April Giveaway!

April Giveaway!

Game On: The Christian Parents’ Sports Survival Guide officially releases April 4, and I’m hosting a month-long giveaway to celebrate. Game On is my first nonfiction book, and I’m praying it blesses parents like myself who spend a big chunk of time, money, and emotional support on their kids’ sports. I figured out how to keep sports in perspective when I asked myself a few key questions.

  1. Why do I have my kids playing?
  2. What kind of adults do I want them to become?

Whether you’re new to youth sports or knee-deep in them, you most likely feel the pressure. It’s easy to get caught up in the extreme competitiveness of other parents or be tempted to play politics to help your child. But I’m convinced this hurts our kids, and I share the reasons why as well as strategies to keep your composure.

 

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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April Giveaway!

Woohoo! Giveaway time! The prize package includes an autographed copy of Game On, an insulated bag for game day, a motivational plaque, and a tin of candies. You can enter below or on my Home page anytime between April 1 at 5:00am (EST) through April 30 at 9:00pm (EST). US residents 18+ only. See Terms and Conditions in giveaway.

Game On Prize Package!

Come back April 1st to enter! (Runs April 1, 2017 through April 30, 2017)

 

 

Thanks for celebrating with me! Please share this with your friends, and have a lovely weekend!

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!

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!!

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!

 

Articles I Loved This Week – Writer Wednesday

In between my DIY mani-pedi failure and attempting to make decorations for a book event this weekend, I read quite a few blogs this week. We won’t discuss the mani-pedi thing, and I’ll post pictures of the decor and event next week. But in the meantime, I’m sharing links to those fab blogs!

 

Lately I’ve been stretched REAL thin, so Nicole Locke’s post, “Tuesday Talk Time: Time Out, Time In,” was a breath of fresh air. I love her point that when we’re overworked we tend to take a time out, but too much of this and our families suffer. We can find ways to connect with our loved ones AND relax.

For anyone afraid of taking a leap with your career (entering that first contest, finding a critique partner, querying an agent, pitching to an editor, trying a new genre, etc…), this post by Alison Stone on Seekerville, was fabulous! “Things I Learned When I Took a Leap of Faith.”

I always enjoy Laurie Tomlinson’s blog, and she’s sharing her October plans in “October Update.” Check out her super-cute word count tracking method for an upcoming novella!

What’s getting you excited this week? Share with me!

Have a terrific day!!

How Exercise and Spiritual Growth are Similar

How Exercise And Spiritual Growth Are Similar

Yesterday I took a nice long walk in the morning. The temperatures had slid from the low 90s to low 70s. The humidity? Almost unnoticeable–a nice change from the muggy air we’ve had all summer. In other words, the conditions were just about perfect for a walk.

Exercise and Spiritual Growth

I took this picture last year at the botanical garden. Gorgeous!

 

I felt so much joy as I left our subdivision. I started thinking of all the things I’m grateful for, and as usual, the walk became a prayer walk.

  • I thanked God for the muscles in my legs, moving me forward, keeping me from pain, supporting my bones and joints and the rest of my body.
  • I’ve always been blessed with a strong core. The abdominal and back muscles provide much needed balance to keep me upright.
  • My arms allow me to write, shop, cook and hug my loved ones.
  • My brain–always spinning, always coming up with new ideas, solving problems–thinking, thinking, thinking!

As I walked past corn fields and pretty trees, I thought about my spiritual growth over the past few years. A large part of this growth has been from setting aside time every weekday to study God’s word, to ponder a chapter of a Christian living book, but most of all to be still and be with the Lord. To pray. To journal my prayers.

 

Pre

With every walk, every yoga session, every 7-minute workout down via an app on my phone, my body gets stronger. I get leaner. The fluffy parts are crowded out by the firmer ones. Yes, it takes a commitment, but I love how I feel after a good yoga session, and I always enjoy walking.

With every chapter read of the Bible, with every journal session, every prayer session, my heart gets closer to Jesus. I get leaner, my life becomes less about myself and more about Him. This summer, I woke up to a very deep truth in my life. I didn’t even realize I’d been struggling with this. But here is the truth:

I get my freedom from God.

 

I get my identity from God.

 

I get my security from God.

Too often, I’ve bought into the concept that money, a career, respect from my peers, being a good mom/wife/daughter/friend would give me freedom, identity or security. But none of these things do. Only God does.

Sounds so simple, right?

I know! I’ve paid the concept lip service for years. I’ve always said and thought God alone matters, but the prayers I’d been praying proved me wrong. The prayers I kept repeating convicted me. I realized I’d never really, truly believed God was the only way to my freedom, identity and security.

I do now.

I attended the ACFW conference in Nashville last week. For the first time, I felt so much peace about not holding back. My personality can be a lot to take! But I know God loves my personality, and if He does, I shouldn’t worry about what anyone else thinks. It was so wonderful to just be myself–my out-there, loud, dancing, hugging everyone self. I’m thankful for this peace.

Phillipians 4:4-7 (NIV)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Peace is promised by Jesus. I hope you’ll make Bible study and prayer a priority if you don’t already. Just like exercising, it’s good for your body, good for your soul.

Have you ever struggled with thinking your freedom, identity or security comes from something outside of God?

I’m firing it up on the group blogs this week!

