June 2019 Check-In & My July Goals

Hey, Sweet Peas! How’s it all going with you guys? I hope you all are having a great Summer, although in my neck of the woods I’n debating calling this weather Spring.

Since it has been awhile since I’ve been around the webverse, I decided it was probably time for a check in with my blog friends, fellow readers, writers, and crafting enthusiast.  So here is the quick and dirty version of the last two months. *Please beware, this is a long post. If you want to know just what my July goals are? Just click here. *

What Happened in my Life in May & June

Our usually busy May turned into crazy busy when my dad got sick around Mid-May.  Since we don’t live too close by, it was a lot of driving time to their house and back. And  with the kids still in school and having their end of school programs and awards, it was a scheduling nightmare. Shortly after my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor, he passed away. I’m still trying to process it all nearly a month after the funeral.

Because the bad weather in May carried into June *It snowed about mid-June. Yikes!*, I had to keep the tomato plants that a friend gave us inside. About mid-June, I finally broke down and planted them into pots so I could take them outside in the day and bring them in each night until better weather allowed me to keep them out all the time. I also decided to do a little companion planting and added some bean plants to one tomato pot and lettuce to another. We’ll see how they do. I’m not much of a gardener. Keeping houseplants and established outside plants alive aren’t a problem, planting things from seed and I usually kill them.

My view from the tractor while dragging the meadow.

We also fell behind with the Ranch work because of the weather and ended up having to push it to stay on schedule. And because Ranch work comes before almost everything else, my poor flower beds are being neglected and in serious need of a good weeding. But with all the pollen floating around in June because of the late start in the season, my allergies are making me miserable. Add swollen tonsils and it’s not happening for awhile. *The Doctor told me that if we can’t get the swollen tonsils down, I might have to have them removed.  At my age, that would suck a monkey’s poopy butt.*

Anyhoo, after school ended, I was surprised with a Summer Band Camp for the kids in band which I needed to take my Little Miss K to as she will be playing her dad’s clarinet next year. That lasted for the first two weeks of June. And since we live so far from town, it meant spending most of the day there and getting little done. Well, that’s not completely true, I added more color rows to the afghan my daughter has been bugging me to finish for her. She choose the pattern and the colors for it.

Not only was I able to finish up some small crochet projects, but I was also able to solidify and tweak my plans for my blog, my shop, my writing, and my crafting. In April, my blogging plans was to gear my posts more towards all the different areas in my life and my shop plans were to release a product every week to two weeks until I had everything in stock listed.

Now, while most of those plans haven’t changed too drastically, a reassessment of my goals and planned tasks helped me see some of the problems that I would face,  figure out what I might be wasting time with, and what I could do differently before I jump straight back into work. In years past, I would have stressed over getting back on track with everything, but I’ve decided not to worry this time around.

It would be too much of a push to catch up with three months of missing work and still get what I planned out as well. Since I’m not working for anyone, except myself, and other than one client job, I don’t have anyone relying on me to get stuff done for them, I have time to work at my own pace. Plus, I don’t need the headache of unneeded stress. 😀

So the plan is to start working from the point I’m at going forward at the same pace I had decided would be sustainable and would make me happy. Which leads me to my working on my slightly neglected Etsy Shop at the end of June. I was able to finish the  pattern for the Crocheted Light Woodland Shawl that I started in May. I listed it on Etsy during the last week of June.

Light Woodland Shawl Pattern (Printable PDF) $4.95

If anyone is interested in buying the pattern or a finished shawl from me instead of buying it on Etsy, please email me.

The writing bug bit me in the ass the last week of June and I’ve been itching to tackle the Lost Heir Series. The only reason I put the story aside in the first place is that it wanted to be told a certain way and I doubted my ability to do it at the time.

Recently, I feel confident enough to work on it again. So for the last last few days I’ve been working on updating my Series Binder, tracking the  various story threads and character arcs through the series of books, and writing scenes that inspired me. We’ll see how it is going in about two weeks when I post a update about my writing.

