New Tools to Simplify & Organize in the New Year

All of us, at one time or another, said we just don’t have the time to begin or complete a favored project. People who long to write won’t write, because they’re juggling a ton of activities from caring for children and other family to demanding day jobs. Make some time for you by organizing your life.

Here are a few new online and app tools you can use to free up some valuable you time. The descriptions are straight from their sites.

PodKeeper is a free online organizer for busy parents with busy kids. PodKeeper offers 1) a communications tool that works even with those who aren’t on the site, 2) a calendar that syncs up with your pre-existing online calendars, 3) easy sign up lists, 4) an agenda and more. Users can create a Pod for each of their activities (office parties, Zumba class, book club, holiday planning, etc.) and their family, so there’s no need to download a handful of separate apps to keep track of it all.

Meet Edgar  isn’t just another social media tool – he’s a smart scheduler who fundamentally changes the way social traffic works. He gives your best content new life, never runs out of things to say, and is absolute aces at Double Dutch.

LastPass… Stop wasting time writing, remembering, and resetting passwords. Only remember one master password, and keep the rest locked up and easy-to-find in the LastPass password manager.

iPhone Bedtime Mode Apple recently introduced a new feature to iOS that’s designed to help, but it’s possible you missed it. The default Clock app on iOS 10 contains a special “Bedtime” setting that will nag you into better sleep habits.

Focus Keeper (Free) A simple but effective app to prevent burnout while working or studying (I use it for studying Japanese). The Pomodoro method helps not only with keeping you at your peak of attention span, but also helps with the much more subtle fear that feeds wandering attention and procrastination: the fear that the workload will never end. It’s perfect and very comforting for overwhelming tasks that you dread sitting down to tackle.

Yes, organization takes time, but you have to do it to do what you love. Do you have a favorite app or tool to stay organized? If so, share it in the comments.


GUEST BLOGGER: My Word for 2018 by Lynette Davis

My word for 2018 is perseverance—the ability to go on when things seem hopeless or when you don’t know how everything is going to turn out. As a writer and published author, I’ve learned that there are no guarantees in the business of writing, publishing and especially marketing. The odds are simply better in some situations than others. As writers and authors, it’s up to us to find out where the odds work best for us. And for that, we need perseverance. It takes perseverance to continue to forge ahead, day after day, week after week and month after month, toward our goals and ultimately—our dreams.

As you probably know, dreams are not obtained overnight, especially in the publishing world. Our dreams begin when we set literary goals and then put all our efforts into those goals—for a desired result. As writers, it’s nearly impossible to achieve any type of goal in publishing, where everything takes ten times longer than projected—at least that’s been my experience, without setting and establishing goals. Goals keep us on track, even if we need to tweak them as we go along. Goals don’t have to be written in stone.

Writing my literary goals down work best for me. That way, I can look at them again one, three or five years later. Initially, when I write my goals down, they seem like such a long shot. But as Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until its done.” Last year, my only goal was to publish my first book. Mission accomplished. For 2018, with perseverance in mind, I’ll be concentrating on three literary goals: writing, teaching, and reading.

My writing goal is to finish the second memoir in my memoir trilogy. Since publishing my first title, I have found finding time to write a bit challenging. And since I did not participate in National Novel Writing Month, also known as Nanowrimo, I have a rather steep mountain to climb. With respect to teaching, I have an online memoir writing class on my agenda for 2018. I’m also challenging myself to read twenty-five books in the coming year. Oh, did I mention I’ll be accomplishing these three goals as I, simultaneously, tackle the steep learning curve of book marketing? which is why I remind myself often of Maya Angelou’s words, “All great achievements require time.” My dream is to change lives one book at a time.

About the Author

Lynette Davis, an educator, author, and editor, published her first book, Even Rain Is Just Water, in June of this year. Life is a journey that is navigated through calm and sometimes periods of turbulent waters. Yet through it all, most people arrive at a point of understanding the challenges that they’ve undertaken. To others, the journey continues.

