Writers, Can You Survive Danger & Death in the Conflict Challenge?

I don’t know about you, but I get a little excited when a new writing guide comes along. Today I get to spill the news that The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Vol. 1) has hit the shelves.

This guide is about that killer ingredient our stories need: Conflict. It shows you exactly how to use conflict to raise tension, create a fresh story premise, and pull readers in. The guide also dives into over 100 conflict scenarios and how each can be endlessly adapted to challenge a character inside and out. Problems, Moral Dilemmas, Ticking Clocks, Obstacles, No-Win Scenarios…this book is plot brainstorming in overdrive!

I’m part of Angela & Becca’s Street Team for this release, and we have an important question to ask you:

Can You Survive Danger as Well as Your Favorite Protagonist?

Sure, it’s easy for you to use conflict to torture your characters and make them struggle, but what if it’s you in the hot seat instead? Will you make good decisions, or bad ones?

It’s time to find out by taking the Conflict Challenge! I dare you to become the protagonist in a special story Angela & Becca have created. And heads up, if you survive, you win some pretty cool stuff!


While you’re at Writers Helping Writers taking the Conflict Challenge, make sure to enter The Conflict Thesaurus celebratory giveaway, too. But hurry – it’s only on for a few days.

So, take the challenge…if you dare. And don’t forget to come back and let me know how you did against Camp Deadwood!

The Conflict Thesaurus IS COMING

The Conflict Thesaurus releases October 12th.

And they’ve done it again, you guys. Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are releasing another book in their Thesaurus Series – this one all about Conflict. And the best part? It’s VOLUME 1.

If you are not familiar, Writers Helping Writers is an endless resource for any level of author out there. The website is a treasure trove of information that seems refilling everytime you check it out.

Part of their immense stock, is the The Thesaurus Series. Each book in the series dives into a different aspect of descriptive writing with guides, insights and examples.

The latest is this golden beauty – The Conflict Thesaurus Volume 1 out October 12th.

And, of course, no story is complete without some form of Conflict. It’s arguable that every author out there could use a brush up with what struggles their characters can encounter.

The time and effort that went into creating this resource is unimaginable. There are endless amounts of possible conflicts for your character to face. Conflicts that you didn’t even think possible! I love reading a good resource, doing my research and finding something that makes me think “There is no way I would have ever considered that!”

Click here for your reminder to pick up your copy of the Conflict Thesaurus on October 12th!

Come back to the blog for an in depth review of The Conflict Theasurus before it’s release!

Plan Your Writer Life

What can help keep your writer life together and organized?

THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION. I feel like I should start with that because not all authors feel the same way about organization and that’s okay.

Me? I need organization. I thrive with a structure. And if it’s pretty, that’s even better.

There are two items I’ve been using recently to keep my writer life together and I’m going to share those with you.

Item 1: The Happy Planner

It’s no secret I love The Happy Planner. That’s been well documented for the last two years on all of my social media. However, this year I really dove into tracking and planning my author life and I used a Happy Planner to do that. I tried several of the Happy Planner layouts to see what worked best for me, and for now, I think I’ve found it. Promise you won’t laugh?

I’ve been using the Disney Princess Happy Planner in a Vertical Layout. And I’ve been making each weekly layout a different Princess. Mostly Disney Princesses, because, let’s face it, they kind of have the market cornered. The layout pictured is one of my favorites and it’s the Emerald City portral of Princess Langweidiere from the Oz universe.

Some of my layouts are mostly decorated (like this one), but some are not. I love the vertical layout for my catch all planner as well, so it’s what I’m used to. Right now, my author life is kind of quiet, so mostly decorated makes me feel less like a lazy butt. When things pick up, it’s going to be fantastic. I’ve been doing WIP research and putting that in my author planner as well as any author related projects I’m currently working on.

If you’re looking for a paper planner to organize your writer life, I’d suggest The Happy Planner. Check out the different planner types and layouts and find what works best for you!

