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Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

I’ve been eagerly anticipating Cal Newport’s new book–Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. I finished reading it over the weekend, and it lived up to my expectations.

Learn more about DIGITAL MINIMALISM at calnewport.com.

Basically, the book underscored what I already know to be true–social media, various phone apps, online browsing and being available 24/7 have decreased the quality of my life.

The instant I feel a twinge of boredom, I reach for my phone.

Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and various news sites often eat up precious evening hours. And I couldn’t tell you what I’ve gotten out of all the mindless scrolling!

Another problem I have? If I’m working on my laptop and check in on Facebook, I feel anxiety over unanswered private messages (I don’t use Facebook Messenger on my phone and only get private messages from my laptop). Ditto for unanswered emails–even if I get them at 10pm!

What happened to my free time? I willingly give it away and get nothing in return.

In chapter one, Cal Newport spells out how the technologies we rely on (texting, social media apps, online news sites, etc…) are designed to trigger our addictive behavior. Yes, he cites studies and sources. And it all makes sense. The longer we’re “on” or using a site, the more ad-revenue the site can potentially make. These sites/apps are designed to keep us there.

Scrolling through Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram feels harmless, but it isn’t. Our phones and apps have an addictive pull, keeping us from exerting the energy to do activities we deeply value and enjoy.

We signed up for these services and bought these devices for minor reasons–to look up friends’ relationship statuses or eliminate the need to carry a separate iPod and phone–and then found ourselves, years later, increasingly dominated by their influence, allowing them to control more and more of how we spend our time, how we feel, and how we behave. – Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism

The book provides a solution, and it makes sense.

Basically, we can choose to minimize our digital life.

  • The first step is to do a 30-day digital detox where you cut out all non-essential apps/sites/services and set rules around the ones you consider essential.
  • At the end of the experiment, you decide which of these you want to keep and set rules for how you’ll use them.
  • During the detox, you commit to aggressively fill your time with high-value activities. Think hands-on projects, actually being social (coffee dates, visiting friends), reading, returning to a hobby or starting a new one, even watching television or movies is fine as long as you’re enjoying them and not just zoning out.

Why is this important?

We only have one life. Our time is valuable. Using technology to relieve boredom can drag us into an unsatisfying cycle where we no longer have the “time or energy” to do things that add meaning to our lives. When we invest in activities that are meaningful to us, we’re less likely to feel unsatisfied with our lives.

What am I doing about it?

I haven’t started the 30-day detox, yet. But I already set rules around my cell phone usage.

  • I deleted about half the apps on my phone–many of them were there by default anyhow.
  • I also set times (and limits) when I could check in on my favorite sites.
  • I have an auto-reply set up in Facebook Messenger to let people know I don’t check my messages after 5pm or on weekends. They’re welcome to email me, though.

I also jotted down a list of activities I can replace my scrolling with. This will be the hardest part for me–sticking to things that require more effort than a quick swipe of the phone. One particular chapter in the book really stood out to me, and it was about physical work. It’s convinced me to add 30 minutes of cleaning, baking or organizing on weeknights. I hope I get the satisfaction promised!

If you’re at all conflicted about your digital life, I urge you to buy the book. It’s terrific and timely and needed.

Have you gotten sucked into the digital life? Are you conflicted about the way it’s changed your free time?

By the way, the fourth novella in the RESORT TO ROMANCE SERIES launched yesterday!! Try Moonlight Match by Kristina Knight!

Our mega-giveaway is still going strong! If you haven’t entered yet, go to my HOME page and scroll down for the easy entry options!

What Are Your March 2019 Goals?

March Goals 2019 Jill Kemerer #ww

March is here! Does this mean spring is coming soon? I hope so! It regularly snows here through mid-April, so I won’t hold my breath! In the meantime, I’ve been busy writing. Let’s review and set goals.

Jill’s February 2019 Goals

  • Revise and submit Wyoming Twins Christmas Reunion
  • Promote A Meddled Match
  • Health: Track calories, meet fiber goals, exercise 5 days/week

How did I do last month?

