Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright 2017.

Freelance Ponderings & Advice: Writing Outside

Just wanted to let you know about the latest issue of Freelance Ponderings and Advice. This issue is about writing outside. One of my favorite things to do!



Photograph copyright Shannon L. Buck, December 31, 2016.

How Many Times Have You Put off Writing That Book?

I know you have one. An idea for a book that would be a great compliment to your blog. One to offer as your first freebie to get people to sign up for your mailing list. One to sell on your website. Or one that you would like to have traditionally published and sold in stores.

Perhaps you’ve taken some notes, constructed an outline, or even written an introduction. Maybe you’ve written a first chapter, and it has been waiting for your return for two years.

Whatever the book is you have inside, it’s waiting to come out.

It’s going to be a good book. One that will help beginning photographers start their own business, or one that will show freelance writers how to write the best queries ever. But you need to get on the ball and get it written.

I know. I have a few fiction books, as well as a nonfiction one, I have been waiting to start. A few fiction ones I’ve started and that are waiting to be finished, and a nonfiction set of eGuides I’m working on. I also have manuscripts that are waiting for edits. I keep telling myself I need to do more to get these things done, but it is a struggle.

What’s keeping me from starting, and finishing my book?

Oh, time, for sure. But also drive. I think I’ve mentioned that I feel like I have adult ADD. I don’t know this for a fact, but I do have a hard time staying on track. I’m doing better this year though, and hoping to get a few projects completed.

I’m almost done with a series of novelettes. I’ve only published short fiction so far, so I am darn proud of myself for having the motivation and frame of mind to keep up with this project. I’m also editing some short stories this year, and working on that first eGuide.

(Note: I published quite a few last year! So I was able to stay on track for the most part. I’m pretty proud of that! Take a look at all I did here.)

What book is inside you? What book is waiting to come out?

Shannon L. Buck

Here’s What Happens When You Stay Focused

I’ll be the first to admit that staying focused is not always easy. I joke that I must have adult ADD, because my mind is so all over the place. It feels like I have a million thoughts a day, and I can easily jump from one activity to another, and another, and another… all day long. I don’t know that I have adult ADD. This is just what I imagine it must be like. I have to really try hard to accomplish any amount of focus for more than a few minutes, and it can be exhausting at times.

Even when I’m able to stay focused, for the most part, all kinds of thoughts enter my head. I keep a pad of paper nearby to jot down notes so I can quickly get back to what I was doing. Even this can be difficult, because sometimes the idea necessitates a good amount of note-taking.

I’m Learning: Take Notes Quickly & Get Back to Work

I have my own form of short hand that I use during these note-taking sessions. Sometimes I need to write just a sentence or two, or a few keywords. But when I have to take actual notes, this short-hand means it doesn’t take as long.

Then I force myself to get right back on track. Otherwise, I might not get back to what I was doing for days or weeks, or even months. (Yikes!)

Sadly, if I don’t note ideas well enough, I will forget where I was going with something. If I don’t note it at all, I will forget.

Best Places for Focus

Depending on the time of year, I write at different places. At home, at my other job, at the cafe down the street, or outside at the park or in the gardens. These places each have their benefits.

Recently I’ve been working on a series of three fiction stories, and have been doing so at Aroma Joe’s. For some reason, even with the background music and how loud it is in general in the afternoons, I get a ton written while I’m there. I usually write for a good 2 1/2 hours, three days a week.

I write blog posts and articles while at my other job, and tend to get three or four done per shift unless we are very busy or someone is working with me. As a matter-of-fact, I’m working a sixteen hour shift today, and this is my third post so far. I’ve also done some self-promotion, and played Mahjong. There is plenty of downtime until the season picks up again.

I love to write outside as well, and can do so for a couple of hours at a time when sitting outside in a park or at the gardens, listening to the people around me.

Not Enough Focus at Home

At home, I have a bit more difficulty concentrating. But that is where all my stuff is, and my noisy neighbors, so I guess I find it all little distracting. I tend to do the things that don’t take long while I’m there, so I have frequent brakes.

I’m not the most focused at home, that’s for sure, but I still manage to get things done.

What Happens When You Stay Focused?

You get. Things. Done. Many, many things. More than you even thought possible. You get that series of stories written in five months. You get ahead on blog posts so you can have more time to spend with your family during summer vacation. And you get all your blogging and other tasks done for the year by November, so you can actually enjoy the holiday season.

You are able to finish what you start, and you feel good about yourself and your place in the whole scheme of things because you are accomplishing things. You are making progress.

You also meet your goals more quickly; and more fully.

I’m so happy for you.

