Tips to Thwart Procrastination

So, see the theme this week? Yeah…all started back there on Monday with that TED Talk by Tim Urban.

Then instead of working on the rewrites of that YA fantasy that’s in its 50,000th reincarnation, I found Coffee Reading Writing on Youtube. 

Hope you enjoy it, Writerly Friends!

And after you watch, let me know what you’re working on!


PS. If this is a big challenge in your life right now and you would like someone to help you identify and eliminate those blocks to your creativity, contact me for a free  consultation to see if coaching is right for you!

Books, Enlighten Me, The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

Alexander McCall Smith


Your first sentence is the most important thing you’ll write because it might be the only one that anyone reads.

So says Alexander McCall Smith, author of one of my favorite series, //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400034779&asins=1400034779&linkId=bc6631b913342eaff914fb2ee5bd8fda&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066C0&bg_color=FFFFFF“>The #1 Ladies Detective Agency,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400079446&asins=1400079446&linkId=b8d2810df755effcdc44bbf2edb12244&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>44 Scotland Street Series,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400077087&asins=1400077087&linkId=f1e886a36d86868808ae5157e249c19d&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Professor Dr. von Igelfeld series,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400077095&asins=1400077095&linkId=cd635f39cf172cf14dcc5f95feb47fde&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Isabel Dalhousie series,

AND a crate full of stand-alone //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1101972831&asins=1101972831&linkId=e42836ef3815c76b29cded06ddcb5f69&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>novels,

AND short stories, AND… hmmm.

You get the idea…this guy is prolific and his work isn’t formulaic or repetitive. His characters are dynamic and chock full of contradictions and quirks just like the rest of humankind.

I got to listen to him talk about his work, his life and his travels for 45 minutes today at an event hosted by the Westerville Public Library. Walking on stage in his traditional tartan kilt, Einstein hair, and rhinestoned reading glasses, he began his talk with the subject of culture and etiquette.

Americans, he says, have issues with etiquette but they all seem to revolve around when it’s okay to wear white shoes.

casual classic clean couple
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Other things he’s picked up in his studies of culture include that Californians bond over stories of their health challenges, and German professors use their doctorate in their titles, making a professor with a double doctorate, Professor Dr. Dr.; his wife Frau Professor Dr. Dr. . Of course there’s a complexity if the wife has her own doctorate. Then she’s addressed as Dr. Frau Professor Dr. Dr.

In a talk sprinkled with such humor, I was enlightened, making my way to the highest level of nirvana in a short 45 minutes. Buddha had the 8-fold path. Alexander McCall’s Smith (AMS) has the UK Tube that employs, I believe, two major rails for a high-speed trip to self-actualization.

RAil # 1 on the AMS Path: Everything is what you want it to be. I can’t count how many times he talked about events gone awry that always led to something positive and funny. These same circumstances could bring most of us to tears or tantrums. The moral of the story is that everything that happens in our lives will be sad if you want it to be; joyous if that’s what you’re after; funny if you look for moments to laugh.

The trick is to figure out what we want more of in our lives and look for that in every situation…every single one.

Rail #2 on the AMS Path: People are kind when we are kind. Throughout his talk, Alexander McCall Smith spoke about living in or visiting different countries and how kind the people were there: Botswana, Italy, Scandinavia, Scotland, Muncie Indiana. Yes…Muncie. I’m sure that he’d receive kindness from the same stranger who cut in front of you in the Starbucks line because he exudes a very strong kindness-aura. You can’t help but feel better about the world when you’re in the same room with AMS.

I hope his kindness, nothing-is-serious energy rubbed off on me when he shook my hand. I could stand to be more kind, to take myself less seriously, and to exude so much warmth that I could wear a kilt on a cold November day in Ohio.



And, BTW, I’ve become an Amazon Associate, so if you click through my book links and purchase any of these from Amazon, I will make a commission from your purchase at absolutely no additional cost to you. I am using this commission to defray the costs of maintaining my website. 

Writing life

Mechanics Monday

I decided that I need a grammar refresher course and thought that maybe some of my writer-reader friends might appreciate that too. So Mondays will now be Mechanics Mondays with just a few little grammatical tips. Disclaimer—this is not meant to be an entire course in writing mechanics, and if it were, it sure wouldn’t be taught by me!

Historically, the most difficult punctuation mark for me was the comma. I, can, use, them, all right, I just use, them, too, much!

Don’t use a comma when:
1) a conjunction separates the words in a series…and and and…see? no comma.
2) the word or phrase is in italics or quotation marks like the word this is in italics or the word “this” was used way too much in this rule …see? no comma!
3) you’re writing your zip code on an envelope after your state: Confusion 91100

Good Luck with your writing, (yes, the comma is okay after a closing in a letter and also to set off the words yes, no, why, well when they are used at the beginning of a sentence. And did you notice the commas between words in a series? Clever, right?




