Monthly Archives: October 2012

Spooktacular ways to save time

Happy Halloween! This has always been one of my favorite days. And yes, even at the age of 30 I still dress up! Maybe it’s the creative writer in me? It’s easy to get caught up in work, no matter what you do. Being a writer is no easy job. However, it is important to take time for yourself and family. Holidays like Halloween are important and can actually help your work.

Taking some time off can always improve your productivity. Even if it is only for a few hours. I find that I write better after taking time to go to a Halloween carnival with the family and treat the many trick-o-treaters that come to the door. I even take the time to decorate the house and I love costume shopping with my daughter. True, this is taking time away from my writing but it gives my creative mind a chance to breathe.

Breathing is essential for life and it is also essential for our creative mind. Taking a break will really save you some time. Not to mention it is healthy to get away from the computer screen and walk around a bit.

Getting out also refills your creative cup. Your mind draws on experiences so go out and experience life! Having a little fun on Halloween is also very important if you’re prepping for NaNoWriMo. If you are setting strict writing goals for your upcoming project, then you need to take a day to have fun and mentally prepare for your task ahead.

You don’t have to have a holiday to get out and have fun away from your computer. Set weekly play dates with your family and friends. Give yourself something to look forward to and work for. As long as you are taking time to get away from work (no matter what you do) you’ll see how the mental break will in the long run save time.

What do you do to refill your creative cup and take a break?

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Think before you write

Social media is wonderful for self-promotion, networking and interaction. However, it can also take a lot of your time and ruin careers quicker than anything else. Be smart and think before you write. Just because you’re sending a tweet doesn’t mean that you throw professionalism to the wind.

Be professional and never speak poorly about anyone. No matter what your feelings on a topic or an individual is, social media isn’t the place to voice it if you want to build contacts and maintain a professional career.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As social media grows, so does cyber bullying. There are those that know they are bullying but I feel that because of quick ability to share ideas in this Internet age, many of us write hurtful, bullying things without fully realizing it. Just as it’s important to safe guard your career against posting stupid online comments, it’s equally important to understand how a comment could hurt another.

All you have to do is think before you post something online. It only takes a second and you could save your career or someone else a lot of pain.

Spread the word about National Bullying Prevention Month and even after October do your part in preventing this growing problem. As our lives become more dependent on social media so does the risks that it brings. Be smart and think before you write.

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NaNoWriMo for Moms

I’m convinced that being a writing mom is one of the most challenging career choices. I’ve worked for a high profile NYC PR firm, CBS Television and been the youngest business director for an advertising firm. When I decided to take my part-time freelance career full-time, when my husband and I started our family, I thought it would be easy. I mean, because of my previous fast-paced jobs I had time management and prioritization skills down to perfection. I quickly learned how ridiculously wrong I was.

You cannot plan out your day when you are working with a child. They don’t follow schedules or respect your to-do list. However, you can set attainable goals in day parts. When I had my daughter I learned to plan out my to-do list by placing tasks in the morning, afternoon and evening categories. I also listed a few tasks that had to get done and along with tasks that I wanted to get done. I kept these lists reasonable. More times then not I was able to pick something from my want list and ended my day feeling really good.

It is important to understand that not everyday is going to be a winning day. Kids throw monkey wrenches into our plans. When I have one of those days I recall a good day and that makes me feel better. I also fall back on my time management techniques that I discussed in my previous post. I especially love waking up a little earlier to get some writing done. This way, no matter what the day brings I know that I got something done.

Use your child for energy. All moms are jealous of their children’s energy. I’ve found that by playing and really engaging with my daughter some of her energy rubs off on me. It’s impossible to not have fun when playing tea party with my little blue-eyed angel. Capitalize on those moments and use them to rejuvenate your writing self.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is quickly approaching. Remember that this isn’t as scary as it sounds. If you write a 70K book, then you’ll need to write 2,334 words a day. That is doable even for a mom. Start figuring out your strategy now and find time to make time for your writing dreams.

Hello fellow Moms! How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo?

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NaNoWriMo for busy writers

“I’m too busy to write.” OK, this always makes me laugh. I often hear this from students when I teach my Writing Moms or Writing for Busy Writers classes. The truth is that we’re all busy in our own ways. You may have a day job (or night job,) care for a child or parent, and just running the typical errands to run a household takes time.

Whatever you think is holding you back from writing, it’s not. You can find a way to make it work. Here are some techniques I’ve learned from being a freelance journalist, author and mother to a highly active toddler.