Item 2: Stone Ridge Stickers

PLANNER STICKERS FOR WRITERS FROM A WRITER. Uh, what more could you possibly want? Stone Ridge Stickers have a wide variety of different author themed stickers as well as decorative stickers for your everyday planner or specifically, your author planner!

I love these Instagram icons for social media planning. These Chapters Edited stickers are going to change my world while editing! Author Mandi Lynn has created an amazing line of author stickers perfect for your organizing, planning and tracking needs.

These are just a few of the amazing author items you can use to help you organizing your author life. If you’d like to learn more about my favorite items, leave a comment and let me know!

DISCLAIMER: Some links included in this blog might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product with the links above I may receive a small commission. There is no charge to you, at all. Thank you for all your support!

I Can Do That – Desk Mat

This new blog series will share crafting and DIY projects I’ve been inspired to try on my own – the good, the bad and the ugly.

For the first project in the series, I started off EASY. I love to craft and try DIY projects, but what I really love is easy. Too intricate and I shy away. More than a few steps? No, thanks, I’m good. However, as of late, I’ve been motivated to try and do some things to challenge myself. Some upcoming projects featured in this series will be things I never thought I’d attempt.

But, first things first. This easy, adorable and useful project – taking a simple clear, plastic desk mat and making it my own!

The hardest part of this project was the trip to IKEA to get the actual desk mat. The closest IKEA to where I live is almost two hours away. I could have ordered it online, but what’s the fun of that?

IKEA desk mat

Click Here to get this sweet deal for yourself. This desk pad is sturdy and translucent and for only $4.99 it is a steal for this project.

I took a gorgeous floral gift bag that I’d been holding on to for years and cut it to the size of the desk mat. I’ve seen people primarly use wrapping paper for this project, but you can use just about anything!

I took some double sided tape and attached the foral paper to the bottom side of the desk mat. The desk mat is translucent enough to see the paper but you can not see the tape.

And that’s literally ALL IT TAKES!

Finished product

I still need to trim up some of the corners, but I think it looks super adorable in this space. It also saves my beat up, much loved, wooden desk from any other cuts, scraps or damage.

Be on the lookout for more in this blog series! Some projects will be just as easy peasy as the beauty, but others will take a smidge more effort.

Anxiety – It’s not a dirty word

Most of us have felt it at one point or another; anxiety. It’s often described as nervousness, sweaty palms or a sense of dread. It’s not frequent; before a big presentation at work, before a gathering of people you don’t know that well and it usually subsides before you can ever really think about it. For most, that is the extent of our relationship with anxiety.

For others – for me – it’s different. Much, much different.

To give a little back story, I’ve always been one of those nervous people. One who worries about things that are completely out of my control. Once, when I was in high school, our area in Central Florida was under a Hurricane Warning. I packed up my entire room “just in case”. I’ve always been that kind of nervous.

In October 2018, my dad went to the hospital with chest pains. He had a history of cardiac issues. They kept him overnight for observation and released him finding there to be no new issues with his health. Around this same time, I remember vividly sitting in my office at work and having a pain in my chest. I told my friend Jeanne about and she looked at me as if I had two heads and said, “That’s not your heart.”

In November 2018, my dad had a heart attack that required he have double bypass surgery. I’ve never in my life been more terrified. My family and I banded together, we found strength in each other and my dad made it through surgery and has recovered amazingly.

On New Years Day 2019, my friend Jeanne passed away from a heart attack.

This is where my life changed.

I don’t know what exactly did it. I don’t know if it was a little bit of everything the prior three months had involved or if it was her death solely that rocked me to my core.

I broke.

I am broken now.

When shock wore off anxiety moved in. Full force, without notice and without permission. Nonstop, debilitating anxiety. Every. Single. Day anxiety maneuvers my life.

