shifting balance

One of the things that people ask me the most often is how do I manage to get any writing around my busy life. True, my life is busy, but so is everyone’s. I raise 4 kids (2 are teenagers albeit, but that’s its own happy difficulty), home school them, teach at an enrichment program outside the home, help with my husband’s business and books, cook, clean, thinking about doing the laundry, and on and on…. Sound familiar? Or at least the work load?

Where’s the time to write?

Everyone I know is trying to “balance things.” Here’s the thing, I don’t think it’s possible. At least not in the way we think of balance.

One of the things that causes people to “fail” at balancing the many areas of their life is that they think once in balance, always in balance and when that doesn’t happen, it feels like a fail. 

But things are always shifting. And really, it wouldn’t be balancing if they weren’t. It would be static. Instead, it’s like riding a wave, you shift one way and the next as the water changes beneath you because it’s going to change beneath you. And really, that’s what keeps it interesting.

My best advice for riding the wave

  1. Be realistic. Take good and honest stock of your life at this moment. What are the areas in which your time and presence is needed the most, what’s next, and so on. 

Set realistic expectations and goals. You may have heard that you should set aside an hour each day or make sure you write 1000 words a day. Those are good, if that’s realistic for you. If you know good and well that you can’t do that, for whatever life reason, then don’t set that as your goal. There is no timeline or process that is one size fits all. 

  1. Be satisfied. Perhaps you really wish you had more time to write, but per #1, you don’t. That’s life. Be ok with that. A new season will come around.

Maybe you have young children and you want to and need to spend most of your time with them. Great. They need you. Spend the time. Maybe you have to work 40 hours or more a week, you just have to. That’s life. You gotta pay the bills. Don’t lament the time you don’t have. Be grateful for the moments that this place in life allows you to follow your dreams. 

  1. Be flexible. As soon as you figure it all out, things will change. Change with them. 

Sometimes it will be a change that gives you more time to write, and sometimes less. Re-evaluate often so that you don’t become overwhelmed with shifting waters that are getting rougher than you’ve admitted to. 

  1. Be serious. Now that you have your “writing time,” guard it. 

If you’re going to write from 12-3pm on Wednesdays because it’s your day off and someone is watching the kids for you, then write on Wednesdays from 12-3. Don’t go to the grocery store or agree to meet a friend for a quick lunch. Write when it’s time to write. Even if you don’t have a book out or even a deadline to get something in, take yourself seriously as a writer. 

  1. Be attuned. “Balancing” work, home, and any given passion is tough. You deserve to take time for yourself. Your dreams and goals are important, but no one part is greater than the sum. 

Don’t wait for some magical time when all the areas of your life align and you have all the time you want to write, you’ve become wealthy and have no financial needs to attend to, and that family has taken care of themselves and no one needs you. That time isn’t coming. Life shifts and changes and if you’re waiting for perfect, if you’re waiting for “time” you’ll never get  it done, whatever it is. Know that your goals are important, but that your family is more important. Your talents are given to you for a purpose, but you also have responsibilities to attend to.  That’s where you find balance, not in even distribution of time, but in equal appreciation for all pieces of your life.

Happy surfing!

A Writer’s Desk with Amy Hueston

Is it just me, or do you love to get a peek at where a writer does her work. I LOVE to get an insider’s look at a writer’s desk and home life. Writer’s are my rock stars.

Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Amy Hueston! She’s a writer and a singer!

(speaking of rock stars.)

She’s another of my agency sisters that I’m proud to introduce to you. (Both of us are represented by the amazing Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.)

Amy’s novel, Paws for Concern, just released yesterday! If you love mysteries and dogs and dog bakeries, this book is for you! It’s the first in her new  Canine Confections Mystery series.

So do you want to see into the world of  an author at work? (I love this part.)

Amy says “My writing space varies, but my dogs are never far. So here is a picture of my laptop and my dogs.”

I love that. “Anywhere” is her desk! Being able to pick up and go and take your furry friends with you, certainly would make writing anywhere enjoyable.

“On occasion,” Amy says. “I’ll get an idea while singing and might jot something down on my music stand, but the heavy lifting of writing comes at my laptop.”

“I write mysteries for Woman’s World Magazine sometimes and the first book in my cozy mystery series A Canine’s Confections Mystery is called PAWS FOR CONCERN.”


Find Amy Hueston online and stay in touch!

And, don’t forget this writer is a singer too. You can listen to Amy’s music here. 

Thank you for sharing, Amy. And thank YOU for reading!

The Art of Waiting. 5 Things to do right now while you wait for your book to sell.

