How I Get Thousands of Page Views On My Blog Every Day… With Pinterest

How I Get Thousands of Page Views Every Day On My Blog... Using Pinterest #blogging advice #writing tips

Hi friends! Late last year, I taught an all-day blogging workshop, and people were especially interested in this particular bit of advice about how to get people to read your blog. Although I don’t usually share blogging tips, I know a lot of my regular readers ae also bloggers, so I thought I’d write a post about it.

Some of you may already be using Pinterest to drive a lot of traffic to your blog! But if you haven’t used Pinterest for your blog very much, or you’re just reading up on how to start a blog, you might find this interesting.

 

 

The majority of my page views come from Pinterest.

Here’s a snapshot of a fairly typical day for me, showing how people are getting to my blog.

 

How I Get Thousands of Page Views Every Day On My Blog... Using Pinterest #blogging advice #writing tips

(That image is cut off at the bottom, but there’s a bunch of other referrers of one or two page views apiece, including Pinterest from more countries.)

The secret to my page views from Pinterest: group boards.

I don’t have a ton of followers on Pinterest. So far, I’ve never tried to get followers there, and the majority of my boards are just random personal stuff.

However, I also pin to several group boards. They are mostly ones about writing, because I blog about that a lot. These group boards have thousands of followers. When I pin my blog articles to these group boards, they get a lot of visibility.

 

Here’s how to become part of a group board.

Go to pingroupie and search for group boards that focus on the same things as your blog. Look for boards that have lots of followers.

Now comes the tricky part: getting added as a pinner.

First, click on that circle with the number of pinners at the top right of the board. The first person listed will be the creator.

How I Get Thousands of Page Views Every Day On My Blog... Using Pinterest #blogging advice #writing tips

 

Next, send the creator a direct message on Pinterest and ask her to add you. Now, sometimes people aren’t checking their Pinterest messages. In cases like this, you can sometimes find an alternate way of contacting them, like tweeting or finding their business’s Facebook page and sending them a direct message there.

Some people won’t respond no matter how you contact them. And a few people will tell you “no” for whatever reason. But other people will add you as a pinner.

 

Make pinnable graphics with good metadata.

I use Canva to create the graphic on my post that I will later pin to Pinterest. (Of course, readers often pin these graphics to their own boards, too.) Canva has a Pinterest post template that’s the perfect size for pinning.

My graphic always features the title of the post. I’m not a designer, and my graphics could look more professional, but I try to make them bold and easy to read.

In the image description, I write the name of the post plus any hashtags that would be helpful for people searching on Pinterest.

 

How I Get Thousands of Page Views Every Day On My Blog... Using Pinterest #blogging advice #writing tips

 

For instance, for the above graphic, the image description reads:

STEAL THIS PLOT: 50 Plot Ideas from Victorian and Regency Novels #master plots #idea starters #NaNoWriMo #novels

(That post is right here, by the way, if you’re curious.)

At first it seemed awkward to me to repeat my title in the Pinterest graphic, but now I don’t worry about it. I usually put the Pinterest graphic after an introductory paragraph. You don’t want to replace the title with the graphic, because Google and other search engines can’t read the words in pictures. If you don’t have an actual title, people are unlikely to find your post through a Google search.

By the way, for images, I mostly use stock photography that I’ve paid for. Occasionally, I use images from Canva, which cost $1 apiece, or images from Pixabay, which are free and legal to use (but I generally donate $1 to the photographer, anyway, because it’s good karma.) Do not use images without permission. You can get sued for thousands of dollars, and besides, it’s disrespectful to your fellow creative people.

 

 

 

 

Be a good team player.

Most people who create group boards have pinning guidelines, and you want to follow those. No one will mind you pinning your own blog posts as long as they are on topic, and as long as you’re not spamming the board with a bunch of pins at a time.

 

Know when to pin.

In my experience, Pinterest traffic seems to be the highest on late Saturday and late Sunday mornings. When I pin my blog posts then, they get more repins right away.

 

Keep it up!

It will take a while for a pin to get a lot of repins and pick up steam, and some of them never do. But if you consistently share out blog posts to Pinterest group boards, Pinterest is likely to become a steady traffic driver to your blog.

 

Do you have other advice for using Pinterest for your blog, or other ideas for how to get more readers on WordPress? Please share them in the comments! And if you enjoyed this post, follow the blog — there’s a place on the lefthand side of the page to subscribe. Thanks for reading!

15 Feminist Romance Novels to Maybe Check Out

Some people believe that romances aren’t particularly feminist. These aren’t usually people who have read a lot of romance.

Now “feminism” is a slippery concept. I’ve heard the argument that the romance genre is inherently feminist, since it’s almost mostly written by women, for women. (Not entirely, though. A handful of male authors write romance under female pseudonyms, for instance, and about 15% of romance readers are male. And of course, some authors and readers are nonbinary.)  I can respect that point of view, even if I’m not sure that I agree.