  • Revise and submit Wyoming Twins Christmas Reunion – CHECK!
  • Promote A Meddled Match – CHECK!
  • Health: Track calories, meet fiber goals, exercise 5 days/week -NOPE–NO CHECK.

In addition to my goals, I revised a novella and worked on art sheets for a cover. It was a very productive month! I let my health goals slide (again), but I still exercised three days a week, added fiber, and kept my calories in line.

Jill’s March 2019 Goals

  • Copy edits for Christmas novella
  • Expand plot for book 2 in the Love Inspired cowboy series
  • Draft proposal for book 2 in the Love Inspired cowboy series
  • Set up promo for His Wyoming Baby Blessing
  • Health: Track calories, meet fiber goals, exercise 5 days/week

How did you do last month? Do you work well this time of year? I usually get a lot done in these cold/rainy/snowy months.

What are your March goals?

The 10 Weeks of Romance Giveaway is still going strong! A winner is selected each week, and the prizes accumulate. The grand prize is all ten Resort to Romance novellas and a $150 Amazon gift card! Go to my HOME page and scroll down for the entry options!

Encouragement from the Blogosphere

Encouragement From The Blogosphere, Jill Kemerer Blog

My brain is covered in a thick fog as I do the final polish of my manuscript. I apologize to everyone in my life. I’m scattered and self-absorbed. I will be myself again soon–I promise!

Writers, you know what I’m talking about. It’s very difficult to turn off the world we’ve spent months building. As my deadline looms, I worry I’ve missed key themes the book needs. Little things ping me.

Did I overstate his conflict? Is hers clear? What word/phrase did I overuse but have no clue I did?

Anyway, I scrolled through blogs on Feedly this evening, and my breathing slowed. My heart stopped racing. My brain relaxed.

I was encouraged.

Encouragement from the Blogosphere, Jill Kemerer blog
  1. “A Letter for D” by Wendy Paine Miller. I love this beautiful post. Wendy and I have been friends for years. She’s an amazing person, a brilliant writer, and her words always ring true.
  2. “The Importance of Alone Time” by Mary Manners via Seriously Write. Mary acknowledges the time-consuming aspects of the writing life that aren’t actual writing, and she makes no apologies for shutting the office door and getting things done. Love that attitude!
  3. “My Book is Being Made into a Movie!” by Belle Calhoune via Love Inspired: A Story for Every Reader. Have you read Belle’s Love Inspired novels? They are brimming with romantic optimism! One of her books, An Alaskan Christmas, is being made into a movie! Congratulations, Belle!
  4. “It’s Monday. What are You Reading?” by Cheryl C. Malandrinos via The Book Connection. Recommendations? Lists? Covers? YES! I’m always encouraged when I see what other people are reading.

Blogs make me feel connected in a way social media sites don’t. I think it’s a combination of focusing on one thing at a time and knowing the title of the post before I read it–I know what I’m getting.

As soon as this book is turned in, I’m treating myself to a long library visit where I’ll check out a towering stack of books. Oh yes…I’m ready!

What has encouraged you this week?

***

RESORT TO ROMANCE WEEK 2!

A Messed-Up Match by Jessica R. Patch released yesterday! It’s the second installment of the Resort to Romance Series. It will be only $0.99 until next Monday–then the price goes up!

You can pre-order weeks 3-10 of the series for $0.99 each–click RESORT TO ROMANCE SERIES for all the links!

If you missed the first release, my novella, A Meddled Match, is $2.99!

Have you entered our mega-giveaway? Go to my HOMEPAGE and scroll down for the entry options!

Enjoy your week!

A Meddled Match Releases Today!

10 Weeks Of Romance Giveaway! Jill Kemerer A Meddled Match

It’s here! Today the RESORT TO ROMANCE SERIES launches, and I’m so excited!

About a year ago, Jessica R. Patch and I were joking around on the Voxer app, and we started throwing out silly ideas for a multi-author series. We weren’t planning on creating one–we were just having fun.

