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A Serious Year: 2015 in Review

I’ve been largely absent from the world of social media for most of 2015. 2015 was a challenging year for me. It was the first full year that Altered before the Altar was on the market. I’m excited about the way God has used it to change the hearts and minds of single women and turn them back to Him. I’m hopeful that God will continue to use it.

My word of the year was attendance.

In short, it’s time for me to show up in my own life and participate in that instead of being an audience member in everyone else’s life.

So how did I do with my word of the year? How did I do on my goals? What worked and what didn’t this year? Let’s get into it, shall we?

Perfect Attendance?

How well did I show up in my own life this year? That’s a huge question that took a long time for me to unpack. I moved from my home of four years to a new place in March, then moved again July 31st. At work, my desk has been moved three times in the past year. My boss, department, duties, coworkers, and department structure have all changed. For a slow changer like, this year full of personal and professional changes threw me for a loop.

It was an uncomfortable way to conduct a year for me. I was tempted to call in sick to life this year. A few times I did. I struggled in it mostly because I struggled with it.

When I told God that my word of the year was going to be attendance, it was because I was supposed to be going places that I wouldn’t want to miss being. I was expecting to do some hard things. I expected to be uncomfortable selling Altered before the Altar and speaking at conferences. I was prepared to sit with God’s word and to be called into deeper relationship with Him through it. I was even prepared for moments of doubt and uncertainty. I wasn’t prepared to be tossed about so hard by life in ways I couldn’t control. And because I wasn’t expecting it, the winds of change nearly blew my house down.

Guys, this year was hard. Beyond hard. 

But this year was also amazing and so much more than amazing. 

It’s both because I did show up in my life. I stayed in those hard places. Sometimes I sat in the corner with my arms crossed, pouting and complaining, but I stayed there. Most importantly, I cried out to God in those places. I read His word in those places. I made a big step forward in not complaining so much about everything that felt wrong in my life. For full disclosure, I tanked at not complaining in the little things that happened, particularly at work, but for the most part, I went to the Lord.

I didn’t always do this because I wanted to. This year I really felt the Lord calling me to shut up. I was largely silent on social media, especially the last half of the year. I kept a lot of things between me and God. And without so many people and their opinions muddying the waters, I was able to see very clearly how God moved in situations. I got to trust Him and look to Him for things I’ve run to people for in the past. That was life-changing.

GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

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A fraction of the 500+ women I had to stand before and explain the heart behind Altered before the Altar to…gulp!

I didn’t choose my goals until my birthday, so I still have nearly two months to make them happen. The ones that I’ve already accomplished are: speaking at a conference; shooting at least one YouTube video (I’m counting a Periscope I did for this), and; creating a professional vendor table set up for events. The goals in process are: writing and publishing another book, opening an online shop, learning to create book covers, and; improving my business cards. I’m not sure if I can achieve the rest in two months, but with God all things are possible.

That’s Not Really Working for me…

What worked and what didn’t? It felt like a lot more didn’t work this year than did, but that’s a perception thing. Even though it felt like very little worked, what did work worked  in a major way and was SUPER significant. In order to leave on a positive note, I’ll reflect first on what didn’t work.

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So what didn’t work? Fighting change, only being present, complaining, fleeing situations I didn’t want to be in, being angry and upset, working from a place of competition, trying to be perfect, comparing myself and my efforts to others, and trying to replicate what other people were doing didn’t work for me. Neither did jealously, envy, self-pity, or striving. I didn’t expect this list to be so philosophical or difficult, but there you go.

I Worked It!

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What did work for me? Shutting up, accepting change, bringing my best to life’s worst, pressing in to God, speaking up, recording myself in the car, following inspirational people online, pulling back from social media, speaking in front of women I don’t know, and being courageous in getting Altered before the Altar out to more women worked. I am so humbled by the feedback that Altered before the Altar changed hearts and lives and led many women back to their first love. I loved getting to meet new sisters in Christ.

Another thing that worked was participating in Blurb to Book. I entered a contest with a 100 word blurb and the first page of an inspirational romance and made it all the way to submitting a full manuscript! I was sent a revision letter and have another opportunity get a contract for a fiction book. I would say trying worked for me this year. Trying and failing and being willing to try again.

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out what my word for 2016 is,why I chose it, how it informs my goals, and my goals. 

