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The Value of Brainstorming

I spent most of the week at our local junior high. The eighth grade social studies classes are writing children’s books based on the revolutionary war, and I was blessed to help. Most of Wednesday and Thursday were spent brainstorming with individual groups each period. Sometimes it’s hard to take a big concept and narrow it down to a specific story, so I helped them focus their plots. These teens are so smart! They all had clever ideas.




The exercise reminded me how valuable brainstorming is to writers. Bouncing ideas off other people helps you refine your premise. It might reveal holes in your plot you weren’t aware of. It forces you to see that some factors of your story just aren’t believable. Then you find ways to make it believable.

Brainstorming almost always produces a stronger story.

I always joke that it took a village to get me published, but it’s true. I’ve learned everything about publishing, plotting, writing, editing and marketing from other people. They generously shared their knowledge with me. My books also require help from others. I recently interviewed a local firefighter for an upcoming book (thanks, Steven!). I could not write a believable story about a firefighter without this kind of help. And, naturally, my agent and editor play huge roles for my books.

Brainstorming can work for any aspect of life. Every year I join a dozen or so other local writers for a brainstorming weekend. We rent a cabin on a lake and spend the entire weekend taking turns brainstorming story ideas, scenes, titles–anything! I was unable to attend this year, but I was able to spend a weekend with a different set of friends to career plan. We ran ideas by each other about the business side of writing. I came away from the weekend feeling so much better about my plans.

The value of brainstorming? Priceless!

Do you bounce ideas off other people? Do you like helping other people solve problems?

If you’d like to be entered to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, just sign up for my newsletter HERE. I’ll be drawing a winner  from my subscription list using a random generator on December 18! Winner will be notified via email!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Do You Buy Yourself Stuff in December?

I’m not much of a shopper, but every December I end up buying things for myself while Christmas shopping. Oopsies! For instance, I recently purchased the latest CD by Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color, a new medium-sized casserole dish since my favorite one had a huge chip in the handle, a boatload of Post-It notes, and a 4-pack of gel pens.

I don’t regret a single purchase.




Maybe it’s my reward for stressing out about what to buy everyone else. Maybe it’s a natural reaction to not buying much the rest of the year. I don’t know, but I refuse to feel guilty about it.

I’ll be shopping more this week. Will a box of Hershey’s Pot Of Gold land in my cart? Absolutely! Will this be given to a friend or relative? NO! It’s mine!!

Okay, I could share it with my family.

Or, I could buy two boxes and let them share one but keep the other for myself. Now this sounds like a plan.

Is that bad?

Don’t answer!!

Do you buy yourself stuff in December?


Merry Christmas!


I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one of my newsletter subscribers. If you haven’t signed up, what are you waiting for? If you’re already a subscriber, you’re automatically entered! Here’s the easy sign-up form!


Have a fantastic day!

December Giveaway and Cover Reveal!

It’s Friday! Yay! And it’s December. I love it!

So it’s a busy month. You know it. I know it. We have to grab hold of the bitty moments when we can. Are you stressed? Go buy that decadent coffee, sit at a table, inhale the aroma and rest for five minutes. Make that ten. Dream about the fantasy vacation in Hawaii until the tension releases. Whatever it takes–enjoy this month!

I have some fun things to share. Numero uno? I got the cover for Her Small-Town Romance, book three in the Lake Endwell series through Harlequin Love Inspired. Paperbacks will be in stores starting on March 22, 2016, and the digital book will be available April 1, 2016!

Cover Reveal (I adore it! The cover artists are amazing!!)


Her Small-Town Romance


The second thing I’m sharing? A giveaway!

I appreciate my newsletter subscribers, so I’m giving one subscriber a $10 Amazon gift card. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can enter your email address HERE! I’ll never share your address, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The bottom of every page in my website has an easy sign-up form, too. The winner will be randomly selected on December 18, 2015 from my newsletter subscription list, so if you’re already a subscriber, you’re automatically entered. I will notify the winner via email.


Merry Christmas!


Lastly, newsletter subscribers just received the above information AS WELL AS the third installment to my serial short romance, “Love and Other Obstacles.” Parts 1 and 2 are permanently linked on my For Readers page, and Part 3 will be added there on December 11, 2015.


Phew! What are you doing this weekend?


Have a great day!

