Prep Your Week

Prep your week(2)The week has started and once again, you feel like you are starting from behind. How do you fix that? Here’s a hint . . . start your week on Sunday afternoon/evening.

Planner. Check your planner. Know what’s ahead. Schedule things.

Phone. Make sure alarms are set on your phone so you don’t miss anything.

Shopping. Start a shopping list. Stick it in your planner or add it to your phone’s notes.

Laundry. Think about what you’ve got going on and what clothes you need clean.

Now that you’re ready for the week, take a few minutes for yourself. Read a good book. Seriously, you deserve it.

Fatal Impulse: Deleted Scene

http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Impulse-Widows-Web-Novel-ebook/dp/B00UB2U7WS/I thought you guys might enjoy a peek at a deleted scene from Fatal Impulse. Well, not deleted exactly. Rewritten.

But before I do that, I want to offer you a free ticket to Penned Con, the awesome readers and writers event in St. Louis next month. There are only a few tickets left, so click HERE if you’re interested (the promo code will appear at checkout).

As promised, here is the deleted/rewritten scene. Enjoy!

FATAL IMPULSE / DELETED SCENE 1

Lightning slashed the sky above us, and thunder rolled down the mountains. The wipers slapped furiously at the rain while Chad berated me for the way I had acted that evening. I stared straight ahead into the darkness, for I dared not disagree or correct him.

He started by saying that I had no idea how to act in the social circles he should be moving in, that I should have been more attentive through dinner, and complained that I had laughed too much at the gentleman seated to my left. Of course, he overlooked the fact that he had introduced me to the gentleman and that he had monopolized the gentleman’s time during the cocktail hour. All too often, he accused me of flirting with other men, and that night was no different. It never occurred to him that I found the man’s hobby of gem hunting to be interesting.

His accusations were tiring, and not at all true. We had just celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary, and I doubted that we would make it to our fifth, which caused me great inner conflict. My parents had raised me in central Missouri, where marriage is between a man and a woman, ‘til death do you part. The thought of telling anyone – especially my mother – that I had failed was not something I wanted to do.

His tirade was interrupted by a sharp bang.

I jumped and the SUV swerved on the wet pavement. Highway 50 was a good highway for a mountain road, but not one that you wanted to lose control on. The seatbelt grabbed and held me in place, and I instinctively braced myself against the dash with my hands. He held the steering wheel with an iron grip and kept control, guiding us onto the side of the road by sheer force of will. He slammed the shifter into park and set the emergency brake with a sharp yank, then turned to look at me, his dark eyes narrowed. He looked evil in the amber glow of the instrument panel.

“I had control. There is no need to grab the dash like that, like some idiot school girl. As you may recall, this vehicle is equipped with airbags. Had they deployed, your arms would have been broken. Please handle yourself accordingly in the future.”

I bit my lower lip, angry at the tremble I felt at his sharp words. I watched in his side mirror as the condescending bastard walked around and opened the back hatch. It only took him a moment to push his golf clubs to the side and get the jack out of the back of the Jeep.  I took a deep breath and got out to stand on the narrow graveled shoulder, the rain plastering my hair against my head and the clothes against my back. My light jacket did little to protect me, and the rain was so cold it stung when it hit my exposed skin. I figured I could at least offer to help, in spite of him being an asshole. My heels sank with every step, and the wind pushed me so hard my left leg bumped the steel guardrail. I could hear him cursing under his breath. I moved past him to close the back hatch before everything inside got soaked.

“If you’re going to stand here, at least make yourself useful and hold the damned flashlight for me. There’s one in the emergency kit.”

A dark colored sedan passed us, splashing water as it sped by. I reached in the back and fumbled around, looking for the flashlight. Finally, my fingers closed around the black metal barrel of the Maglite. I flipped it on and took up a position just behind him, shining the light wherever he directed me to. I struggled to hold still as the wind whipped and howled around me. Chills racked my body and my hands shook, which made him madder by the minute. Finally, he yanked the shredded tire off and lifted the spare on. After a few spins of the tire iron, the job was done. He let the jack down with a thump and rolled the old tire past me, and placed the jack and iron back into their places.

He stuck out a hand and demanded my jacket.

“What?” I asked. I blinked as a raindrop struck me in the eye.

“Your jacket. Give it here. I need something to lay the old tire on so the carpet doesn’t get dirty.”

I shivered in the rain while he spread my jacket out and laid the muddy tire on top of it. He slammed the hatch shut, then turned to sneer at me.

