L&R Book Club: May/June

I’ve been enjoying the L&R Book Club so much! Reading is more or less my life, so having someone to discuss books with (or lots of someones) has been the best.

We read 1 book every 2 months – because I know everyone is busy and these are the kinda books you want to sink in and implement. After a quick mini poll in the Facebook Group, I am excited to announce the L&R Book Club choice for May and June 2014:

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

I have owned this book for years and still never read it. I think I’m intimidated by it.

I mean, I have heard only really positive, raving reviews. Which means this book is probably fantastic. Which means it will *probably* change my life in someway. Which is obviously slightly scary and unsettling.

So (for years) I have put off reading The Creative Habit until I felt “ready” and that I had the space in my life to handle it.

Well, I guess it’s now or never. Not only is NURTURE my One Little Word this year, but June will be my 1 year anniversary of quitting my day job.

What better time is there to jump?

So! I hope you’ll join me over the next couple months! Grab The Creative Habit from Amazon or your library or other chosen book store and get ready to change your ideas about creativity.

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in FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, Lemon and Raspberry, TELL YOUR STORY

Found

Around here in the last week …

… The last several weeks have been emotionally exhausting – my amazing grandmother died combined with Andrew having to work so much I see him about 45 minutes every other day. We’re getting through it.

carole hann

… We did have Sunday together. Driving 6 hours to Phoenix for my grandmother’s memorial and then 6 hours back in the same day. But, you know. Together.

… We came home with some fun treasures she wanted me to have (I am the oldest grandchild) including this fantastic vintage trunk.

trunk

… after almost 6 years of reading U.S. History I finally got father than Andrew Jackson. I have now finished 1 President Martin Van Buren biography, and am working on a President William Henry Harrison biography. Combined that takes me to about spring 1841. My goal is to get to 1860 by the end of the year.

… I mowed the lawn for the first time in 20 years. Proud of myself for actually doing it – physical exertion is NOT my thing.

… Also, my banana peppers are going like gangbusters! Here are 2 I picked yesterday with my hand for a size comparison

banana pepper

… working on my novel and creative workshops this week. Planning another free blogging webinar, too!

… Andrew has been working so much his feet are a disaster. I successfully got him to relax and actually elevate his feet before bed the other night. Also! He got a hookup and got a hair dresser to come to his work to give him a hair cut. It’s his new favorite thing (yep, he works so much he doesn’t even have time for a hair cut)

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… It’s getting to be that time of year that is way too hot in our bedroom or my office. Which is super sad because I could spend my life between those 2 rooms (if I had coffee and ice cream).

And now for this week’s links!

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in found

Lessons from writing a third novel

I am currently in the middle of writing the first draft of my third novel. I haven’t even done anything with the drafts of my first 2 novels and I have already learned so much.

Scrivener

I am really loving using Scrivener for writing

The first book I thought about for years and years and years. When I finally decided I was BRAVE enough to start writing it, I wrote about 70,000+ words in 2.5 months. Not bad. It still needs a pretty thorough revision, since I didn’t do any planning ahead of time and have since realized I need to add at least another third or so from another character’s P.O.V.

The second book I just had a flash of an idea for, had to do *some* historical research, but again did not do any real planning ahead of time. The fact that the concept of the book was considerably more difficult (1st person, unreliable narrator) AND I had not had years to let the idea marinate means that it took me WAY longer. About 60,000 words in 7 months. Not great. All needs a major revision and possibly scrapped altogether.

This third novel I actually outlined (!). Miraculous! Again I just had the flash of an idea and not years to think about it, but I read this book and this book and this book and spent about 10 days making notes and detailed story arcs and decisions before I jumped in to the actual writing. The notes and outline alone topped 6000 words (~20 pages).

And I jumped head first into writing the draft – 3200 words in the first 2 days. I’m working on building 4 hours a day of fiction-writing/editing/plotting into my schedule so I can get up to 2500+ words per day and write a whole novel in a month.

What I learned from my biggest creative projects:

I’ve got to know the plan.

I’m a planner by nature, so lord knows why this didn’t occur to me until now. But I have worked so much better AND faster by spending a few days a head of time to actually write out the plan.

After this novel, I have a very (very very) rough idea for a 7-book series. That needs to be planned and outlined and crafted.

I can’t wait!

Full disclosure: I have not yet revised the drafts of my first or second novel, so I don’t actually have anything DONE. Which means, of course I have nothing PUBLISHED. Which means I really have very little idea how good or bad these books are/will be. But, I have read enough in my life and written enough non-fiction to know what is working for me and what is not.