At the very least, in most romance, you have a female protagonist. In 2015, only 22 percent of movies had female protagonists, which was a ten percent increase over the year before. 79% of TV shows had more male than female characters, and there were slightly fewer female characters on TV overall than there were a decade ago. Stories with female protagonists are important because when we mostly see women playing minor roles in men’s stories, it suggests to us on a deep, subconscious level that women shouldn’t or can’t take starring or leading roles in their own lives.

 

 

The difficulty about labeling a story “feminist” is that almost any story, TV show, or movie will be “problematic” in one way or another if you think about it hard enough. People can identify as feminists and still enjoy some stories that have sexist elements.

Nonetheless, lots of us are looking for romance featuring heroines who make their own choices to the extent that they can, or who learn to do so over the course of the story. We’re looking for relationships that mirror respect and equality, and intimate scenes that are strictly consensual.

This list was partly crowdsourced because I like very particular things in romance and I wanted to represent a wider range of choices. I also wanted some new reading recommendations! I didn’t include any same-sex male romances because the ones I’ve read and enjoyed hardly had any women at all. If you want to recommend one that’s particularly feminist, though, please do.

These are in no particular order! Most if not all of the books on this list contain explicit sex scenes, so fair warning if you don’t enjoy that in a book.

 

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #reading #strong female characters #books #smart #young adult #LGBT #historical

 

 

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #Courtney Milan #books #smart

The Duchess War, Courtney Milan.

When I asked around about feminist romances, more than one person mentioned Milan. This book is the first in the Brothers Sinister series, which also includes The Suffragette Scandal.

 

15 FEMINIST NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Abigail Barnette #Jenny Trout

The Boss, Abigail Barnette.

Abigail Barnette is a pen name of Jenny Trout. If you like billionaires and BDSM, but 50 Shades of Grey and 50 Shades Darker still rubbed you wrong as a feminist, you might want to give this one a try. Note that it’s the first of a five-part series.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Rebecca Brooks

Make Me Stay, Rebecca Brooks.

What’s that? You’d rather the heroine were the wealthy, powerful one in the story? This one’s for you.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Zoe Archer

The Warrior, Zoe Archer.

Archer has a bunch of great feminist romances, and she’s currently writing Regency romance under the name Eva Leigh. This is the first of the Blades of the Rose, an historical series that I have a soft spot for because they were the first books I read by her and because they have magic in them.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Melissa Brayden

Kiss the Girl, Melissa Brayden.

This romance between two women who are rivals in the advertising world is the first of Brayden’s SoHo Loft novels. I’ve heard more than one person recommend this series, and it sounds like a lot of fun.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Elizabeth Hoyt

The Leopard Prince, Elizabeth Hoyt.

This was the first Elizabeth Hoyt book I read, and I’ve enjoyed so many of her novels over the years. The heroine of this one, Georgina, is sometimes naive about economic realities, which I’m sure many people in the upper class were (and still are). Nonetheless, she’s intelligent and independent, with a whimsical way of thinking that I really enjoy. and it’s fascinating to see she and Harry, her servant with whom she has an affair, navigate class and gender expectations.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Aimee L. Salter

Dark Touch, Aimee L. Salter.

This emotional young adult romance centers on a heroine who’s a survivor and who can feel everything another person feels when she touches him or her.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Eloisa James

Three Weeks With Lady X, Eloisa James.

The hero hires the heroine to renovate his house, but then their relationship goes beyond the professional. James is an outspoken feminist, and you can read more about her in her interview with Vulture a few years back.

 

15 FEMINIST NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Regina Hart

Wishing Lake, Regina Hart.

This is actually book 3 in Hart’s Finding Home series. It opens with a bang — literally — and jumps right into the action. Because I’m kind of a nerd, I enjoyed having a professor as the heroine and a journalist as the hero. I haven’t read a lot of small-town romances with diverse characters, and the strong supporting cast here is a plus.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #Victoria Dahl

Talk Me Down, Victoria Dahl.

Dahl wrote historical romance for a long time, and this was her first contemporary. The heroine secretly writes erotic romance, and is unfortunately being stalked by her awful ex-boyfriend. The hero sounds like the kind of good guy I love in a romance.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning, Deanna Raybourn.

Okay, this is actually a mystery, not a romance. But it’s cross-listed in the romance category, and since a couple of people recommended Raybourn — including Courtney Milan — I felt like she should be on the list. This book sounds like a super-entertaining start to a Victorian-era series.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Tessa Dare

Do You Want to Start a Scandal, Tessa Dare.

This is one of Dare’s Spindle Cove books, which also got mentioned more than once when I was asking around about feminist romances.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Sidney Bristol

Beauty and the Geek, Sidney Bristol.