Shannon L. Buck

All Work and No Play

I tend to be outside a lot less during the winter. I don’t work outside right now because its too cold, and I start to feel a little stir crazy at this point each year. Do you feel this way? Like you can’t wait for nice weather so that you don’t have to be stuck inside all the time?

I know that, before long, I’ll be outside much more. Hiking, writing at the park or in The Gardens, taking pictures. Spending a weekend on the coast, shopping with the bestest. So many fun things to do when the warmer weather hits. But for now?

Now I’m just waiting. I have a nonfiction writing project I’m working on, and a series of short stories I’m writing. The nonfiction happens when I’m at work, believe it or not. I work at an inn, and this is our slow season. Our boss let’s us do many things, from knitting to studying, during our downtime. For me, it’s writing. I’ve done first edits on two manuscripts already, and written a few things on another.

Then, on my days off, I sit at Aroma Joe’s, sipping tea and working on the fiction series. I’ve already finished the first drafts of two novella’s, and am working on a third. And I have three previous short stories I’m editing.

I’ve been organizing things, planning projects, and more.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy. But I haven’t been having a whole lot of fun out in the community. The only walking I get in is on the days I work, when I have to meet the bus on campus, and my yoga routine takes place in my room.

I’m really feeling the need for a hike, with the camera. I hope the next nice day happens on a day off from work, so I can walk the bike path and take some picturesm before settling in to write.

I took my sister and nephew out to dinner a couple of weeks back, and the bestest and I are going to have lunch together at her place next week. I’m trying to find little ways to break up the work and writing stuff, and enjoy some time away from it all. Even if it’s only for an hour or two here and there.

And I’m going to spend an evening a week pampering myself and watching a movie. The happiness factor is important, and taking the time to do things for myself is how I accomplish it.

It’s so important to take time away from the desk. Do it.


Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright January 30, 2017.

Organize: Use a Calendar to Keep Track of Scheduled Posts

As per my theme word for 2017, I’ve been doing little things here and there to better organize my space and time. I recently shared how I organized my desk drawer, and today I want to show how I’m organizing my scheduled blog posts for the year.

This is the calendar for my blog Frugal Recipes: Spending Less to Eat Healthy. I chose to show you the calendar for this blog because it’s the one that has the most posts scheduled so far this year. I’m doing an audit of the blog: Changing things, adding and deleting things, updating photographs. It’s the blog I’m concentrating the most on at this time, and all the circles you see within many of the months indicate blog posts that are ready and scheduled to post.

I believe in working ahead when there is time to do so. I work at the front desk at an inn, and winter is a slow season for us. Our boss lets us bring our own stuff to do, as long as it does not interfere with our job. I do a lot of editing and writing during these months, so I am able to get ahead.

This year I decided I would print off a generic calendar for each blog and site, and circle days when I have a blog post or article scheduled to post. A ost or article hits scheduled status when I’m sure I’m done writing and editing. I no longer have to worry about them, as they post automatically once scheduled.

As you can see, I’ve already put in a lot of work on posts for the blog. There’s still more to do, but now I can see at a glance when I need a blog to post. I’ll keep this calendar and the ones for the other blogs and sites in my planner, so they’re easily accessible.

This method will not only help me to stay organized, it will also save me time. I wont have to keep opening blogs to see when I have posts scheduled. The time saved can go toward doing things with family and friends, or taking care of me.

How do you keep track of scheduled posts? Not every method works for each person, so it helps to have multiple ones to choose from when setting up a system.


Organize Your Space and Stuff by Shannon L. Buck Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. to learn more ways to organize your business life?

Organize Your Space and Stuff is a compilation of many articles from How to Live the Freelance Life. Each article has been expanded on for this book, with updates on how things have changed, and action steps to guide you in setting up and keeping up with your office or office space.

A bonus section at the back of this eBook gives the reader creative projects that will aid in furthering their career and brightening their day. These projects are not to be missed. They are fun!

Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. Organizing the way you do business does not have to be difficult. The eBook offers advice from someone who has tried many things, before beginning to get it right. It also offers recommendations for having a ‘greener’ office environment, and advice for keeping what you need on-hand, so it is available when needed.


Warmest Wishes,

Shannon L. Buck

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015.

Revisiting Batching Days

I first discussed batching days back in September, for International Batching Day. I had pretty lofty goals that day, and I met them. I was pretty darn proud of myself.

As per my goals for this year, I’m revisiting the idea of batching days. You see, I’ve decided to implement a new productivity technique and stick with it. I decided, since I did so well on the batching day last year, I’d use that technique. I already know what to do.

I did a number of different things on that batching day. I’ll do like things each time I implement this technique. For instance, I’ll write, edit, and schedule all the articles for this blog for a one-month period one day, then move on to a different blog another day.

