Planner Addicts Welcome

What kind of planner do you use?

Are you a planner junkie like I am? I like to say I loved planning before it was cool. I’ve used a planner ever since I was a teenager and it’s the way I keep track of my schedule, my goals, projects—everything. Today’s planners have really evolved into something of an art form, with dozens if not hundreds of different types to choose from. There are even planner kits, sticker subscription services and other fun ways to bling your planner.

There are lots of different kinds of planners. Some really popular ones include the Erin Condren, the Passion Planner, and the Day Designer.  There are simpler ones, too, like the accessible BlueSky planners that can be found at Target. You can also design your own with various online freebies, downloads for sale at Etsy and other sites or even with your own graphics program. You can even try bullet journaling, a type of planner and/or journal system I have just learned about and intend to try this week!

So how do you plan? Do you have a special system in place? Do you just keep it to your task list and events, or do you add in a journal? Do you use a monthly, weekly, daily or combination system? I have used the Planner Pad for the past few years, and while it’s still my favorite system, it’s still not enough for my journaling needs or my creative needs. So I designed my own planner for 2017 and I’ll see how that works out. Unfortunately it’s in a 3-ring binder, something I am notoriously known to ruin, so hopefully it will still be a workable system for what I use it for—which is everything from journaling to my daily tasks, assignments and events, birthdays, bills, library lists, etc.

People are always asking me how to get started on planning. To me, it’s second nature, so I just say, “Write stuff down!” Really, you could just use a notebook to keep track of everything, depending on what you want to track. That said, if you want to use a planner you can always check out the types of planners I have shared above and research more to see what suits your needs best. Maybe you need a meal planner or cleaning log in yours, or a daily planning page. Some people only need a monthly calendar. Just don’t be afraid to alter it however you need to for personal use, whether you add stickers for deadlines and appointments or box in different areas for various categories that you need to address in your life.


Photo courtesy of sarajean. This is the binder journal I made in 2014.

Meeting your laptop

Every day, without fail.

Most writers will tell you that there is no “mood to write.” You must meet the paper (or your laptop, or whatever you use) every day. Put pen to paper and write. Just start.

And I have always followed that rule, for the most part, because if I didn’t get the poems and stories and, for the past few years, ideas and complaints and responses to the world around me out, I would burst. Knowing that I feel that way makes me confident in my craft.

But lately it’s been difficult, and this difficulty has reminded me of other times in my life when I struggled to let the ink run. Each of these times in my past was due to a depression of some sort—one in high school, another in college—when it would have been most beneficial to me to write in the first place. That’s how I’m feeling right now, as I find sitting and typing to be almost painful.

The thing is, I’m not depressed; not really. I’ve been very, very angry—which is usually my favorite place to write from—and now I’m just very sad. I am going through some tough family times right now that all could have been prevented if I simply had chosen not to move where I live right now six years ago—or, perhaps, prevented if one person (them or me) had picked up a telephone to clarify something, anything, during its incubation rather than make assumptions later.

Today I read a quote that said something to the effect of how it is important to mind your character rather than your reputation, as the former is what you really are and the latter is simply what people think of you. I’m going to do my best to move forward with this information, abandoning my horrible tendency to try to please everyone—a task that cannot be done, by anyone, ever, which many people (particularly women) have learned the hard way—and meeting my keys every day to get my deadlines done, to get these stories out of me, to keep the nightmares at bay.

So… how do you do that? I’d love to hear how other writers detach themselves from such things—or don’t and write anyway, either way—and manage to go on, continuing to work even when you’re at home and you can’t leave it all behind, like you can at an office. Do you just include it in your work (as I’ve obviously just done)? Do you turn it off somehow? Any tips would be welcome.

And in the meantime, here is my new life theme song…

Joan Jett- Bad Reputation w/ lyrics

Writing on the side

The thing about being a writer is that few people are actually able to do it from the start. It would have been great to become a full time fiction writer right out of college, but even in the world of eBooks and Kindles, it's not that easy.

Most of us started out simply writing on the side when we have time. I once read that Stephen King writes for about two hours a day and I envy the King, but I have to work a full time job, various freelance writing projects for cash and write fiction on the few seconds I have on the weekends or late at night.

I can only imagine the number of amazing books and stories have disappeared into the deep recesses of my brain never to be recovered because I was stuck in a meeting or in traffic and couldn't get them written down. It's frustrating, but until I can become self sufficient on the book I will eventually write or the movie that will be made from my short stories, I'll have to just keep trudging along and perfecting my craft.