“It’s a memoir of rejection, revelation and redemption,” says Davis, “that took four years to write, about a lonely little girl looking for love and acceptance. Emotional abuse was not something that was talked about as I was growing up. I wrote my memoir to bring awareness to this type of abuse and how the effects of abuse transcend into adulthood.”

After the publication of her memoir, Even Rain Is Just Water, Davis continues to analyze her life as she ventures to research the debilitating and complex pain of healing from emotional abuse.

“I see my memoir as a tool that allows me, as an author, to advocate for others who have experienced childhood emotional abuse. My book has an ending. But for many survivors, the story continues, sometimes for a lifetime. The message I hope readers take from my memoir? You are stronger than you think you are—no matter what the circumstances. After all, even rain is just water,” says Davis.

Davis received her B.A. in English from California Baptist University. She facilitates writing workshops in the Inland Empire, California, and is currently writing her second memoir, Running on Empty.

The paperback of Even Rain Is Just Water includes a reading group guide for book clubs and reading groups which allows book club members and reading groups to read, reflect and discuss their perception of the passages as it pertains to their lives as well as family members. Readers can go to to order the paperback. The eBook can be ordered through Amazon.        

Ringing in the 2018 New Year Literary Goals

Happy New Year! I hope that all of you had a fabulous holiday season enjoying your family gatherings and other festivities.

The New Year is a time of reflection, a time to organize, and a time to praise God for the excellent gift of writing. For me, developing fiction stories is a career and ministry. I write to inspire, educate, and hopefully motivate aspiring writers to write their stories. Although I work a full-time job, writing remains an essential aspect of my life. Has it been challenging? Indeed, it has! Over the years, learning to become more disciplined involved commitments to staying on track with my writing projects.

I’ve written two published novels (one unpublished novel and multiple works in progress are on the shelf) and five anthology short stories, which I love. However, in 2017 I decided to focus on completing my current manuscript editing and do intermittent work on the next novel. I’ve also added a short story to the 2018 list.

So, I created a master plan to spend time writing on a daily basis, even if I fell short on my word-count quota some days. Are there days that I just cannot write for some reason? Yes! I have concluded that I cannot control life circumstances that periodically occur. I make up the days by writing for more extended periods of time in various sessions. And on weekends? I’m seldom at the mall, will see a movie if there is one I want to see, and I devote time to reading when I’m not in my writing cave. These are my blockbuster marathon writing days that include writing from eight to nine hours on Saturdays, two-three hours after church on Sunday evenings. Writing on a daily basis gives me clarity on how my stories will progress, plus it enhances my writing skills. Also, I have taken writing classes whenever I’ve had the opportunities. (I’m a lifetime learner)

In a nutshell…this was how I accomplished some of my literary goals in 2017. How many of you have literary goals for the 2018 New Year? If so, I hope that you have filled your calendars with literary events, names of professional editors, regular schedules for writing, marketing and promotion strategies, writing classes or workshops, and more.

Below are some of the literary goals that I have added to my calendar. I have more to come, and I’m excited!


Literary Goals for 2018

  1.    Complete self-editing and editor’s revisions – January 2018
  2.    Publish my next novel – May or June 2018
  3.    Complete an anthology short story by no later than February 2018
  4.    Finish another novel that I’ve started before the end of summer 2018
  5.    Attend the L.A. Times Book Festival, L.A, CA – April 21-22, 2018
  6.    Book Club Hub Book Tour – Blog Radio Show, May 15, 2018
  7.    Work on a marketing and promotion campaign – December 2017 to January 2018 for book release in May or June 2018
  8.    National Book Club Conference – Atlanta, GA – August 3-5, 2018.

Other literary conferences, book releases, etc. TBA on website and social media.

God Bless You!


The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Psalm 126:3 KJV


New Year’s Inspiration

At the end of the old year and the beginning of the New Year, we are often focused on the new beginning. We make lofty plans but this past year has revealed that maybe we need a different focus. Maybe we should be focused on living a good life. The quotes below are for you to share with your social network followings or to keep to yourself for motivation and inspiration.