Somehow a private island got tossed in. Then a couple of eccentric spinster sisters. Then Matchmaking Week with couples paired by experts. And rules–no sex, no cells, no switcharoos! We were rolling on the floor in laughter. It was one of those days when we really wished we lived near each other! Alas, Jessica lives in Mississippi, and I’m in Ohio…

By the end of the day, we’d decided we were putting this series together because it was too fun NOT to do it!

And here we are…release day. Woohoo!

A Meddled Match: Resort to Romance Series by Jill Kemerer

My novella, A MEDDLED MATCH, kicks things off.

Gavin Sterling wants no part of Matchmaking Week, but his eccentric great aunts insist he fill in for a no-show or he won’t have a chance at inheriting their island resort. Surprisingly, his match intrigues him. Mollie is blunt, sassy, and best of all, has no idea he’s the son of a billionaire.

Mollie Macomb needs a relaxing vacation without the dating drama. A relationship with Gavin would never work in the real world, anyhow. He’s a gorgeous businessman. She’s a quirky failure. But even the unlikeliest couple can find love during Matchmaking Week…

A Meddled Match is a SWEET romance. Basically, it’s clean and wholesome without the faith thread.

Purchase A MEDDLED MATCH for only $0.99!

Each week, another book releases! Jessica’s book, A MESSED-UP MATCH, will be available Tuesday, February 26, 2019. You can pre-order all ten books now for $0.99 each! Don’t wait, though, because a week after the book releases, the price goes up to $2.99.

Here’s the Resort to Romance series premise:

Get ready for ten weeks of romance in the Bahamas with a new series brought to you by some of the best authors in the inspirational and sweet romance genres…

Ten delightful – and standalone – novellas linked by one matchmaking week. You’ll want to devour each one!

It’s Matchmaking Week at an all-inclusive resort on a private island in the Bahamas. Each guest has been expertly paired and is here to enjoy one full week with their match. While there’s no money-back guarantee on the paid trip, the participants are guaranteed to find love!

For links to the entire series, go to the RESORT TO ROMANCE SERIES page!

Mega-Giveaway!!

To celebrate this series, all ten authors have joined forces to host the 10 Weeks of Romance giveaway! The sweepstakes begins today. A winner will be selected every Tuesday, starting February 26, 2019, with the exception of 03/19, and the grand prize winner will be selected May 7, 2019!

Here’s how it works: Register at the rafflecopter below. The great thing about this giveaway is the books build with every author’s new release! That means your entries roll over each week all the way up the grand prize–all ten books PLUS a $150 Amazon Gift Card!!

This week’s prize is: A Meddled Match by Jill Kemerer!

Enter the 10 Weeks of Romance Giveaway below!

Due to complicated international laws, this sweepstakes is only open to US residents, eighteen and older. See complete rules in the giveaway form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to stop by Jessica R. Patch’s blog next Tuesday to see what book is being added to the giveaway!

Also, Faithfully Bookish is hosting me today! Stop by for more inside scoop on the series!

If you could go on a vacation right now, where would you go?

Have a great day!

Pre-order the Resort to Romance Series Now!

It’s less than a week away, and I couldn’t be any more excited! The first novella in the ten-book series releases February 19, 2019–and guess what? It’s my novella!

RESORT TO ROMANCE SERIES

A Meddled Match kicks off the RESORT TO ROMANCE SERIES. I’m sure you have lots of questions. Let me help you out!

What is the Resort to Romance Series?

It’s Matchmaking Week at an all-inclusive resort on a private island in the Bahamas. Each guest has been expertly paired and is here to enjoy one full week with their match. While there’s no money-back guarantee on the paid trip, the participants are guaranteed to find love!

Get ready for ten weeks of romance in the Bahamas with a new series brought to you by some of the best authors in the inspirational and sweet romance genres…

Ten delightful – and standalone – novellas linked by one matchmaking week. You’ll want to devour each one!

What is A Meddled Match about?

A Meddled Match is a sweet romance (no sex or cussing–it is clean and wholesome), not an inspirational (faith-based) romance like my Love Inspired novels.

Here’s the back-cover copy.