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Me and my cousin Deloris. Prettiest picture of 2015!
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Goal for 2015: Perfect Attendance

As those who have been reading my blogs for a long time know, each year I make it a point not only to write out a list of goals, but to choose a word of the year, a simple concept that I can focus on in this calendar year to guide the improvements I want to make in my life. In years past, I’ve had some wonderful words to guide my goal setting and make positive changes:

2010–accountability

2011–balance

2012–focus

2013–savor

2014–submit/submission

This year has a tough act to follow. Last year’s goal to submit was an amazing opportunity to grow. I’m in awe of how God worked things out so that I REALLY had to learn this submission thing if I wanted to get out of this year alive. I had to learn to submit to those in authority spiritually and in the world in a major way this year! I also had to learn to take any disappointments and setbacks and submit them to God instead of dwelling on them. Finally, I learned to submit my writing for publication and for public consumption. God was really with me in achieving this goal. So what do I hope to accomplish this year? What’s the word that I hope will develop me even more on this journey?

The word of the year for 2015 is…attendance.

One simple definition of attendance is a record of the number of times a person has been to a certain place. If you want, you can make attendance into a numbers centered thing. I could make this goal about how many times I attend church, get up and study the bible, pray, visit the sick, and so on. But that’s not what this goal is about for me.

I want to use another simple definition of attendance: the act of being present in a place. One thing I noticed last year was that I had a really hard time being in the moment, appreciating the accomplishments that I made, etc. I was always rushing off to the next thing. I wasn’t present for most of my life; rather, I was waiting to get to the next goal, to reach some other pinnacle. I was waiting for the next thing to happen, or actively pursuing the next thing. In doing a year end review, I realized how many things I simply missed because mentally I was somewhere else. So one purpose of this goal is to adjust my focus so that I am present in each moment this year.

But there’s more. I want to attend things, or be at certain places consistently, and I want to be present in the moment, but there’s another part to this goal. A couple other definitions of attend: to apply the mind or pay attention; heed, and; to direct one’s attention. I’ve spent entirely to much of 2014 attending everyone else’s life and leaving my own unattended. I spent a lot of time focused on what others did to achieve success in different areas of their lives and trying to replicate it in my life without actually giving my attention to my life. Occasionally I would see my life clearly and note that I needed to work on something or change it, but then my mind was consumed with something else and I never got around to doing anything about it. This year, I want to be where I’m expected to be, be present in mind as well as in body, and apply my mind and direct my attention where it needs to be. In short, it’s time for me to show up in my own life and participate in that instead of being an audience member in everyone else’s life.

So what’s your word of the year for 2015? What are you trying to change in this new year?

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Publication for Dummies

St. Augustine
St. Augustine

The last few weeks have been a crash course in business for me. Before I began working on this book for self-publication, I had no desire to be an entrepreneur. In all honest, I still don’t. I am just trying to get my book into as many hands as possible, legally, with no surprises at tax time or anyone using the sweat of my brow inappropriately.

I’ve spoken to other self-publishers, accountants, attorneys, bankers, and small business owners on different aspects of publishing that I should be aware of, as well as started to set up some marketing opportunities for myself like speaking engagements and etc. I’ve always known that writing the book is only half the battle, but now it’s more real to me than ever. In fact, I would argue that when it comes to self-publication, writing is less than a quarter of the battle.

Today, I want to share and get opinions on some of my plans in the coming weeks for the rest of my book’s journey to publication and the first couple weeks afterward.

I revealed the title of the book on this site on Friday. The response has been very positive. I think that I nailed the first marketing aspect of the book with a good title. I also think I nailed the second part of good marketing–the cover, which I will reveal tomorrow, if all goes well. So what are the next steps for me?

The next steps I have to complete in this process are BIG steps. As I was reading over the book, I noticed some sections would work better in other places, some thoughts could be condensed, and some personal stories or asides were unnecessary. I also didn’t fully introduce each new couple that I quoted. In other words, I need to get the final draft of the book like I want it. I also need to get beta readers in the target audience for feedback. I have to secure the person I want to do the Foreward and finalize all the front and back matter–acknowledgements, dedication, definitions, appendices, etc. These things are easy for me to do, just large tasks. They are in my comfort zone.