“It’s a wonder I was able to get that thing changed with you shaking that light around all over the place.” He poked my chest with his index finger, hard. “It’s a damned good thing you’ve got me around to take care of you – you never could have kept control when that tire blew, and you sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to change a tire in good weather, much less in the driving rain like this.”

He laughed that cruel, mocking laugh of his and rocked back on his heels, his head thrown back. Lightning flashed across the sky, and he looked like a madman. His laugh seemed to echo around me, so that it seemed as though the mountains themselves were mocking me.

It was more than I could take.

I tightened my grip on the Maglight, and swung it like a baseball bat. He blinked and stammered, off-balance. His leg hit the guardrail and he tipped over backwards, his legs flying up in slow motion. He looked at me as he fell back, his eyes wide with surprise, and then he was gone. The ravine was deep. His scream echoed against the walls, his body crashed through the evergreens and then there was silence.

The flashlight felt heavy in my hand.

The emergency flashers continued their steady throb.

Thunder shook the ground beneath me.

I stood there, staring down into the darkness.

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Setting Priorities and Finding Balance

Copy of Lorilrobinett.comI am in the midst of edits on The Danger Within. I’m working on scene 15. (BTW – Scrivener ROCKS. If you haven’t tried it yet and you want to write a novel, I highly recommend it.) As most of you know, I work full-time, so I write on evenings and weekends. Though I really felt like I needed to write yesterday, I took the day off and went to a car show with my hubs – I needed that balance. We went with our friends, Hattie & Jeff (who own a gorgeous blue Cougar). Our daughter and her boyfriend decided to go too – and our daughter showed her ’05 Mustang for the first time.JR-Vette-Macon2016

It was an awesome day (though it didn’t start off well – we lost a t-top out of our Corvette, which, of course, shattered on impact). My hubs won his class (Corvette) and my daughter won runner up in her class (all cars 2005 and up). They were up against really tough competition, so that made it even more exciting (and satisfying). We returned home happy and tired.

Katelyn-Mustang-Macon2016There was another show today that they kind of wanted to go to, but I held firm. Though I enjoy the shows, I really need to spend a day on my writing. I WANT to spend a day writing. My needs/wants are just as important as everyone else’s. Life is all about balance. Every day, you make choices that affect the balance of your life – and you have to include YOUR needs in that equation. Every decision you make adds a weight to the scales. Though success at writing is important to me (oh, how I would LOVE to make a bestseller list some day!), my family is THE most important to me.

Here are my tips for maintaining balance through planning:

Schedule planning time at the end of each month.

Look at the coming month and Identify:

  • Family obligations (I hate to use the word obligations, but you know what I mean. Birthdays. Games. Events. Things that are important to those who are close to you.)
  • Work obligations
  • Appointments
  • Blocks of time to focus on your goals

Schedule planning time at the end of each week.

Review your monthly plan, then look at the coming week and block off time for:

  • Planning – at least 10 minutes every day
  • Meditation – at least 10 minutes a day to be still
  • Appointments – includes appointments with yourself to get things done
  • Work (hey, you have to be there – put it on your calendar so you can clearly see what time you have left)
  • Block out family time (date night, family night, car shows, games, classes, etc.)
  • Look at your monthly goals, break them down into tasks and calendar time to work on those tasks. There should be something on your to-do list every single day that furthers your big goal(s).

A goal is a dream with a deadline. PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR and make your dreams a reality, so make a promise to yourself right now to start allowing yourself time to do that.

(pssst . . . the first step to putting yourself on the scales of life is to identify what you want to do. Reply to this post and let me know what your dream is.)

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Day

How to GET the most oUT Of your dayI know I’m not the only one who needs help with that. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, right? Every morning, the alarm goes off and I start my day with a big list of to-dos. Thanks to my Happy Planner and my Your Best Year Planner, I do get a lot of things done, but there’s always more to do at the end of the day. I collapse into bed at 9:30 or so and my mind races with all the things I still want to get done.

Everyone has the same number of hours in the day.

Lisa Jacobs, Joanna Penn and Tawna Fenske have the same as me, yet I haven’t even come close to tapping their level of success. And don’t even get me started on Oprah and Ellen. Not to mention the President.

It’s what we do with those hours that counts.

It’s pretty clear that the problem isn’t the number of hours, but what we do with them. Here’s my list of things I want to try that I think might help me reach the level of success I want to reach:

Don’t hit the snooze. Self-explanatory.

Start with a plan. I’m going to compare my 2 planners and decide on a plan of action for the day, focusing on the must-do things. And I don’t mean the boring, mundane things I have to do to exist, I mean the things I need to do to meet MY goals.