Ten Truths About Writing Year In and Year Out

Ten Truths About Writing?

I’ve been writing full time for, let’s see, eight years. The first year was FUN! Sure, I was nervous, but I was doing it–writing while my kids were in school the way I’d dreamed when they were toddlers. I couldn’t wait to sit down and type my pages for the day. The books I wrote the first few years weren’t good, but I enjoyed writing them.




Then reality set in. I realized the old adage, practice makes perfect, wasn’t accurate. I wrote every day, but my craft wasn’t improving. Critiques and contest results proved what I suspected–I had a long way to go if I wanted to write quality books. On top of that, I dipped my toes in the social media waters. Getting published? Seemed way more complicated than I imagined.

But I stuck with it, and over the years I learned ten truths about writing long term.

  1. Writing isn’t always fun.
  2. You’ll like some books more than others.
  3. There’s NEVER enough time.
  4. Promotion is something done on a daily basis.
  5. When you pay attention to other writers, agents and editors, you become a better writer.
  6. The longer you write, the more you’ll embrace your process.
  7. You’ll get a good idea of how long it takes you to write a book. Ditto on revising.
  8. You never run out of ideas. Your brain is like a sticky magnet for them.
  9. Writing is still fun.
  10. You have the best job in the world.

I’m sure I could add ten or twenty more to the list, but that sums up the important ones for me.


Any surprises on the list? What have you learned about your job over the years?

Have a terrific day!


Happy Thanksgiving!

This is always a fun week. It’s half business, half party. I usually cram a ton of work in the first days so I can pig out, chill out and enjoy Thanksgiving the rest of the week.

We’ll be watching football (Lions on Thanksgiving, and Michigan vs. Ohio State on Saturday–Go Blue!), eating lots of food and spending time with family we don’t see as much as we’d like to. There will be NO shopping! This makes me very, very happy! I’m a terrible shopper, and crowds give me the shivers.

I’m thinking of buying one of those adult coloring books I’ve been seeing in the bookstores. My nieces are getting older, and my kids are definitely getting older–but I still like to color, so maybe we could all take a sheet and give it a whirl! We’ll see!

In case you were wondering, I have done nothing to prepare for Christmas. No cards, no decorations, no lists, no cookies, no music–nothing! That will have to change next week, but for now, I’m enjoying November.

I’ll be taking a blog break until next week. Enjoy the end of November and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!


I’m Embarrassed To Admit This But…

Jill Kemerer's Daily Smoothie

I try to live a healthy lifestyle. I want to eat clean and be fit, really I do! However, I fall far short of my health goals far too often.

I’m embarrassed to admit this but…there are days I don’t eat a single vegetable or fruit.

I know!! It’s ridiculous. Sure, there is probably a tomato lurking in the spaghetti sauce, but as far as an honest-to-goodness serving of veggies or fruit? Nope.

Here’s the problem. When I have a few days with woefully inadequate produce intake, I get pudgy. Then I let a few days lapse where I don’t exercise. Before you know it, I’m 3-5 pounds heavier. And MAD at myself! UGH! Who wants that?

I’m not a picky eater. I love most fruits, and I love most vegetables. So why am I not eating more of them?

I took ten minutes last week to figure this out. And I came to the conclusion it doesn’t matter WHY I skip them; it matters that I STOP skipping them. But how? After enjoying a few mini-chocolate bars for inspiration (ironic, isn’t it?), I hit on a solution that I knew would work.

I love smoothies. I usually throw a few servings of fruit in the blender with some yogurt and protein powder. What if I skipped the yogurt and substituted a cup of leafy greens? This would guarantee I’d ingest 3 servings of daily produce. Yes!

I tried it. Couldn’t taste the kale (thankfully! I’m not a fan of kale, but it’s good for me, and I’m trying to sneak more in). The smoothie contained two servings of fruit and one serving of leafy greens. Bingo!

Another problem popped into my mind. Sure, I made the smoothie and enjoyed it, but would I really rinse and chop kale and strawberries on a regular basis? Like, every day? I’m a creature of habit. I don’t want to think about my afternoon snack–I just want to eat it. The smoothie is a perfect solution.

Each week I purchase a big bunch of kale, bananas, strawberries (or other fruit like blueberries or apples). I cut them up, measure them out into one-cup servings and separate the ingredients into baggies. Each afternoon, I grab a baggie of kale, a baggie of strawberries (or I cut up an apple) and a banana, add 1/2 cup of low fat milk, 1/2 cup of ice and a scoop of vanilla protein power (this can be omitted), and I blend until smooth.


