspiring?

Have a terrific weekend!

{printable} Weekly Progress Spreadsheet

{printable} Weekly Progress Spreadsheet

2017 has been a year of changes for me. Most of the changes have been little, but hey, small steps equal steady progress. One of the things I’m doing is tracking my progress in two areas. I created a year-at-a-glance spreadsheet that can be used for any goal. I’m tracking my exercise habits and how many hours of “important work” I accomplish each day.

Below is a snapshot of it. Notice there are spaces for each day of the week as well as notes. For my health spreadsheet, I use my own code. FY stands for Foundation Yoga. BC stands for Boot Camp. GS stands for Green Smoothie. 2W stands for two miles I walked. Obviously, the number changes with the miles. This allows me to see my consistency over the course of an entire year. It’s been motivating!

 

Weekly Progress Spreadsheet

For my Important Work spreadsheet, I printed the exact same form, but each day I simply jot a number in the slot. The number represents the amount of hours I spent doing things on my Important Work list. (You can see my list below.)

By important work, I mean tasks that directly contribute to my income, which is based on writing and selling books. I got this concept from Cal Newport’s excellent book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. I don’t track my “deep work” hours because some of the things I consider important do not fit the Deep Work philosophy.

Your list will look different than mine. We all have our own concept of the most valuable tasks in regards to our work. The things I don’t include on my Important Work list are necessary parts of my job, but I place less value on the because they don’t directly contribute to my income based on writing and selling books.

Things I track as Important Work:

  • Doing research for a book
  • Plotting a novel
  • Outlining a nonfiction book
  • Creating a synopsis
  • Writing the actual book
  • Revising a manuscript
  • Any editorial tasks required
  • If Indie publishing, any cover research, formatting, uploading
  • Setting up promotion for a new release

What I don’t track as  Important Work:

  • Reading and responding to emails
  • Being active on social media sites
  • Administrative tasks (income/expense report, etc…)
  • Volunteering to judge contests, help writers, etc…
  • Writing blog posts

Again, the things I don’t track are necessary to my job, but I don’t log the hours I spend doing them.

If you’re interested in tracking any aspect of your life, feel free to print your own Weekly Progress Sheets. Just click on the link below! I’m also including this pdf file on my For Writers page if you’d like to print more out in the future.

Click for the printable PDF Weekly Progress Spreadsheet.

I find this especially helpful for reluctant writers. If you find yourself going days on end without writing, try this. It’s evidence of how much or how little time you actually spend working on a manuscript.

If you’d like to track your Important Work hours, spend a little time determining what equals important work to you. Enjoy!

Does charting your progress motivate you? Have you ever tried a year-at-a-glance weekly spreadsheet?

Have a terrific day!

Cover Reveal! Hometown Hero’s Redemption

Cover Reveal! Hometown Hero’s Redemption

Happy Friday! It’s an extra exciting day for me because I get to share the cover of my fifth book!

Hometown Hero’s Redemption is the final book in the Lake Endwell series. I’ve loved this fictional Michigan town so much. It’s hard to say goodbye! This story is dear to me, and I hope you love it as much as I do. It will be available June 2017!

Without further ado…

 

Hometown Hero's Redemption

A Temporary Father 

When he becomes guardian to his friend’s troubled ten-year-old boy, firefighter Drew Gannon knows he needs help. But before he can get former social worker Lauren Pierce to agree, he’s got to prove he’s changed from the sports jock who gave her a hard time back in high school. Returning home, Lauren wants no part of her old profession. She only wants to forget the unspeakable tragedy she left behind. She can’t take responsibility for another child. Or a reunion with Drew—no matter how generous he’s become. But a desperate boy and his handsome guardian may be more than Lauren can resist…

 

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What are your weekend plans?

Have a great day!

When You Can’t Focus

Two weeks ago I was pushing hard to meet my daily and weekly goals. I had a book due, and I needed every minute to finish it. I had a three-hour window on the weekend where I was in another town with nothing to do, so I decided to revise a hard copy of my manuscript. I found a corner table at a coffee shop, took out my printed book and red pen and…stared into space.

 

 

The coffee shop was crowded, conversations were loud and I struggled to concentrate. No problem, I’ll just work in my car for a while.

But the car, while quiet, brought no productivity either.

I simply couldn’t focus on the pages in front of me.

Come on, you’re on a tight schedule here. If you don’t get this done today, you’ll be behind. Do you want to meet your deadline or not?

Well, that little pep-talk didn’t help. I grew anxious. Called a friend. Tried to revise again. Failed again.

The little worries started zapping at me until I took a deep breath and told them to stop. Forcing myself to revise wasn’t working, so I read another chapter of a nonfiction book I’d been enjoying. I still had an hour before I needed to pick up my son. Rather than trying to free up brain cells that didn’t want to cooperate, I prayed. I prayed God would bless my upcoming writing week, that He would help me get my work done and guide me to make the book the best it could be.

The following Monday, my focus returned with a vengeance. I worked hard all week, and I was able to turn in my book a few days early. It felt really good!

Sometimes our plans don’t work out, and the situation is made worse when we can’t focus on what needs to be done. If you’re distracted, try the following:

  1. Take a break. Brew some coffee or tea, eat something yummy and just relax for a while.
  2. Go somewhere else to work. If you’re home, go to the library or a coffee shop. If you’re at a coffee shop, go home. If you’re home and can’t leave, go to a different room.
  3. Take an hour (or afternoon) off and don’t worry about what isn’t getting done.
  4. Pray for God’s favor. Pray for your work to be blessed.
  5. Rest, drink plenty of water, and take care of yourself physically. Sometimes we’re rundown and we don’t know it.
  6. Read for fun. All work and no play can sap the focus right out of you!

Do you ever get so distracted you can’t focus? How do you handle it?

Have a terrific day!

 

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!

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