The next group of things venture into INEBIGTDIA territory. I have to format the book or pay someone to format the book. I have to upload everything to CreateSpace, set up my Amazon author page and product description, metadata, etc. I have to establish my sole proprietorship over my press by running an add in the paper and registering the name with the state as well as getting an EIN. I have to decide on a banking set up for it. I have to order the first batch of books I plan to sell myself physically, which  means I have to determine how many to buy and ship them on time to have them for planned festivities. I need to revamp this site and set up the book’s site with all the fun goodies I have planned for it.

In addition to all of the scary things in that paragraph, I have to plan some fun book release things. I’ve already started planning an event with my aunt for a local chapter of a women’s group she is a part of to do a presentation on a topic from the book. I need to kick planning for a release event locally into high gear. Separate from the book release event, I want to put on a singles conference or one day workshop/seminar for single women to attend. I am pulling together a list of people and organizations to give free books to for review or possible group sales. My goal is to put this book in the hands of as many Christian women as I possibly can to help them realize the importance of godly guiding principles in their relationships, so I’m open to speaking at events, hosting dinners or ladies’ days, etc. to get the book into the right hands.

I am not excited about the business things I have to do, but I am not intimidated by it either. I know that if this is of God, He will bless it. I can’t hide behind my computer if I want to help young women. The whole point of this book, this site, is to influence women to get serious about their lives in Christ. I can’t afford to be timid or complacent. I want people other than my friends and acquaintances to be exposed to the scriptures, stories, and lessons in the book, and it’s up to me as my own publisher to make that happen.

Any other self-publishers out there with any advice? Anyone else chasing a God-given purpose and refusing to be overwhelmed?

XOXO,

Erica

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Getting Serious About Publishing a Book: Title Reveal

Exchanging of the rings. My good friend and her husband. Photo by me.
Exchanging of the rings. My good friend and her husband. Photo by me.

I’ve kept all of the details of this book tight to my chest, an odd thing for me. I usually tell the world everything, but I wanted to make sure that the things I chose were the things God wanted associated with the book. I wanted to have enough space to hear from Him on the topics I covered and not cloud my mind with too many other opinions. I wanted to make sure the ideas were fully developed before they were out in the world. Lastly, I didn’t want to make the book my blog in published form but something that was new and useful to my audience (of two or three).

Now that the title is definite, the content is (mostly) written, and I am inching towards a release date, I am ready to reveal my title.

For the longest time, the book that I’m writing was known as the Marriage Kit book. When I started writing it, it was a series of interviews I conducted (think “What’s in your wallet?” for marriage). I began scribbling down some of my own observations and things that I studied about marriage and related topics. At some point, the present book began to take shape: a book on marriage preparation geared to single Christian women. But what to call it?

An early contender was It Takes One to Know One. I developed a whole marketing scheme in my head that suited this concept, including tote bags, journals, key rings, and compact mirrors emblazoned with my logo. It was going to be legen– wait for it–dary. Until I realized that the domain name was taken, the logo was silly, and I didn’t want to use an ambiguous phrase that I would have to explain all the time. It didn’t let the reader know what this book was about or if it was something they should read. When I asked Mr. Perfect about it, he was similarly unenthusiastic.

So how did I come up with the final title for this book? I thought and prayed about it for days, running options through my head. I searched Google and Amazon for each title I came up with to see how many items were returned. I didn’t want this book to get lost in a sea of similar titles. Nothing seemed to be unique enough to stand out and clearly convey the concept of the book at the same time.

As I walked to the bathroom on autopilot one morning, turning phrases around in my head, I thought about the recent shift in direction the book had taken. It was still for Christian women who desired to be married, but the focus was more on the woman herself than marriage. It wasn’t about getting married so much as allowing God to mature and develop you for the next step in your life. It’s like God is… and whoop, there it is! Right as I sat down on the toilet, the title popped into my head. 

I rolled it around in my head. Was it clear? Yes. Was it catchy? I think so. Did it pertain to the content of the book? Definitely. Could I see it on the cover of a book with interesting images? Yep. If I were walking through a bookstore, would that title make me pick up the book and turn it around? Absolutely. The only thing left was to check Amazon and Google to see if that title was also the title of a thousand other books. Lo and behold, it wasn’t! There was one blog site that had one entry from years ago, a TV show from a while back that wasn’t a similar in scope, and no books with that title on Amazon.

I told Mr. Perfect about my new title idea and he liked it. Then I told my dad, who’s also a writer, and he liked it. Over the past year and a half since I named my book, I’ve only shared it with my critique buddies, cover designer, cover model, minister, and Mom. Until now.

Ready?