If done right, I can get all my blogging done for a month in a week’s time. Not a bad deal. Then I can concentrate on marketing, answering emails from readers, and other important things.

To set myself up for each batching day, the evening before I’ll make a list of the most important things to get done. I’ll also take a few quick notes if there is anything important I want to put into specific articles, so I don’t forget.

How are you doing with your goals for the year? I’m getting a bit of a late start because I’ve been so sick. But I’m starting to feel better and I have more energy for what I want to get done.


Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright February 28, 2016.

What Are You Excited About This Year?

A new year brings excitement to my life. How about yours? Just the thought of accomplishing new things, or finishing up projects worked on for so long, has a way of getting me excited and revving me up. I can’t wait for new challenges, and to check things off my to-do list. (Yes, I am a to-do list kind of gal.) There is a real happiness factor in a new year for me.

Is it the same for you? I hope you are just as excited as I am.

This year I’m excited for a few things, as far as my writing goes:

  • Editing and republishing a few nonfiction eBooks.
  • Editing and publishing more stories.
  • Writing new stories.
  • Getting organized.
  • Planning a few projects I want to work on in coming years.
  • And getting the first eGuide out to you here on Live the Freelance Life.

I just can’t wait to get started!

What are you excited for this year? A new book project? Building a new website? Whatever it is, I’d like to here about it. Comment below, or email me at

Happy New Year!

Shannon L. Buck


Wrapping up This Year & Planning for Next Year

2005-01-01 00.00.00-64It’s the time of year when I begin reflecting on what I’ve accomplished and what goals I never got to, among other things. You’ll notice goal planning, Yule, Christmas, and New Year posts coming up on the Facebook page, and those will help you to get started on the coming year. If you haven’t already joined the page, now is an excellent time to do so. You wont want to miss anything.

Let me ask you something: Have you started the process of reflecting and planning yet?

  • If you have, good for you! Maybe this post will help you to gain more insight.
  • If you have not, then this post will definitely help you along your way.

Grab a notebook and a pen, and let’s get started with these ideas. Oh, and if you want to get more creative, feel free to doodle, color, add stickers, or do whatever you want. You are making a planning notebook, and we are creative souls!

Reflection: One of the first steps in planning is reflection.

Take a few days to reflect on the current year, and start a page in your notebook for these reflections. It’s okay to use more than one page for this. What big goals have you met so far? What little goals have you met? Don’t worry if you haven’t accomplished something important, there is still time. Or you can always move that item to next year.

There’s no point in stressing over what we couldn’t get to. As long as you have met client deadlines, you can be happy with what you’ve accomplished. My goals list is so big each year, there’s no way I can get to everything of my own. But I always finish projects for others.

What things worked for the different aspects of your business? What things didn’t work? Don’t worry if you aren’t an expert in some areas. You don’t have to be. You’ll progress naturally. And if something did not work out, scrap it and try something new. Don’t base your success on the things that don’t work. Keep what works, and repeat any time it is relevant.

I hate editing, so I still have tons of manuscripts in final edit stage. However, I did manage to get a lot of editing done myself, and my daughter is doing the final edits for my fiction work in her spare time. I’ve also learned to make (a bit) better eBook covers and other graphics, and I’m learning more tricks all the time. So, until I can afford a professional editor and someone to do all my graphics, I know I have to schedule time for learning more about these tasks. Not too much time, mind you. But a little here and there.

What aspects of the business have you loved doing? What aspects do you hate? You don’t want to spend too much time on activities you can’t stand doing. I love to write, but editing is not my friend. I put off publishing for years because of my hate for editing and my inability to do graphics. (I’d hate to see this happen to you.)

I spent years second-guessing my ability to be successful based on these things and this year decided I was done. I took what I’ve learned in these areas over the last couple of years and put them into action. I got a little help with editing when I could, and learned some about graphics.

My eBook covers and graphics are not perfect, but I’m not letting that stand in the way of my goals again. You shouldn’t let the aspects you don’t like, or have enough confidence in, stop you. Go for it!

What items on your list were you unable to finish? Now is the time to decide if those projects are still important. It’s okay to let things go if they are not, or to shelve them just in case you want to get back to them in a year or two. You’re going to want to concentrate on the most important things to you in the coming year.

I started the first of a series of eGuides this year, but was unable to finish. I had a lot on my plate and it seemed I wanted to concentrate more on getting some fiction stories published, including a series. I also published non fiction works. I’m thrilled to see them published, but I definitely want to get back to the eGuides.