The hero, a professor, has a big port wine facial birthmark that makes him feel self-conscious about dating. (Side note: in college, I dated a guy with the same and I didn’t think it was an issue. He wound up marrying a drop-dead gorgeous woman, if I recall correctly.) Online, he meets the heroine, an Asian woman working in the male-dominated gamer industry. I think this sounds like a blast.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Michelle Osgood #lesbian romance #LGBT

The Better to Kiss You With, Michelle Osgood.

Online interactions are also a big part of this one: the heroine is the moderator for a werewolf role-playing game, but she’s getting harassed by a player. She falls for the woman who lives upstairs from her, who may have a pretty close connection to this game.

 

15 FEMINIST ROMANCE NOVELS TO MAYBE CHECK OUT #strong female characters #books #smart #Jennifer Crusie

Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie.

Publishers Weekly described this as a “saucy feminist romp.” The review also says, “Sophie’s effort to enact the mayor’s favorite sexual fantasy is thwarted by interruptions by various townspeople confessing to murder,” which is enough to make me want to read it.

 

If you have recommendations, I would love to hear them, and I bet other people would, too — please let us know in the comments! If you have thoughts about reading while feminist, or about what you’d like to see more of, please share those, too. Thanks so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

Writing Playlist: Music to Listen to While You Write Your Epic Fantasy Novel

Writing Playlist: Music to Listen to While You Write Your Epic Fantasy Novel. Over 2 Hours of Songs! #playlist for writing #music for inspiration

In one of my early blog posts, I shared a playlist for writers working on a high fantasy or a medieval historical novel. I wanted to make another one! The last playlist had a definite European flavor. This one is slightly more multicultural, and longer — a little over two hours of music for writing inspiration. A commenter on this blog, Annabel, suggested some of these. Thanks so much, Annabel!

I’m going to share one or two writing playlists through my monthly newsletter this year, so if you’re not getting that and you’d like to, you can sign up!

I’ve linked to each song on iTunes, and if if you have Spotify, you can just listen to the whole playlist here. I hope it inspires you to epic stories about dragons, elves, swords, sorcery, or whatever you like!

 

Writer Playlist: MUSIC TO INSPIRE YOU WHILE YOU WRITE YOUR EPIC FANTASY NOVEL. Over 2 hours of songs! #writing #playlist for writing #music for inspiration #NaNoWriMo

 

 

“Garador’s Flight,” Jo Blankenburg

“Illumielle,” Jo Blankenburg

“Gryphonheart,” Jo Blankenburg

“A Wedding Interrupted,” Tan Dun, Yo-Yo Ma

“Through the Bamboo Forest,” Tan Dun, Yo-Yo Ma

“Sorcerer’s Dream,” Sound Adventures

“Gwen & Arthur,” Rob Lane

“Dance of Hope,” Hossein Alizadeh

“The Sky,” Hossein Alizadeh

“The Escape,” Hossein Alizadeh

“Prince Caspian Flees,” Harry Gregson-Williams

“The Kings and Queens of Old,” Harry Gregson-Williams

“The Door in the Air,” Harry Gregson-Williams

“The Guardian,” White Wall

“Serenity Infliction,” White Wall

“One Summer’s Day,” Joe Hisaishi

“The Dragon Boy,” Joe Hisaishi

“The Sixth Station,” Joe Hisaishi

 

 

“Chasing the Storm,” Patrick Doyle

“Science and Magic,” Patrick Doyle

“Forgive Me,” Patrick Doyle

“Ori, Lost in the Storm,” Gareth Coker

“Neru, Embracing the Light,” Gareth Coker

“Calling Out,” Gareth Coker

“Danny’s Balloon — Namibian Coast,” Ramin Djawadi

“Danny’s Balloon — Okavango Suite,” Ramin Djawadi

“Over Victoria Falls,” Ramin Djawadi

“Mako,” Ramin Diawadi and Priscilla Ahn

“Dragon Age Inquisition Theme,” Trevor Morris

“Dawning Promises,” ICON

“A Legacy Uncovered,” ICON

“Rose, Dragon,” Javier Navarrete

“The River,” Javier Navarrete

“Road to Glory,” Kokia

“Battle of Destiny,” Kokia

“Aqua Vitae,” Future World Music

“Passion of Victory,” Future World Music

“Victory of Life,” Future World Music

“The Ride of the Rohirrim,” Howard Shore

“Twilight and Shadow,” Howard Shore

 

 

 

I hope you find songs you like in here, and you can always choose your favorites for a pared-down playlist for writing!

Are there playlists for other genres that you’d like to see? Do you have some favorite writing music? Let us know in the comments! Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!

 

WIP Wednesday: Share What YOU Are Up To!

WIP Wednesday Bryn Donovan

Hey, welcome to the first WIP Wednesday of 2017! On the first Wednesday of every month, I share a page or two of a work in progress and invite you to do the same in the comments section. You don’t need to be shy about sharing, because this is a critique-free zone for raw material (though encouraging words are always welcome, and good karma!)