Are you sure?

Okay, here it goes:

The title of my debut book is…*drum roll*

Altered before the Altar: Allowing God to Make you “Meet” to be Met. *fireworks* *confetti*

(Now don’t whip up a book and steal this great title, you hear?)

God willing, Altered will be the first book in a series developed for young women on various topics. Once I get the legal side of things attended to, I will make sure to release further details on the series. What I will divulge now is that I already have plans for the next book. It is much more personal and on a subject I’m just as passionate about as marriage preparation. But that’s off in the future. 😉

I’m sure you’re interested in the cover now, right? Stay tuned next Friday for a cover reveal!

 

 

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Getting Serious About: Publishing a Book

DSCF0270When I was in the fifth grade we had to write an essay about what we wanted to be when we grew up. One of my best friends at the time, Tiffani, and I decided that we wanted to be therapists. But I also wanted to write. I ended up writing in that essay that I wanted to be a relationship therapist and write books about relationships. Not long after sixth grade started, I moved away and didn’t reconnect with Tiffani again until we found one another through Facebook somehow nearly two decades later. Now Tiffani is a nurse and I work as an administrative assistant in the legal department of a company. Yet the desire to talk about relationships, the desire to write, has never gone away.

Many of you know all about how I started doing interviews with married couples and posting them on my blog. You may also know that I spoke to the single women at my church during the Marriage and Family workshop about dating and purity. You may even know that I decided to write a book and have been working on it off and on for about four years. What you may not know is that the book I dabbled in for so long now has a title, a cover, beta readers, and a tentative release date.

One of the main reasons I started The Season for Getting Serious was so that I could encourage other women to get serious about their walk with the Lord. I’ve had a couple opportunities to do “Getting Serious” talks to help do just that. I’ve hosted college prep workshops, spoke at an empowerment workshop and an authentic self workshop, and taught ladies’ bible classes about topics that very much relate to helping women get serious about who they are in Christ and what He has called them to do. Yet I hadn’t stepped up and done the one thing I knew that God had called me, Erica D. Hearns, to do: write.

Oh, I wrote blogs, but no books had been written by my hand. I was dissatisfied with the books I read geared toward single women and began writing what I felt God wanted me to say to them in drips and drabs, but I wasn’t really committed to publishing it.  I wasn’t sure it was God that was leading me to want to publish a book. Maybe it was my own selfish desire.

In 2012, the guest speaker at the ladies day, Sister Felicia Carruthers, did an activity where she had us think back to when we were kids and the things we liked to do. Somewhere in the things we always did as a kid we might find our purpose. That was a simple exercise for me. I’d always written. I’d written Spiritual Adventure articles for the local congregation when I was in college. I wrote a poem for a coffee shop the Christian Student Center hosted. I didn’t minister to people by singing or going to medical school to save lives; I used my writing to promote the things of God. That ladies’ day was the day that I realized I needed to get serious about seeking publication.

Through many false starts, distractions, frustrations and tests, I kept limping forward. I gave my book to a couple of beta readers about two weeks ago. I commissioned a cover and received the finalized version yesterday. I’m amazed at how God has brought me to this point, just a couple steps away from publishing my first book. Somewhere along the way, I started to take this journey seriously. I wrote the difficult passages. I’ve put myself out there for feedback. I was able to critique my cover and propose the changes I wanted without compromising what I wanted or insulting the designer (I hope). I am making sure that my genuine concern and compassion are evident to the reader as much as the urgency and call to obedience and repentance. I’ve committed myself to publishing the book that God gave me to publish.

Sometimes, in the “busyness” of everyday life, the still quiet voice that nudges us towards doing what God would have us to do is drowned out. The godly goals and desires we have can get washed away in a sea of stress and worry. But what I try to remind myself is that someone is looking for the thing that I am procrastinating about doing. Someone needs to read this book. Someone needs to read the next one.  As Mordecai tells Esther, if I don’t do it, God will raise up someone else to do it; but what if I was placed here and given this talent for such a time as this?

So, anyway. I have a book coming out soon. I’ll release the title, cover, and so forth as the release date approaches. I’m still working out some of the kinks and getting things in order. But it’s more real than ever now.