Jill Kemerer's Daily Smoothie


Knowing I’m eating three servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day gives me peace of mind. In fact, this one change prompts me to be healthier all around. I don’t know why, but it does!

What helps you stay healthy? I’d love your tips!

Have a great day!


The Mental Relief of Getting Organized

As many of you know, I’m a pretty organized person. I’m not obsessive, and I often let things slide, but overall I feel good about how I run my business and household. That being said, it’s often difficult for me to schedule the icky tasks when I have a deadline or have a million other little things to attend to. Who wants to deal with outgrown clothes, expense reports and making appointments when they could be watching a Hallmark Christmas movie? Not me!



The problem with letting the organization slide? It clogs my brain. My income-expense system consists of a manila folder to shove all my receipts and check stubs into–and the thick file stresses me out. Overgrown clothes spill out of our hall closet until I make time to drop them at Goodwill. And don’t get me started on my digital photos! Out of control! Besides that, birthdays loom with no gifts purchased, a dying remote needs to be replaced, eye and hair appointments need to be made, and I have a stack of unread magazines that would make a grown woman cry.

How do modern women do it? I mean, we aren’t even talking about the general stuff–the parent/teacher conferences, sports, keeping the family clothed, paying bills, random (and constant) meetings, meals, homework, and such. I just got a shiver.

Anyway…this week has been lovely because I spent the weekend organizing my business life. I created a business plan to keep me on track next year. I’ve also taken care of the outgrown clothes and the digital photos. The dying remote? Finally ordered a replacement. The income-expense issue? Pulled up my big girl pants, grabbed some chocolate, and created an actual *gasp* report. I tossed a few unread magazines in the recycling bin and plan on enjoying the rest this weekend. I also did some online shopping for the gifts still needed (and no, we aren’t talking Christmas yet).

You know what? My brain feels clear. I still have cluttered areas of life, but I’m making progress, and I feel so much relief getting these tasks off my mind.

Colossians 3:23 (NIV) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

I realize not everyone gets mentally cluttered with shoddy organization, but clutter–mental or physical–really stresses me out.

Do you get stressed when everything piles up? What brings you mental relief?

Have a fantastic weekend!!

Top 10 Reasons to Love NaNoWriMo by Michelle Lim

Idea Sparking for NaNoWriMo

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I’m excited to have a special guest, Michelle Lim! For all you writers out there, November is national novel writing month! NaNoWriMo is where writers sign up to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. I’m passing this year but cheering all my friends on! Look for information below about Michelle’s new book, Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Monthonly $0.99!!


Top 10 Reasons To Love NaNoWriMo


  1. Gives you an excuse to gorge on chocolate. What better reason can there be for eating too much chocolate than the need to get an obscene number of words on the page.
  2. Pushes you to finish a whole novel in a tenth of the time you might normally spend to accomplish the same thing. It may be slightly certifiable, but there is absolutely no reason not to achieve a goal that could let a novelist take a longer vacation later in the year.
  3. Forces you to turn off your inner editor. For those of you who struggle with writing a plot draft, the time frame makes you keep moving forward to the end of the novel instead of obsessing over edits in one scene.
  4. Helps to grow your support system. Often we take too much on ourselves and leave others out of the joy of journeying with us. The thirty-day novel requires us to glean support from those around us. It gives them a chance to share in the journey.
  5. Makes you empathize with your character’s black moment. Right about the time in week four when you are working on your character’s black moment, you are experiencing one of your own. It can make this scene more powerful.
  6. Gives you an excuse to wear pajamas all day. There is the whole fun of wearing pajamas all day every now and then. During NaNoMonth you have 30 reasons to wear pajamas. . . Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. . .
  7. Freedom from kitchen duty. If you don’t love to cook or clean, this month may be your solution to it all. The one time a year when you can look to your spouse with puppy-dog eyes without even feeling guilty.
  8. Guilt free caffeine consumption. If you love caffeine, this is the month for you. Staying up late to write a novel gives you plenty of reasons to enjoy your favorite blend.
  9. A thirty day edit free existence. Not a big fan of editing? Than join NaNoWriMo and turn off your inner editor for a whole month at a time.
  10. The perfect excuse not to have your mother-in-law over for dinner. Plead out of this age old tradition during the month of November and blame it all on your career.