Gavin Sterling wants no part of Matchmaking Week, but his eccentric great aunts insist he fill in for a no-show or he won’t have a chance at inheriting their island resort. Surprisingly, his match intrigues him. Mollie is blunt, sassy, and best of all, has no idea he’s the son of a billionaire.

Mollie Macomb needs a relaxing vacation without the dating drama. A relationship with Gavin would never work in the real world, anyhow. He’s a gorgeous businessman. She’s a quirky failure. But even the unlikeliest couple can find love during Matchmaking Week…

Where Do I Find the Series?

Each book is available for Kindle on Amazon. They are all at the bargain price of $0.99! But the price won’t last. One week after each book releases, the price goes up to $2.99, so pre-order them now!

Links to all ten books can be found at the Resort to Romance Series page!

Will I like it?

I hope so! Here are what some early reviewers have to say about A Meddled Match.

“One paragraph into this novella and I was all in! Loved every minute. Jill Kemerer has a hit with this one! If the rest of this series of novellas set in a matchmaking resort is anything like the first two, that will be wonderful…” ~ Susan (Goodreads)

“Oh my goodness!! What a fun read. I found myself laughing out loud and wishing I was on that Joy Island watching this all happen. I loved the cast of characters, the story line and the sweet and clean romance. This novella can be read in one sitting. ” ~ Dana (Goodreads)

“These two are a riot to watch and made me laugh at their antics! The witty banter alone endured me to Gavin & Molly. They fight the attraction between them at every turn, but everything conspires against them to prove that real love can be found anywhere! Ginny & Goldie are the eccentric aunts that are over-the-top hilarious; deep down they care a great deal for Gavin and only want to see him happy. I haven’t laughed so much at a story for a long time!” ~ Trixi (Goodreads)

Any questions? I’d love to answer them! Come back next week because we’re celebrating release week with an EPIC giveaway!!

Oh, and early Happy Valentine’s Day!

What are Your February 2019 goals?

What Are Your February Goals? Jill Kemerer Blog

Well, that went by quick! After last week’s Polar Vortex, I’m thankful February is here. The sooner winter is over, the better!

January was a blur of planning, busy work, and writing a first draft. February, for me, will be all about two things: launching the Resort to Romance series and revising a contracted Love Inspired book. Oh, and roses and chocolates…Valentine’s Day will be here soon!

First, let’s see how I did with last month’s goals.

Jill’s January 2019 Goals

  • Finalize A Meddled Match: Resort to Romance Series to prepare for February launch! This includes setting up promo, sending out ARCs, uploading to Amazon, etc…
  • Replot and draft rest of book one in the new Love Inspired series! It’s now going to be a Christmas book releasing this December. Aaah!
  • I’m the 2019 president of Maumee Valley Romance Authors, Inc. and need to do several administrative tasks to start the year off right.
  • Health: Log calories daily in MyFitnessPal, stay within calorie range, workout for 30 minutes 4+ days/week.

How did I do?

  • A Meddled Match is ready to go! CHECK
  • Book one (working title is Wyoming Twins Christmas Reunion) is drafted. It needs A LOT of work! CHECK
  • MVRAI administrative tasks? Yep. These will be ongoing throughout the year, but I’m off to a good start. CHECK
  • Health. *Giggling* Okay, three weeks I stayed on track. Last week? Nope. NO CHECK

Jill’s February 2019 Goals

  • Revise and submit Wyoming Twins Christmas Reunion
  • Promote A Meddled Match
  • Health: Track calories, meet fiber goals, exercise 5 days/week.

How did you do last month? What are your February goals?

Have a terrific day!

2 Ways I Prevent Writer’s Block

2 Ways I Avoid Writer's Block By Jill Kemerer #ww

It’s the final Wednesday of January! Where did this month go? Well, around here it was buried under snow and negative temperatures, but I’ve whined enough on social media sites, so I’ll shut my mouth!

I’ve been writing a first draft, and first drafts are the hardest stage of writing for me. I love plotting–adore plotting! Revising? Challenging, but I enjoy it. Polishing gets me excited because I know the book is THIS close to being finished. But the writing itself…

It would be terribly easy for me to get writer’s block. Every day. I wish I was kidding! For me, getting started is the tricky part. Thankfully, there are a bajillion writing blogs out there, and I’ve experimented with various tips. Here’s what gets me back into my story each day.