XOXO,

Erica

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Morning Routines for Dummies

I have an issue with creating a morning routine that meets all of the criteria I have for starting the day off right; there are too many things to do and too little time. Given my particular leanings, morning is the best time for me to accomplish several tasks, most of which are too time consuming to do all of them in the morning. This doesn’t even take into account a morning hygiene routine, which we’ll come back to later. These are the things I would like to do in the morning:

  • Bible study/prayer/worship
  • write
  • edits/revisions
  • critique chapters for my critique partners
  • finish reading books to review
  • write reviews
  • Wrangle with writing synopses and query letters.
  • CLEAN
  • do laundry
  • exercise
  • use my crockpot to start dinner.
  • shower, brush my teeth, wash my face, fix my hair
  • fix or go get breakfast.
  • catch up on social media.
  • post to social media.
  • write blog posts.
  • work on improvements to my websites.
  • Look for cool things to bring to my blogs and sites.
  • Try to figure out how the heck to build my brand.
  • catch up on Netflix
  • light scented candle, put on classical music, and just exist for a few minutes
  • specialty beauty things–eyebrows, home mani/pedis, shaving my legs, facial masks, washing drying and styling my hair, any beauty treatment that is less frequent than daily.
  • Wake up my brain with word scramble.

I have two hours in the morning to get everything done except getting showered and dressed, which I leave about half an hour to forty-five minutes for (I’m not a fussy girl, apparently). I’m sure you can imagine how getting into any of the above tasks can bleed over into my getting dressed time, especially if I’m in a groove. There’s just not enough morning in my days.

I know you’re probably thinking I could shove some of these things into the evening, and I always have plans to accomplish so much when I get home. But when I get home, I am exhausted both from the early start and the hard day at work. Depending on the time of the month, I am drowning in invoices and reports. The last thing I want to do is come home and take laundry to the laundry center (it might be different if there was a washer and dryer in the apartment) or wash a sink full of dishes. I have much more energy in the morning.

So how does one solve this dilemma? If I could spend a few days just cleaning everything in sight and catching up on all of the things I need to do, I could do one or two things each morning going forward. At the moment, however, there’s just an overwhelming amount of things to do. I tried doing one cleaning thing, one writing thing, and bible study each day, but the area would be during again before I had another area finished, and the critiques would be due and it’d be time to swap more chapters, so I had to drop everything and do that, then I needed to… I can’t seem to get any traction.

The short version of this post: I am incapable of doing all the things I am better at tackling in the morning in the two and a half hours I have before work and I need suggestions on how to start making inroads into it. Seriously. I really want to get serious about this morning routine, but right now I am all over the place. Help!!

XOXO,

Erica

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No Trees, No Presents, Just Presence

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year because everyone is recognizing/observing things and doing things I try to observe and do all year long. People are celebrating Jesus’ birth today like I celebrate His birth, life, death, and resurrection all year. People are going out of their way to show mercy and grace, to be kind, to be patient, to bless the people in their lives materially, spiritually, emotionally. Some are pledging lifelong commitments to their significant others or traveling to spend precious time with family. Christmas is the time of year when everyone recognizes God’s best gifts to us: His precious son and His unfailing love for us. I’m all about the celebration!

This year has been light on presents for me. What it has been heavy on is reading God’s word. I’d fallen off track, pursuing goals that I had for the year, and wasn’t making the time to read in the word as I used to. This week, though, I’ve made it a point to rededicate myself to study. I’ve been studying recognition the last few days, and the messages have stuck with me. I feel I could write an awesome Ladies’ Day lesson on Leah, Jacob, and Rachel. I have studied what Christ has to say about it in the New Testament as well. In the spirit of recognition, I’d like to acknowledge Mr. Perfect’s role in my intense study.

I was going to glance right over the principle of recognition in my book because I wanted to get it out before the holidays. I had the money in hand to get a cover ready, and a portion of the book was given to someone to review. I was all set to go, but I wasn’t feeling sure about it. I asked Mr. Perfect what he thought I should do with my extra money. He told me to hold off on the book cover and take care of other things first.

“But I won’t have enough extra money to do the cover again until March!” “March is only a few months away,” he answered. Mr. Perfect and I aren’t married, and I am under no obligation to listen to or implement the things he said. But I felt a lot more peace about his suggestion than I did with going forward.

I was going over the notes for the next section to be reviewed when I saw I didn’t have much for the last few principles I needed to highlight in the chapter: presentation, recognition, and knowing (in the biblical sense). Looking to fill in the gaps there has led me to this eye opening study that is still yielding fruit. Thank God for Mr. Perfect’s counsel in that moment! 

