Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Apps Currently Saving My Life

That sounds like an oxymoron: apps saving my life? Well, it all works out because these apps keep me off other apps! Consolidation and time limits are a brilliant thing, my friends.

Never fear if you don't remember to post on social media every day and yet you never forget to spend time scrolling. You are not alone.

I'm not very self-disciplined. Right now I've committed to no sugar for 6 weeks (between my birthday my NYC birthday trip). To be honest, I've been trying to do this since Easter. And I don't know if I'm going to survive. The cravings are out of this world.

So ... all that to say, too bad there's not an app to keep me from eating sugar! Or I'd probably be doing better right now.

If you want to save time, read on.

For the purpose of scheduling posts in advance on social media, I'm sure most of you have heard of Hootsuite. Forget Hootsuite. You can't do much before paying for it.

Enter Buffer. My friends ... this has been a huge blessing. You can link up to 3 accounts at a time and schedule posts in advance. I use it for my FB page, Twitter, and IG feed. It's pretty great! And I've only accidentally posted on the wrong day while using it once. ;P

So if you're like and struggle with consistency on social media, this is a great tool to churn out some ideas and then not have to worry for a while! Of course, lack of interaction isn't great either ... but at least you can turn on notifications if you want to be able to keep up with comments and such in "prime time."

This can be used for endless things! Hiatuses without actually "leaving," vacations, periods with no wi-fi ... Planning ahead can be a beautiful thing.

For the purpose of limiting time spent on social media, I thought I was hopeless. Until my friend told me about AppDetox. *cue angelic choir*

It's amazing!!! You create "rules" for any apps on your phone. I've set time limits of 10 minutes a day for all my social media apps, but you can choose number of launches, times of day, etc. And you can choose any app on your phone!

I haven't even told you the best part: it kicks you off when you've hit your quota. Like closes the app and doesn't let you back in. (If this terrifies you, know you can pause the rule at any time.) The app also tracks rule breaks, usage time ... all sorts of things.

In a word, lifesaving.

The great news is, these two apps work really well together! It's easy to eat up my 10 minutes a day on a given social media account if I'm posting a lot. That motivates me to use Buffer to schedule posts in advance. That way, when I'm on, I'm using my time well--responding to interaction, checking up on people I actually care about, and only having a few minutes to scroll.

Buffer is available on Google Play and in the Apple Store, or jsut as a website. AppDetox is only for Android, but there are supposed to be Apple-compatible equivalents! So do your research, and let me know what you choose.

It may sound simple (and it is!), but it's also radical.
Have you used any apps like this before? Is time on social media for fun versus marketing/business a struggle for you too? Let me know what you've found that works!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Perks of Reading Your Own Book

Due to writing a sequel, I forced myself to read the published version of Martin Hospitality a while back. Even though I'll never enjoy reading my own writing, I found a few fun things to do as I read that I recommend every writer do now!

Yes, this assumes you're fine with writing in books. I find it worth it (kind of liking using notebooks), but you could always do it with sticky notes, too, I suppose. Or in a notebook to the side. But trust me!! You don't want to skip these fun and helpful things.


We all know there are things we'd go back and change. The hardest part for me is not to change everything in word choice and structure. Try to take minimal notes like factual errors, typos, inconsistencies, etc. Must changes. Thankfully, with Createspace it's not hard to tweak your file and re-upload it.

I think everyone edits better on paper! So if you have time, it might be worth ordering a print copy of your final draft and doing this before you publish it. I may start implementing this because it's so helpful.


This is especially helpful for writing a sequel or any other books with recurring characters. How else are we supposed to remember what color so-and-so's eyes were or what mannerisms we gave the 6-year-old? It makes things easier to find if you highlight, underline . . . something. Who wants to spend their days searching through a digital copy of a manuscript anyway?

I kid you not when I say I couldn't be writing a sequel without  having done this! Beyond just reminding myself what I've already written, I also found lots of tiny little details that I mentioned once that could be full-blown threads in Book 2. Let's call it accidental foreshadowing.

If you have found a good note-taking system for details like this, I'd love to hear it! I just used a black pen and purple pen and had different underlining methods.


