Staying Organized in the Digital Age by Rebecca Heflin

File Cabinet

Way back in the Dark Ages, we used to make manila file folders, maybe using a label maker or a typewriter (remember those?) to make a label, and then we’d file it away in a file cabinet, typically in alphabetical order by folder name.

Now, everything is filed electronically and our file folders are those cute little folder icons on our computers and laptops. So, how do we stay organized so that we don’t have documents stored willy-nilly in those digital file drawers like scattered papers on your desk?

I create various folders, subfolders and sub-subfolders. Starting with top-level folders – let’s call them file cabinet drawers – I set up folders by general subject matter, and with each subfolder and sub-subfolder, the subject matter gets more specific.

For instance, I have a drawer called “Documents.” In that drawer, I keep files on general marketing, blog posts (this post will go there when it’s finished), ideas for my newsletter, and ideas where I keep notes for new books. And of course, I have a general file for “Books,” which in turn holds subfolders for each of my books or series (see photos below).

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Under “Books,” let’s take a look at the “Dreams Come True Series” subfolder (below). In that subfolder are files for each of the three books, a marketing file for the series, and a series info file. Since I use Scrivener to write, there is a Scrivener file for the series as well. In the file for each book, I maintain the different size jpegs of my covers, my book blurbs, cover art forms, excerpts, ARCs, word counter trackers, even the editorial reviews the books received – anything specific to that particular book – all in one place so I don’t have to hunt for things when I need them.

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So that’s my strategy. What’s yours? How do you stay organized in the digital age?

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You Can Write a Best-Seller

Almost every writer has a dream about breaking out—or achieving best-seller status. Many of us think it’s an impossibility, but recently I read something to change all of that.

I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA), and one of the two significant positives I’ve gained from belonging to the organization is their monthly magazine. In the March issue, five authors who have recently broken out are interviewed. The crazy thing—no one author could offer a single specific strategy that caused her book to break out.

Brenda Novak says she didn’t do anything particularly different with Trust Me, her seventh single title.

Robyn Carr broke out with her 25th novel, Virgin River Christmas, 30 years after selling her first book. She had embarked on an aggressive marketing promotion when she started her Virgin River series, but she didn’t do anything to focus on that particular book, the 4th in the series.

Susan Mallery broke out 16 years after her first book was published with Accidentally Yours. She didn’t do anything different to promote it, but attributes her success in part to likeable characters.

Marie Force’s 25th published book, Waiting for Love was book eight in the Gansett Island Series. She self-published the book, and spent a lot of time building a Facebook following. She believes the world she has created in the series is what readers responded to.

Kristan Higgins made the best-seller list with her fourth book, Too Good to be True.

The information I got from all five interviews was this:

―You must keep writing. Like everything else, it takes practice to hone the craft.

―Create likeable and memorable characters.

―If the setting is unforgettable, readers will want to visit it again.

―Most importantly it is the readers who make your book a best-seller.

If you write romance, it probably wouldn’t hurt to read all of their books and learn from them. Even if you don’t write romance, I hope this you’ll find this info uplifting.

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The Legacy of Grandmothers

16449456_sGrandmothers play a big role in my fiction. They are feisty, strong, wise women who always speak their mind. They always support the heroine and always tell her like it is. They’ve been women who epitomize the word character, in all ways. I love them. And I’ve always had fun writing them. Part of that reason is because my own grandmothers played such an elemental role in my development. As I write this blog post, my last remaining grandmother is fighting for her life in hospice care. She had a massive stroke recently and things don’t look good. So I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the single most important legacy my grandmother gave me.

Stubbornness.

You might laugh, saying, that’s not a legacy. Not one anyone would want to own up to. I disagree.

My grandmother is one of the most stubborn people I know. She went to work during WWII when my grandfather was away fighting in Italy and she raised two fine sons. And she’s never stopped working since. She has one of the cleanest houses I’ve ever seen. And her network of friends is an amazing thing to behold.

My whole family on that side has gotten the stubbornness trait, and I attribute that to her legacy. Now some may think this is not a good character quality. I beg to differ. In this day and age, stubbornness is more necessary than just about anything else to survive. And to survive well.

Most days, I get through life because of the legacy she gave me. I am the glue that holds my family together. I’ve been through ups and downs that I hope my kids never have to experience. However, I’ve been able to navigate these often treacherous waters because of the calming influence of the strong, quietly stubborn presence of my grandmother in my life. Even when I moved to the D.C. area and she lived 200 miles away. She’s one of those voices I hear in my head. Since I was a little girl, she’s prayed for me daily. She’s an example of someone who always worked hard. Someone who was never afraid to tell you she loved you. For a little thing, she never backed down … in her own quiet way, she stood for what she believed in. She always believed in me. And I always knew I was loved. That’s quite a legacy. One I’ll always be thankful to have received.