Somedays I’m really, really good at hiding it. I put on nice clothes, wear fancy earrings, put on mascara and smile, all while barely keeping anything together on the inside. Other days I give in completely and it takes all I have to just get out of bed and get to work.

Some days I break in private. At home, with my husband helplessly watching me pace the kitchen for two hours clenching my chest and trying to convince him I’m dying while he tries to convince me to breath.
Some days I break in public. At work, running out of the office and to my car where I cry hysterically and hyperventilate to the point I nearly pass out in my back seat.

If I hear of other people’s symptoms or problems, I suddenly feel like I have those too. Listening to Covid reports and symptoms has been difficult.

I’ve been to the emergency room and doctor after doctor, even a cardiologist, for what all is determined to be anxiety.
I’ve been told my heart is healthy, I have minimal heart palpitations (most people have these, but do not feel them). My overall health is good; I need to lose weight and eat better, but for the most part all is fine. I’m fine – physical health wise.

My mental health is the problem. My anxiety has convinced me that I’m in danger of dying every day. Every ache, pain, pinch, tingle sends me into panic, and I spiral. People tell me not to think about it, but that is impossible, and they don’t understand why. The anxiety rules everything.

I’ve tried several anti-anxiety meds that ended up having the opposite desired effect on me, making the anxiety kick into high gear.

I go days, weeks, months at a time doing nothing but dwell on my anxiety and what this pain, tingle or pinch can mean. Recently, I spent four days believing a tingling in my ear and face was a stroke. I cried, I panicked, I took medication and finally went to my cardiologist. He told me I had zero chance of having a stroke. My primary care doctor said the tingling was my anxiety. I realized finally, after almost two weeks, that the tingling mostly happens when I’ve got my jaw and teeth clenched.

I believe the trauma of losing Jeanne so suddenly triggered something in me. I had said, shortly before she passed, that Jeanne was a mountain, nothing could touch her, she could withstand anything. She’d overcome some many different types of obstacles unscathed and with grace, it was astonishing.

Because of what happened to my dad the previous few months, on New Years Eve, as the clock struck midnight and we welcomed 2019, I kissed my husband and said “2019 has to be better, right?” It wasn’t. I woke up New Year’s Day to this horrible, life altering news and It was the opposite of better. Now when I hear someone say anything like that, I cringe. I now say to myself “it can always be worse”.

I’ve been on this journey for over two years now. I’d like to get off this particular roller coaster ride, but it may just be a part of me from now on. I’ve started a different anti-anxiety medication and it seems to be helping so far. I’m able to feel a pain, a tingle, a clench and not immediately panic. I’m able to get up and get ready for my day and focus on many of the other parts of my life instead of waiting for the next symptom. I’m part of a Facebook support group for cardiac issues / anxiety and it’s been so helpful.

Anxiety seems to still be so taboo, and I don’t think that’s fair. I know those around me try to understand and listen, but most of them have never felt this type of anxiety – or any anxiety. My anxiety is health correlated – specifically, cardiac anxiety. I also like to worry about strokes and blood clots, but I focus on my heart the most.

Be patient with those you love with any form of anxiety. Listen to them, research their type of anxiety to better help them along their journey. Most of all, love them and talk to them. If we all do our part, anxiety will no longer be a dirty word and those of us in it’s grasp can began to heal a bit better.

Why I’m in love with my desk

I’d suspect that most authors are in love with their offices, but my desk in particular, is my love. I don’t have a dedicated office. My writing space was tucked into a corner of my bedroom. Since Covid became a thing, it’s in a corner of my living room. We moved it when I began working my 9-5 job and schooling from home. We’re still doing both of those items part time.

I’d love to have a dedicated office space. I’ve got a Pinterest board a mile long of my dream office. A space I could go into and get lost in my writing. But to be completely honest, the last book I wrote was mostly written from the couch while Unsolved Mysteries reruns played on Hulu.

Nevertheless, back to my desk. I don’t write from her often but I still love her. Anyone who knows me personally, knows I love this hunk of furniture. Here is a quick biography of my desk.