This is so fun!!! I'm so glad I did this. Anytime I remembered what made me write something a particular way as I read (the source of inspiration or how it almost didn't make it in), I'd leave a note. I don't want to forget those things! And I get the feeling that they're the kind of things that readers love to know.

I have to say that the idea to do this came from Nadine Brandes. It's so worth doing, though, if only for your own amusement. If you do want to share them, I think they'd work wonderfully as insider's material for a street team or the like. (Again, Nadine is brilliant.)

For now, you can satisfy yourself with 50 facts about Martin Hospitality.
Have you ever read your own published book or annotated anything? What are your thoughts on writing in books?

If you want more info on what it's been like for me to write a sequel, look for my post as a part of Naomi's Inkling to Write writers' conference! It will contain a variety of topics on writing, the publishing journey, and marketing. My post just happens to be titled Slaying the Sequel Monster. ;)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

5 Reasons to Have a RAP (Reading Accountability Partner) // Lisa Elis

As I said last week, I have a guest poster! I'm so glad to have my friend Lisa here today. We've done a cool thing of being reading accountability partners (RAPs) and are generally just good bookwormish friends. So, of course, she's here to win you over to the most bookish side of all and convince you all to have RAPs of your own. And if she's not convincing enough, you can go read my post at the very end. Enjoy!

Hey to all you readers of Abi's *waves* I'm super honored to be featured on one of my favorite blogs ^.^ Abi and I decided to collaborate on the subject of "reading accountability partners," which we have been for almost a year.

Abi was already a seasoned blogger publishing her first book when I stumbled upon the blogosphere (in the early reaches of 2017). I actually found her because of her book's blog tour :D I emailed her once, introducing myself, and that was that. Until she requested for beta readers.

Abi has been a fabulous welcome to the blogging world for me. She gave me a start as a beta reader and included me in my first ever Camp Nano cabin and generally just was an awesome person who made me feel at home. She was on the hunt for a reading accountability partner in the early fall of last year, and when I heard I was virtually jumping up and down in the comment section and waving my arms around, so obviously she picked me.

^^ kidding. she actually did her research on me first.

So, with that introduction in mind, I'm giving you reasons why you should seriously consider getting an Abigayle Claire a reading accountability partner in your bookworm life.

But before we begin, here's a note: not everyone needs an accountability partner. I don't. I handle my reading fine on my own, thank you very much. Some people like to have another person to keep them on track, but others don't. And that's 100% ok. But just because you don't need a reading accountability partner does not mean you can't have one, nor that you won't want one when you're done with this post. Let me explain.

Accountability in Reading

First of all, as the name itself tells you, a reading accountability partner is great for ACCOUNTABILITY IN READING. This just means you have someone to share your reading goal with and that someone will help you keep on track. That person is always there to poke you and say HOW IS YOUR TBR?

^^ (And I take my job seriously. Sometimes I worry that I'm a pest to Abi haha. So I try not to poke her too often).

Some of us need this more than others. That's fine. This is for those who need it.

General Bookish Chats

Secondly, a rap is great fun because YOU CAN CHAT WITH THEM ABOUT ALL THINGS BOOKISH. This works on Goodreads and on group chats as well, of course, but. Sometimes those don't work quite as well, because you feel like there are just too many people around and it's hard to carry a lengthy conversation with any of them because you are trying to keep track of all of them.

With your reading accountability partner, however, you can be completely free to start and carry a bookish conversation. That's one specification of the JOB and if they don't want to do it, then you can just fire them.

^^ again, just kidding.

The perks of chatting with your accountability partner are that

// it's one on one
// longer conversations are possible
// because she/he is your friend you can delve deeper than with your acquaintances
// both of you will make time for it
// if you chose your reading accountability partner right (and that's the topic of another post hehe) chances are you'll have similar opinions
// and even if you don't, you won't end up fighting over it because you know and understand each other

Recs from Someone You Trust

We all get bombarded with book recommendations from all around, and on Goodreads we tend to mark all books with glowing five-star reviews as "want to read".

^^ (or, maybe not? but that's beside the point. the point is we mark  A LOT of them.)

We all have books we LOVE; we all have books we HATE; and we all have books we TOLERATE. A perk of having a reading accountability partner is that she/he may have read books you haven't, and can advise you one whether or not you would enjoy them.