The Art of Waiting…  …  …

There’s something to be said for self-publishing… less waiting!

If you’re going the traditional route and you’re either querying editors or your agent is sending proposals,  you know what comes next…. waiting.

And then more waiting.

Especially now that things are moving at a slower pace, what are you supposed to do while you wait? Here’s a few things you should be doing while you wait for “the call.”

1. Work on your website.

Hopefully, some editor somewhere is intrigued by your proposal and they’ve decided to look you up. Have something for them to see.  Take a look at the websites of some other authors in your genre.  Immulate the things you admire. Get some ideas for pages and links. Make sure you have photos! Be professional–which doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money. If you have it, great, invest in yourself. If you don’t, there are tons of free and inexpensive website and design  programs. I use WordPress and Canva. I love them.  There are free versions as well as paid. 

 2. Build your social media presence.

This one is two-fold. Some editors will want you to be active on social media in regards to yourself as a writer even before you have a book out. Think Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come.” So, it’s important to do as much as you can now, even when it seems like you don’t have anything to promote. Remember, you’re promoting yourself, not just that one book.  Talk about your writing journey, give snippets from your book, share things that matter to you. (If you blog, these things can be shared on your website, too).

This folds into the next reason for being present online. Your readers will want a genuine connections with you. So be there and be real. It’s not all about your book. Actually, you should post more often about other things and let the readers get a chance to know you as a person. It’s that connection to the real you that will make them want to buy your book. The most important thing is to be genuine and engaged. Decide on a few platforms (I’m mostly on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest) that you really like and that you’re actually going to spend time on and focus on those. Example: I know people LOVE Twitter, but I just don’t connect with it and although I have an account. I’m not on it much. I do have my blog set to link new posts to it, but I don’t really spend much time there. That’s ok. I can’t be everywhere AND be genuine and engaged. There just isn’t enough time. 

Lastly on this subject, decide what things you’re going to post about on these platforms. A rule of thumb is to choose three subjects that truly interest you and that you love to talk about. Three things that are NOT your book. I talk a lot about coffee, my son and his dinosaurs, and food. Not that I’m limited to that, but having a “thing” that people associate with you is good. I get tons of tags about dinosaurs and I love it! I am truly happy when someone sees a dinosaur and thinks of me. People want to know you, and you will love the interaction of genuine connections

 3. Attend readings/ be part of the community

Writing can be a very solitary thing if you let it. Don’t. Get out there and see what’s happening. Wait, you say…I can’t get out there. Yes you can. One silver lining to the times we find ourselves in is that so many bookstores are offering online readings. Check your local indie bookstore’s website and see what they’re offering. Then check other bookstores in your state or across the country. Zoom and live streaming are bringing tons of readings to your living room.

Read articles on writing, publishing, etc. Be aware of what’s going on in your chosen field. This is the business end of things after all. Be in the writing business. Check out places like Writer’s Digest. Publisher’s Marketplace, Poet’s and Writers, etc.

4. Take a course or workshop

When you’re able to, do this physically, but for now, look for online workshops and writing courses. It could be something that’s in real time via Zoom or other collaborative meeting platform, perhaps offered by local writers guild or university or if could be recorded masterclasses that you work through on your own. Google what you’re interested in and see what’s available.

  5. Lastly… keep writing

While you’re waiting for this book to sell, stay in the habit and practice of writing. Draw up some outlines for possible new books. Write an essay. Write a poem. Writing something. Because when you do get that call that you have an offer on your book,  your agent or editor will want to know, “So what else do you have….”

Waiting is part of the business. This is a slow moving industry until suddenly things are happening and you’re caught up in the wonderful whirlwind of your first book coming out. 

The wait was worth it. 


Getting to Know a Standoffish Character

You created them, yet you don’t know them. You’re the one crafting them, but they’re managing to keep secrets. How can this be? Characters are like that.  If you’ve got one or two who just won’t let you in–yes, somehow they have that power, pose a few questions to them and see what they have to say. Threaten to cut them from the story if you have to. They really hate that and it makes them more likely to spill the beans. But promise that you’ll write down what they say no matter what. It’s a balance of trust and neither of you can break it. No one word answers. They have to tell the whole story, and you have to write it. And go….


What’s the kindest thing you ever did?

What is the most selfish thing you ever did?

What’s your biggest fear? 

What is your  greatest hope?

What is the one mistake that haunts you, and you could be undone?

What is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen?

When was the last time you cried and why?

What is in your  pocket right now?

What was the last lie you told?

What is the one secret that you keep at all costs? Why?


Wow. Ok, now you know. Let’s get this characters story told!