I got her as a Christmas gift when I was a kid, sometime between ten and twelve. It’s my favorite Christmas gift, ever. My desk is a light colored, heavy-as-hell wood. She’s got two drawers on the left, two on the right and one skinny one in the center. As you can imagine now, she’s beat to hell, but still beautiful. Her drawers still smell like they did when I got her. That Christmas I got the desk, an electronic typewriter and a desk chair with wheels. I also got one of those old fashioned desk lamps, the one with the green glass lampshade that was about as heavy as the desk itself. I also got tons and tons of desk (office) supplies. Paperclips, organizers, stapler, tacks, paper, pens. I’m not kidding when I say that was my best Christmas ever.

My bedroom was roughly the size of a walk in closet. I had a twin bed, my hella awesome desk, a small TV stand and a wood cabinet for a closet. My Dad put my desk in front of my window. I set everything on it and was in heaven.

When I moved out when I was twenty, I left my desk at my parents house. At twenty I’d lost some of the admiration for my desk. I was much more interested in my boyfriend (which is okay, he’s now my husband). My desk stayed in my old room for seven years. Until I became pregnant.

Needing to empty our spare room / office to make way for a nursery, we ditched my husband’s huge desk and opted to bring home my small, more functional desk. I fell in love all over again. She was back with me.

We’ve moved from that house and she came with us. In our new house, my husband mainly used my desk to house our ancient desktop computer and I just picked up the laptop and parked it on the couch.

About three years ago I said NO MORE. I want her back. I want her to be mine and only mine. My husband bought himself a little Walmart desk and my girl was tucked into the corner of our bedroom to be wholly mine.

She’s pieces of wood barely hanging on but she’s held together with love and memories. I’ll never get rid of her. She’s the best. And she still smells good.

Early 2021 TO READ List

Now that we are almost two months into 2021, I thought I’d share my to read list, as of right now.

At the end of 2020, I began reading the Harry Potter series. I’ve seen the movies countless times and even started reading the series once, but never got all the way through. Now, I’m determined.

Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince

Right now I’ve made it through the first five books of the series and I’m currently reading Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. Next up is The Deathly Hallows and I’ll have finished this entire series! The books track the movies pretty closely, but do have various differences, which is fun and unexpected. I love the series – I really love the movies. I’m not sure if the book series is something I’d read again, but you never know. I won’t lie; it’s kind of nice knowing what happens. Sometimes the anticipation of “what’s going to happen” in a book sets my anxious nerves on edge.

I got quite a few books for Christmas that are stacked up and waiting to be read. Most were off of my Amazon wish list. I don’t know a lot about them yet, but I’m excited to get into them.

I read Kathryn Croft’s Silent Lies last year and found it pretty interesting. It had been sitting my wish list for a while and I finally grabbed it. Totally loved it. I added her book The Warning afterward and got it as a gift. Once I find an author I really enjoy, I like to grab a couple of their works and see what I think. This book sounds like it may follow a similar style as to the first book of hers that I read, so I’m intrigued to see how it goes.

Another book on my Amazon Wish List that sat that for quite some time was Lucy Dawson’s The Memory. I think it’s been on my list for a couple of years. I don’t think I ‘ve read anything of hers before, so I’m looking forward to see what kind of style writer she is and if I enjoy the story. Anything that I can get dropped into is fun for me. I’ve looked up her other works and they seem like good reads as well. I’ll see how this first one goes and then decide. But I know me. I’ll probably love it. I have a habit of pain stakingly picking an author and then loving everything they’ve ever done (with a few exceptions).

I grabbed Broken Girls by Simone St. James off of Thriftbooks.com. It had been on my Amazon Wish List as well, but I could never decide if I wanted to pull the trigger and read it. I’ve never read anything by this author so I just wasn’t sure. I added it onto a TB order on a whim and it’s sitting waiting to be read. I get anxious reading authors for the first time, so I hope I enjoy it. Like I’ve mentioned before, I do tend to fall in love with whatever I read, but sometimes I get disappointed in the story. Or worse, I can’t finish the dang book at all. Thankfully, that has only happened once or twice.