The months without writing have put a few things into perspective for me, like as much as I love writing and being a writer, I don’t like the business side of things. So when I indie publish my stories, it’s for me and those who like my stories. I will not be announcing them anywhere else expect here and on my Facebook Page for those interested.

My Goals for July 2019

There are several things that I hope to accomplish in July and set up for August.

Personal Goals

Take the kids to the pool, library, or the water park at least once a week until School starts again: This isn’t always possible, but I try to take the kids to one of these three places each week. This gives them time to play with other kids and hang out somewhere that isn’t home, with each other, or the temptation of electronic devices.

Get back into the habit of walking once to twice a day: Last year, I had gotten into the habit of going on a walk twice a day. Once the snow started flying, the lane became too dangerous for me to walk down and exercise moved indoors. So far this year, my exercise routine hasn’t moved outside yet and I’m missing it.

Handmade Work Goals

Most of what I need to do include taking photos, writing descriptions, figuring out pricing and shipping prices, and listing several finished items that I’ve taken from my stash. If anyone is interested in purchasing any of the items below from me rather than Etsy, please email me and let me know.

List my Woodland Hoods: I finished several Woodland Hoods for adults and small children, using the yarn in the bowl to the right of the adult size Woodland Hood on my paper mache head below. There are 6 adults and 6 children hoods.

Woodland Hoods: small kids – $25 & adults – $40

Listing Seasonal Place Mats: I’m also going to be adding a listing for the table place mats that I created a pattern for and have had a few requests for them. I want to pick out a few seasonal colors and even sizes to choose from. The prices will vary depending on the size, but the 17” x 12” place mats will be $25 each.

List various dish towels from my stash on Etsy: I love these dish/tea towels and I’m looking forward to them getting to a great home. These hand embroidered towels are stitched on Premium Quality Flour Sack Dish Towels and are larger then the normal at around 32″ x 36″. The Farm Inspired towels that I stitched last year cost $10.97 each while the Frogs that I entered into the County Fair are $70.

   

Listing two cross-stitch projects on Etsy: One is a professional framed project and the other was finished at the beginning of the year and still needs to be framed. I still need to take pictures of them.

Finish the lettering on a set of dish towels and prep them for listing next month: I finally picked out a color for the lettering on the 7 floral dish towels I finished hand embroidering in June.  Thank you everyone who left a comment what they thought the color choice should be on my Facebook Page.

Weekly Flower Dish Towels – $70

Finish the Border of the Full-Sized Octagon Afghan: This is a scrap yarn afghan that I’ve been working on for several years, and started put together last year. It just needs two octagons attached and a border crocheted on. I probably won’t list it until next month.

Sketching out Owl transfers for dish towels: I had a request for a set of owl dish towels that I’m sketching out and looking forward to creating once my towels arrive. If anyone has suggestions for designs for dish towel, let me know below.

I want to finish setting up my Online Shop but…: Since opening my Etsy shop in April, I knew I wanted to create an online shop here on my website too. The process ended up taking more time then I planned and mostly because I’m having a hard time finding a reliable, seamless payment process system that doesn’t cost an arm, a leg, and my first born child. At the moment, I’m not making enough to pay the price they are asking.

Before anyone tells me about the various ecommerce websites or that I can upload a plugin. My website isn’t hosted on a place that accepts plugins with the plan I have. If I want that, I need to pay more and like I mentioned above, I don’t have the money to do that at the moment and make a sustainable business. So I’ll stick with an online shop links to each item’s page and have people to contact me to buy something or buy from Etsy. It wouldn’t be much different from the book cover designing I do.

Writing Goals

Finish editing the Goddess of Love: This book needed editing and I really want to finish it so that I can send it to a better editor then the first one I paid to do it. I’m not sure when this will come back out, but I really want to put it back on the market in August.

