Keep it Clean Kids!

I think this post has the potential to not only help authors, but anyone who wants to do other activities in addition to keeping a pretty clean house. Keeping my house clean and working takes a ton of time, so anything to help make the process more efficient is fantastic. The faster the house is clean, the more time I have to write. I'm learning that maintenance is key!

My two kiddos are old enough now, that they can help. Yep, they actually help. A month or so ago, I created, and taped on a wall, a routine they can follow every day. They get to put a sticker on for each completed task. I'm a gold star kind of person, I think most people especially kids love a sticker reward! I posted my routine chart on Facebook today, and a couple friends wanted a copy. I figured if there are two people it could help, there are probably more people who need something like it!

Many parts of my routine come from the website You can check out swish and swipe there (bathroom maintenance, quick wipe of the counters and a swish in the toilet with a toilet brush.) She's got lots of great ideas, I do some of them. The form I use is in Excel on my Mac. Make it personal for you, or for your kids. I'll share what I have for myself another time. It started as a paper, now it's in my phone calendar. Anyway, here's my kiddos chart. I write their name on the top of their chart:

Daily Routine and Chores for Kids
Now, don't expect perfection from yourself or your kids! Keep a good attitude and make a game of it. "Let's see how many stickers we can get today!" After a month, my kids took action today to see how many they could get. They even worked ahead to the afternoon piano practice. Be patient and know that a little at a time creates good habits, which in the end produce a clean, or at least more clean home, and more time to write.

The One-Worded Book

At our most recent trip to the library, I found a gem of a book! We took it along with the rest of our haul on vacation. I read it to my kiddos before bedtime after a day of playing in the snow in the woods. I laughed, my kids laughed, my mother-in-law laughed and told my husband he had to read it, and he laughed! It was fun, simple, and endearing. The book is called Ball. On the front it reads, "Word and pictures by Mary Sullivan."

Don't let his sad look fool you, this dog loves to play! I had interrupted his dinner. Rocky will fetch his ball until the cows come home!

There was no need for more than one word, it was brilliant! Although ball is the only word used for dialogue, emotion and expression are not lacking! The characters are adorable. Through the illustrations and the annotation of the word ball, the dogs personality is clear. An enjoyable book for anyone, but we particularly loved it because it reminded us of Rocky.

As I think about what I can learn from this book as I move forward, a couple things come to mind. First, illustration can make or break a story. As an author who will likely have no say in the matter, it makes me nervous. Dialogue can certainly keep the pace of a story where it needs to be, but with good illustration, it's not the only method that should/could be used.

That's it for now! I've got some work to do!

Here's Mary Sullivan's website:

Take a Sick Day!

Last week was rough. That’s it, just rough. I had a great start, but my week got hacked! I was so sick I could not get out of bed, seriously. The thought came to me that I should pick up my laptop and type away as I lay in bed. What a great use of my down time! Due to my aching and nausea, I had a realization. I should take time to get well. Relax, take care, and get well. What a concept!


Am I less motivated to reach my goals? No. If I were clocking in and out of a job, would I have gone to work last week? No. I would have taken the time off that I needed to get well, and then checked back in this morning. Done and done. This week would have been loaded with extra work from missing last week. Yep, that’s there for me too. I’ve got some catching up to do.


If you find there’s been a legitimate reason that’s delayed your writing, don’t give up or give yourself a mega guilt trip about not reaching your goals! I am not a failure because I got sick. I would fail only if I stopped. I am currently behind the goals I set for myself, but watchout! This week is gonna rock, and I will catch right up and get back on track, now that I can get out of bed. What a blessing to be able to work.

Personalized NaNoWriMo

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. All over the world, prospective novelists are beginning their writing goal for the month of November, of 50,000 words. The gargantuan goal of writing a first draft of a novel in one month is motivating and exciting!! In the past weeks, I asked myself if I should join in the fun. I do want to write a YA novel, after all.


I discovered by questioning myself about my writing goals is that NaNoWriMo is not for me this time around in it’s true form. As much as I want to write a novel, I will not be conquering a novel 2,000 words a day (25 days, 30 minus Sundays and Thanksgiving Day). There are other stories in my head that need to come to life first!


I will be adjusting NaNoWriMo to fit the goals I have! I want to write more children’s stories! I want to submit my completed Toilet Monster story! I want to update my blog on a regular basis with helpful, hopefully inspiring, and enjoyable information! I decided my “NaNoWriMo” time should help get me to where I want to be. Also, my very first responsibility is to my family. Some may insist that it’s only one month, but I’ve had enough pull me away in the last six months or so. More about that later.