I also had editing projects that didn’t get done. Many of them. This means I have no shortage of my own projects to work on in the coming year, and this is fine. As long as I get some more of my own projects published, I’ll feel successful.

What projects did you not get to this year? Decide whether or not they are still important, and either add them to next years’ goals list, get rid of them, or shelve them to do in a year or so.

Now reflect on other areas of your life: Family, friends, personal, finances, home, and spirituality, and whatever else is important to you. What has been working in these areas and what hasn’t? Think about stressful situations that need to be changed or let go, and about the blessings in these areas that you hope to repeat or you want to expand upon.

Let go: Remind yourself that it’s okay to let go of what no longer serves you and your situation.

I’ve been particularly stressed these last few weeks because there are a couple of people in my life whom cause me a great deal of stress. I love them both dearly, but our relationships have been slowly getting weaker. I hate to let people go, but have had to do so in the past.

I don’t want to let these people go completely, and I’ve decided I wont. But I need to let go of who we used to be with each other, and put them somewhere else. It does me no good to keep them as top priorities in my life when I’m no longer a top priority in theirs, so I need to let go of the things that used to be and start them where they are now. Not priorities, but acquaintances I’ll be checking in with every so often. Like I’ve done with some other people.

I also need to finish getting rid of negative thought trails. I’ve come a long way with this already. My depression used to be so bad I needed medication, whereas now I think positively and am truly feeling happy about 90% of the time. I’m proud of myself for what I have accomplished here. I’m setting intentions for the coming year that will help with that other 10%, so now I’m writing down any bad memories and negative thoughts I want to let go of and move on from.

Another thing that bothers me is that I don’t get to see my daughters and grandson but a few times a year. I write to them sometimes, talk to them on the phone once in a while, and do video chats with Zowie and Little Man, but this year those things do not feel like enough. It is causing some loneliness this time of the year, and I’m so thankful Zowie and Devan will be here with Little Man for Thanksgiving, and that they and Skye and Dominick will all be visiting just before Christmas.

I’m letting go of these feelings this year, and I’m going to try to be more proactive next year. I’m making a list of more ways to have contact with them all. They live away, so we only really visit a few times a year.

What things are you letting go of? Bad habits? Negative self-talk? The feeling of never getting enough done? How about uncontrolled spending that has a negative impact on your family? Or procrastinating on client projects?

Start a page in your notebook for these things, and continue on the next page if needed. Once you know what you’re letting go of, work toward shifting your thought processes and putting people and situations where they need to be. This will not necessarily be easy, but it’s important to start anew for the coming year.

For instance, I’m reminding myself daily that the people I’m placing elsewhere in my life have already stopped making me a priority in theirs. They are no longer there for me when I need them, and don’t try very hard to make time for me. I’m telling myself that it is okay to place them on a lower rung of the ladder, because they have already done so to me. This is a difficult one, because it has to do with the heart and feelings, so I keep reminding myself I am not pushing them out of my life completely. Sometimes people grow apart. They change, as do relationships.

List goals: Now that you’ve let go, or at least have started the process, it is time to create your goals list.

For this, have at least a two-page spread in your notebook for each area of your life you want or need to make goals for. By doing this, you leave plenty of room for notes. You may need more or fewer pages, but this number usually works for me.

These will be my two-page spreads:

Spread 1: Family Goals

Examples: 1) Writing to daughters each month. 2) Date night once a week. 3) Working on strengthening sibling bonds.

Spread 2: Other Relationship Goals

Examples: 1) Letting go of people who obviously don’t want to put effort into the relationships. 2) Scheduling monthly visits with parents. 3) Throwing a beginning of spring and an end of autumn barbecue to invite friends and family to.

Spread 3: Work Goals (for my job at the inn)

Examples: 1) Being sure to always be helpful when coworkers need help with something they don’t understand. 2) Deliberately helping boss a little more, even when he doesn’t think he needs it. 3) Making sure the supervisor knows how appreciated she is because she’s trying hard to be fair with everyone.

Spread 4: Writing and Site Goals

Example: 1) Write a chapter in the book you’ve been putting off, each month. 2) Create a website. 3) Reach out to three potential clients each month.

Spread 5: Financial Goals

Examples: 1) Figure out how to begin investing in simple ways that wont break the bank. 2) Start saving for some travel time. 3) Put away 10% more toward retirement than last year.

Spread 6: Spiritual Goals

Examples: 1) Read books of my faith. 2) Join gatherings involving my faith. 3) Build relationships with people of my faith.

Spread 7: Personal Goals

Examples: 1) Work toward becoming a healthy weight for me. 2) Take a retreat weekend once every three or four months. 3) Spend an evening each month reflecting on what is working in my life and what is not.