Now, onto two nonfiction books. I gravitate to fiction, but I honestly love true crime books and true stories as well. If it’s got some adversity, I want to feel that pain with you. These two books, His Bright Light and Almost Perfect were on my wish list as well. I don’t remember how I stumbled across these book. I’ve always been drawn to true crime and true life stories – how did this awful thing happen and why? I just have to know! I’m a sucker for these types of shows on television as well. I’ve watched reruns of Unsolved Mysteries and Disappeared more times than I can count. These two books fall into these categories and I think I’m most excited to read them.

The last book on my list is a bit sentimental. It’s the last book in Shirly Murphy’s Joe Grey series, Cat Chase the Moon. The series is about Joe Grey – he’s a talking cat who helps solve crimes with other talking cats and their human counterparts. My friend Jeanne got me started with this series many years ago and I fell in love with it. This book is sentimental for a few reasons. Jeanne passed away in 2019 so we never got the chance to read this one together. It’s also the last in the series because Mrs. Murphy has been unable to continue writing. It’s rather heart breaking that there won’t be any more Joe Grey adventures. This is a series I’ll read again and again. It’s fun and adventurous and holds a special place in my heart.

My Goodreads goal is to read 30 books this year, so at some point I’ll post additional books, but this will get 2021 started. Good reading, everyone!

From Hobby to Lifestyle – being a Happy Planner

My obsession with planning started in high school when they began to give out planner to every student. That was amazing. Being organzied is also a favorite of mine, so a planner seems like a requirement. Over the years I had several different types of planner. Some were just pretty bound notebooks that I’d make a monthly calendar in and then write out all the things I needed to plan. Birthday parties, get togethers, trips, etc. I used to call those my Planning Notebooks.

In 2017 my best friend got me a binder-type planner for the 2018 year. It was mint green – gorgeous – and from Recollections. I loved that planner! I had some great stickers and post it notes and all kinds of accessories to go with it. I really loved that planner. I used it faithfully all year.

My First Planner

As 2018 came to an end, I went looking for a new planner. I’d seen some things online about The Happy Planner and thought it was a cute system. I picked up this one at Walmart on a whim. I didn’t know a whole lot about them apart from the fact that they were adorable and had tons of stickers and accessories. I bought it before the end of the year and kind of let it sit.

In the past it had been my habit that on New Years Eve, I’d fill out my new planner with everyone’s birthdays and all the important dates that I could transfer year to year. I didn’t that year. I knew I wanted to use the planner, I just had no idea how to.

On New Years Day 2019, my world was turned upside down. A very dear friend and co worker passed away unexpectedly and I was absolutely shattered. Jeanne was so very important to me. I was given some time off from work to get myself together and in those few days I wanted to pull my hair out. I was in shock and I needed something to fill the silence and distract me. I grabbed my new Happy Planner and googled how to use a happy planner. I clicked on a link to Heather Kell’s Kellofaplan YouTube channel and the rest is history. I let myself completely be immersed in every video Heather posted. I’ve since met Heather Kell and we’re friends now and I’ve told her how she helped me through those days of heartbreak.

I started using the decorative Happy Planner and found this “planning” to be a hobby. It helped immensly with the sadness and anxiety I was feeling. It still does. But it’s changed since those early days of putting stickers onto a page and trying to come up with stuff to fill a daily planner.

Now it’s a lifestyle. I touch my planner daily. I have several of them. All Happy Planner’s. I created a YouTube channel that spotlights my Happy Planners from time to time. My Instagram feed is almost exclusively Happy Planner content (see?)

I’ve applied two years in a row to be on the Happy Planner Squad, but haven’t made it yet. I own more Happy Planner supplies than I care to admit. My daugther even loves it and has her own Instagram account showing off her Happy Planner!