After all the considerations of time and goals, I have decided on my personalized NaNoWriMo. It will still motivate and stretch me. My overall goal is to create my regular working routine. It will require dedication and sacrifice. I am a busy woman with many responsibilities! Early mornings will by my ally. Here’s what’s going to happen. There are 30 days in November. I don’t work on Sundays, so we’ll subtract those 4 out, 26. I’ll also let myself enjoy Thanksgiving Day, so I’ve got 25 days. I will write 500 words every working day. 500 x 25 = 12,500 words! My stories, submissions and blog articles are included in the word count. I will update my blog at least twice a week. I will write at least 4 new children’s picture books. I would love to make my goal higher, but I don’t want it out of reach. If I’m plodding along on 500 words and I can increase it, I will! Mark my words, this is the beginning of something beautiful.


Is NaNoWriMo for you this month? Is it what you need to stay motivated to get that fantastic novel idea out to the world?? Or do you need to adjust it? Don’t let this be an excuse not to accomplish 50,000 words! That is not the point. If you’re going for those 50,000, stick to it! It’s a fantastic goal and many great novels have been printed from this awesome NaNoWriMo month! If it’s not for you, find what goals will stretch you this month, and get to it!! Make sure your ladder is against the right wall!

Toilet Monster is Written!

Yesterday, my boys and my hubby went camping. It was fantastically quiet for hours at my house! After my chores were done, I stuck to my plan and finished writing my toilet monster story!! I feel so accomplished!

It is now in the capable hands of a chosen few readers who are testing it out. I'm excited to hear the feedback! After reviews are in and a final editing, it will go to either illustrating with my fantastic sister, or on to an agent, publisher, or contest. I am thrilled at the thought!

I feel a strong desire to continue writing children's books. I have realised how much I truly enjoy seeing my stories come to life.  I've had more ideas for some illustrated books. Whenever I have an idea, I write in in a journal dedicated to writing inspirations. I mostly note ideas of characters, plots, and other inspirations that pop in my head. Otherwise, they may evaporate before they have a chance at life. I feel secure knowing I have a reserve of ideas. I'm not running out of ideas any time soon. I just need to decide which idea is next! Do you write down your inspirations?

Just Me and 6,000 Rats Review

I absolutely adore children's books! I found a fun, slyly educational book today in my local library. It's called, Just Me and 6,000 Rats, and the subtitle is, a tale of conjunctions. It's by Rick Walton, illustrated by Mike Gordon and Carl Gordon.

This book is about a little boy who goes to the big city for the first time. Apparently where he comes from its normal to have 6,000 rats. They play tourist in the city. They go out to see the attractions, and before you turn each page, there's a conjunction to connect the story to the next page.

The 6,000 rats are the key. Without them, this story would not be entertaining at all! The text is subtlety hilarious and the illustrations are charming, witty and creative. I had some good chuckles over this book!

Maybe I will write that silly grammar book I thought of after all! If you want to write a book, go read books! Get inspired! See what works and what doesn't. If nothing else, it's enjoyable!


  It seems inspiration is everywhere. Today while I was working on my toilet monster story, I looked out the window at a little squirrel scattering about on my neighbor's roof. Squirrels are funny little creatures, and this one was no exception. It looked nice and healthy; ready for a long winter. I wondered if it was the same squirrel who raided my sunflowers upside down a month ago, then I remembered a story idea I had written down involving a squirrel. Watching the squirrel spurred some thoughts about the possible characteristics of the squirrel in my story idea.

  Having my own children spurs ideas as well. Oh the things they do! What better way to get into the child's point of view than a 12 hour day, 365 days a year observation? Though, I'm not always looking for a story.

  I was on a bike ride with my son yesterday, and he wondered aloud why the lines coming down from the telephone pole to the ground were shaped the way they were. He noticed they weren't going at their normal angle to make a triangle between the pole, line and ground. At first I was surprised he even noticed something like that. I hadn't even noticed it was there, really, so I looked, and I saw from his perspective and asked in my own head why. The wires had been pushed out so it looked more like half of a house drawn by a child. It only took a fraction of a second in my adult mind to figure out why, but it was asking that I found significant. "Oh," he said, "It's so people can go under it on the sidewalk." And off he rode.

  I suppose what I'm getting at is, if you need an idea, or if you have writer's block, open your eyes. Look outside yourself. Look from a different perspective. I'm beginning to find that there's plenty of ideas out there, you just have to be paying attention in order to catch on to it. Sometimes we learn from participation, and sometimes we learn from being quiet. Be an observer. Be quiet for a while and just watch, listen, feel and be inspired.