Spread 8: Home Goals

Examples: 1) Shelves f0r sitting area. 2) Go through things, putting aside what is no longer needed, and donate those items to people in need. 3) A new refrigerator.

I don’t know what these will look like for me yet, because I’m still working through this, but I’ll post about it here when I’m finished. Either the end of this year or the beginning of next. I’d like to see all of you share here as well, so we can motivate, support, and help each other throughout the year.

Set up your pages, labeling them accordingly, and work on your goals list for next year as you can. Don’t stress, and try not to be like me – always making too many goals to really be successful at them all. Keep it simple.  And work on what is important to you, even if that means your page headings differ from mine. Personalize each to fit your needs and wants.

Set intentions: Because goal setting is not always enough.

Many people  after writing out their goals, set them aside and don’t think about them for months. Then they wonder why they don’t accomplish them – or more than just a few of them.

Now that you have your list of goals, it is time to set intentions for each. Do this on an evening when you’re alone. Light enough candles to provide soft lighting to read by, put on some soft music, get comfortable with tea or coffee, and possibly a snack, and look over all the notes you’ve taken. Add any notes that come to mind, such as a new idea for how to invest money or what you want to do on your vacation. Be sure your planner is handy.

Now meditate for a few minutes, breathing normally and trying to clear your mind. Then meditate on each goal, one at a time. Again clear your mind. When you’re done, take pen and notebook in hand, writing out any last details.

Once this is complete, look at each goal in turn. Remind yourself of why you set the goal, the steps you are going to take to reach them, and what the desired outcome of each is.

For each goal, decide on the month you want to finish, then work backward to schedule where you want to be each month on the goal.

Example: You want to video chat with your son and his family each month, because he lives too far away to visit regularly. You decide you’d like to have dinner with them on a monthly basis.

  1. Your main goal is to have dinner with your sons’ family each month through November, knowing they’ll be visiting in December. Write this in for the end of November, putting a box next to this item to check off when you have completed the 11 dinners.
  2. Write a note on the first of each month from January to November to contact your son and make a date to video chat for dinner that month.
  3. Record the date and time of the dinner chats as you wont forget about them.
  4. The nights of the dinner chats with your sons’ family, make dinner and then begin the video chat at the decided upon time.
  5. Enjoy your meal while they enjoy theirs, talking about all that is going on in your lives.
  6. Cross the dinner off your list for the month each time you’ve completes the date.

Don’t make things difficult. Keeping it simple is the way to go.

Setting an intention is simply telling yourself what you are going to do and putting it in your planner in such a way that you remember to work on it, letting yourself know that the intention is important and needs to be worked on.

Does this mean you’ll meet all your goals? Maybe and maybe not. It really depends on how important each goal is. If you find you don’t have time to put into a particular goal or two or three on a regular basis, then you wont complete it. All this means is that it/they turned out not to be a top priority in the coming year, and that is fine.

But you’ll have a monthly reminder, and you can try to get back on track if you wish to do so.

I, for one, never accomplish all my goals. I used to beat myself up over it, but I have since realized that I didn’t meet them when planned because they were not top priorities. No big deal. I just shelve those goals for later, or discard them all together, depending on how I feel about them during the reflection period.

Want more examples of creating goals and setting intentions?

Example: Yearly Christmas Party.

