I watch a little bit of everything on YouTube. Movie reviews, technology reviews, interviews with actors or authors or musicians, day in the life, coffee making or coffee products, music videos, creative life, writing advice/motivation/inspiration, how-to’s, productivity, meditation, exercise, and some what-i-eat-in-a-day…
One of my favorite channels is called The Cottage Fairy. She lives in a rural area in the Pacific Northwest. She’s young and talented and lives a life I wish I had been brave enough to embark on myself. Her videos are beautiful and full of gorgeous music and images, full of nature and slow, intentional living, and creativity.
Another favorite is Chris Fox‘s channel. He’s a science fiction and fantasy author who puts many things about being an author, having a business as an author into perspective and into terms that are easy to understand. He’s got a couple of courses, a non-fiction book series on writing and marketing, and his videos are short and educational. He’s got an approachable way about him and his content that isn’t a my way or the highway style. I appreciate him and have learned a lot from him over the years. Of course, I should put some of that into practice and I might be able to turn this writer ship around.
Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker and author. She puts short videos out there that are often very pointed in the message they’re trying to convey. They are actionable. They give you, me, whoever is watching an action to take to get out of our own way. She doesn’t sugar coat and I like that she’s my age and when I listen to her, I don’t feel like I’m too late to the party. Her thing is do the things you don’t want to do… Just get up and do it. Her book is called The Five-Second Rule. Count backwards… 5-4-3-2-1. And when you get to one, get moving. This hack has helped me a lot.
Morgan Drinks Coffee… She’s lively and fun and makes coffee drinks. She’s a barista in real life and loves what she does, loves coffee. She’s not a snob about it, she’s not pretentious. She’s fun and her videos are both educational and just plain fun. Another coffee channel I follow is James Hoffman and he is pretentious, he is a snob, and he is delightful and fun and I learn a lot from him, too.
And my favorite movie/television review channel is The Critical Drinker… He’s not family friendly. He’s not woke and he’s not politically correct. But he picks apart movies and shows from the perspective of a writer because he is one. He’s not kind or generous with his thoughts unless it’s deserved. Some of his opinions are hard to hear if he’s taking apart one of your favorite movies, but I’ve found a lot of times, that that’s not a bad thing. He’s funny and direct and he seriously doesn’t give a fuck. I like that about him. He’s not pandering to anyone. Plus, his accent is just…delightful. And that is the only thing delightful about his channels.
I love YouTube. It’s currently the only social-type media that I visit and spend any time on. I don’t feel any sort of comparison or stress when I’m there. I do feel a bit of ‘Wow. I wish I could do that. I wish I wasn’t scared to try. I wish…’ I try to watch a variety of channels because there’s so much good information, so much relevant information, so much incredible creativity and inspiration and motivation to be found on YouTube.
I used to only use the site for music videos, or movie trailers, or Ted Talks. But then I began exploring other things that were of interest to me and found a viewing home for myself. I often have videos playing in the background while I’m doing something else, like writing this blog or cleaning or the dreaded eating while watching.
Here are the links to a few other channels I really like and subscribe to… Trust me, there are many, many, many more than this.
Amy Landino…productivity and motivation
KDP Univeristy @ Home…publishing
Becca Syme…writing, motivation
Exploring With Josh…exploring and documenting abandoned places
I Am Athlete…podcast with four NFL players who interview other athletes and talk life.
Taylor Swift…do I really need to say anything here?
Therapy in a Nutshell…mental health
Abbey Sharp…food, what i eat in a day reviews, general nutrition knowledge
vlogbrothers…authors John and Hank Green who also run the fantastic Crash Course series of educational videos.
And with that, I don’t have anything else for today. Well, nothing else here. I do have revisions, writing, and a few other things to do. I’ll catch you on the flip side.
If there’s anything I’ve missed posting on Instagram, it’s coffee. It should’ve been books, right? I’m a writer, after all. But I didn’t talk a lot about writing and when I was uber prolific when I started out more than 10 years ago, I didn’t talk a lot about it then…especially what I was working on. I kept all of it close to the vest, so to speak, but coffee? Yeah, I can talk about coffee all day every day and twice on Sundays.
Coffee is one of my love languages…
Pictures from my back porch or from day trips up into the mountains are other parts of my love languages.
And I decided that this series needed a little collage action…
You can’t get the full scope from these, but there’s a lot of green, a lot of growth, a lot that’s new, and a lot of roots setting in.
Thank you for indulging this love of mine.
Earlier this year I read a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. I loved it so much that I decided to read another of his books, Digital Minimalism. I’m still in the process of that one, but so far, I’m loving it, too.
I know productivity gets a bad rap, but I love learning how to improve, how to be better at, more efficient at, and yes, more productive at because I haven’t been in such a fucking long time that everything and everyone has shot right on by me in this world of being a romance writer. And though comparison is a bad thing… I know this first hand and I know what it can do to creativity and mental health, it’s not hard not to see that my writing career stuttered to less than a crawl in the last…too many years.
I am not satisfied with this.
I am no where done with telling stories.