Schedule. Just like this post. I work, so I write my posts ahead of time and schedule them to release at a certain day/time. I need to check into automating other social media like that, too.

Visualize. I’m going to put reminders everywhere. A chart on my closet door showing what I need to do & how far I’ve come & how far I’ve got to go.

Be selfish. My time is valuable. It’s time to put myself first.

Less TV. Yikes. Hands down, this will be the hardest for me. Good thing Lost isn’t on the air anymore. And Castle. And Desperate Housewives. And The Mentalist.

Be brave. I will try things. I may fail, but I will fail forward (hat tip to my bestie, Lynn).

OK, now it’s your turn. Tips? Suggestions? Hacks?

(BTW – if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, do it now. It’s in the sidebar. Quick and easy, lemon squeezy.)

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Penned Con: Want free tickets?

pennedcon-1Are you anywhere near St. Louis? Would you like to go to a fun-filled event with over 130 authors signing books, plus workshops, games, a Nerf war and a luau (yes, you read that right – a NERF WAR and a LUAU?! Doesn’t that sound like a friggin’ BLAST?!).

This is the third year for the event and I’ve heard great things about it. Plus they’ve raised over $20,000 for Action for Autism.

Sign up for my newsletter – I’ll be giving away tickets for the September event next week, and newsletter subscribers get first shot at them. The tickets are valued at $75-$300, so this is a heck of a deal!

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Blank to 50K: Setting

Blank to 50K: SettingSetting is integral to the success of your story, except in the rarest of circumstances. I can’t think of a single book where the setting doesn’t matter. Consider The Life of Pi. It could’ve been set somewhere else, but it would still have to be a secluded location. Look at the Wizard of Oz – any other setting would change the book itself. In my own books, I set Fatal Impulse on an island in Maine to add another layer of insulation to Andi’s life. The water around the island is a symbol of the isolation she feels.

ENHANCE YOUR STORY

When you consider your setting, think about what location would enhance your story. Think in large terms first: which country? Rural or urban? Sophisticated or simple? Even your characters’ interactions with others should be taken into account, because where they live and work will affect them. Your plot will be intimately connected to your setting. Think about how far your character will drive to get from one place to another, or would it make your story better if everything is within walking distance (or shouting distance).

REAL OR MADE-UP?

Some will warn you against using actual locations. I don’t have a problem with it, but if you use a real location, do your research. This doesn’t mean you have to visit the location (though if you can, all the better), but do take the time to watch Youtube videos of the area, google it, read histories, read tourism brochures, watch their local news, read their local newspaper.

I read a book years ago by an author in New England. She set her book in Missouri. I was one of her first readers (we belonged to the same online group) and was stopped short while reading a passage that referenced the main character stepping out onto her hotel balcony in Kansas City, looking south towards the mountains. I sent her a polite note, letting her know that you can’t see mountains from Kansas City, and suggested that she might want to change that if she did a future print run or a second book in that setting. She replied to me, quite curtly, that she had done her research and that Missouri plainly had the Ozark Mountains. I let it go. It wasn’t worth arguing over (and it wasn’t the only error like that). But as a reader, it destroyed my faith in her as a writer and I didn’t recommend her book to others as I normally would.

WRITE A SETTING SKETCH

Once you’ve decided on the type of setting you want to use, write it out. I like going from bit to little here. Describe the setting from your main character’s point of view, then describe it as if you were on the outside looking in (imagine yourself up in the clouds, overlooking the area). After you’ve written a setting sketch, actually sketch your area. You can use real maps, real street views, real floor plans. I usually grab a map off of Google maps that is similar to what I’m looking for (in the mountains, on an island, etc.) and print it on a large piece of paper which I post near where I write. I also print the floor plans of locations that appear in my story. This keeps you from making continuity errors (heading north towards town in one scene, heading south towards town in a later scene).

You’ll want to do a setting sketch for every location that appears in your story, such as your character’s home, workplace, favorite cafe, coffee shop, friend’s house, etc.

Here are some things to get you started on your sketch (do this for each major location in your story):

  • Rural or urban?
  • Real or imaginary?
  • What does it look like from the outside?
  • What does it look like inside?
  • What does it smell like?
  • What does it sound like?
  • What memories does your main character associate with it?
  • How does your character feel about it?

I hope you’ve found my tips helpful. Feel free to share your own in the comments! (and if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, pop over to the sidebar –> and give me your name and email address. I’ll be giving away tickets to Penned Con soon!)