1. You must identify the times of day that you work at your best. We aren’t all morning people like I am. If you can figure this out you will really unlock some true writing power. If you write at productive times for you then you’ll get much more accomplished than if you write during non-productive times.

2. Start each day with your writing. This may sound hard, however if you set your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier to write you will find that you are happier throughout the day. Not everyday is easy. Stuff comes up. I quickly found once I had my daughter that if I at least get some writing done then no matter what happens I’ll know I did something towards my dream.

3. Create a support network. Tell your husband, family and friends that you’re writing. Ask them to check in with you to see how you are doing. This feeling of checking in with someone will help you to stay on task.

You can make this work. NaNoWriMo is a great time to start writing that novel that’s been stuck in your head. Take the jump. Make the commitment and start taking your writing seriously.

How do you prepare for NaNoWriMo?

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So you want to do NaNoWriMo?

We’re over half way through October and many of us are thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo. Wait, what? You don’t know what that is? Yes, it does sound like some weird chant but November is National Novel Writing Month so get ready to see lots about NaNoWriMo.

As a full time writer, I practice my NaNoWriMo every month. However, this is a great opportunity to begin new projects, get motivated or really start turning your dream of being a writer into reality. Still, the idea of writing a complete book in one month is a daunting thought.

Take a deep breath and don’t be scared. Let’s do the math. The average book has 70,000 words in it. Of course, what genre you write will make a big difference in word count. Now November has 30 days in it so let’s divide that 70,000 words by 30.

70,000/30= 2,333.33

Now 2,334 words (yep, I rounded) a day is a lot less intimidating. So, how are you feeling? Are ready to commit yet? Good! You can do this! Now it’s time for a plan.

Keep in mind that you will be writing a very rough draft. NaNoWriMo does not mean you must finish a perfected novel. That should make you feel better but still you need an idea of what to write. Now is the time to play with some ideas. What do you want to write?

I recommend jotting down some notes and even a rough outline. Give yourself something to work from and then those 2,334 words a day will flow easily. You might even find that you go over your planned word count.

Now you need to find the time to crank out those words. I’m dedicating my next two blog posts to various time management techniques to help you get NaNoWriMo ready.

Have you participated in NaNoWriMo before? What do you do to prepare? Share your strategy in a comment below.

Life in Saudi Arabia continues to treat us well. The evenings are really nice and cool. And get this, there are NO MOSQUITOES! Yes, the true Texan is ecstatic over that fact. We’ve been creating an outdoor living are so we can enjoy our evenings. Having this peaceful and relaxing area will also be a great way to wind down.

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Adventures of the golden child

Our golden child

Upon arriving in our new home, Saudi Arabia we had to wait in a long line at immigration. We immediately started noticing that people were staring at us. OK, yes we had a lot of baggage. We paid extra to bring extra bags knowing that the three months it will take to get our shipment will seem like forever. We also were not the only non-Saudis. There was a whole line dedicated to non- Saudi Arabian citizens. To us we didn’t seem to stand out so the staring was strange. I surveyed my outfit and I was covered by Saudi customs. I wore jeans and a long sleeved Baylor University shirt. According to customs here I do not need to fully cover up. There were several other foreign women in our line, many which were not as covered as I was.

So why were we the focus of everyone’s stares?

A Saudi gentleman approached us and asked if he could hold Baby Markey. This seemed a little strange and we said no. Another man approached us and wanted to take a picture with our daughter. Again, we said no. Then we noticed that people were subtly taking pictures of her with their phones! Then a woman came up to us and told us that we were blessed to be parents to a golden child.

That’s when we noticed that Baby Markey was the only fair-skinned, blond child in the airport. We are still cautious of people coming up to her and still won’t let strangers hold her but we now understand the appeal.

Her popularity continues to grow. When swimming at the family pool there was a line of children following her. Many of them wanted to touch her blond, curly hair. A blond child is rare over here and only is here like we are, because of work.

So Baby Markey is know as the “golden child” wherever we go and is treated like a celebrity walking on Rodeo Drive. Don’t worry, we are keeping her grounded and won’t let the attention go to her head!

Not all attention is positive. The other day she met a new little girl. The two of them were talking while I was talking to the little girls mom. I heard the little girl questioning my daughter about her hair but I didn’t think anything of it and continued to chat with the other mom. The next thing I knew, the little girl had pointed to my daughter and was screaming, “I don’t like you!” to her so the whole room could here.

I knew this day would come. Not everyone is meant to get along but this was the first time my two-year-old daughter had experienced this. She grabbed my hand and looked up at me with sad eyes. Of course I picked her up and loved on her, telling her how much I love and like her.