So thank you grandma. I love you. And I’m praying for you.8719623_s

 

 

 

 

 

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Lucky Thirteen

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Lucky Thirteen

I’ve never found the number 13, or even Friday the 13th to be unlucky. On the other hand, Wednesdays tend to be the typical day of disaster for me, with some notable exceptions like the 9-11 terrorist attacks, which were on a Tuesday.

I got engaged (to my first husband)  on a Friday the 13th and, even though the marriage didn’t last, I still felt special and very lucky that night. So when I found out the release date for Breakwater Beach was Wednesday April 13, I figured the lucky and non-lucky components would negate each other and everything would be fine.

Which it was. Still, every release day is exhausting, given the flurry of activity leading up to it—writing copy for blogs and social media, final edits, and last minute newsletters. I went to bed at 11:30 pm on April 12, though I was momentarily tempted to stay up to see the preorder link switch to a buy one. But the reality of the 5:30 alarm—and needing to sending out the pre-dawn posts I’d prepared for the various loops and blasts before with a full day of work ahead loomed.

Work was relatively quiet, allowing me to check my email and Twitter feeds. The festivities coordinated by Books n Pearls went very smoothly. Three reviews (one four and two five stars) were posted by early evening, re-tweets and likes were stacking up in my inbox.

There are so many people to thank. First, Deborah Gilbert for her commitment to the Unfinished Business series and her patience with the worst copy editor in the world-me! To all my author friends (Andrew Richardson is at the top of the list) who critiqued draft after draft of Breakwater Beach over the ten years—yes ten—that it took to polish a very complex past life tale, heavy with historical elements (you are an angel for your help Barbara Gordon). To my yellow highlight editor, Laurie Sanders, and plotting guru, Mary Buckham who both patiently coped with a panster’s meandering prose and nudged (or bulldozed) things in the right direction. To all the Soulmate Authors and the members of Connecticut Romance Writers of America for their steadfast support. And to all the book bloggers, readers, and reviewers who helped create a successful cover reveal and release tour.

In between all of the writing, work and family dramas, I’ve been busy on the third book in the Unfinished Business series, Storm Watch. It will be very hard to say goodbye to the characters I’ve come to know and love. The first draft is done, and I’m about a third of the way through the first round of edits. I hope to have it ready for submission by the end of summer 2016. Then I can move on to another project and the next phase of my writing career.

I am a firm believer in synchronicity and wonder if the luck will hold and thirteenth anniversary of my creative writing endeavors (2018) will herald the debut of my next big project: The Boulevard of Bad Spells and Broken Dreams urban fantasy series.

It’s been ten years in the making—and sometimes it seemed like Breakwater Beach would never be ready, which is why The Widow’s Walk was released first. I am just so happy—and lucky.

For more information about the Unfinished Business Series, check out my website. Or subscribe to my newsletter for periodic updates, bonus content, and a gift.

 

On Sale for 99 cents until April 19!

Mike and Liz Keeny are newlyweds, new parents, and the proprietors of the Barrett Inn, an 1875 Victorian on Cape Cod, which just happens to be haunted. By their own ghosts. The Inn had become an annex of Purgatory, putting Mike, Liz, and their infant son in danger. Selling the historic seaside bed and breakfast was the only answer, one that Liz and her own tortured specter refused to consider. Were they doomed to follow the same path that led to disaster in their previous lives? Was getting out, getting away, enough?

 

 

Storm Watch (coming soon)

Mike and Liz thought they’d gotten control of the specters haunting the Barrett Inn. But things get very complicated when they’re the ghosts from your past life. The Category Five Hurricane bearing down on Cape Cod appears to be headed directly for them–or has it been spawned from inside them?

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E-Rovin’ with Anne- Characters

My students often ask me how I come up with my characters. For me this is the most exciting part about writing. I love my characters. I fall in love with them. I wish that they were real and sometimes I even forget that they aren’t.

In my young adult series I base my characters from people that I know, and I even use similar names. My students love that and they all want to be in my next book.

I wanted to use my niece Fiona in a book and my favorite student as well. I planned on them having a small secondary role in the novel, really just a small appearance. But, once I started to write them I loved their characters and thought they brought so much to the novel and the story that they came to play a much bigger role in the story than I anticipated.

That is another thing that I love so much about writing. I always have an idea when I start to write a new book as to where I think the book is going to go. But, it never ends up that way. I feel like my characters take on a mind of their won and they end up doing things that I didn’t even think of at first.

When I wrote my niece Fiona into my book I had to age her by fourteen years. At one point I had to call my brother to ask if he was ok with his daughter kissing a boy and she was going to swear. He reluctantly gave in. He was much happier to allow her to curse then he was to kiss a boy. He is going to have a tough time with that when she is in high school! She is a cutie.