I have absurdly ambitious fiction plans for the next year. I don’t have any idea if I can make them work, but the trying will be fun!

What have you learned from your biggest creative projects?

6 comments

in resources, writing

Taxes and monies

Today is tax day in America! You got your stuff all settled?

Luckily (I guess) my business is still teeny teeny tiny, so I haven’t had any need for a 1099, or giant estimated taxes or other big headaches throughout the year. But my husband also has a small business (that has not yet made money) and a freelance career with a ton of expenses. And we don’t even know what all we can claim as expenses. And we have a mortgage and 401ks and an IRA and all. And my brain hurts.

Many of you know I quit my day job last June (!!). At that point I was making enough money outside of my day job to cover my expenses. Enough – but not more. I’m not rich. I have debt. I am not a trust fund baby. There’s a reason my husband still has a day job.

I am not an expert at this.

Here’s the thing about small business taxes and monies: I have very little idea what I’m doing. So I ask for help.

Separate accounts

I am still working on this. Paperwork and stuff. But even just using my PayPal account JUST for Lemon and Raspberry stuff has been SO helpful! I can keep track of exactly which transactions are work-related and which are personal. It helps in sorting receipts and all, as well. I don’t have a *ton* of transactions so I can go through and sort once a quarter or so instead of daily or weekly.

I’ve been recommended Citibank for a small business account, but let me know if you have another recommendation.

Bookkeeping

You must keep track throughout the year. You don’t really want to do it all in January, right?

I use an online bookkeeping program; originally called Outright and bought by Go Daddy it is now GoDaddy Bookkeeping. There’s a very basic free version, but I pay $99/year for the more advanced option. It imports all the income and expenses that go through your other accounts (right now I have it only attached to my PayPal) and allows you to categorize each income and expense really easily. It gives me estimated taxes I should be paying each quarter as well as lets me run specific reports from all the transactions of a specific category to who my best customers are.

This is basic enough to be easy to use, but detailed enough to be useful. I’m sure there are other options, but this is what works best for me.

Professional accountant

I’ve been meaning to find an accountant for a couple years. Between our full-time day jobs + my (very) part-time job + our multiple teeny businesses our annual taxes have just gotten more and more complicated. I asked a couple small business owner friends for recommendations and a week or two ago we met with Jay Kim of Robert Hall & Associates. He totally took care of us, helped us think about more expenses and details that we may have missed and gave us suggestions for the next year. He is my new favorite and I can’t believe it took us so long to hire a professional.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and end up using Robert Hall & Associates, make sure you tell them I referred you. I think you’ll get a discount.

Good luck! I hope you made a lot of money last year!!

What are your best tips for taxes and monies?

P.S. Anyone know the reference for “monies”? Full quote: “Ms. Bitterman? I want to work for monies”

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in BUILD YOUR PLATFORM, Business, entrepreneurs

Productivity resources

SoCal springtime weather!! Spring cleaning and reorganizing and blogging 2 weeks ahead and shredding all kinds of paperwork.

You ready? Here are some great productivity resources from around the web:

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in productivity, resources

What have I signed myself up for?

I will be starting TWO online creative workshops today!* Which is WAY WAY more commitment to creative projects that I have made in awhile.

I keep telling myself I can totally do this and stay caught up – I’m not sure if I believe it.

Project Life Lessons

Project Life Lessons is a workshop from Elise Blaha Cripe, Annette Haring, and Megan Anderson with their tried-and-true tips in the areas of photo management, storytelling, organization, assembly, and more. Whether your Project Life approach involves weekly spreads, monthly highlights, or something more custom, you can establish an effective working process that will help you make your albums a better reflection of who you really are and what matters most to you.

I am super behind on my 2014 Project Life spreads, so I’m thrilled to maybe get some new ideas and inspiration.

CLICK HERE to register and join me!

My Details Class

My Details is a 2 week online workshop full of 10 journaling prompts to help record your details. Use the 10 prompts to document about your present details or use them to document about the you from the past, or do BOTH as Megan and Kristin have! They will inspire you with 40+ takes on the prompts between the two of them in the form of mini-book pages, pocket page spreads, traditional layouts, and more! You can return to these prompts again and again to document your details and can even return to them later to translate them into documenting the details of others!

I am excited about having the excuse just to write. I think I’ve decided to just journal in a Word doc so I don’t have to worry about running out of room – and THEN deciding what to do with my journaling.