It goes like this:

you: HEY DEAR R.A.P, I heard about this book and was wondering if you've read it and what you think and whether I should give it a go
your r.a.p.:  OH BUT WAIT the bad news is that you won't like it
you: why????
your r.a.p.: It's about rhinos and we all know you had a bad experience with them as a kid and hate rhinos
you: ... awww nuts ...

Or like this:

you: This book that I saw a Goodreads friend review 1 star has a horrible cover did you know
your r.a.p.: OH YES and the story was even worse. there was this dreadful love heptagon and this jerk of a strong female character who kicked butt and this evil government she managed to overthrow and did I mention the cliche tall and strong and handsome and super friendly boyfriend?
you: .... but those are my favorite tropes ...
your r.a.p.: ... oops, I forgot ... come to think of it this is exactly the kind of book you'd love
you: REALLY?
your r.a.p.: yes but what is wrong with your taste buds I don't even know

^^ (r.a.p. stands for reading accountability partner, in case you didn't guess)

IN SUMMARY, your reading accountability partner can give you great recommendations just for you because she/he knows your tastes well!

Buddy Reads with a Person You Like

Buddy reading is when you and another person read the same book at the same time at the same pace and you DISCUSS it at intervals. Abi and I haven't actually done that yet (though we've discussed it) but I can tell you that it would be a great activity.

Especially if you pick a book neither of you has read.

It can be entertaining and fun or it could even develop into a STUDY OF LITERATURE and that sounds like a brilliant plan to me! Reading together, making predictions, watching each other's reactions, and learning together is a great thing to do with any of your bookworm friends, and reading accountability partners naturally lend themselves to this activity.

Book-Related Debates (and rants)

Abi and I actually have similar tastes, so we haven't had much of a chance to debate about anything (though we minorly disagree on a few things) BUT let me tell you from experience that it IS possible to be great friends with someone who has wildly different bookish tastes.

Now chances are that you won't chose someone like that as your reading accountability partner ... but still. No two people are exactly a like so chances also are that no matter whom you pick, you will still disagree about some things.

However, unlike with strangers who try to murder you when you disagree with them (kidding again. I hope?), your friends won't bite your head off. You may disagree, yes; you may even argue; but in the end you'll still respect each.

I have another friend with whom there's like an 80% chance that she hates a book I like. And while it's all too bad, we have great fun fighting over stuff. We argue a lot, but always end on better terms than we began, because we've agreed to not get offended and not purposely offend the other.

It's great practice debating with your friends - it's fun, it's exhausting, it helps you express your opinion, and it teaches you that you can disagree but not offend each other.
And that finishes my 5 reasons why you should have a reading accountability partner.

HOPE YOU ALL ENJOYED. thanks so much for reading my guest post, and thanks so much to Abi for having me over. Give her some beautiful comments below, and chances are I might drop by again to reply.

xxxx lisa

D O   Y O U  H A V E  A R E A D I N G   
A C C O U N T A B I L I T Y   P A R T N E R?
W H A T   W O U L D  B E Y O U R   F A V O R I T E  
A C T I V I T Y   T O D O W I T H   O N E?

Saturday, August 4, 2018

How I Remain Productive Amidst Chaos

Me, productive in July?? At first blush, not really. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I accomplished. It was a productive blur of craziness. I don't know about you, but I really want to know how I managed that.

OK, so first off I was not as productive as I wanted to be in certain things. However, some of the other things that ate my time were equally productive. (Hello, work?) So I think it's important to remember that every kind of productivity is productive.

If you're like me this means you get really good at productive procrastination. I think that basically sums up my July.

The aerial view of my life in July was being out of town the first two weeks and at work the last two weeks. Sounds like a recipe for productivity, right? Well ... yes, actually.

