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Hello, Trello

If you’re anything like me, you need a few tips and tricks to keep all your to-do items on track. It’s all well and good to know that you have a deadline coming up in a few weeks, but without breaking things down into bite-sized pieces, that deadline can appear overwhelming enough that actually doing it gets pushed off to the last minute.

In January of this year, I started my own bullet journal, thanks to the inspiration of a Bullet Journal Goddess friend of mine, and it has been a fantastic experience. Setting up my page every day has become a grounding point, a few minutes to breathe before I throw myself into the thick of it. I’ve remembered dates, have logged my progress on all kinds of different projects, personal and professional, and have felt more in control over my own deadlines.

Love it.

One of the downsides, though (for me. I know there are a million ways to set up these Bullet Journals), is that while it’s amazing for a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month look, there’s no way to open up a page and see an evergreen list of all the projects and all that tasks that need to be done when (especially not keeping them tidy and legible).

Projects that are kind of in the back of your mind, but you don’t want to keep writing them out to bring them forward.

Whole project schedules that would just clutter up the page.

Enter Trello.

Trello is a free to-do list app for mobile and desktop. Working sort of similarly to Pinterest, you add boards for your projects, and then insert cards with the various tasks you need to complete:

Trello2

Trello

You can spiffy it up as you want with different pictures that apply, and it’s even collaborative if you want to open your board up to a team of fellow Trello users to keep your group project on schedule (or to keep yourself accountable).

If you want more features, you can pay to upgrade, but for now I’ve found the free version does everything I need it to.

Since I started using it about a month ago, Trello has been a great extension of my bullet journal, with both of them giving me visual status to stay on track, decreasing my stress levels, and offering a procrastination method that can still be perceived as work (“I’ll get to writing in a minute, I just need to update my boards.”).

It’s been such a great help to me that I wanted to share it with you, so I hope you find something useful from it.

Do you have any apps you love that keep you organized? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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November Accomplishments

I believe that half the battle of staying motivated is celebrating and acknowledging what you’ve accomplished.

To help with this, I would like to start a new tradition on this blog, where the last day of the month, I share things I’ve achieved and my goals for next month.

I invite you to share your own lists in the comments. Make a big deal of them – it doesn’t matter how small they might seem to you, it could be huge to others. 

So pat yourself on the back and let’s get sharing!

Achieved in November:

1) “Won” NaNoWriMo at 82k and finished the draft of Veilfire, Book 1 of the Nayis Trilogy

2) Had 2 book signings at Chapters locations

3) Shared the cover reveal for GODS OF THE STONE ORACLE and made considerable progress on edits

4) started a new blog serial 

5) bought a rocking new office chair

Goals for December 

1) Finish GotSO edits and have it ready for beta readers

2) Kick off my #IEAssemble promo campaign

3) Start preparing Veilfire revisions

4) Survive the holidays

I can’t wait to get started.

How about you? What have you kicked butt on this month?

Shadows in the Garden Hotel is now available

When a book goes live with 13 5* reviews already in the world, it’s hard not to get excited about sharing it. Allegra Rossi, my problem child, is taking readers by surprise. If you’ve read the prequel and the first two installments of The Invisible Entente (which, if you haven’t done so yet, now is the perfect time, as Death at Peony House is currently on sale for 99c for probably the last time for a long while) then you know how Allegra can be. She’s cold, calculating, seductive, and generally not a person you want to spend time with if you can avoid it.

But don’t be fooled by the persona she shows the rest of the world. Her expectations for the people around her are just as high as those she places on herself. To us, she appears to be the epitome of perfection — her body, her complexion, her ability to get whatever she wants just by snapping her fingers — but perfection always comes at a price. This is your opportunity to learn Allegra’s.

It makes me chuckle that many of the reviews coming in are almost begrudging, as though the readers didn’t want to be drawn into Allegra’s life as much as they were, but her allure cuts through the pages, grabs you by the heart, and doesn’t let go until the story is done.

Allegra’s story is a murder mystery full of magic; a tale of personal discovery full of heart and longing. What you think you see is only a fraction of the truth.