  1. Schedule October planning: Week 1) Create a guest list, and decide on the date, time, and theme for the event (day 1), buy invitations and postage (day 2), and make out invitations and fill out the envelopes, placing a stamps on each (days 3-5). Week 2) Plan the menu, deciding on new recipes to try, clipping coupons, and planning to have extras of necessary items on hand (day 1), find out who is willing to make what dishes and/or bring along cups or whatnot (day 2), create shopping lists for what you’ll need to get for each week until all ingredients and other food related needs are taken care of, and schedule these shopping days in your planner to coincide with weekly grocery shopping trips (day 3), and prepare a space to place everything you’ll be picking up from food items to gifts (day 4). Week 3) Decide on the gift giving process (Yankee swap, secret Santa, etc.). If it will be a secret Secret Santa situation, put names on slips of paper and fold them so you can’t see the names, list each gift giver on a sheet of paper, put the names in a basket and have a child or hubby choose a slip of paper for each name. Write the name of each recipient next to the givers name (day 1), decide on any further gifts you may be buying for the event, and make a list (day 2), pick up the gifts and wrapping needs you’ll need for the gift(s) you’re giving (day 3), and wrap the gift(s), placing them in the chosen space (day 4). Week 4: Decide on needed decorations and like items, making a list (day 1), shop for them and place them in the chosen space (day 2).
  2. Schedule November Planning: Week 1) Figure out what else you need, such as tables, chairs, etc. (day 1), call around to see who can provide these (days 2-4), and make sure you have a place to put the items when people start dropping them off (day 6). Week 2: Make a list of the names of people/families you’ve made out invitations for (day 1), mail out invitations (day 2), be prepared to start marking off invitation acceptances and declines (day 3). After Thanksgiving: Begin decorating, planning to do a little work each day over the coming week or two. Mark these tasks in your planner.
  3. Schedule for December: Call anyone you haven’t heard from to discuss whether or not they will attend or be dropping off their secret Santa or other gifts so no one is left out. Assure them they’ll get theirs as well – after the event. Also discuss any of the food or other items they’ve agreed to bring to be sure they will still be doing so. For anyone who will not, put this on your own list and buy the non-perishables (day 1-3), go through all the stuff you’ve picked up so far, making sure you haven’t missed anything. Add any items to the previous list. (day 4), set aside bake ahead time, for items that can be made ahead and frozen (days 7-14), take turkey or other meat out of freezer (three days before event), finish decorating and prepare for the party as much as possible – baking, setting up, taking things out of freezer, shopping for perishables, etc. (day before event), finish setting up seating and tables, doing the cooking and remaining baking tasks,  and setting the table settings, putting out gifts, etc. (the day of the event), put away food items and anything else that will go bad, leave the rest (after the event), and pick up everything else (the day after the event). Also, reflect on what went well and what should change for next yea making note of everything.

As you can see, the above is not something that is worked on throughout the entire year. Not all goals will last the whole year.

Example: Creating a website.

  1. Schedule a few hours once a month from January through May for brainstorming ideas for the website. Consider carefully the title, sub-title, topic, pages, and categories, and take notes for the first 10 posts. Keep everything together in a folder or notebook.
  2. In June, set time aside once a week to research hosting companies. Keep the notes in with those from step one, making sure all your questions are answered and you’re comfortable with your decision. Make up your mind during the last session.
  3. Schedule time during the first week of July to order your hosting and begin looking at themes.
  4. Schedule theme consideration three times over the month, deciding on the theme during the last session when you will install it.
  5. In August set aside times to customize the theme, decide and implement widgets and/or menus, add social media buttons, take photos, edit, and add photographs to the media library, and type the first 10 blog posts and save them as drafts.
  6. September should be used for editing of blog posts and scheduling them to post one per day Monday through Friday for the first two weeks in October, and for final touches on the site before going live. Schedule days for these activities, as well as for creating an about page, a contact page, and a static home page. Also schedule a day to write your bio, and another to brainstorm more post ideas.
  7. Go live October 1st!

And there you have it. The steps I’m using to reflect on this year and to plan for next, as well as some timing examples for implementing goals.

Care to share your rituals for these areas? Share in the comments below.


Are You a NaNoWriMo Rebel?

Winner-2014-Square-ButtonI’ve been doing some reading on the NaNoWriMo site, even though I’m not planning to join the fun this year.

Why? Because I’m curious.

About what? Their official stance on writing nonfiction rather than fiction for the challenge.

You see, I’ve been toying with the idea of using the challenge to write a work of nonfiction, but in previous years I’ve seen where a few fiction writer’s have come down hard on nonfiction writers for even suggesting such a thing. Yikes!

But, I’ve been wondering why it’s such a big deal to some people and not others. Then I came across a thread in the forum called Am I a Rebel? Find Out Here. Of course, I started reading. Here’s what I learned:

Heather Dudley starts the thread with a post explaining what a rebel is. She’s quite thorough, and it is worth a read if you write nonfiction and want a challenge to kick your butt into gear.

In her post, she explains that the type of manuscript I want to write is covered under the rebel title so, in a year or two, I might do this. Especially if I need a kick in the pants to start a book. According to Heather, I can even validate the book if I want.

There you have it. There is such a thing as  NaNoWriMo rebel, and you might be one if you choose to join the challenge. To find out more, read Heather’s post on the topic in the forum.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Happy writing!


It’s Time to Prep for NaNoWriMo…

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015.… but I wont be joining in this year. I didn’t last year, either. Why?

  • Last year I was busy prepping a series of short stories for publication. These stories, part of the Tales from the Mountain book of short stories, were written way back in 2008 as part of my first NaNoWriMo experience. I enjoyed every second of that first challenge, and finished on time. I was ecstatic! The four stories I was prepping to publish are for sale now on That series, called the #CampSeries, consists of Rascal, A Trip to the Outhouse, Auntie’s Boyfriend, and Hidden Camp. Feel free to check them out! I am pretty proud of them.
  • This year I’m working on publishing things again. I’ll be publishing The Haunted Dinner Party this month, and prepping a few more stories for publishing after the new year. This prepping to publish process takes so much time, as do the marketing/self-promotional activities, there isn’t any time left over for writing an entire 50,000 words in 30 days.