My biggest regret of my historical romance novel Sea of Passion is that I didn’t include my dog Kugar into the story. Every novel that I have written since she has been in. I didn’t want to take a big dog on the open seas, but I could have tried to fit her in once they made it to England.

She may not have made it as a character in the book, but here she is on a beautiful spring day, “reading” Sea of Passion.

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Brainstorming Toolbox

Hello everyone!

Thank you for inviting me to be a blogger.

My name is Bonnie Gill. I write humorous paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I’m so excited to be a Soulmate author.

I decided to try video blogging for my first blog. It’s called Bonnie’s Writer’s toolbox for brainstorming. Watch below.Writer's Toolbox (1)

Click on the link to watch the video.

Bonnie’s Writer’s Toolbox

There are so many different ways to brainstorm. I came up with my idea for my story TEMPTING THE LIGHT by watching a television show on the Jersey Devil. My writer brain took over and spun the idea. What would happen if my heroine changed into the Jersey Devil?

The next night my boyfriend was watching the movie Tommy Boy. The writer brain took over again. I can’t tell you how the two ideas merged because that would give spoilers away:)

TemptingTheLight (lrg)

Bad luck magnet Abby Fitzpatrick gets fired, catches her boyfriend cheating with a mime, and is cursed by an evil genie who pops out of a tampon box. She’s bound and determined to remove the spell, and as fate would have it, the hottest guy she’s ever met is out to kill her.

River Stone, a Cryptid hunter for Legends and Myths Police Squad (L.A.M.P.S.), poses as sheriff for Abby’s hometown of Haber Cove, New Jersey. He’s out to find and capture a man-eating gnome and bag the legendary Jersey Devil monster. Little does he realize, the woman who catches his heart is the same creature that he was sent to destroy.

Tempting the Light is the first completed novel in the L.A.M.P.S. series that features hunky secret agents who find true love while hunting and slaying dangerous Cryptids.

Here is the pre-order link.

Tempting The Light

What are your favorite brainstorming tools?

Thanks so reading my post. I look forward to being a SMP blogger.

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Pros & Cons of Winning Awards

RONE & BTS Awards 2015First, let me say I feel like a princess. I’ve been honored–and humbled–to receive two awards for my debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. The first was a RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) from InD’Tale Magazine which I received at the InD’Scribe Conference in Palm Springs last fall. And…just last week, I received First Place in the Debut Author category from BTS Book Awards. This was awarded at TNEE (The Novel Event Experience) in Atlanta. I’m still pinching myself. Authors dream of getting the call and the contract to have their work published. Receiving an award(s) from colleagues in the publishing industry is the cherry on top. How could there possibly be any “Cons” to winning awards? Well, there certainly aren’t many. Let’s start with the “Pros.”

Reasons Authors Love Receiving Awards

1. Awards make us feel good. REALLY good.
2. They let us know someone (other than our mothers, spouses or kids) appreciate our work.
3. Editors and agents like it when we receive awards.
4. Hopefully, sales will increase because of awards.
5. Authors who win big awards are able to note “Award-Winning Author” on their covers.
6. Bios and query letters are beefed up with these wins.
7. Awards are a good reason to send out a press release.
8. Often, badges are available highlighting our awards, which are nice to post on our blogs, websites, and social media.
9. Awards are motivational. On down days, writers merely need to pull out an award to realize they have what it takes to keep writing.
10. Authors are validated by wins. We can do this thing called novel writing!
11. Wins empower us to take control of our writing careers and view ourselves as the professionals we are.
12. Finally, they’re something nice to show our grandkids some day–right after they ask us to make macaroni and cheese.

Now, for the Cons. There are just a few.

1. Some authors are paralyzed by awards and feel they can’t possibly improve upon their work or continue writing at a high caliber. (Possibly why I still haven’t finished my sequel!)
2. A few are afraid of being One Book Wonders. (See #1, although I do have a new novel coming out this summer and had a holiday novelette published last December.)
3. Occasionally, a writer “friend” voices jealousy or envy and suddenly stops commenting on your posts. Sad but true.
4. We live in fear of breaking the crystal beauties so our awards are stashed in their plush boxes away from sticky doughnut fingers and clumsy folks.
5. It’s hard to troll for votes which is sometimes part of the process; I always vote for my writer friends because I now how good it feels.

2015 Headshot StandingI really had to struggle to come up with any negatives because, come on, we all want to receive awards. And, yes, I realize I switched from first person to third in this post via the bullet points. See, how I/we start critiquing ourselves?

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Raise a glass. Here’s to the next author who receives a RONE or a BTS Book Award! I’ll be cheering you on. Happy writing and reading, and if you’d like to take a peek at my award-winning debut, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, by all means, please do. The genre is romantic women’s fiction. Here’s the tagline:

Three BFFs, neurotic brides, sexy bad-boy cops, and hippies.
What could go wrong?
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http://amazon.com/author/bethcarter

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