While out of town, I expected to:
  • finish reading Thief of Corinth
  • have ample quiet time to write toward my goal of 30k
  • start reading The Blue Castle
  • work for my aunt
  • see fireworks once
  • do some work on the train ride home

What I actually did:
  • finished reading Thief of Corinth
  • wrote half a chapter and then got a pedicure
  • wrote the other half a chapter and ate ice cream
  • enjoyed multiple Starbucks
  • binge-read The Blue Castle
  • attended my first major league baseball game and saw fireworks three times
  • binge-read Where the Woods Grow Wild
  • binge-watched Lord of the Rings with my cousins
  • worked for my aunt AKA created flowers for two beautiful metroplex weddings
  • had a movie night/sleepover with my other cousins
  • googled things to do in NYC and visit with the girl next to me on the train ride home
Are you seeing a pattern here? Some things didn't happen so my inclination is to call it all unproductive. But actually a ton happened. No, it wasn't all productive, but it was all worth it. I'm not going to apologize for my goals; goals are a good thing. But I'm not going to kick myself (too much) for not hitting them all either. Sometimes I think we need to adjust our expectations and look at what we accomplished instead.

While back home and working, I expected to:
  • babysit
  • do secretary work
  • go to church
  • house sit
  • celebrate my brother's birthday
  • hit my Camp NaNo goal (now reduced to 10k)
  • plan something for the Andora's Folly birthday
  • edit for Kellyn
What I actually did:
  • babysit, getting reading time, writing time, and treated to lunch
  • joined a youth club to support local candidates
  • did secretary work and handed out our info at a back-to-school event
  • heard some of the best sermons ever and visited with friends
  • binge-watched a TV show with my sister
  • got down time at someone else's empty house and watched a movie
  • decorated for an Incredibles 2 birthday party
  • taught Sunday School
  • had family in town
  • attended a friend's violin recital
  • did two sales, a giveaway, a painting, and more for Andora's Folly's birthday
  • got over 200 downloads of Andora's Folly for its birthday (!!!!)
  • hit my Camp NaNo goal of 10k
  • almost finished editing for Kellyn
  • wrote at a coffee shop
  • researched NYC again at a coffee shop
Again, didn't technically do that all quite how I planned ... Being a goal-setter and general list-maker, that can initially be a little traumatizing. But I'm learning that things outside of plans aren't always bad. Being flexible is often a good thing.

Of course, deadlines must still be met and we can't shirk our responsibilities. That's not what I'm suggesting. But I think the only reason I was able to be as productive as I was in what was a very out-of-the-norm month was because I let myself branch out. Yes, that's right. Deviating from the plan can help be productive.

Everyone needs breaks, so make them worthwhile. All the non-negotiables and random things that popped up were nice breaks from all my to-do list items. Conversely, all my to-do list items were sometimes relaxing and different from how I earn money. In other words, I have "work-work" and "passion-work." One's always a nice break from the other.

Being productive isn't always fun, but fun can be productive. Breaks are productive simply because they energize me to keep going. TV shows and movies are blatant relaxations, but that doesn't mean I won't learn something or get a new story idea. ;) I guess it helps that I never fully switch my mind off. That means I can do things that keep me from burning out without it being a complete waste of time.

That's how I define productivity: it's less checking everything off the to-do list and more using my time well.

There's not a set formula to being productive of course, but those are some of the things that ended up helping me this month! I can't guarantee I'll be able to read that much or even write that much this month, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try. Everything's always worth a try!

I mean, let's be honest. As healthy as planning/goal-setting is, it's part of life to have plans change. Embracing all the crazy, fun things amidst my endless to-do list and letting a few things go paid off in the end. I have more memories as a result and didn't sacrifice much in the process.

It all comes down to balance. A thousand sayings sum it up. "All work and no play," imbalance. "Be in the world but not of the world" an easier-said-than-done goal for balance. The good news is we don't have to figure it all out alone, at least not if we think to ask God. In the end, I'm motivated to get things done so I have time to have fun. Meet the deadlines, but live a little.

I have to close with this Max Lucado quote because I feel like it was providential that I stumbled upon it while writing this post.

Guess what? This blog post was productive procrastination. It needed to happen, but I was only motivated to do it because I should have been billing for my dad, editing for a friend, or getting ready for bed instead. It's amazing what happens.

I mentioned all that stuff I did for Andora's Folly? The giveaway ends today, so you can still enter here! Or you can read the full post I did about the book's birthday here.

Have a good week, and prepare for an epic guest post next Saturday!