Every day I study it, I am amazed at just how perfect and relevant the story of Adam and Eve is to relationships today, both with God and with a spouse. When I first thought of using Adam and Eve to branch off into each topic of the book, it just seemed like a clever device to organize the book, but now I’m seeing the divine providence and guidance in that choice. The story of their creation and the establishment of the marriage institution is the seminal text about relationships. I’m learning so much about relationships and myself through writing this book, and growing so much. I can only hope it’s half as powerful to anyone who will get to read it.

I don’t have a tree or presents to give out this year, but God has gifted me with a purpose and a renewed desire to achieve that purpose. More importantly, though, God has renewed my desire just to sit in His presence, to take His yoke upon myself and learn of Him. Before the demands of the day, as sweet as they may be, pull me away to attend to family, I just wanted to say how thankful I am to God for the gift of his Son, today and every day of my life. As the song says, life is worth the living just because He lives.

Be blessed,

Erica

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The Plague of Oversharing

As a blogger, I’m aware that sometimes people tend to overshare on social media. What constitute oversharing can vary depending upon who’s talking. There are some things people may think of as oversharing that the poster is posting in an attempt to help someone else who might be going through the same trials in their lives. So where do we draw the line, and how do we stop damaging relationships and reputations with our post/publish/tweet/send buttons?

This issue has come to my attention again in a couple different ways, one in my own life and one in the life of a friend on a social media site. This friend decided to post about a situation between her and her husband that was going on at the time. My first thought upon reading the back and forth was, “No! Why are you posting this?” The situation did seem to require that she reach out to someone for help and not just go to a corner and pray about it, but I didn’t think social media was the place to reach those people. Now you have people who aren’t close to you or your relationship now knowing the intimate details of it. I am praying for her and the situation, but I also feel like I should know NOTHING about the situation. I’m not close enough to physically be there and help, nor do I have any knowledge of their relationship or marriage that would qualify me to do anything but pray about it, yet here I am knowing about it. I feel uncomfortable knowing about it, too.

Mr. Perfect and I had a discussion about blogging recently where he asked me about another blogger that I follow. This particular blogger lives in our area, and he was saying how this person knows nothing about him, but he knows (through me) their name, their children’s names, their occupations, and some of what goes on in their marriages. How does this person’s spouse feel about this? I happen to know that this person has their spouse read everything they post before they post it and gives them veto power, but how many people are posting things that involve more than themselves and not consulting the other person? I know I’ve been guilty of airing frustrations or relaying conversations without asking permission to do so from the other party involved.

I once had to take down a post that people took the wrong way. I was in my last year of college, at a new school in a new state. I wasn’t on campus for long before I realized that the transition wasn’t going to go as smoothly as I thought. I was involved with a group back at my original college and was having problems getting paperwork sent to me from them. I wasn’t really able to connect with the group at my new school, either. So, as I usually did at that time, I wrote a post about how I felt a little caught in the middle. The group at my new school was livid! They felt that they had been portrayed unfairly (a friend at the time told me that it didn’t read that way to her, and she understood exactly what I was saying, but that’s beside the point) and wanted me to take it down, so I did. But the damage was already done. I never did join the local chapter of the group, I never did make connections with the group here, and in the end, it didn’t matter at all. I graduated and moved on in a few months.

There are often things that happen that I would love to rant about or share on social media, but that’s what prayer and a paper journal are for. Everyone can’t handle knowing everything about you; they just can’t. Everyone can’t give you good advice or offer support. Some people are gleefully awaiting an opportunity to read some unflattering things about you, to see that there’s trouble in your relationships or on your job. It’s becoming increasingly important to teach young people how to make decisions on what’s appropriate to share and with whom it’s appropriate to share it. Discretion and privacy management are going by the wayside.

This was not the post I intended to write when I sat down. I was intending to update you on all of the things that have been going on in my life since August, but I got sidetracked by a social media post that blindsided me. I’ll be back to tell you all about my adventures in writing, work, life and so on…

XOXO

Erica

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Cheat Sheets

Good News!