Check out yesterday’s Craftie Ladies of Love Inspired Romance post, “September Means Autumn!” and today’s Pink Heart Society post, “Friday Fun: Football Season–Love It or Hate It?”

Have a terrific weekend!!

 

Insecurity – Writer Wednesday

I’ve been writing for years, and one thing I still deal with? Insecurity.

Oh, I might have months where I shake off those little doubts and feel confident in my abilities, but eventually, insecurity creeps in, and like a rash, it spreads.

Unfortunately, insecurity breeds a slew of other unwelcome, unsavory emotions. Envy. Fear. Comparing. Anger. Making excuses. Laziness.

I don’t like any of those, but let’s look at how they feed into each other.

When I’m feeling insecure about something, I can’t help but notice someone else who seems to be doing better than I am. Without wanting to, I envy them. I envy that they are succeeding at something I feel insecure about. It could be my weight, my word count, my marketing efforts–whatever!

Envy is not welcome in my mind. I don’t want to look at someone else’s success with anything other than joy for them.

Insecurity also pings fear within me. I’m not good enough, smart enough, dedicated enough, working hard enough… As soon as fear hits, it seems as if everyone in the entire world has it more together than I do. Yes, everyone! And when everyone is doing better than I am, I start comparing…

Comparing isn’t welcome in my mind, either. Who cares if someone else is doing better or worse than me? It’s not relevant! Ugh!

Or I might get angry, which goes hand-in-hand with fear. Why am I not good enough? What do I have to do to be worthy of fill-in-the-blank? I slam stuff around, irritated at the injustice of my life not being exactly how I want it. Wow, the arrogance.

But who likes feeling arrogant? Angry? Fearful? Envious? No one, so I slip into making excuses. I would be in better shape if I joined a gym, had a trainer, etc… I would have a higher word count if I didn’t have to make dinner, shuttle my kids, etc… I can’t afford a publicist to market my books. Um, last time I checked, plenty of people are in shape without a gym membership, every writer has tremendous time constraints, and marketing isn’t all about money. But at the making-excuses stage, I’m in no mood for rational thinking.

So the worst of it all comes roaring in. Laziness. It all feels pointless, so why bother eating healthy, pushing for a higher word count today, scheduling a Facebook post? Nothing I do makes a difference anyway.

For me, laziness is unacceptable. If I don’t have control over my thoughts and actions, what is the point of my life? Laziness is a symptom of giving up, not taking responsibility for myself.

Thankfully, I have a tool to fight all this craziness.

I pray.

God promises He’ll be with us every minute of every day. He wants us to pray, to ask, to seek, to knock. He listens to every prayer. He promises peace that transcends all understanding. And I count on His peace through all of the above emotions.

If you ever deal with ugly emotions, rest assured you’re not alone. You don’t have to sit in yucky feelings, and I don’t either. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? Pray!

Phillippians 4:7 (NIV) “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

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How do you deal with insecurity?

There are only a few days left to enter my gift package giveaway! Go to my HOME page (linked) and scroll down for the easy entry options! I’m also giving away 5 copies of Her Small-Town Romance, in stores now!!, on Goodreads. The entry form is in the sidebar of this blog!

 

 

Are You Willing to Fight For It? Writer Wednesday

I’m winding up six weeks of a heavy workload. Part of me is tired, part of me is thrilled, and part of me asks, is it worth it? Yes, it is.

 

Walk in Woods

 

Last night I took a long walk to clear my head. I’d put a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove to simmer, and my eyes were going buggy after six hours of writing. The first quarter mile I couldn’t put a coherent thought together. Birds flew back and forth overhead. The air felt damp. I pushed forward. About half a mile in I thought of all the prayers God’s answered for me. He’s answered prayers this week. He’s answered prayers from years ago.

As many of you know, it took me years and years to get published. All those years I worked really hard. Studied the writing craft, built a tiny platform, networked with other authors and slowly improved. When I signed my first contract, I knew it was a dream come true–but it wouldn’t make all my dreams come true.

My writing life now is similar to when I was pre-published. I still set personal deadlines for writing and revising. Still actively engage on social media sites to expand my platform. Sill LOVE networking (aka, coffee and online chatting) with other authors. But now I have new ways to push myself and new tasks to add to the day planner. And yes, I still struggle to get everything done.

So we come to the title of this post. When I get tired, a little voice in my head asks, “Why don’t you ease up on your marketing plans? Add a few weeks to your first draft goal? Set aside the nonfiction project you plan on self-publishing? Just for a little while.”

And the other voice in my head, the GOOD voice asks, “Are you willing to fight for it?”

Of course I am.

I’m finishing a first draft this week. Whatever it takes. I recently bought Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. If you’re looking for motivation to help you write more words each day, this is a great book! And the Kindle version is only $0.99!

And yesterday, Heather Sunseri wrote another motivating post about writing more. Check out “How Nora Roberts Taught Me to Be More Prolific.” It’s a goodie!

I doubled my word count yesterday. I plan on doing the same today. 🙂

So if you’re feeling discouraged, ask yourself if you’re willing to fight for it? I’m guessing you are!

How do you fight for your dreams? What motivates you?

Have a great day!

*Don’t forget, I’m holding a month-long gift package giveaway to celebrate Her Small-Town Romance! Go to HOME, scroll down and you’ll find the easy entry options! Also, I’m giving away five copies of the book on Goodreads. You can enter from my sidebar!

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