So take a chance, lose yourself in a tale of sensual indulgence, spine-tingling fear, and experience the full price of perfection.

garden_promoAll Allegra Rossi needs is her beauty, expensive champagne, designer clothes, and enough souls to keep her succubus appetites satisfied.

Everything seems to be in place until a photo shoot at New Haven’s prestigious — and supposedly haunted — Garden Hotel sets her dreams for a perfect life crumbling. Not only has her handsome, charismatic boss captured her interest, threatening the careful restraints she’s placed around her succubus nature, but the hotel’s reputation turns out to be true. Worse: the specter has targeted Allegra as its next victim

If Allegra wants to stay alive and keep her heart intact, she will have to unleash her demonic instincts to shed light into the darkness before the shadows consume her.

Grab your copy today for just $3.99USD

Time Flies – so let’s have a giveaway

I was going through some old papers earlier this week and realized that Feb 10 was the 3-year anniversary of the day my epic fantasy novel, Evensongwas released into the world.

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Photo credit: Blossom Moments Photography

I remember how excited I was. My blog post on that day certainly shows the enthusiasm of someone whose dreams have just come true. Yes, I’d had my Greylands release 5 months earlier, but this was my first solo baby. The first time my name alone had appeared on a book cover. It’s still a memory I hold with delight and pride.

Since then, I have come a very long way, in terms of my writing voice, my skills/knowledge in running my business, and in maintaining a balance between being creative, being a businesswoman, and still having something of a personal life.

Evensong is now sitting on Amazon with over 500 reviews and an over- 4* rating, which has blown me away. It has consistently stayed high in its subcategories, and every month so many new readers step into the world of Andvell to give it a try. It seems that most people who take the step into Eventide, the second book, stick with me all the way through to Bladelore, the final book of the second trilogy.

This is not a brag – it’s an acknowledgement. A thank-you to every single person who peered into this fictional world and decided it would be a nice place to hang out for a while. I find it incredibly humbling.

To celebrate my anniversary, I’m going to host a simple giveaway tomorrow through my mailing list. If you’re signed up and answer a simple question, you’ll have a chance to win a signed copy of Evensong.

Of course, the Andvell Saga is only part of my growing titles, and as much as Jeff and the gang will always have a place in my heart, the characters of urban fantasy Invisible Entente are quickly becoming just as important to the way I see the world.

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As such, tomorrow’s newsletter will also include:

  • the title for book 5
  • a date for the cover reveal for book 3, SHADOWS IN THE GARDEN HOTEL

And, in honour of Valentine’s Day, I will also include a short scene between Daphne & Hunter for your dose of supernatural romance.

It’s possible you’ll also get my favourite chili recipe to help us all get through these last weeks of winter.

So please, join us! Follow this link to sign up for my spam-free newsletter (once a month, and sometimes twice) and get all sorts of exclusive content, early cover reveals, and first notice of promotions and releases.

Playtime

 

One of the best lessons I’ve learned so far in 2017 is the importance of play in our lives.

I was reading a personal development book (The Gift of Imperfection, Brené Brown) that was talking about how play is crucial to keeping our human minds engaged with the world, teaches us new things, and reduces stress levels to keep us healthy.

Imagine my alarm when I realized I believe I’ve forgotten how to play. For the last few years (for me it’s been an increasing problem since high school, but that’s because I’m a keener), I’ve been focused so much on work and deadlines and achieving goals, that I kind of forgot how to turn off the goal-metre and do things for the sake of doing things.

Heck, even when I’m at the cottage with my family in the middle of the country, I tend to keep myself on a firm schedule so that “I can get as much relaxing in as possible.” Uh huh, that sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

And I don’t think I’m the only person facing this issue. In our society, we’re often told that unless something has a purpose, there’s no point doing it. Why make time for things like working on a jigsaw puzzle or taking a dance class – or if you do those things, it has to be for a reason. It’s to achieve something or to compete in some way.

Play is crucial to how our brain develops. It helps us learn things in a safe environment, keeps the neurons making new associations, and, mostly important, it’s fun. 

Research shows that extended periods without play can start to affect your mood (and in the current social climate, not to mention the wintry climate, we already have enough stresses on our ability to feel joy and excitement). It’s also shown that people who withhold play in their lives do suffer from a sort of “play deprivation”, and, just like with sleep loss, will rebound as soon as the opportunity comes up to let loose.