5 Reasons for Pansters to Consider Plotting

I confess to being a pantser at heart. I love the journey of writing as much as the destination. I’m like that in all things. On road trips, I love to come across those little general stores and unexpected fields of flowers. I love the little towns and their white washed houses with bright orange tiger lilies growing beside the mailboxes. However, I don’t always love having to backtrack 20 miles to where I should have made a left turn instead of a right, and especially if I really needed to be at my original destination a hour ago.

Pantsing is a beautiful thing, IF you have the time to spare. If not… consider plotting.

Yes, I see the face you’re making. I made that face, too, the first time my agent wanted to see the synopsis of a book I hadn’t written. What? How is such a task even possible, right? Oh, yeah, it’s called plotting. I’d heard of it, I’d just never done it. I admit I hesitated.

Wouldn’t it take out all the fun of writing? I loved to discover the story even as it flowed from my brain to my fingers across the keys. What about the surprises? Don’t you love it when you, as the author in the midst of telling the story, are surprised by what happens or what a character says?

No…I couldn’t possibly plot it all out ahead of time.  Except that I had to. Here’s what I learned. Here’s why I’m still a plotter today.

  1. Plotting is merely making an outline. Your outline is a map. You don’t have to go that way, but it keeps you from getting lost and losing time. It keeps you focused.
  2. You can still choose not to write the story in chronological order all the time . Your outline provides “pick and choose” places to jump into the story, which can satisfy the thrill of the unexpected. Bounce around and then come back to fill in the gaps.
  3. Plotting helps you practice the art of pacing and building the story from the ground up. Check out that Freytag’s pyramid. It works for a reason.
  4. Your outline is just that–an outline. It contains notes about what you want to accomplish, what a character learns or does, or what conversation you want to explore, but it doesn’t have all the juicy details. There’s still everything to discover and be surprised by as you write the scene.
  5. Plotting turns your love of daydreaming into a super power. It give you license to daydream, even. You’re working and it’s part of the process. How cool is that?

And truth be told, once you get that first book published, you’re going to have to do this “necessary evil” sooner or later, so embrace it. It’s part of the art of storytelling.

And there will still be tiger lilies along the way. I promise.

Happy Writing (and plotting.)




Collaborative Change Project:

I can’t change the world. Not by myself” but together we can. This isn’t my post. This is from one of my high school students. I could not be more proud of her and this effort to make sure that everyone is heard, and that a very desperately needed change comes to this world finally, because we took the time to voice ourselves and to listen to each other.

I know you don’t know Ava, but  I do. And I sort of think she could change the world all by herself, but she wants you to be part of it to. She knows that you HAVE TO BE. This is the kind of person who does things, who creates, who shows up passionately and compassionately and who inspires ( I know she inspires me.) I know she has big plans for this project. I hope (and urge) that you will be part of it.

Share this, please. Especially those of you who are educators and influencers, but ALL of you, anyone, everyone. 

What Ava said:

“I’d like to go to the moon. I’d like to paint the world and scream my words at the top of my lungs. I’d like to be unapologetically myself and I want others to do the same.

There are an estimated 7.8 billion people in the world. I’m not very good at math, but my guess is that it would take years and years and years to make everyone be heard. I wish that I could give everyone the chance to be heard, give them that validation. I wish that I could tell every single person that would listen that they matter and that their own particular opinion matters.

Regardless of where they are or what they speak or what they look like or who they believe in. I can’t change the world, not by myself. I can’t do very much at all, but I write words that I hope will someday inspire someone who is slightly better than I am at public speaking, and someone who can paint hopes and dreams, and someone who can write amazing music. I hope that I can inspire people who are incredible in their own fields, who are magical in their own specific interests.

There are so many people out in the world right now doing incredible things. There are people showing up, fighting every night for the basic human rights that everyone should already have. I’m ready to contribute. I’ve signed petitions and sent emails and donated money, but I’m going to try to do something BIG, alongside every one of you.

Here’s my email: Send me something. You being you. You creating, or saying, or being someone or something you love.

Let’s put this together, and show the world who we are. Let’s tell the world that things need to change and learn to accept each and every one of us. I don’t care who you are or what you look like or where you’re from.  So go do your part for the world! Go sign a petition or write an email or donate money or scream what you believe! Make a difference! Acknowledge the current events and MAKE A CHANGE. It has to be done.

And then come here. And send me something that you want to show the world. You can put your name on it or not, you can tell me where you’re from, or not. Please be kind, and don’t hate. I will not include anything that includes harassment or hate speech or discrimination of any kind.

I’m doing this because Everyone of you is beautiful and your individual creation matters.
Thank you dearly for taking the time to read this.”