If you had a holiday break, you may have gotten some writing done, or you may have just relaxed and enjoyed the holidays. Either way, good job!

During the holidays, I worked a few to several hours a day on a project for my day job, and I certainly wasn’t trying to do anything on my own projects. I did a little, anyway. I worked on The Equinox Stone, which is book two in my paranormal romance trilogy, and I even wrote a scene for book three because I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Here’s the book three scene!

 

 

Nic went down to the hotel lobby, almost empty at this hour. Jonathan sat at the bar. It would be awkward talking to him right after he’d walked in on Nic banging his ex-girlfriend, but he and Jonathan had both lived in the close confines of El Dédalo for a long while, and they knew that these kinds of things happened. Nic went over and sat down on the stool next to Jonathan, and the bartender lining wineglasses up on a shelf turned around. “What can I get you?”

Nic glanced at the bottle of beer in Jonathan’s hand. “Same as him.”

As the bartender got it, Jonathan said, “I was just going to grab the book. Sorry.”

“Not your fault.” The bartender set the bottle down and Nic handed him a ten-dollar bill. “Keep the change.”

Jonathan frowned, not looking at Nic. “You should stay away from Sophie.”

Nic’s blood pounded harder in his veins. He’d known that Jonathan was possessive, of course. If any other man as much as touched Cassie for any reason, the guy bristled. Nic hadn’t expected that to extend to Sophie, though. “Seriously? Nobody else gets to be with your ex, ever?”

“It’s not that. I want her to be happy. I just don’t think she’ll be happy with you.”

It was a kick in the gut. “You don’t think I’m good enough for someone you dumped.”

“What?” Jonathan gave him a look of disbelief, and then shook his head and muttered, “Christos, Nic, you’re good enough for anyone.” The praise caught him even more off guard. Jonathan took a drink of his beer. “In London, Sophie wanted you dead. She’d get furious with me for defending you. It’s why she broke up with me.

Back then, Jonathan had insisted again and again that given the witch’s shape-switching spell, Nic’s accidental killing of Sophie’s cousin Simon Federov could’ve happened to anybody. When Nic had renounced his Knighthood in his remorse, Jonathan had been a complete pain in the ass about it, arguing hard that it was the pointless loss of a valuable warrior. Even though Nic had just wanted to be left alone, he’d always love Jonathan for that.

“I knew you two fought about it,” he said. “I didn’t know it broke you up.”

“We had problems before that. But she was like a lunatic. She wouldn’t listen to reason.”

“She’s changed.”

“I gathered,” Jonathan said dryly. “But part of her might still blame you. She could make your life a living hell.”

Nic felt a smile tug at his lips. “You’re worried about me.”

“Even if this is a casual thing, it could turn into something serious.” Jonathan didn’t say that from personal experience, Nic knew. Hookups were completely incompatible with his friend’s nature.

“I don’t know if it’s serious,” Nic said, answering the question Jonathan had not quite asked. Whatever was between him and Sophie, though, it sure as hell wasn’t casual.

 

WIP Wednesday Bryn Donovan

 

Want to share a page or two? Or even just a paragraph? Please do it in the comments section! It’s totally fine if you want to link to your website or to your other work.

And if you don’t want to miss WIP Wednesdays, follow the blog if you aren’t already doing so — there’s a place to sign up on the lefthand side of the page. Thanks so much for reading, Happy New Year, and happy writing!

Nobody Else Is Normal, Either.

No One Else Is Normal, Either #dealing with depression #dealing with anxiety

I often see people sharing quotes, memes, and articles along the lines of, “What people don’t understand about depression…” or “Here’s what people don’t understand about anxiety.” And these quotes, memes, and articles are usually saying true and valid things about depression or anxiety, and it’s great that those are being shared.

I’m sure that almost everyone has encountered ignorance and misunderstanding regarding their situation, whether it be struggling with a mental health issue, a divorce, or other troubles. Many people have gotten facile or insulting advice on how to cure depression or anxiety or how to solve their other problems. That kind of misunderstanding can especially hurt when it comes from friends or family.

At the same time, the idea that most people are happy and fine, and our own struggles make us a rare and misunderstood kind of person, is one worth questioning, both in terms of mental health and in terms of life in general.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, almost one in five people in the United States suffer from a mental health issue during a given year, with depression and anxiety being by far the most common. If someone isn’t depressed or anxious, chances are excellent that they have been in the past and/or that they are close to someone who is. There may be people who don’t understand, but there are also a whole lot of people who do.

With other kinds of struggles, we likewise feel the temptation to think we have it worse than everyone else. Financial difficulties, weight issues, relationship problems, learning disabilities — these are all common, yet we can sometimes believe that while life is very hard for us, most people are breezing through their days without a care in the world.