That's my goal. A writer's first book needs to be the best it can be. This will be the one that people will judge his quality and if they want to read any further works. That means pouring over every page again and again making sure every word of grammar is perfect and there are no plot holes, writing cliches or a million other common writing mistakes.

The Famous Quotes of Mark Twain

Mark Twain is likely one of the first people thought of when we refer to American authors. He was, in fact, one of the most influential authors of his time. His stories have withstood the times and gone on to inspire and educate many people. He is also the originator of some of the best known quotes. Many of these quotes can still be evaluated and but into use for our generation.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval” is one example of the great Mark Twain quotes. I think everyone can learn something from this. We spend a lot of our time worrying about how others perceive us. Are we making enough money? Do we wear the right clothes? The reality is that none of that really matters. If we cannot be content with ourselves it won’t matter how other people view us.

Another great quote from Mark Twain is, “But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?” This quote, while seemingly silly, is actually touching on a very important point. Even those who seem to be going nowhere good in their lives need the love and support of those around them. No one can achieve greatness on their own; we all need help at some point in our lives.

My final favorite Mark Twain quote is, “I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way”. This quote reminds me to be flexible. Those that are stuck in their ways are hindering their potentials and learning. By being open to all possibilities we can learn more than we ever expected.

To be a great American author you need to have your words live on, even when you cease to exist.

Is This the End of Authors?

The impact of eBooks on the profession

If the most prolific writers of the past were alive today they would be ashamed of the current conditions. It seems as though writing has transformed from a sought after talent and highly respected profession to a scramble to create the most eBooks. I am not trying to downgrade the new electronic book readers; after all, their initial purpose was to make books more available to the general public. However, their vision has gone way wrong.

In the past, authors would thrive on word of mouth. It was their biggest source of free advertisement, and it is what would make or break their writing career. But in today’s World, anyone can become an author. Self-publishing is now a normal trend. This has led to people that know how to trick the search engines (SEO gurus) becoming the authors with the highest amount of sales. Now, instead of going to the local bookstore and browsing the topics, people are instead typing their keywords into a search engine and choosing from the books that are listed first.

Many authors that would otherwise be climbing the charts are instead left in the dust. Google and other popular search engines are doing their best to combat SEO and keyword stuffing, but the offenders are changing their tactics just as fast. I am curious to know other people’s opinions on this. Do you think that the new age of eBooks is destroying the true integrity of the writing profession? I know that initially authors were thrilled to be able to reach so many customers, but it seems now that they are too busy studying how to get traffic to their book and how to rank high on search engines to have time to feel much of anything.

The Best Things from the Past Live On

this book does, thanks to Frederick Kohner

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a teenager in Southern California in the late 1950s?  Before the movie, before the television show, Frederick Kohner brought Gidget to the American public in his novel of the same name.  Based on the adventures of his own daughter, Gidget was only one of Frederick Kohner's many novels.  A petite brunette, fifteen-year-old Kathy Kohner became involved in the surf culture of Malibu, living a life Gidget fans have dreamed of living for generations.


There are many reasons to read this book.  Perhaps you dream of Southern California--  whether you have actually been there or not.  Perhaps you have enjoyed the Sandra Dee movie, or the t.v. show starring Sally Field, and want to know how the story began.  Or perhaps you simply want some light reading, and are looking for something that is filled with adventures and fun.  Whatever your reason, you will not be disappointed by this novel.


Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman is alive and well, living in California.  She still surfs, and makes other public appearances.  While there have been many other girl surfers during the last few decades, it is safe to assume she is one of the most well-known and best-loved;  and it all began with this delightful little book.  Whether you are familiar with the movie and t.v. show or not, you can start with the original Gidget, and then enjoy the rest of Frederick Kohner's novels.





Great Writers and Great Fiction in Condensed Books

series from Reader's Digest books

Since 1950, there has been an excellent way to enjoy some of the best fiction. Up until 1997, they were known as Reader's Digest Condensed Books, and known as Reader's Digest Select Editions thereafter. Some of the most popular names in fiction can be found in these books, as well as newcomers.


Most of the books in these series contain four condensed versions of novels. Some have three or five, and a few do contain nonfiction. Herman Wouk, James Michener, John Grisham, and Mary Higgins Clark are only a few of the many authors whose works appear in these series. If you are not familiar with these series, there are a number of reasons to try them. One reason is if you want to read the basics of a story before actually purchasing the novel. Another reason is if you want to build a library of these collections. A third reason is wanting to enjoy good reading, yet not having enough free time to put into reading full-length novels. Both the hardcover and softcover styles make an attractive edition to any home library, as well as making a nice gift for nearly anyone on your list.