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” 
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“A good life is a collection of happy moments.” 
― Denis Waitley

“Why can’t life always be lived under the stars,’ she said, ‘with great music and family and friends?” 
― Jan Karon

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?” 
― Ernest Hemingway

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” 
― Oscar Wilde

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 
― Albert Einstein

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” 
― J.K. Rowling

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” 
― Anne Frank

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” 
― Michael Cunningham

“Laughter is carbonated holiness.” 
― Anne Lamott

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ” 
― Maya Angelou

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” 
― Guillaume Apollinaire

You Get a Book, You Get a Book, and You Get a Book for this Holiday Season

In my best Oprah voice, I want everyone to have at least one great book for this holiday season. Brown Girls Books and other publishers have seven books that you can buy as a gift for you, friends and family, and even give as a gift in a Secret Santa pool.

All I Want for Christmas
An anthology of stories featuring such authors as Gina Johnson, Dwon D. Moss, Patricia Woodside, and 17 others.

Couple by Christmas
Pat Simmons

The Promise of Christmas
Vanessa Miller

Five Golden Rings: A Christmas Novella
K.L. Brady

The Winter Reunion
Rhonda McKnight

A Shoulda Woulda Christmas
Michelle Stimpson

The Christmas Ultimatum
Unoma Nwankwor


All are available on Amazon for downloading on any e-reader.

If you have a quiet moment to curl up with a good holiday read, here are seven books guaranteed to please.


5 Smartphone and Online Apps for Productivity and Writing

Smartphone and browser apps are constantly being introduced and improved. We do a lot on the go, and there are some new apps that can assist you with day-to-day productivity as well as assist you in being a better writer.

Bear: An editing tool that does almost anything you use 10 tools to do. You can create elaborate notes that can be sent to Word, Evernote and more. You can even import your Evernote notes to Bear. Bear is available for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It has a free plan and two other pay options ($1.49 and 14.99 per month).

The online meeting and video conferencing app Join.Me is picking up speed and picking up where online conference applications leave off: mobile use. They have a free plan, pro plan and business plan worth checking out.

Any.Do is like having a personal assistant on your iOS or Android device. This app gives you an ability to create elaborate to-do lists and reminders. The Assistant feature actually assists in the completion of certain tasks. This is a free app.

oTranscribe is a Chrome extension app that  enables you to record meetings, interviews or lectures, and transcribe them. The oTranscribe website lets you type as you listen, with shortcuts to slow down or pause the audio without taking your hands off the keyboard. 

Timee is a Chrome extension that allows you to convert time zones. This can be especially good if you have to perform work with people in multiple time zones.

Apps can either be life-saving or irritating. Try one or more of these and let us know how they worked for you in the comment section below.

New to Self-publishing? Here are 7 Tips to Make the Process Easier

The first thing most people think of when considering self-publishing as an option is the profit. They believe, rightfully, that all the profit from their book sales will be their own. There are so many more things to consider but you generally do not realize it until you’re well on the way in the process. These seven tips could make the process a bit easier for you.

  1. Query other self-published authors to ask them one question. “If you had it all to do over again, what would you do?” I bet you will hear things you would never expect to hear, but things you really should hear.
  2. Consider hiring a friend or self-published author as your consultant and guide through the process. Let them serve as your project manager and wise counselor. Pay them for the valuable help and their experience.
  3. Understand that the process is expensive. The expense of the process always catches people off-guard, so budget for it and put money aside.
  4. Fundraise for your book project by selling exclusive content using a platform like Patreon. There are other crowd-funding options but Patreon is for creatives. You will be surprised how many people will help support you to through the publishing process.
  5. Most authors sell their self-published works without a proper launch strategy that includes audience research and building. Think of every way possible to market and sell that book in advance of its publication.
  6. Hire the best possible editor your money can contract, and be open to their professional criticism. The best will only want to make your project better. The best will not allow you to look crazy in print.
  7. Contract the best cover designers who specialize in book covers and exteriors. Also contract a specialist in book interiors.

Your book can either be the thing you’ve dreamed of doing all of your life, and once you’re published, you are finished. Or you can play to win by strategizing the next-to-perfect execution of a product that people will buy for years to come.