It’s probably easy to believe this because don’t always see other people’s problems. Even if you always read my blog, you don’t know about all of mine, and I’m not putting them on Facebook or sharing them in casual conversation, either.

The fact that a problem is common doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. So why is it so important to remember that other people have serious struggles as well?

 

 

A big reason is that it’s good for us to remember that we’re not alone. The people we interact with every day, including the people who smile a lot and have cute outfits on and show up to the meeting early with color-coded folders…  they’ve all got their big messes that they’re dealing with, too.

Sometimes we’re afraid to get help because we think we’re going to be judged. We don’t think people will understand, but chances are pretty good that they will.

Several years ago when I told coworkers that I was fighting suicidal urges, one of them told me they’d been through the same thing. Another told me her husband was currently dealing with it. I never would’ve guessed! I’d come close to dying because for a long while before that, I thought it was too embarrassing to go into full-time treatment. It wasn’t embarrassing, and even if it had been, let’s be clear: embarrassed is better than dead.

Here’s the other reason why it’s good to remember that other people have struggles, too. It reminds us that people may be speaking from their own personal experience… even if their opinions or advice don’t sound right to us. We all deal with problems in different ways, and solutions that work for one person don’t always work for another. Keeping this in mind can help us avoid discord and misunderstandings.

For instance, if a friend tells a depressed person that prayer might help, the depressed person might get angry at the suggestion, thinking the friend doesn’t understand how serious depression is. But there’s a possibility that the friend has been through serious depression, and that prayer did help them. That doesn’t  mean it would be right for everyone, of course. But if the depressed person remembers that the friend may be speaking from personal experience, there less likely to get angry… even if the friend isn’t exactly helping.

Realizing that most people deal with serious problems helps us to be more compassionate to those around us, including coworkers and classmates, neighbors and strangers. It gives us a context for all of our interactions.

 

 

Have you encountered misunderstandings from others? Have you had times where you realized you weren’t the only one dealing with your problems? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re having a good week!

Best Year Ever! Here Are My 10 Resolutions for 2017.

Best Year Ever! Here Are My 10 Resolutions for 2017. #fun resolutions #romantic resolutions

Hi, everybody! I hope you had a lovely holiday break. I love Christmas, and my absolute favorite holiday is coming right up… New Year’s! There’s just something about getting the gift of a whole new year, and I’m always determined to make it my Best Year Ever!

Now, let me tell you… sometimes, that just doesn’t pan out. 2016, for instance, broke my heart several times over, and I’m just proud of myself for avoiding depression in spite of it. Last year around this time, I did a list of the best things about the year, but although there were some good things about 2016, I’m going to skip that this time around and look ahead. (Are you feeling this way, too?)

In the past, I’ve often made a lot of resolutions regarding my work and my writing. Some of them were partly out of my control, which is maybe not the smartest way to make resolutions.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to a couple of big, exciting and difficult career challenges, and I have no idea how they are going to go! At the same time, I feel like it’s going to be very important to not get swallowed up in my work and forget to have fun. In fact, FUN is my keyword for 2017.

I always make 10 resolutions, mostly because of the influence of Jinny S. Ditzier’s book Your Best Year Yet. I’ve never been the kind of person who says, “I think I’ll just see what life has in store for me,” because in my experience, life can’t be trusted to come up with awesomeness for you. You have to go out and make it happen.

Here are my 10 resolutions for 2017, with a little explanation for each one.

 

 

 

1. Go on 52 awesome dates with Mr. Donovan.

Several of my resolutions are ones I’ve made in past years and didn’t quite achieve… but my life was better for it, anyway. This is one of them! There’s nothing that makes me happier than having fun with my darling.

2. Do something fun with a friend or friends in real life once a week.

I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert, but lately I want to see people more!

3. Truly celebrate all the holidays and special days.

This is my parent’s influence! They really get into the holidays. I hate it when days like St. Patrick’s Day, or heck, even Arbor Day, go by without my celebrating it somehow.

Now you can see that if I do these first three things, I’m probably going to have a good time.

4. Capture the fun: share at least 1 Instagram picture every day and write 1 thing down in the Happiness Book every day.

The Instagram goal seems narcissistic, and let me be clear: it absolutely is. It’s also more than that. Like a lot of creative people, I can live a lot in my head, and doing Instagram a lot reminds me to look around at the world and enjoy life more. At the end of the year, I want to put together a book of all of the best memories. (Follow me on Instagram if you want to!)

The Happiness Book is simply a place to record one happy memory every day. I used to do a Happiness Jar, but we are switching to a book because it turns out we really like to save these, and it’s easier to save a book than a bunch of slips of paper.

5. Be active in my local political groups.

I don’t discuss politics on my blog, but I’ll just say two things: 1. not many people get involved on the local or state level, even though it can have a big impact, and 2. no matter what your political beliefs are, taking action is more effective than complaining to your friends, and it also makes you feel better.