Looking for some NaNoWriMo Tips To Write Your Novel In A Month?


Idea Sparking


My newest release: Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month is a great way to help you spark your novel.  It is Selling for $0.99 on Amazon!

Join the Idea Sparking Adventure:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Michelle LimAuthor Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s Genesis winning romantic suspense is represented with Books & Such Literary Agency. Michelle’s New Release – Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month releases October 27th. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories. Connect with Michelle as , @MichelleLim24 on Twitter, and Facebook.


What are some other reasons to love NaNoWriMo?

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Michelle!

Thirty Days of Thankfulness – Writers

One of my friends, the lovely and talented, Kristina Knight, always participates in #30DaysofThanks on Facebook and Twitter, and I decided to do the same this November. Kristina has a new release, too. First Love Again is her second Harlequin Superromance and it’s out now! Click on the picture below for links to purchase!


First Love Again


Back to the being thankful portion of this post…

Today I’m thankful for dear writer friends.

Friends like Kristina. We met several years ago, and we clicked right away! Sure, I suggested some dubious scenes during our brainstorming session, but she looked past my craziness. She’s my brainstorming roommate and an inspiration to me!

I’m blessed to be part of a local writer’s group. These ladies (and a few gentlemen) keep me motivated, have held my hand through hard times, have celebrated the good times, and continue to hold me accountable to moving forward with my dreams. Thank you, MVRAI!

I’m also thankful for all my close writer friends who don’t live near me, but we support each other through modern technology. What a blessing!

Then there are the writers who keep me in their hearts, and I keep them in mine. Maybe we only talk or email once or twice a year, but no matter. You bless me! I hope I bless you!

And I’m thankful for all the writers I have yet to meet. The ones who are living their dreams of being published authors and the ones who are persevering, patiently (and not so patiently) holding on until their break comes.

For all you writers out there, Michelle Lim has a new book out! Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month (linked) is only $0.99! I hope it sparks an idea for you!

Idea Sparking


What are you thankful for today?

Have a terrific day!!


Halloween Memories

This is going to be one of those posts that starts with, “When I was growing up…” so you’ve been warned!

Anyway, when I was growing up, Halloween was a festive day, but it was much lower on the excitement scale than say, Christmas or Easter. We didn’t have parties. We didn’t plan our costumes for weeks on end. We lived in the country, so we didn’t have a neighborhood to walk the sidewalks. But we had fun!



Our costumes were NEVER bought from a store. I mean, to suggest such a thing was unthinkable, laughable, even! Costumes were developed with what we had in our house. My dad’s old boy scout uniform was put to use one year. I’m pretty sure I was a lumberjack or a hobo most other years. I do remember my sister dressing up as a witch–and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m wondering where she got the pointy hat? Hmm… I’ll have to ask her.

Our first stop was always my grandmother’s who lived a few miles away. When we were little, she made special brown lunch bags filled with peanuts, an apple (I usually threw that out), small candies and a homemade popcorn ball. Let me tell you, that popcorn ball was delicious!

After my grandparent’s house, we headed straight to my other grandma’s house. She would open a bag of Milky Ways and just start dumping them in our bags. I loved that! Then Dad would drive us around with a stop at our old babysitter’s house. We’d get super excited to ring her doorbell. She always greeted us with a cookie sheet filled with full-size candy bars in a wide variety. We’d get to pick our favorite. Oh, the bliss!

One year we stopped at a house that had a big bowl of candy on the front porch and a sign, Take a Handful. We did.

At home we’d dump our bags out on the living room floor and separate all the goodies. I gave my Mounds and Almond Joys along with those peanut butter taffy things to my folks. I ate the rest. :)

Trick-or-treating is different in some ways now. People decorate their yards and houses. Store-bought costumes are the norm. But in other ways it’s the same. The weather is up for grabs. You never know if it will be freezing, rainy or unseasonably warm. Kids are still thrilled to dress up, run to a door and get candy. Fun times. I hope their memories are as good as mine. :)

Did you trick-or-treat when you were little? What are your memories of Halloween?

I’m talking about what strong heroines in sweet romance novels at today! Stop by and chime in!

Have a safe and fun weekend!

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