Don’t feel too sorry for our golden child. She is happily enrolled in Latin Dance, music lessons and has quickly made friends. It will be interesting to follow her many adventures as a golden child here in Saudi Arabia.

A new special needs pet

On Wednesday I shared details about our journey to our new home in Saudi Arabia. While our trip was enjoyable and uneventful, the furry babies had a much different experience. We flew KLM but they were scheduled on Lufthansa. Thanks to an airline strike they were delayed a week and were boarded in Houston. Once their journey began they had a two-day layover in Germany.

Somewhere along the trip the bunnies, Diamond and Jedi experienced some injuries. When I saw them upon arrival to Saudi, Jedi had a gash in her neck that exposed her collarbone and Diamond had a broken leg. Both girls (yes, Jedi is a girl) had emergency surgery. Jedi is fine but Diamond’s leg was beyond repair. The veterinarian had to amputate one of her front legs. So our family is now helping a new special needs pet adjust to a new life.

Oscar, our dog inspired my book, “Caring for Your Special Needs Dog.” He has epilepsy but we’ve learned how to help him deal with his disorder and he has a wonderful life and adds so much to our family.

The bunnies have always been special. From the moment we found them drowning in our backyard in Arkansas to taking them with us to Saudi Arabia, they have both found ways to our hearts and we love them. Seeing them so hurt was difficult and the relocation firm is looking into answers as to what happened to them and why no one was notified.

Diamond is adjusting very well to her condition. She is hopping and running again. Like Oscar, she has a special need but she will be fine and have a wonderful life while being a valued member of our family.

Oscar arrived with no injuries. It didn’t take long for him to return to his routine of sleeping between my husband and I and watching TV from the couch! Though the trip was difficult on them we would have never made this move without our entire family including our furry babies.

Do you have a special needs pet in your family? How do they add to your family’s life?

Life in Saudi Arabia

We are finally feeling adjusted to our new home in Saudi Arabia. We will only become more settled as our shipment starts to arrive.

The trip was tiresome and stressful. I think there is really no way to completely prepare for an International move. We were however, spoiled by first class! Baby Markey enjoyed the food and slept a lot so her daddy and I could relax and catch up on some movies. International flights are really a treat for parents of young children. It’s a time to watch the movies that we couldn’t see in theaters thanks to our little angel.

Amsterdam is probably my favorite layover destination. The food was great, shops were fun and they had a playground for Baby Markey to run around and stretch her legs in. Again, we were spoiled by the first class lounge and it may actually be worth saving to travel that way on future flights especially with Baby Markey. We will see about that.

We were greeted upon arrival to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by my husband’s new supervisor. This greeting was impressive considering that it was 2 am Saudi time when we got through immigration and customs.

It was exciting to arrive but we had a tired little girl and we were anxious to see the area, which was difficult to do in the dark. The morning brought much excitement as we got to really see our new home. To be honest, it’s fantastic. I wasn’t expecting to love it like I do. Baby Markey is happy to report that she investigated every cabinet, closet and corner of the home. She did this while calling out the names of our wonderful furry babies, our dog Oscar and two rabbits Diamond and Jedi. They’re travel was delayed a week because of an airline strike.

And now it’s time to discuss my irritation with the Internet! We live in one of the oil company compounds. They fell victim to a cyber attack right before our arrival. To allow IT to remove the virus and to prevent it from causing the intended damage, all communication systems were shut down! This meant we had little phone contact. We could only call the States with our U.S. cell phones and you don’t want to know our bill. We had NO Internet. As a writer and a journalist who makes a living on the Internet this was a personal disaster.

Communications are slowly getting better. For a while I couldn’t check my email. Now I can but only on my iPad and I can’t accept or send any attachments. But hey! I’ll take whatever progress I can get.

I’m back on Twitter but can’t include any links. I hired a virtual assistant prior to my move and now her help is going to be even more valuable than I once thought. Any Facebook messages or Tweets with links will be coming from my virtual assistant, Karianne. I’m sure she’d love a hello now and then!

Baby Markey’s new nanny started yesterday. This will really allow me to get a lot of work done (mostly playing catch up for now) done in the mornings and then in the afternoon I’ll be off to playgroups, Latin Dance and music class with my little socialite.

It’s good to be back and as always thanks for your patience in sticking with me. Beginning this week my blog will resume with its normal Wednesday and Friday posts.

To celebrate your Wednesday, enjoy my family’s theme song from our travels.