Writing The Lost Heir Series: Finish updating my Series Binder, tracking the  various story threads and character arcs through the series of books, and plan out each book so that I know what happens and can utilize the over 186k words already written. Then, if I have time I can start filling in the scenes I need to finish each book and move on.


Now that you know what’s going on in my life and my goals for July, what about you guys? What’s happening with you guys? What goals do you have this month?

Wishing you the best,

Stephannie Beman

PS: Next week’s blog will be all about what books I’ve read (and enjoyed) and what am currently reading.

Battling over Book Reviews, Should it happen?

I want to start out by thanking those who have questions for using the SPAL question form to ask those questions. You guys have some really good questions and I have fun looking up the answers for the questions I don’t know and sharing the information I do know and don’t think to share because I take it for granted. It also makes it so much easier for us to tailor our posts to your guys needs.

While on vacation I received a question in my inbox and was going to write this big long post about it. Then I looked at the 200+ emails sitting in my inbox that I have left to go through and answer, plus a few book cover designs that I need to do and finish for clients, some websites I need to update and complete the construction of, a story to finish, a 60 Day Writing Challenge that starts Monday, a sick kid to cuddle with, and a house that is starting to looking like a poster child for Hoaders and realized that I really don’t have the time.

So rather than try to write the post, I’m going to cheat and post the question:

I’ve seen authors and reviewers fighting over book reviews. Is there a time when the author should reply to a review?

Joleene asked people to weigh in on the topic and some of you did.

My answer to the question is: No.

Battling over a book review is stupid and childish. I’d put my kids on time out for such behavior. Readers will put you on the do not read list. Even some of the loyal ones. Replying to book reviews is equally suicidal.

I don’t care if the review is good. Don’t thank them. Most reviewers don’t appreciate it and most readers find a lurking writer creepy.

I don’t care if the review is bad. Write a scathing letter you never plan to send. Rant to your best friend about the unfairness of it all. Cry over a few shots of Whiskey or a half-gallon of ice cream. Just don’t respond to them. If you want to wait until after you calm down to complain on your blog about your greatness and how mean the reviewer was, just remember they have Google Alerts and followers too.

They only review you should ever respond to is the one you ask for. Good or bad, thank the reviewer for taking the time to review it for you.

I can hear the “But Stephannie” right now. No, buts.

Writing is a Business, unless you are doing it for a hobby. If writing is your hobby and you have no intentions of making it a business, by all means reply to the reviews. Just don’t expect people to be happy about it. People will attack you for it. If this is your business, then playing by the rules is a must. This doesn’t mean allowing people to walk over you, but pick your battles and reviews are not a battle you can win.

  1. Reviews are people’s opinions and reading is tastes are subjective. What one person loves, another may not. I also don’t see the point of picking a fight with someone over their opinion. It’s pointless and it’s not going to change anyone’s mind. Trying makes you look like a crazed, maniac author that will find themselves talked about on Facebook and Twitter while they may watch their books sail off the shelves for a time, others are disgusted by the display and potential readers are lost.
  2. Good reviews can sometimes look like a bad review. An objective reviewer will balance the good and the bad. They will show the author their weaknesses and their strengths. They aren’t looking to be a smart ass or a megalomaniac. They are writing the review for the reader. As writers, all we see is the negative and want to scream “You didn’t understand my vision!”
  3. People are mean and reviews can sometimes be ugly. As a reader, these types of reviews from set my teeth on edge. I discount them for the heartless, cruelty of a reviewer with a personal vendetta against the writer. They are no better than the school bully that uses the geek kid as a punching bag only to have the teacher ignore it because she didn’t see it happen. They are the ones that take great lengths to publicly flog the author, rake their flaws through the coals, have little to nothing nice to say, and attack the author personally.