So, for me to apply deep work (focus) to my writing, I needed to go on a digital minimalistic journey (eliminate some or all of the distractions that had me reaching for my phone or the tablet or the remote control…social media on my phone, in my case). Has it helped? Some, yes.
Without spending time scrolling Instagram, I’ve recovered some hours in my day. I’ve started exercising with a little bit more focus, caught up on household chores that I’d let slide, relaxed more (physically and mentally), and have had an increase in book ideas, story fixes, and overall the creative thoughts have begun to return.
I haven’t written as much as I hoped by this time of the month, but honestly, I’m still happy with the small progress because I’m enjoying writing again. I’m not influenced, nor am I concerned with what anyone else is writing or reading. I’m not listening to any you should or shouldn’t advice unless I’m specifically seeking out information on certain things. I’m just concerning myself with…me in this writing space.
When I started out way back when, I wrote the stories I wanted to write without thinking about marketability, or reader interest. Is this the smart way to do it? Most would say no, especially if publishing is the goal. But here’s the thing I’ve learned… If there’s no love in it, if there’s no joy in it, if I’m not interested in reading it, then there’s not going to be any writing. And the reader I used to write for was me, which means, the reader I need to write for now is me.
I’m listening to music, using a timer for sprints, and just writing where my heart and head lead me. I’m more focused on just telling the story I want to tell and deleting Instagram has helped me do this. My brain and spirit needed a bit of a break.
So… We’re basically halfway through July and I’ve read a few more books than previously, and I have something like…13 active stories that I’m writing on with each in various stages of completion. A couple of them are around the 2/3 – 3/4 mark, some are nearing the 1/2 way mark, and a number of them are in the early chapters. There are novels, novellas, and short 5K word stories (I have plans for these short pieces that I’ll share soon). All of this… I was so distracted from it all and now that I’m not, I’m in a happy place, mentally and creatively.
Not being on social media… Facebook has a lot of author and publishing and collaboration information and I know I’ve missed out on a lot, but I couldn’t trust myself to just stick to boundaries I set for myself. Will that always be the case? I hope not because I’d love to be part of a community of writers who learn and encourage and support and share with each other, but the drama shit was too mentally draining. Book Twitter became a place for judgment and gatekeeping and it was no longer enjoyable for me. Instagram just made me feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, extroverted enough, productive enough, or anything else enough.
I was hella distracted by all of these and with each one I deleted, I gained more of myself back.
I’m digitally minimal right now with regards to social media. I don’t know when or how that’ll change going forward, but for the time being, it’s what I need.
I’m learning to apply deep work to the things I want to get done with regards to my writing career, focusing on the things that will get me where I want to go, and learning to enjoy the journey again without the distraction of shiny things or the creativity killer, comparison.
I’ll talk to y’all soon.
So, I’m sitting at my desk… A Balsam & Cedar candle burning, a little 100 year old ceramic Christmas tree lit, and a Hallmark Christmas movie (Two Turtle Doves) on in the background.
And I thought maybe now would be a good time to show y’all the cover for one of the stories I have been chipping away at the last few months.
I don’t know when it’ll be out and I don’t want to speculate. It could be November or December this year, or it could be January. I know I’m supposed to set dates and have goals and to be quite honest, I burned myself out thinking about all of that instead of doing the thing that would really get me anywhere at all and that thing was and is…writing.
The writing doesn’t burn me out.
It’s all the other stuff that comes with the writing as a business that does.
But… That’s not what this post is about. No, this post is about giving us all permission to look at a cute cover, imagine what the story is and who the dapper guy is, and indulge in a little holiday cheer. At least, it’s permission for me to indulge in a little holiday cheer since last year I was moving in December and we didn’t really do any holiday…anything.
I don’t know if I’ll do more than watch a few of my favorite Hallmark Christmas movies and drink some hot cocoa or make a gingerbread latte, but sometimes those few comforts are enough.
The latest news to come from Wall Street is that Billionaire Brett Randolph has bought a small town. Not just any small town, though. Nope. He bought his hometown of Gumdrop Valley.
Now, I know many of you have never heard of Gumdrop Valley before and I hadn’t either, but the story goes that in the Spring, the wildflowers that bloom look just like gumdrops and at Christmas when all the houses are decorated and lit, the town looks like one of those quaint holiday villages people set up on every available surface in their homes. So, when the town was facing bankruptcy and businesses were beginning to close, Mr. Randolph stepped in and purchased all the land in the county along with everything in it.
Gumdrop Valley was saved and with the influx of money and the hiring of advertising and marketing firms by Mr. Randolph to help turn things around, his investment looks like it will pay off by the holiday season.
This isn’t the blurb, this is just a little something I wrote at the beginning of the story…
Anyway, I’m going back to my movie and I’m going to find some breakfast.
I’ll talk to y’all soon.
I started a little series on Instagram called Coffee on the porch… And it’s exactly as it sounds. I took pictures of coffee on my back porch over looking the pond, the trees, the mountains in the distance, and sometimes even cows from the neighboring farm were in the background.
I don’t exactly know why I started doing it, but it’s been an interesting way to see the changes to the land and it combines two of my favorite things…coffee and the view from my porch.
So, since I’m not on Instagram right now, I thought I’d continue the series here on the blog…