6. Do 52 random acts of kindness.

This is another resolution I’ve had before and haven’t quite nailed, but I did a lot of good things anyway.

 

 

 

7. Take a long walk 6 times a week.

The treadmill is fine if the weather is bad. It’s great to get out in nature. But then again, watching Netflix and walking is also great! I’ve even been known to write while doing the treadmill.

8. Complete levels 1 – 5 of Fluenz Spanish.

I’ll skip ahead through 1 and 2 if it’s too easy. Language study also makes your brain sharper for everything else.

9. Post at least 2 blog posts a week, send out 1 newsletter a month, and make 6 youtube videos.

I’m feeling inspired about the newsletter, and the youtube videos will be new for me. Hope you like them! We’ll see how they come out.

10. Achieve new levels of brilliance in my career.

This could be my day-job career, my author career, or both! No matter what happens with circumstances out of my control, I’ll do some good new things.

 

What about you? Have you made some resolutions? Do you hate resolutions? Are you excited about a New Year? Scared? Let me know in the comments!

And no matter what, THANK YOU for reading my blog! I appreciate you every day of the year.

 

The Three Word Documents That Will Help You Write Your Novel

The Three Word Documents That Will Help You Write Your Novel #writing advice #how to write a novel faster

Hey there! Today I wanted to share with you the word documents (besides the manuscript itself) that I always maintain when I’m writing a novel or novella. I don’t know if this will help if you’re trying to figure out how to write a novel faster, but I do think it’s a good way to keep things organized! If you use Scrivener rather than Word, the same principles can still apply.

 

The Three Word Documents That Will Help You Write Your Novel #writing advice #how to write a novel faster

THE FIX LIST

When you’re writing a first draft, issues and changes will occur to you as you go. You can keep going back again and again to change things, but sometimes that can kill your momentum. On the other hand, you don’t want to forget about them.

If you keep a document called “fix list,” you can use it to keep track of all of the things you need to change. Once your first draft is done or you just feel like you’re at a stopping point, you can go back and address all those issues.

THE BITS AND PIECES

Short snippets of dialogue, random descriptions, and other fragments may pop into your mind as you’re writing your draft. The stuff that comes spontaneously into your head is often really good material – but you may not even know where it goes yet.

Don’t lose it! Keep it all together in a document called “bits and pieces.” (Since I don’t always have my computer with me, I often write snippets like this down in my planner or my phone, and transfer it to this document later.)

THE OUTTAKES

Here’s something I used to do. I’d cut out a short exchange between characters, or even a whole scene… and then later, I’d regret it and wind up re-writing it again. So annoying, and such a waste of time! If you keep all your deleted material in a document, it’s there for you in case you change your mind.

 

 

After every writing session, don’t forget to back up these documents, if you’ve changed them, as well as your manuscript. I email mine to myself and I often use a USB drive as well, though USB drives can fail eventually.

Do you have any suggestions for keeping things organized as you write? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Happy writing!

WIP Wednesday — Share What YOU Are Up To!

WIP Wednesday -- Share What YOU Are Up To! #A Knight Restored #paranormal romance

Hey, friends! Welcome back to another WIP Wednesday, where I share a little of my work in progress and you do the same in the comments section. If you’ve never done it before, why not give it a try? WIP Wednesday is a criticism-free zone, although encouraging comments on other people’s stuff is always appreciated.

How was November for writing? If you did NaNoWriMo, did it spur you to more productivity? If you didn’t do NaNoWriMo, did you have some writing fun?

 

I tapped out of NaNo almost immediately due to the super-hot new project I mentioned on Monday. It’s probably going to occupy me till the end of March. My 3 WIPs are on the back burner for now, but it’s worth it.

Since the new thing is secret for now, I’m going to be sharing more from my romance in progress, A Knight Restored. It’s a love story between an art conservator at a museum and a medieval English knight under a curse. This excerpt comes almost right after the one I shared last month.

 

WIP Wednesday -- Share What YOU Are Up To! #A Knight Restored #paranormal romance

 

When Gen arrived at the lab Emily said, “We need to talk in private.” She grabbed Gen’s arm, hustled her into the photography room, and slammed the door behind her.

“Emily, what the hell?” Gen asked. “Are you pregnant? Did you murder someone? What?”

“I just don’t want anyone else to hear this.” She glanced over her shoulder at Gryffen. “Except him.”

“Hmm, I don’t know,” Gen joked. “Can Sir Limestone here be trusted?”

“Don’t be mean!” After all Gryffen had been through, he shouldn’t have to put up with insults.

Gen’s eyebrows rose. “Okayyy.”

“I’m going to tell you something, and I want you to keep an open mind. And you can’t tell anyone. Anyone.”