I got to take a short workshop from NYC agent Tony Lupia at an Erma Bombeck conference in Dayton, Ohio. It was like watch,ing Joe Pesce talk about selling manuscripts….just as funny, entertaining and Brooklyn as My Cousin Vinnie! Not only did I laugh, but I took copious notes as Tony delivered his 5 phase recipe for selling our work. Well, at that point, my manuscript was as rough as a gravel road to Hoboken. Now it’s been rewritten five times, critiqued, edited and in the final stages of my final (ha!) rewrite…so it’s more like a concrete driveway, a few rough patches but a reader can navigate without sprains or strains. In other words, I really need another hour or so with Tony. And fortunately I’ll get more than that at The Business of Publishing workshop on Oct. 22nd. Anyone who wants to register still has time…but time is running out! Go to http://siccowriters.org/the-business-of-publishing-seminar. Register today!

Writing life

To Care or To Care-Take, that is the question…

For quite a while I’ve subscribed to The Prosperous Writer e-newsletter by Christina Katz. I’ve never met Christina, but I think I like her.  We’re sister spirits, I believe.

This week she wrote about the difference between caring behavior and care-taking behavior and she challenged writers to blog about what they care about…I’m a writer, a school counselor and a life coach.   I care about a lot of things.

I care about health…mine, my children’s, yours, our planet’s.  And it isn’t just physical health I’m concerned about but mental and emotional health as well.

I care about peace…not just world peace, but spirit-peace and mind-peace.

I care about learning…not reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, but soul-deep insight.

That’s why I write.   We grow through story.   Writing promotes our own growth and the growth of our readers.  I don’t believe there’s a piece of writing anywhere that doesn’t create some impact…even if we react negatively to it, it has touched us and changed us in some way.  Even the cozy mysteries that I love to read introduce me to characters whose simple struggles enrich me in a myriad of ways.  In some instances, I learn new ways to deal with a similar struggle and in other instances I learn empathy for a struggle I’ve never experienced except through literature.

I care about a LOT of things.   Caring doesn’t use up energy, it generates energy; it generates story.  And for we who care about writing, that’s just about everything.

How about you?  What do you care about?  Rise to Christina’s challenge and write about caring on your blog.   To read more about the difference between caring and care-taking, visit my website.

Writing life

Writing in the summer

When my kids were young, we lived on a mini-farm with horses, dogs, cats, a backyard pool, cats, cats and did I mention the cats?  Anyway, I didn’t have a laptop then so my computer writing was confined to one room which was not connected to the pool area; obviously, I wasn’t going to spend a huge amount of time there while my kids splashed in the pool without me.  My saving grace was a notebook and a great pen.    A notebook is usually spiral-bound and has a good amount of blank paper in it…a pen is one of those things authors use at book-signings to autograph your copy of their new release.    Of course I’m being facetious…you know what these things are but I had to remind myself because since I’ve had my laptop, I’ve forgotten about using a pen and paper to write and therefore, in the summer when I want to be beside a pool or on our little pontoon boat, I don’t write.  I’m missing my best creative time because water inspires me.  It really does.  I love the way the sun reflects off the surface in little diamond drops and the feeling of weightlessness that comes from being in water.  But I won’t take my laptop to a beach or a community pool or on our boat.  Laptops aren’t quite as fond of large bodies of water as I am.    I found a writing notebook the other day…a beautifully plain one made from recycled materials…and rediscovered my favorite writing pen…a cheap Papermate that glides across the page.  Today as I leave the house, these things are going with me.  I can transcribe what I write later if it’s all that good, but it really doesn’t matter.  It’s the practice of writing that lubricates those creative brain cells…and I really find myself needing lots of that these crazy days.  Hope you have a favorite pen and a great notebook…take to the beaches or the hills or the meadows…but even in the heat, write.

Books, Conferences, Writing Business, Writing life

Ohioana Book Festival

It was my first visit to the Ohioana Book Festival.  I attended a workshop on publishing that was informative and interesting and then I ate lunch.   Maybe I should have attended another workshop, but who could walk past the lunch stand with that fantastic aroma and not stop?  But the bulk of my day was spent in the book room with all the authors, and that’s where I had the most fun today.  I talked with Casey Daniels, one of my favorite mystery writers.  She writes about Pepper Martin who sees dead people who hire her to solve their murders.  I met Don Bruns who writes the “Stuff” series which I just began this afternoon.   Of course, I can’t walk into a room full of books and not spend a ton of money.  I kept it under $100 today and feel extremely self-disciplined!

I also wanted to mention my two writing groups who support the Festival and also had tables there…International Women Writer’s Guild and Sisters in Crime.  One group focuses on spiritual and inspirational writing, the other on mysteries…both links are here on my website and worth checking out, as is the Ohioana Book Festival.