I have finally realized a mini-goal of mine: I now write reviews for Harlequin romance novels via the website Harlequin Junkie (I will be creating a tab for you to see where else I am writing around the web soon!) I have completed my first two reviews and have been given EIGHT NEW BOOKS to review, not to mention the ones I have to finish up for Net Galley. In consequence, reading and reviewing have taken over my calendar…my still non-existent calendar that is supposed to track everything I have to do. Anyway…

I’ve developed a cute little cheat sheet to help me get my reviews done quickly and easily. My cheat Sheet has the book title, author, main characters, supporting characters, important physical details, first impressions, what’s keeping them apart, how they finally come together, and etc. so that I don’t have to try and find the basic information in the Kindle copy. I have found this invaluable in my reviewing. I’m thinking it might be even more valuable in my life.

Passing Tests with Cheat Sheets

In the story of my life, there are going to be obstacles in the way when I am trying to achieve goals or just be happy. I have seen most of them before, or at least know they are there. I know what things I will have to overcome for me and my ultimate dream to “be together.” I think that most people don’t write things like this down because they don’t want to be negative or visualize negative things, but I think that if I write down what needs to be overcome, it will get me thinking about a plan of attack, a way to get past those obstacles. In other words, I need a game plan.

In school, I had quite a few classes where we were allowed to make cheat sheets. A cheat sheet allowed you to compile the most important information in a condensed format so that you might be able to pass the test. A cheat sheet was easier than trying to search entire chapters for an answer to a specific question. The best thing about a cheat sheet was that you got to decide what went on it. You could put more information on it to help you out in the areas in which you were weaker.

Are You Sensing a Theme Here?

No matter which cheat sheet we are referring to, they both serve the same purpose: to quickly assess the information needed to answer the questions at hand.  As I looked at my cheat sheets for my reviews, I realized that I can anticipate what obstacles in my life will need to be overcome just as well as I could those of the characters in the books I read. If I can identify the things I need to overcome, I can also begin developing a cheat sheet with information on how to overcome that specific obstacle. So it’s time to start working on my first cheat sheet for life.

TO BE CONTINUED…

In Other News…

I’ve noticed a lot of things have been affecting those close to me. I’m seeing a lot of hurting in those around me. I haven’t been reaching out as much to people because I’ve been wrapped on in my own things, but I HAVE to make time to get back to that. There have been a few major trends going around in my circles lately: death, illness, financial hardships, divorce/marital issues, and unemployment. In an effort to be more mindful of this, I am going to pray a prayer at least once a day for other people, and I would love it if you joined me. I will be keeping my eyes open each day and look for those in my circle who need prayer so that I can pray for them specifically. If you want to join me, try and find at least five people to pray for and get to know specifics about what they need. Maybe what they need is something you can provide to them physically or emotionally, but even if it isn’t, offer up prayer for them.

Be blessed,

Erica

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Stressed

Yesterday when I got home from work, I sat on the couch for at least ten minutes without blinking, my neck as tight as a the surface of a set of bongo drums. Seriously. It made me think that maybe I’ve been pushing myself a little hard this month. With the deadline to be done with the book a couple days away and so many changes in my work schedule recently, I am down to the dregs of my energy. I have written and revised nearly every day for over two weeks, on top of changing my work schedule to accommodate a coworker who is moving (and leaving the company) at the end of this week. I went to every night of the gospel meeting to bring in the month. I’ve been going, going, going…and now I’m gone.

Sitting on the couch, I could have burst into tears right then and I couldn’t tell you why I was so burned out. I know now that I will not make my writing deadline of being finished by the 15th. I think the goal was a good motivation to keep me writing, but I set it to be just short of unattainable so that I could push myself, but I think I pushed myself a little too far. And it’s time to rest.

I will continue to write until the fifteenth, then I’m going to take my planned three day weekend of rest days. I will clean up as much as possible before the carpet cleaners are scheduled to come on Friday morning, then I am going to give myself permission to do nothing.

I knew when I wrote the post about the calendar that I was going to fall down the rabbit hole of busyness again, but I thought it would be better than not moving forward. I hate not moving forward in any area in my life. The fact that I have an area of my life that I am not moving forward in is causing me to want to work like crazy to make sure that the other areas are moving forward at the highest acceleration possible. The next thing is always on my mind so that I can ignore this one little area. So as I’ve been writing and revising, I’ve been thinking of a cover design and investigating self-publishing options while trying to figure out a marketing strategy.  My brain is racing a hundred miles an hour and I just can’t rest. From the time I open my eyes until I go to sleep, I can’t get my brain to stop.

So if you don’t hear from me until after Monday, assume I’ve been successful in being a master of nothing.

XOXO,

Erica