2 Ways I Prevent Writer’s Block

  1. At the beginning of each writing session, I read through the previous scene.
  2. At the end of each writing session, I sketch out the next 2-3 scenes.

If I didn’t do these two steps every time I sat down to write, I would stare at the screen for hours.

Reviewing the previous scene jogs my memory and gets me back into the story quickly. And since I have the next 2-3 scenes outlined, all I have to do is review my notes to pick up where I left off.

At the end of the writing session, I’m usually really tired. I’m always tempted to skip my prep work for the next day. But I don’t let myself. I know from experience if I don’t spend 5-10 minutes thinking of the next scenes, I’ll regret it. I’ll end up wasting time and creating more work for myself. No thanks!

How do you prevent writer’s block? What gets you back into your story quickly?

If you’re dealing with the bitter cold like I am, try to stay warm! If you’re in warmer climates, I wish I was there!

Writing Slow and Not Loving It

Writing Slow And Not Loving It. Jill Kemerer

I’m writing a first draft right now. I’m excited about the story. I know the main characters, know the main plot points. Usually, I can estimate a word count goal for the day (depending on what I have going on) and meet it in a set amount of time. Not this time, my friends.

I’m writing slow. I’m talking S-L-O-W.

It’s frustrating.

Yesterday, I didn’t even hit my word count goal, and I worked past six pm. Today, I did hit my word count goal, but it took seven hours to do it.

I want to write faster! What’s going on?

Right now I’m chowing down on a creamy caramel and trying to figure out why I’m struggling to get the words on the page. My thoughts:

  1. It’s January. I live in northern Ohio, and we had a severe winter storm this weekend. Yesterday it was below zero. Today wasn’t much better. I can’t blame everything on the weather, but being cooped up inside with gray skies does affect me.
  2. This is the first book in a new series. I’m still getting to know the secondary characters. I’m creating the town and the feel of the community. Plus, there’s a lot of plot to pack into this story.
  3. I’m in the middle scenes. My mind can’t always keep track of the various plot threads in this phase. I drop things–the faith thread, the romantic tension, the conflicts and goals. And it slows me down because I know I’m not getting it all but I don’t know what I’m dropping. At night, I usually get lightbulb moments–hmm…I forgot to address the emotional fallout from the previous scene. Or this IS a romance, right? Shouldn’t the MCs be getting butterflies?

That’s all I’ve got. Tomorrow I’ll force myself to sit in my office and tap out words until another scene takes shape. Then another. And at some point I will walk away from my laptop–with or without having met my word goal for the day. And I’ll repeat this until the book is finished.

Then I’ll find all the threads I dropped and all the areas I know are flat, and I’ll revise the book to make it shine.

In the meantime, I’ll have another caramel and try not to overthink it.

Writers, what slows your writing down? How do you get through it?

Thank you to everyone who entered The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby (by Jill Lynn) giveaway! The winner is Lori R.! Congratulations, Lori, check your email for further instructions!

Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

Cover Reveal Of His Wyoming Baby Blessing + Giveaway! Jill Kemerer

It’s cover time! Whoop! Whoop!

I’m so excited to share with you the cover of my May 2019 release (and final Wyoming Cowboys book), His Wyoming Baby Blessing!

What do you think?

Ooh-la-la!!

She’s pregnant on his doorstep…

Saddle up for this Wyoming Cowboys novel!

When his childhood friend Kit McAllistor shows up, widowed and pregnant, rancher Wade Croft offers her a place to stay…but he can’t offer her his heart. As old feelings begin to surface, past tragedies force Wade to ignore them. But on the brink of losing his ranch, will he also risk losing the woman he’s beginning to love…or can he cowboy up in time?

As if this wasn’t fabulous enough news, my friend Jill Lynn (the other Jill of “the Jills”), is giving away one signed copy of HER new release, The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby!

Soooo adorable!!