“Okay, I won’t.” Gen held up her hands. Clearly, she thought Emily was being over-dramatic.

“Yesterday I felt like this sculpture was talking to me,” Emily said. “Like in my head.”

Gen looked at Gryffen and back to Emily. “What did he say?”

“He said, I’m here. And he wanted me to touch him.”

“Well,” Gen said cheerfully, “you’re going to be touching him a lot, so that works out great.”

“That’s just the beginning. I had a dream about him last night. Except he wasn’t a statue. He was a real guy.”

Gen frowned. “A real knight in shining armor?”

“Yes! I mean no. He was wearing, like, medieval clothes. He told he was from 1433.”

“Your subconscious is trying to research an acquisition.” Gen shook her head. “Em, you need some vacation days or something. You should be dreaming about fun stuff.”

“Part of it was very fun.” Emily’s cheeks heated.

Gen’s features lit up. “You had a sex dream about a statue?”

“Gen!”

Her friend giggled. “I have to ask. Was he rock hard?”

If Emily’s face got any hotter, it would burst into actual flames. After all, Gryffen was hearing all of this, too. Maybe. “We just kissed! That’s all.”

“Oh.–Was he a good kisser, at least?”

“Literally the best,” Emily admitted. It wouldn’t hurt anything for Gryffen to know it. “And he had the most amazing way of talking. He said things like sweet lady and demoiselle.”

“Aww,” Gen cooed. “This sounds like the cutest dream in the world!”

“You don’t understand. I think the sculpture is a real person.”

Gen tilted her head. “How does that work?”

A polite question, considering. Thank God she was friends with Gen. Emily couldn’t imagine telling anyone else about this. “He told me some other guy got mad at him because Gryffen beat him at jousting, or whatever—”

“Gryffen?” Gen repeated.

“Yes, he said his name was Gryffen de Beaumont, son of William de Beaumont, sometimes called Gryffen the Fierce.”

“That’s… really detailed for a dream,” Gen said.

“I wrote it all down. And he told me that because this guy he beat was actually a powerful sorcerer who turned Gryffen into stone. And he can still hear, and see, and feel, but he can’t move or talk or anything.”

“He said he had been like that for centuries?” Gen shuddered. “That would be horrible.”

“There’s one other thing,” Emily said. “But you’re not going to believe me.”

Gen gave her a level look. “Try me.”

“Just now, I touched his cheek.”

“Yeah?”

“And uh…” Emily forced herself to get it out. “The statue cried.”

Gen’s mouth fell open. “What!”

“There were tears—”

Gen strode over and put her hands on Gryffen’s stone face. Ordinarily, Emily would have yelled at her for touching a museum object without washing her hands thoroughly first, but under the circumstances, it hardly seemed to matter.

Gen withdrew her hands, holding them up in the air. “It’s wet! The stone is damp. Emily, what the hell!”

Emily took a deep breath and let it out. “I thought I was losing my mind.”

Gen shook her head. “There are two possibilities here. Either you’ve had a detailed dream, that just happens to coincide with some weird moisture or condensation on the sculpture, or…”

“Or what.”

“Or this is a man who was turned into stone, who can visit you in dreams.” Gen shrugged. “I know which one I’m rooting for.”

~

I hope you’ll share your own excerpt below! And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any future WIP Wednesdays, make sure to follow the blog, if you’re not already — there’s a place to sign up on the lefthand side of the page.Thanks so much for stopping by, and happy writing!

How to Stop Obsessing

How to Stop Obsessing

This is a self-care post for people dealing with depression or anxiety. As I’ve mentioned before, I dealt with life-threatening depression several years ago. I learned a lot and have been lucky enough to have happiness as a default setting for a long time now.

With mental health matters, the same things don’t work for everybody! However, maybe something that’s worked for me will work for someone else, too.

One sure way to fall into or prolong depression is by obsessing about a fear or a negative situation. Often, we let our minds become completely fixated, and we believe this is both natural and inevitable — even though some of us are capable of avoiding it. Whether we’re dealing with an illness or the threat of one, an impending layoff at work, a breakup, or any other kind of heartbreak or dread, we tell ourselves that there’s no point in denying our feelings.

In my experience, I can acknowledge negative feelings without cuddling up to them, making them a cup of tea, and asking them to take up permanent residence. This may not be true for everyone, but I’ve learned that I can control what I think about, and the more practice I have at controlling it, the better at it I get.

 

 

Studies show that when you think about something painful again and again, it becomes one of your most easily accessible thoughts or memories. It’s like your mind is wearing a familiar path. (Fortunately, if you obsess about positive things, as I make a point of doing, this thinking begins more and more to rise to the top.)

On a practical level, obsessing about situations beyond our control, or fears that may or may not come to pass, serves no good purpose. It’s just extra, pointless suffering for us. Even if we need to devise a plan (such as what we will do if we lose our job or when the divorce is final), obsessive negative thoughts will block insightful and creative solutions to the problem. It would be better if we could come at it with a clear head.