However, I wanted to mention NaNoWriMo here on the blog, and share my experiences and tips from previous years.

I’ve successfully completed the NaNoWriMo challenge four times, and do plan to take the challenge again in coming years. I feel a great need to concentrate on getting my completed stories published right now. I have a bunch in last edit stage, and they’ll need covers and other graphics, front and back matter, and other finishing touches before being published.

Here’s some information on my successful finishes:

  1. Tales from the Mountain (Horror & Supernatural) 2008: A book of fictional short stories based on a mountain in Maine. Spooky tales not for the faint of heart. 50, 450 words. The word count grew and grew after the challenge, and the book got very lengthy. Last year I decided to split things up, and published the #CampSeries and a stand-alone story, with plenty of options for the remainder of the book.
  2. Tales from the Woods (Horror & Supernatural) 2012: Tales from the woods deals specifically with the horror that can happen within a heavily wooded area, where small communities exist but cannot really be counted as towns. Horrific and, sometimes, supernatural events take place in the woods. 50,068 words. Again, the word count on this manuscript kept growing and and still does, so I split up some of the stories last year. This year I published two of them as stand-alone stories, Bang! and Alone.
  3. Saving Us (Mainstream Fiction) 2013: What happens when government goes too far, infringing on more and more freedoms, making life impossible for citizens to live happily? 50,110 words. I haven’t had a chance to get back to this book because I’ve been working on writing more short stories. When done, this will be a collection of three or four stories, each being lengthier than short stories. Maybe novelette or novella length. I’m interested in seeing what happens with them!
  4. Willow Brook (Religious/Spiritual) 2014: Willow Brook is the first of a trilogy that is lovingly dubbed The Witch Town Series. The main character has an off-the-wall, magickal experience while on vacation with her best friend, that leads her thoughts back to the beautiful vacation community. 50, 076 words. This is an exciting one for me, and will be part of the Tales of Magick series. The first story is just about complete. Again, we are talking novelettes/novellas when finally done, if not full-blown novels.

These, with all the short stories, will be keeping me very busy in the coming year and beyond. I wont have time to start another book this year, because I want to work instead on getting more stories published. That is my main concern right now. I may join NaNoWriMo again next year, if I get enough accomplished this year and next. If not, I’m fine with waiting another year in order to get my works published.

All this isn’t to say I wont be writing new stories. I’m working on a couple right now, when I need a break from the publishing process. I suppose I’ll always be writing in some way.

Pre-NaNoWriMo: Each year, there is a list of stuff to do to prepare for a NaNoWriMo experience. These posts will help guide you through the process.

My NaNoWriMo Prep Week 2014: This was the year I couldn’t find a huge block of time to prepare for my NaNoWriMo experience, but I pulled it all off by plugging away here and there, as time allowed. I was actually worried I’d have a had time finding the time to write, but that was not the case. Thank goodness!

Getting Ahead, In Preparation for NaNoWriMo: I’m not an organized person by nature but, for some things, I know I have to prepare in advance if I want to get any work done. Getting ready for November first does take a little effort.

NaNoWriMo: Keepin’ It Real, Keepin’ It Healthy: With NaNoWriMo starting November 1st, it is a good idea to start thinking about how to get through that month as smoothly as possible. We want to come through the other end in relatively good health, physically and mentally. November, after all, is a darn stressful, darn busy, month. How will we each get through it?

NaNoWriMo Starts in a Month!: November is a hectic month, what with the visit up north to visit my daughter Skye, and work picking up at the inn. But I am planning to do the challenge again this year. I think the story I am going to work on is a part of what I am calling the Witch Town series, but I could change my mind before this month is over. It depends on what ideas I can come up with for the book.

What I did on My Pre-NaNoWriMo Day:  Well, last Wednesday I managed to make my plan of attack for NaNoWriMo. I am steadily working on the steps on this list in order to prepare myself for the November NaNoWriMo challenge.

NaNoWriMo 2012: I have previously took the NaNoWriMo challenge and completed it, and I am planning to take the challenge again this year for a work of fiction. November 2012 is NaNoWriMo! Will you join in? Today is Pre-NanoPrep Day, and I am here at the library finding out what I am allowed to do in preparation for a month of writing in November. I want to be sure that I have all my ducks in a row before the 1st.