Please share this everywhere. Send something in and urge others to do the same. Thank you.

A Writer’s Desk with Kaye D. Schmitz

Do you ever wonder what it’s like in an author’s mind when they are thick into writing a book? When the world and the characters take over and life becomes this dual place of reality and fiction. I do. And I bet their work space becomes like another world as well.

Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Kaye D. Schmitz

She’s another of my agency sisters that I’m proud to introduce to you. (Both of us are represented by the amazing Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.) Although, you may know Kaye already if you’re a fan of suspense and mystery! Here newest novel is available now! On Deadly Grounds.

So do you want to see into the writing space of  an author at work? (I love this part.) Kaye shares two views of her desk with us–the one where things are tidy, and the one where the real work is being done. (Looks like a ton of research going on there on the right! )

Kaye has this to say about her space:

“When my husband and I built our house 15 years ago, we designated a room for my office. It is my sanctuary in which I am surrounded by my interests—anything Egyptian, a shelf of signed Steve Berry books, a shelf of unsigned John Grisham books, and my collections of Dept. 56 Snowbabies and miniature globes. My desk overflows with family pictures and toys—including a replica of the house from the movie “UP” (complete with balloons), a bobble-head Thor from the “Avenger” series, Giggle McDimples and Forky from the “Toy Story” franchise, and “Larry” the Croc from the “Pearls Before Swine” comics.

I have loved seeing all of the beautifully clean desks the other authors who have shared their writing spaces on Amy’s blog have shown us. And I occasionally have a clean space as well. But, the way I figure it, if my desk isn’t messy, that means I’m not writing, so it’s most often stacked with research materials or partial manuscripts. I’m writing my fourth and fifth books simultaneously, so it will be messy for quite a while.”

I was right about the research!

Thank you, Kaye, for letting us peek inside your Writer’s World and congratulations on your new book, On Deadly Grounds.  


Find Kaye D. Schmitz online and stay in touch!

Thank you for reading,

A Writer’s Desk with Claire Fullerton

When I started these posts, we weren’t stuck in our houses doing all our work from home, but still, getting a peek into a writer’s working space at their home intrigued me. Perhaps it’s the same reason we love decorating shows and cooking shows where the chef is at their house–we want to feel connected to their personal world. I do.

I think, now, that many more of us are working from home, that glimpse into each other’s lives that we otherwise don’t have is especially interesting and makes us feel especially connected. So I’m thrilled to do more of these posts and thank you, writer friends, for inviting us into your homes.

Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Claire Fullerton!

Although I have yet to meet Claire in person, we are agency sisters! Both of us are represented by the amazing Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency. It’s release day for Claire’s new book, Little Tea! Happy release day!


Claire has this to say about her beautiful writing space.

“I live in Malibu, California and the way my writing space is set up, my back is against the ocean view, or I’d gaze out the window all day!”

Wow. I probably would too, Claire! Here’s a peek at what she can see from her writing desk. Don’t you love those colors and that light!


Thank you, Claire, for letting us peek inside your Writer’s World and happy release day for Little Tea! Fall in love with Claire’s books. This a great one to start with!


Find her online and stay in touch!

Thank you for reading,

A Writer’s Desk with Leanne Smith

Is it just me, or do you really love to get a peek inside someone’s home? Does that makes me weird? My motives are good–I promise. I think it all comes from a desire to know each other better, more deeply. Seeing those places and spaces where a person lives their life give insight into their world, tells us a little more about them. With writers, I want to see where it is that their stories unfold, where their characters spread their wings and fly.

Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Leanne W. Smith.

Although I have yet to meet Leanne in person, we are agency sisters! Both of us are represented by the amazing Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency. I love having a sisterhood (and brotherhood–there’s some dudes in the group, too) of writers to share stories, struggles, and successes. It makes a lonely occupation much less so!

Leanne has this to say about her wonderful writing space!

“My mother used to have a sun room that could have been a feature for Southern Living, painted a light buttercream. So when I got a home office, that was the color for me. I tend to hug the corner of my desk closest to the window. It’s not exactly the same as being in her sun room, but close. I actually take my laptop and move all over the house whether I’m writing or grading student papers or staying on top of email, but this is the room where the rubber really meets the road. This is where I go when I’m serious about it.”

Thank you, Leanne, for letting us peek inside your Writer’s World. I am so happy to connect closer with you, and I know others will be as well.


Find Leanne online and get to know her even better. Now that you know where the magic happens, pick up one of her gorgeous books and start reading! (Don’t you love these covers?)

Website: (Join her email list!)




Thank you for reading,