So make sure to get some playtime in today. I promise, it’ll be worth it.

*throws on music*

*dances around office just for the hell of it*

BOOK RELEASE: Song of Wishrock Harbor

If you’ve been waiting for the next installment of The Invisible Entente, your wait is over. Gorgon-Fae Gabriel Mulligan’s story is here!

For today only, grab Song of Wishrock Harbor for 99c before prices return to normal at $3.99

This story was one of those rare tales that spilled off the page, and although I read it 15 times throughout the course of editing, it never failed to raise goosebumps and make me crave a big cup of tea. In fact, I highly recommend you keep a warm beverage close by when you crack open the cover (metaphorically or literally)

This story also introduces Percy Sparkes, who might be one of my favourite characters to date. The relationship between these two is solid and quick, both of them poking each other, testing the boundaries to see how far they can go, just as best friends should.

I hope you enjoy the read!

To celebrate the release (the first of many in 2017), I’m hosting a Facebook release party with some amazing guest authors and swag. The party runs from 3:30EST – 9:30EST, so join us for some fun and haikus! Hope to see you there!

*Book trailer created by Lovesick Android*

What Will You Read Next? Quiz and Giveaway!

newsletter-header-3Everyone loves doing BuzzFeed quizzes, right? It’s a great way to spend time when you should probably be doing ten other far more important things.

I’m here to offer you yet another procrastination activity, one that will hopefully help you procrastinate even MORE with a great new book!

This fun and easy quiz will help narrow down to a bunch of books that match your tastes as a reader. It will also enter you in for a whole bunch of incredible prizes. So set aside that paper with the looming deadline – it can wait a few more minutes – and find out what your next read should be.

Just follow this link to get to the quiz!

COVER REVEAL: Song of Wishrock Harbor

Gabriel Mulligan is part-Gorgon, part-Fae, so his love-hate relationship with himself runs pretty strong. Fortunately for the world, he’s determined to prove he’s more than a monster. But is he right?

Song of Wishrock Harbor, book 2 of the Invisible Entente series, will be available on January 17! Follow the book on Goodreads or sign up for my newsletter so you can learn about it first.

Check out the gorgeous cover by artist Ravven.

In the middle of New Haven’s unusual blizzard, private detective Gabriel Mulligan receives a case that will push his Gorgon-Fae abilities to their limits. Six men have been found naked and frozen on the docks of Wishrock Harbor, and a dark shadow is lurking beneath the Haven River.
As the details of his case keep changing, Gabe’s hunt for the truth will require him to question the gray line that exists between good and evil.
With the help of his best friend and some unlikely allies, Gabe must sift through the lies to determine who the true monsters are — even if one of those monsters is himself.
wish_promo

 

Glancing back, Focusing Ahead

What? Everyone else is doing it. The time of year where we all look back at the last 12 months, tally up the number of celebrities who have died, and figure out how we want to strike out in 2017.

Okay, maybe that second one isn’t an annual tradition, but this year, if I lit a candle for every icon I lost, I’d set my house on fire.

That being said, as much as 2016 was a knife in the heart a lot of the time, personally it was fantastic.

A few weeks ago, I wrote my post on my first year as a full time author, so I won’t get into all that again, except to say that circumstances have arisen that will let me continue on that path for 2017.

As for the other notes/resolutions/plans from last year’s obligatory wrap-up post:

  • “On top of the work stuff, I met someone, fell head over heels for him, and am still the happiest I’ve ever been nine months later” – this is still true, although now it’s a year and nine months later. So true, in fact, that when he asked, I said yes, so that’s going to be a big part of the first half of 2017 (yay ^.^)
  • “do 20 mins of exercise a day” – I DID THIS!!! I’m very proud of myself, because exercise has never been a huge passion of mine. Sure, I missed an odd day here and there, but for the most part, I averaged over 30 minutes a day of some form of exercise, usually walking (with a brief stint of jogging, but then my knees went out again, so no). Then I picked up a hula hoop class and what was so much fun. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for some sneaky exercise in your routine. Most recently, I’ve gotten back into yoga and OH MY GOODNESS I can’t express enough how much better I feel because of it. Yay movement!
  • “read for pleasure for 30 mins a day” – DID I EVER. After a 6 year slump, I forced myself to start reading again, and managed to log 58 books since March 2016 (it’s actually more than that with Jan & Feb, but I hadn’t discovered the Goodreads Reading Challenge yet. Are you on GR? I don’t use it for much except tracking, but feel free to friend me and say hi!
  • “read 1 craft book a month” – I managed to keep this up as well and discovered many great resources and solid advice. I strongly feel my work is already better because of it. It became a lot easier to make time for this sort of professional development when I started to see it AS professional development.
  • “engage in 2 social events a month” – another goal achieved. Although I did lose a few connections being unable to go out as much as I did with the dayjob, my oldest, bestest friends stayed in touched and I did get out of the house a few times a month
  • Finally “keep up with at least one blog post per month” – I think I did that, too.

So all in all, a damned good year. A few bonus perks included:

  • making better use of my agendas/daytimers
  • journaling again
  • always having one book on the go about personal growth/development so that I can keep an open mind about the changes coming into my life.

NOW WE ENTER 2017

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUN

Usually I only have one word per year, but I think 2017 will be the year of “Activity” and “Self-Care”. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but they do have different focuses and have the potential to conflict.

Basically, I want to keep doing what I’m doing, but be more mindful and aware of it, so that I get more out of my good habits.

I want to look at my business and understand the bigger picture coming out of it instead of getting lost in the details. To do this, I want to improve my tracking systems (I rediscovered spreadsheets this year, and it’s wonderful). I purchased my first Leuchtturm1917 so I can take my own stab at bullet journaling and hopefully see greater trends in my habits so I can change/get rid of/enhance them.

I want to keep moving and stay active not only physically, but professionally as well. I’m looking at attending Ad Astra again this year, and probably CanCon, but I also want to see what else is out there so I can experience new facets to my business and learn more tricks of the trade that work well for me.

On top of all of that, I want to make sure I’m my best self by the end of the year. I actually made it through 2016 without coming down with any major cold or flu, and I think that came mainly from sleeping well, eating better, exercising regularly, and generally taking the “me” time I needed to recharge. So more of that.

In sum (just for my own tracking purposes), my goals for 2017 are as follows:

  • exercise 30min/day
  • journal at least 3x/week
  • read 30min/day
  • read 1 craft book/month
  • update daytimer daily
  • 2 social engagements/month
  • 1 blog post a month
  • get married

I WANT TO BE THE MOST WELL-ROUNDED PERSON EVAR by the end of 2017.

Who wants to join me in that? What are you goals for this year? I want to hear about them!

Thoughts on The Martian

I know I’m a bit behind the times, but I finally got around to watching The Martian last night.

I read the book earlier in the year, and I admit I was hesitant. As soon as hype grows around a thing, I tend to shy away from it. Partly, I think, because there are only a few people whose recommendations I really take a to heart, and also because as soon as I’m told “you should totally watch/read/try this”, my first reaction is to step back and go “newp”. What can I say? I’m stubborn.

But The Martian by Andy Weir turned out to be an incredible read. Not for the reasons I was expecting it to be, either. Based on everything I’ve learned about writing, there are many reasons the novel should have been trash. There was almost no character development of anyone other than the MC, and the dialogue from Mission Control was among the cheesiest writing I’ve ever seen. But it made me laugh. The humour came when you didn’t expect it, and it all worked together so wonderfully to make this heartwarming, smart-assed story of hope and perseverance.

I’d heard the movie was very close to the book, but again, I was hesitant. When are adaptations ever as good as the book?

Again, I was wrong. The movie was amazing! My partner hasn’t read the book yet, so he was more unbiased than I was, and he loved it. I spotted a few differences, things they left out, but in the scheme of things, it was nothing that detracted from the HEART of the story, which is what made it such a great book.

The cinematography was stunning, the acting superb (so many comedic actors playing these roles that are designed to balance on the the edge of serious and absurd), and as soon as it was over, I wanted to watch it again.

So if you haven’t taken the leap yet, I suggest trying it out. Yes, it’s 2 1/2 hours, but you’ll feel great at the end and probably motivated to tackle any challenge you’re currently facing.