FROM BACHELOR TO DADDY…OVERNIGHT!

After his marriage ended, Gage Frasier vowed he’d never remarry or have children—but now he’s guardian of an orphaned baby boy. Thankfully, his friend’s sweet sister, Emma Wilder, offers to nanny while Gage seeks a more suitable family for the child. But soon Gage finds himself bonding with his new son…and with Emma. Parenthood surprised Gage, but will love sneak up on him, too?

Purchase The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby HERE!

Fun fact: The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby was the working title of my book, His Wyoming Baby Blessing. Hey, great Jill minds think alike!

To enter The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby giveaway, click on the link below for the easy entry options! This giveaway is for US Residents, 18+ older. See Terms & Conditions for full rules.

Ranchers, babies, and surprises–oh my! What do you love in a cover?

Have a terrific day!

What are Your January 2019 Goals?

What Are Your 2019 January Goals? JillKemerer.com/blog

January 2019 Goals

Happy New Year!!

I’ll be honest, Monday was a rude awakening for me. I’d been playing catch up on administrative and marketing tasks for five days straight, and guess what? Monday was another full day of it. *waaahh!!* *crying face*

That’s the writing life, though. It’s not all writing!

So how was your Christmas? What did you enjoy the most? Or did you have a hard holiday? Some years are like that.

I was not my optimistic self this December. Sometimes I just get gloomy for no apparent reason. I babied myself. Read a lot. Watched Holiday Baking Championship on Food Network. Spent a lot of time with distant family members (yay!). Oh, and I took the month off from tracking calories. The nice thing? I’m in a good groove with my eating habits and only gained a few pounds over Christmas week which promptly disappeared as soon as I resumed my normal diet. I have noticed my back aches more when I don’t work out at least three days a week, so I’m thankful to be back on track with my DVDs.

Let’s see how I did last month.

Jill’s December 2018 Goals:

  • Revise and polish Christmas novella.
  • Finish Christmas shopping.
  • Take time off after the novella is finished to refill the creative well.
  • Create my 2019 Production Plan.
  • Workout 4 days/week and stay in calorie range most days until Christmas week, when we have 70-billion parties with decadent food!

How did I do?

  • Christmas novella revise and polish? CHECK! Finished it early. Woohoo!
  • Finish Christmas shopping: CHECK! Took me until right before Christmas Eve, but I did it.
  • Take time off to fill creative well. SORT OF CHECK. I took time off, read, relaxed, but I didn’t really do much to fill my well. It was more like crashing and burning…
  • 2019 Production Plan? CHECK! I’ll tweak it each month, but I’m happy with the overall plan.
  • Health stuff. NO CHECK. I did NOT workout 4 days/week. My body is scolding me!

Jill’s January 2019 Goals

  • Finalize A Meddled Match: Resort to Romance Series to prepare for February launch! This includes setting up promo, sending out ARCs, uploading to Amazon, etc…
  • Replot and draft rest of book one in the new Love Inspired series! It’s now going to be a Christmas book releasing this December. Aaah!
  • I’m the 2019 president of Maumee Valley Romance Authors, Inc. and need to do several administrative tasks to start the year off right.
  • Health: Log calories daily in MyFitnessPal, stay within calorie range, workout for 30 minutes 4+ days/week.

Side note: My health goals are the same each month. I know some of you are trying to get healthy this year. Two years ago I made the decision to stick to a lower calorie diet without drastically changing what I ate. I also committed to exercising 4-5 days per week. Within six months, I’d lost 20 pounds. Ever since, I’ve consistently kept off 15 pounds. Last year my weight fluctuated 3-4 pounds on any given month, but I stayed below the 15-pound loss mark. I’m happy with that!

I’m not telling you this to brag–I’m telling you it CAN be done. I realize we all have different struggles. You may have significantly more weight to lose or you just can’t seem to take off the last five pounds. You might have physical issues preventing you from certain exercises or foods. I get it. I still want to encourage you. Small decisions every day add up to big results. For me, being consistent has made ALL the difference.

How did you do last month? What are your January goals?

Have a terrific day!

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