My best advice is to never look at your reviews. Don’t read them and don’t let people tell you about them. You’ll be happier for it. Why? Because there is too many negative critics who aren’t helpful in their reviews. There are too many hookey reviewers that make me wonder what they got for writing the review. There are too many gushy reviewers that go on and on about the greatness of the author to the point that I start to think “stalker.” And then there is the reviewer that write a review that attacks the writing and writer in a way that screams “personal vendetta.” You don’t want to get mixed up in that scene. It will kill your career.

Now that I wrote a post about 700 words longer than I planned, what do you think? Should the battle of book reviewer and author be happening? What do you think when you hear about such things? Should writer’s reply to reviews?

Creating Schedules and Routines to Enhance your Writing

Bad me! I checked in this morning and realized it’s been a little over a week since our last post and we’ve run out of scheduled posts. So time for me to emerge from the writing/editing cave I’ve been hiding in for the last month and get to work on some Writing as a Business posts I promised everyone. 😀

I’m going to save the post about Plots for the next couple of slots and jump to scheduling and routines, mainly because I’ve been dealing with this of late and it’s on my mind right now. On my blog I wrote a post, It’s all About Balance, and no you don’t have to click the link to read the post. I’m going to use much of what I talked about there here.

A few weeks back I started to feel overwhelmed by the demands being placed on me and not getting to any of my editing and writing. I decided it was time for a break from anything I considered a time waster while I learned to could juggle all the new responsibilities with all my old responsibilities.

This meant finding a schedule that would allow me to spend time with my kids and husband, do my housework, take care of ranch, write and edit and market my books, and  work on book cover designs for clients. This means sticking to a schedule long enough for it to become a routine or learn what works and what doesn’t.

Creating a Writing Schedule or Routine

For me a daily routine is imperative. I’d get nothing done if I didn’t. When building a writing schedule there are some things I take into account:

1. What is the time that best suits me for certain tasks (i.e. writing, editing, marketing, etc)
2. What is my work schedule (i.e. ranch, book designing, etc).
3. What are my writing and publishing goals for the year.
4. What are my other responsibilities

I wrote down everything I could think of and started to build a routine that works for my needs. If I want to write a book in a year, I create a list of all the things I’ll have to do to accomplish this. Working on characters, plotting, writing, etc. I take these smaller goals to meet my bigger goal.

I know that my schedule won’t work for everyone, hell, some days it barely works for me. But I thought an example might help some of you.

I start my morning by looking over my to-do list while my computer boots up. Then I write or edit (M-F I wake at 6am to get my youngest ready for school and on the bus by 7am. So I start my writing time after I send her off. On Sat. and Sun. I sometimes get to sleep in, if not I have to start breakfast before I write.). I try to get at least 2 hours of writing or editing done.

Setting limits to your writing time will help you not over do it and burn out. A time allotment, page count, or a word goal are the most common. If these don’t work for you, don’t sweat it. 😀

I mark off all the tasks that I accomplished that day and write down notes of what I need to do tomorrow. This way, when I start my day all I have to do is look at my schedule and know where to start. This saves me time and useless staring at the computer screen.

Then I write a blog post if I’m in the mood before I check emails. If I have any emails or blog comments that I need to responded to I do that first, Business related newsletters and blogs are next.

I shut down my computer for the day and start my other responsibilities and spend time with my kids. After I get my kids off the to bed at 8pm, I’m ready to start working on book cover designs. I look at my to-do list while my computer is booting up. I check emails to see if there is anything “urgent” for me to respond to, changes that needed to be made to a cover, or new clients before I start working. I do not read blogs or business newsletters, that will wait until tomorrow.

I like to schedule tasks at the end of the day that allow me to wind down and relax from the day. I find writing at night makes it hard for me to sleep. I’ll work for an hour or two and then mark off what I accomplished and write down what I want to accomplish the next day before I head to be.

I hope this helps some of you create your own schedule and routines. If you have a writing routine you would you like to share, please comment below or post a link to a blog post where you wrote about it? If you have any questions, now is the time to ask. 😀