I now have a catch all, daily planner, a social media planner, an on-the-go planner, a budget planner and a writing planner. I also have endless project lists, notebooks and ideas sections within my planner.

I live for being a part of the planner community on Instagram and YouTube! I’ve been to one planner event where I got to meet some other amazing planner friends and when Covid is over, I hope to go to more. I’ve taken online classes and courses to better my planning skills.

It’s been an amazing journey from this little thing I picked up by chance to this full-blown daily part of my life. I love my Happy Planner(s).

What have you read in Quarantine? See ya, 2020!

These are the books I’ve read Fall through Winter 2020, because … COVID.

As mentioned last month, Covid quarantine has been real in our household and here we are, ready to end 2020.

Here is a quick rundown of the books I’ve read this fall through winter and my two cents on each. Let me know if you’re interested in keeping up with my reading list in 2021.

What My Sister Knew by Nina Laurin. I picked up Nina Laurin’s book Girl Last Seen and fell in love with her style of writing. I went back and forth on whether to read this one or not. The blurb didn’t quite grab my interest. I’m so glad I did, though. It was completely different than what I expected and I absolutely loved it! It’s one I’ll reread in the future. And I don’t reread a ton of books.

A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb. In my last blog, I mentioned three books by Katherin Webb. I’ve just started reading her books this year and I’m in love with them! They remind me of my favorite author, Kate Morton. A Half Forgotten Song took a little bit to grab my interest, but once it did, I couldn’t put it down! It was intriguing and I really enjoy a book that I don’t see the ending coming.

Odd Child Out by Gilly MacMillian. I found this book at Dollar Tree! I couldn’t believe it. I read another book of hers, What She Knew a while back and really enjoyed her way of storytelling. This book was a little less impressive than the prior book I read, but I did enjoy it. It’s not one I’d reread again. Trigger warning – it was a little depressing and pretty sad.

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens. I think I’ve read all of Chevy Stevens’ books. And for me, I either really love them or think they are okay. This one had me feeling it was just okay. I did enjoy the storyline, however the main character didn’t sit well with me. If I can’t connect with the main character, I tend to not connect with the entire story / book.

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield. Years ago I was gifted and read Diane’s book The Thirteenth Tale and was obssessed with it! It was simply amazing and I recommend it to everyone. When I grabbed this book, I was so excited. I honestly didn’t like this book at all. I couldn’t get into the story or connect with the plot or the characters. It made me sad, that I didn’t love it. The Thirteenth Tale was a much superior book, in my opinion.

Conversion by Katherine Howe. I absolutley love Katherine Howe. Her book The Physick Book of Deliverance Day is one my favorite books ever. I’ve read a few of her books and I picked this one up to kind of complete her catalog. I read Conversion quite a while ago and I still think about it. The story was something new to me and it keeps you thinking for a while after. It’s interesting because I’m not quite sure if I liked it, but I keep coming back to thinking about it.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. Kate Morton is one of my absolute favorite author and I’ve now read every book she has released. I’ve had this one on my shelf for almost two years as the last one to be read. I hate when I get to this point where I’ve read everything from an author and have to wait for the next release. It makes me sad. But, of course, I loved this book. I’ve yet to reread any of Kate Morton’s books, but I will. They feel like home to me and I absolutely recommend them to anyone!

The Harry Potter series. You don’t really need a whole lot of information here. I bought all the books in the series a while ago and they sat on my shelf. I’ve seen the movies more times than I can count. I finally picked up the first book and started reading. Currently I’m on book 5. They take a minute to read, and the first books seemed to track the movies pretty closely. I love seeing the subtle differences between the books and the movies. Of course I recommend Harry Potter. LOL. Who wouldn’t.

That’s my list! I have read 47 books in 2020 (and we have a few days left to go). What books to you recommend? I’d love to check them out!