Almost Time for NaNoWriMo!: Tomorrow is the first! I am so excited. Except… I have to work. Even though this is the case, I feel I should be able to at least write the introduction, as well as at least 2 of the 4 speeches that will be part of the book.

Planning for NaNoWriMo: There is a lot more to planning for NaNoWriMo than outlining and character sketches. A survival kit wont even finish off my planning. Why? Because there is more to my life than just writing. I have family, friends, neighbors, work, errands and chores. There is a lot to do before I can begin a month of writing.

My NaNoWriMo Prep Day 2013: Because I have today off from work at the inn, and because I am extremely excited over this year’s NaNoWriMo event, I am having a NaNo Prep Day.

The Survival Kit: In my opinion, mega important! What will you put in yours?

2014 NaNoWriMo Survival Kit: NaNoWriMo begins on the first! I am excited and nervous at the same time. I am going to be working on a new story, that I am not entirely prepared to write. I am doing what I can to prepare for November, hoping I get enough things done around my home that I wont feel distracted. As for preparations for writing, I have few notes and my survival kit has been mostly put together.

My NaNoWriMo Survival Kit: (2013) Last year I put together my first NaNoWriMo Survival Kit. This year I am expanding my kit to include other things I now know are important.

My NaNoWriMo Survival Kit: (2012) I am currently putting together my NaNoWriMo survival kit, to be ready for November 1st. It will include..

NaNoWriMo Updates: During the month of November, I’d give updates about what was happening during the challenge. How I was progressing and whatnot.

NaNoWriMo Update: (11/27/2012) The home stretch. A relief? Not so much, yet. No for me. I am behind, mainly because I missed a couple of extra days of writing during my vacation from, and the fact that I did not write on Thanksgiving. I am okay with this, however. I needed the break. I needed a little time to simply relax.

NaNoWriMo Week 1: (11/7/2013) Admittedly, I do not make much headway with my writing during the first week of NaNoWriMo.  This is due to the fact that i travel up north to visit my daughter for her birthday. This year she turned 24, and I went to her birthday party, as well as to a dinner with her boyfriends’ parents. It was an enjoyable stay, as always, that cuts 4 days from my NaNoWriMo experience.

NaNoWriMo Update: (11/20/2013) Busily writing away. I wasn’t sure about the genre, but I think it is going to work out fine. I am not completely liking using an outline, though. In some ways it is easier. In other ways not so much. Maybe I will get more used to it. Who knows.

NaNoWriMo 2014 has Begun: Yesterday I worked, NOT starting my book. But I knew I had today off and would have plenty of time to work on the manuscript. Anyone else a day behind? I am sure there must be others. Background noise (necessary) for my day of writing includes Baby Boom, Little Women, and the Grumpy Old Men Movies. Why? Because of the snow themes.

NaNoWriMo Update 11/11/2014: Well, my plans for writing on November 2nf did not pan out. See NaNoWriMo has Begun. I had the best of intentions, believe me, but the weather was so bad we lost the power for most of the day, after only a few hundred words typed. I was so disappointed. I won 2013, and am really hoping to win 2014 as well! Other things got done: What cleaning I could do without hot water, and project I had wanted to start was begun. But that was all I got accomplished all day. Then I was back to work, typing as I had the chance. But it was so busy, I did not get a lot done.

I won NaNoWriMo! Four times, though I only have three recorded here on the blog. And oh, what a feeling!

NaNoWriMo Winner!: (2012) I won! I won, I won, I won! How about you? Have you crossed the finish line yet? You still have time (at least in my part of the world), and I wish you much luck.

NaNoWriMo Update – I Won!: (2013) Now that I have had a break from all the writing, and was able to enjoy my holiday, I would like to announce that I finished the NaNoWriMo challenge on November 26, 2013 with 50,110 words.

I Won NaNoWriMo…: (2014) … with 50,076 words on November 25, 2014. The month of November, even though I start out so excited about the NaNoWriMo Challenge, is quite stressful, what with work and holiday stuff. But it is well worth my time and effort, and always exciting when I get to the 50,000th (or more!) word. I wish all my fellow NaNoers the best of luck, and congratulations to those who have already one. And, if you don’t win, congratulations for trying so hard. You will be further ahead than before, and you can always try again next November.

It’s true. The prep and actual writing takes much time, and can be stressful. But it is all worth it in the end.

Are you joining the NaNoWriMo challenge this year? If so, I hope my previous posts have helped you to prepare and that they gave you a good idea of what will happen for you over the next couple of months. I hope they portrayed well enough the excitement over winning this challenge.

Good luck along your journey, and email me if you have any questions or just need some encouragement. ( You could also leave a comment here for the community.

Happy Writing!

Shannon L. Buck