Spring Pinterest Board

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!

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!

Articles I Loved This Week – Writer Wednesday

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!

 

Funny Sign

Loved this funny sign at the salon!

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!!

 

8 Years of Blogging!

8 Years Of Blogging!

I have been blogging for eight years! Can you believe it? I can’t!

Last night I was browsing Feedly, my preferred reader, to catch up on blogs. I came across Elizabeth Spann Craig’s, Long-Term Blogging, Part 1, and I realized she and I began blogging around the same time. I decided to check the date of my very first post, back when I used Blogger, and yep, there it was. August 7, 2008!

For giggles, I’m linking my second post, “If Romance Writing Were an Olympic Sport.”

 

8 Years of Blogging!

I added up all the posts from my Blogger site and from this blog, and I’ve written 1020 posts.That doesn’t include all the ones I’ve written as a guest or for my group blogs. Wow!

Way back when I wrote my first post, I had no idea if I would blog more than a year. Finding an audience took time, and it seemed as though every other blogger had a much bigger following than I did. But I decided I didn’t care, and I forged ahead.

A few bloggers helped me by sharing advice. “Add a Followers button so people can get your new posts.” “Put share buttons in your sidebar.” “Decide on a posting schedule.” And I learned from other bloggers, Jody Hedlund in particular. Within a short amount of time, I’d made online writer friends, some of whom would become my critique partners, and many would remain good friends.

Announcements were made in those years. I cheered as my friends got agents and contracts. But I also fought sadness as my day never came. But I pressed on. And on. And my knowledge grew. I understood about building a platform and was happy to share what I learned. My writing grew as I studied the craft and continued to write book after book.

And then one day it happened. I finally had good news to share. I’d landed an agent! And more years would go by before that wonderful first contract offer. Still, I kept blogging.

But then something happened. A lot of blogs disappeared.

Oh, the blogs were still there out in cyberspace, but new posts? Nope. Many bloggers who I connected with in those early years quit posting for various reasons. I wondered if it was worth it to continue. My comments dwindled, but each post still had plenty of hits. Obviously, people were reading it, so why wouldn’t I keep writing posts?

I love blogging. I haven’t been as consistent this year–sometimes I skip Fridays!–but I still love it.

Here’s to eight years of blogging! Thank you for being a part of it!!

What draws you to a blog? What keeps you coming back?

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Taking Care of YOU – Writer Wednesday

How do you take care of yourself as a writer? This is often referred to as writer self care. Have you heard that term? I have off and on over the years. Whenever I hear it, it brings to mind the following:

  • Move around during the day to avoid the aches and pains of a sedentary job.
  • Eat healthy. Except when the WIP isn’t behaving. Then eat a lot of junk food. Or if you’re on deadline, then you should guzzle caffeine.
  • Set boundaries. Don’t let anything interfere with your writing time.

Her Small-Town Romance

There’s more to writer self care than that, of course. I’m sure we could come up with 101 things that would fit in the box. Today I want to share one way I take care of the writer me. It will sound indulgent. That’s okay. It IS indulgent, and that’s why it’s such a great thing!

Celebrate your success!

I make each release day special. No, I don’t throw a party or expect balloons and champagne. In fact, I tend to celebrate by myself, doing something I consider fun. I always buy myself flowers on release day. Always! And I check at least one local store to see if my book arrived.

Yesterday, my third book, Her Small-Town Romance, started arriving in stores (the ebook will be available April 1, 2016). I took a few hours in the afternoon to do some thrift shopping, bought a pretty bouquet of daisies and watched birds for a bit at a local park. None of this cost much, but it filled my writer soul up in a way I can’t describe.

You see, it’s my way of telling myself what I do matters. My words matter. The hours I spend plotting, writing, revising, editing and promoting all matter.

After my debut released, I promised myself I would do something special just for me every single time I had a new book release. And I have. I hope you celebrate your successes too. You don’t have to wait until release day. It took me years to get published. One time I celebrated a particularly demoralizing rejection by buying pretty glass earrings. I wear them often, a reminder that I didn’t give up.

There is still time to enter my giveaways! Go to my HOME page and scroll down for the easy entry options for my gift package giveaway! And I’m giving away five copies of Her Small-Town Romance on Goodreads. The entry form is in the sidebar of this blog.

How do you celebrate your successes? What can you do to validate that what you do matters?

Have a terrific day!

How I’m Making Writing Work This Summer

I have always struggled with disruptions to my routine. My dedicated writing hours during the school year dwindle to snatched minutes with the kids home for summer. My kids aren’t even young! It’s just different having them home. They have places to be, stomachs to feed and various activities during the day and at night.

Taking the summer off from writing is not an option. In fact, scaling back in the summer horrifies me. I have goals, and by golly, I will meet them!

Summer Writing

 

Here’s how I’m making writing work this summer.

1. Set the alarm.

I refuse to get up at 6:15am the way I do all school year, but 7:30 works just fine. This gives me quiet time to sip my coffee, read the Bible and pray before hitting the office.

2. Accept that the days will be chopped up.

This week my son had baseball activities two mornings and two nights. Both kids had running club. My daughter is in charge of getting to her own activities, but I still plan my writing around their schedules.

3. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals.

I set the monthly goal first, then break it into weekly goals. I look ahead at my calendar to figure out how to meet the weekly goals before setting daily goals.

4. I track my progress.

Last week I plotted a romance novel and wrote the synopsis for it. I also fleshed out two chapters of a nonfiction book in progress. This week I plotted another romance novel. I’m writing the synopsis this afternoon. I also spent hours researching and wrote two chapters. All the little tasks you do add up, but if you don’t track them, you might miss the feeling of accomplishment you deserve.

5. Switch tools.

My romance novels are strictly laptop only. I do everything there–plotting, research, drafts, revising. However, I work on short stories and nonfiction using Google Docs. Believe it or not, I do a lot of writing on my iPhone at odd places. Waiting in the car for baseball practice? Write a few paragraphs. Sitting on the couch at night with nothing on TV? Draft another chapter. Switching tools has made a HUGE impact on my productivity. It’s given me the freedom to make progress on pieces I’d been putting off.

6. Let go of guilt.

My family understands that writing is my job. We don’t have special activities every day. My daughter drives and makes her own plans. My son’s friends live nearby, and he can walk or ride his bike to see them. We take advantage of the fun things our area offers, but not constantly. If my kids are bored, oh well. Life is what you make it. What better time to learn this than as a teenager?

7. Take breaks and get enough rest.

If I’m exhausted in the afternoon, I enjoy a cup of tea and rest on the couch, or I might take a brief nap. Exercise has become vital for me. All the sitting takes such a toll on our bodies. Even a 10 minute walk makes a big difference to my body. Rather than cramming writing in all at once, I set mini-goals throughout the day.

8. Enjoy life.

Summer is the best! I love having my kids home, a less-stressful schedule, hot days, yummy summer food and outside time. I dream more in the summer. I read more, too. I don’t want to remember these precious weeks as being perpetually stressed out, so I try to approach each day with a good attitude. Whatever I get done is enough.

We’re all at different stages of life, with different responsibilities. You may have a full-time job, a part-time job, toddlers at home, no kids, a sick loved one–I don’t know! What works for me might not work for you, but that’s the point. You have to find how to make summer writing work for you. I’d love to hear how you do it!

How do you make summer writing work for you?

**There’s still time to enter the giveaway of Keli Gwyn’s historical Christian romance, Family of Her Dreams. Click on her post HERE and leave a comment before midnight Saturday, June 13 to be entered! US residents 18 and older only.

Have a terrific weekend!!