A lot of writers read this blog, so I bet you know what I’m talking about. Have you ever been stuck staring at a Word doc or a blank page for a really long time? And then you get up and do the dishes or take a shower, and suddenly the solution appears? Sometimes the brain needs a break to do its best work.

Here are some things that have helped me stop obsessing. Maybe one or more of them will work for you!

1. Avoid the external triggers.

If there’s an impending layoff, politely walk away from freaked-out conversations between coworkers. If a tragedy in the news is upsetting you, make a donation to a cause that can help, if you’re able to do it and it’s an option. Then turn off the television, take a social media break, and disable the news alerts on your computer. If you’re worried about a health prognosis, don’t leave the medical literature the hospital gave you in plain sight. Painful breakup? Feel free to clear your social media accounts of photographs of the person, if that will help you, and unfollow or hide mutual friends who chat a lot with your ex (heck, unfriend them if you want to.)

2. Schedule some overrides.

If you just tell yourself, “Don’t think about it, don’t think about it,” well, you’re going to think about it. But your brain is, happily, pretty bad at thinking about two things at the same time. Here are some great things to schedule for overriding obsessive thoughts:

Take a long walk while listening to an entertaining audiobook. (Sometimes, fiction is survival. That’s why writing is so important. If you write escapist genre fiction? You’re probably saving lives.)

Watch a funny movie. Or episodes of a funny TV show. Feel-good, sentimental stuff with happy endings works, too. In all seriousness, this can be incredibly helpful.

Create. Tell yourself you’re not allowed to obsess until you produce a finished drawing, a row of pieced quilt squares, a poem, or five fresh pages of your story.

Alcohol does not work as an override. It’s the opposite of an override. Trust me on this. I’m pretty sure drugs don’t work, either.

3. Do something nice for somebody else.

Give your friend a card with a hand-written note telling her why you like and admire her. Bring your neighbors a bunch of donuts or bagels for no reason. Bake cookies and take them to the homeless shelter (and also, have a cookie.) Negative obsession and positive action are nearly incompatible.

~

If you have other ways to avoid obsessing about negative things, please share them! I bet we all can use them. Thanks for reading, and take good care of yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WIP Wednesday — Share What YOU Are Up To!

WIP Wednesday Bryn Donovan #paranormal romance

Eeep — sorry this is late! Let’s do WIP Wednesday and Thursday!

Hey, everyone, welcome to WIP Wednesday! On the first Wednesday of every month, I always share an excerpt of my writing and invite others to do the same. Since we’re sharing work that’s in progress, we don’t offer critique here. It’s not Beta Reader Wednesday. However, kind words are always welcome.

Last month, I did a little work on 3 different book projects. Here’s what my word counter looked like at the end of September:

 

WIP Wednesday Bryn donovan

And here’s what it looked like at the end of October. The Equinox Stone is the second book in a trilogy after The Phoenix Codex.

WIP Wednesday #paranormal romance #Bryn Donovan

So that was 16,450 new words, which wasn’t a huge total, but hey, all progress is good progress! A Knight Restored is my NaNoWriMo project, so I should be making big progress there in November.

I’m going to share another excerpt from that story. Gryffen is a medieval knight who was turned into stone, and Emily is an art conservator at the museum that acquired him as a sculpture. Gryffen has communicated with her telepathically and visited her in her dreams.

 

 

“Don’t worry,” Emily murmured to Gryffen. “They’ll just move you to the other room off the main lab so I can do a little restoration. And then in a few weeks you’ll be in the exhibit, and you’ll see a bunch of people, so that will be fun, right? And after the exhibit I’ll finish restoring you, which is going to take months.” Gryffen didn’t understand all of this, but he liked the sound of the last part especially.

She raised her hand and caressed his cheek.

Gryffen’s soul crumbled into pieces at her silken touch. It was more pleasurable and intense even than her touch or her kiss in her dream, because it was real. Though she felt only stone, he felt her living warmth. For centuries, none had touched him in friendship or in love, and his gratitude overwhelmed him. Sweet lady. You undo me.

She gasped and drew her hand back as though it had been burned. Gryffen felt wetness on his cheek. Rain. A leak in the ceiling…

No. Moisture touched his face and nowhere else. His statue was weeping. He was weeping. Impossible, but true.

She backed away from him, her eyes as wide as if she regarded a devil from Hell. “This isn’t happening,” she whispered. He tried to open his mouth and speak aloud. If he could produce tears, than why not words?

They would not come. He attempted to lift a hand to reach out to her, but it did not budge. Do not be afraid, his soul implored her.

She turned around and ran out of the room.

 

~

 

Go ahead and share an excerpt of what you’re working on in the comments, if you want to! Either way, thanks for reading!