Reader's Digest magazine offers these books by subscription. If you are looking for a specific edition, many are also listed on Amazon. In addition to the standard versions, you can also find large-print editions. Whether you choose to subscribe or purchase individual books, you can look at it as a small investment in great reading.

Today's Writers Have a Better Chance at Publication

many of the most famous writers in the past encountered difficulties

Anyone who has read biographies or autobiographies of their favorite writers know getting published was not an easy process.  Many of the most famous writers in the past were turned down, time and time again, before their books were accepted for publication.  Even the most talented writers found luck played an important role in getting their books to the public.  It was that difficult to break into traditional publishing houses;  and that fact remains the same today.


Today's writers do not need to put large amounts of time and work into dealing with traditional publishers.  It is also not necessary to secure the services of an agent.  There are two other options that make turning manuscripts into books much easier.


One option is self-publishing.  Also referred to as print-on-demand, the companies produce books individually as they are ordered.  All the writer needs to do is publish his or her book through the particular company's website.  While a company may offer services such as editing, cover design, or other assistance, these services are not required.  Whether a writer wants to publish standard print books or ebooks, he has these choices.  There is no cost to the writer for a print-on-demand service;  and some companies offer a variety of distribution services without cost.


A second option is a vanity press.  Vanity presses have been around for decades.  In the past, the way vanity presses worked was they charged writers a fee for printing a specific number of books, and, upon receiving the books, the writer had to distribute them himself.  Today, there are companies that include distribution in the initial cost. 


Anyone who is considering a book should think about his or her options.  Unlike in the distant past, talent does not need to be wasted simply because one cannot find a traditional publishing house to read a manuscript.  Getting published no longer depends on luck.  Today, anyone who wishes to see a manuscript in print has a chance.


My Heroes Have Always Been... Writers

everyone has their own reasons for choosing their favorites

Everyone who really knows me--  which, in fact, is very few people--  is aware that I have been a die-hard Capote fan for decades.  So much a fan, in fact, that I named one of my children for one of his most famous novels.  I have always found his fiction to be fascinating, and his nonfiction to be even better.  While In Cold Blood is nothing short of a literary masterpiece, it was Capote's fiction that I'd found first. 


Much of Truman Capote's material came from his own experiences.  Breakfast at Tiffany's seems to have been a rare exception.  The first lines of this story drew me in:  "I am always drawn back to places where I have lived..."*  Past and present, I have always been able to relate to that line--  for whatever reason, good or bad or no reason at all, looking back with the need to return to familiarity. 


I think everyone who has a favorite writer or favorite books has a reason for their choices.  For me, it is usually a matter of being drawn to good writing or original writing styles.  Capote has never disappointed when it came to good writing;  and I don't think there are have been very many writers in recent generations who can measure up to his abilities.  Some writers produced something excellent, but were unable to repeat that excellence a second time;  others produce something great, and are never heard from again.  Carson McCullers is an example of the former;  Harper Lee is a good example of the latter.  Capote is definitely an exception--  from collections of short stories to full-length novels, from magazine pieces to works of nonfiction, his unstoppable talent continued for nearly four decades.  He was, without a doubt, the greatest writer of our era.


June Gader's "L.A. LIVE"

You will love this book

Whether you live in California, lived there in the past, have visited at some point in time, or dream of going to the Golden State, you will love June Gader's "L.A. LIVE"L.A. Live is a relatively-unknown treasure, written by Los Angeles native June Gader. 

Everything you love--  or want to know--  about Southern California is in this book.  After the personal introduction by Mrs. Gader, you will find fourteen chapters, including:  Kathy, the Queen of Disneyland;  Lookin' Good in Beverly Hills;  How to Escape the Valley;  East Los Angeles:  Portraits and Placas;  The Genuine All-American Southern California Boy;  In Old Pasadena;  and many more.  Each of the chapters lets the reader in on the people and sections of the greater Los Angeles area.


Whether you are familiar with Los Angeles or not, you will come away from L.A. Live finding the entire region as fascinating as those of us who have lived there at various points in time.  You will find L.A. has plenty to offer to everyone;  and while there is much more to L.A. than surfers, starlets, "Vals," and barrios, they are there, too.  Whether you are looking for good reading, insight into one of the most exciting parts of the United States, or a sense of connection to a place you miss, L.A. Live is for you.  It definitely ranks amongst my own favorite books. 


You can order a copy from Amazon.  L.A. Live is only available in hardcover.