CLICK HERE to get your spot – use discount codes LEMONDETAILS for $2 off

Let me know if you are interested in my blogging my progress! 

Both workshops have some great pre-class bonuses that I have had so much fun going through!

*Please note: Because I am friends with one of the teachers and have helped promote,
my seats in these classes were gifted to me

1 comment

in memory keeping, sponsor post, TELL YOUR STORY

Giveaway winner: MyDetails online workshop

Thank you to everyone who entered the MyDetails workshop giveaway last week!

…. and the winner is ….

Congrats to Hannah!

I’ll see you in the class! If you’re not Hannah – check out the details below and get your own spot.

 

xMy-Details-Logo-with-Websi

Use the 10 prompts to document about your present details or use them to document about the you from the past, or do BOTH as Megan and Kristin have! They will inspire you with 40+ takes on the prompts between the two of them in the form of mini-book pages, pocket page spreads, traditional layouts, and more! You can return to these prompts again and again to document your details and can even return to them later to translate them into documenting the details of others!

Whether you’re a blogger, a mini book maker, a journaler, a pocket scrapbooker, or a traditional scrapbooker, we’ve got ideas for you to make sure you are telling YOUR story and YOUR details in your memory keeping! Join us–the pre-classroom is accessible NOW and prompts begin April 14!

xMy-Details-Sneak-Peeks

CLICK HERE to grab your spot AND use discount code LEMONDETAILS for $2 off!

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in giveaway

Found

First! Thanks to everyone who filled out the reader survey for my birthday! I’ll be collecting responses through the end of the month, if you have not yet done it or if you have more thoughts you would like to add click here!

Around here in the last week …

… I fell down a Harry Potter Pinterest rabbit hole for HOURS. I deliberately did not create an HP board, but you can now find a ton of HP-pins scattered throughout my boards. I made my husband commit to an HP movie marathon soon, I’ll probably re-read the books this fall (my preferred HP reading season) and I pulled out this book, this book and this book to maybe re-read soon. Want to start revising my HP Master’s thesis too.

… Andrew slept *most* of Sunday (he was awake about 5 out of a 29 hour period), but he woke up for long enough to take me for a Menchie’s date.

menchies

… We harvested my first banana pepper from our garden! And 2 more strawberries!

… Started working on my new novel and sailing merrily along. Post about that next week.

… Bought a new URL for a fun new project!

… hosted my first free webinar! Nervous and fun and lots of great feedback

And now for this week’s links …

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in found

Who is the BUILD ecourse for?

The BUILD ecourse has now been out for 9 months. That’s 9 months of focusing content, 9 months of brainstorming monetizing, 9 months of building marketing systems and 9 months of building online platforms to really get what you want.

I’m working on a new class tour document for those of you who are still hemming and hawing about whether or not the ecourse is for you. But in the meantime, I want to let some of the students tell what they have gotten from the course:

Praise for BUILDAllie from Alexandra Rae Design:

Most of all this class has given me courage to actually just get started making my blog even better. I feel confident that I know the information and material, and really, all that is left is the “doing.” The way Amy presents (and complied! Wow, those Resource pages are AWESOME) the information, you just want to get started right away. I’ve spent all my free time in the past few weeks watching videos, rereading modules… And I can’t think of any better way to spend my time. Thanks for such a great course, Amy!

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Praise for BUILDTrina from Feed the Birdies:

This class has taken all the little details of what I want my blog to be and helped me create a big picture and a PLAN of how it’s all going to work. I was having a lot of trouble with that part and always missed it by a mile, but now with Amy’s help, I can say I will be a well noted blogger and mean it. It’s already happening!

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Praise for the private Facebook mastermind group…

Praise for BUILDKristin of rukristin papercrafts:

The BUILD facebook group is the first place I come to when I’m looking implement a new idea for my blog or brand. Because I work at home (and alone) it is incredibly helpful to have a group of smart and savy like-minded people to bounce ideas off of. The wealth of information found in the BUILD ecourse is even more valuable when you can discuss it with hard-working, capable people who are looking to succeed in the same way you are. The BUILD facebook community is a must-have resource for every person looking to build something on the web.

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Praise for BUILD ecourseKam of Campfire Chic:

I know I can go to the BUILD private facebook group if I have questions or want to start a dialogue about the lessons in the course. I find myself going straight to the community with drafts to see what feedback I can get…it’s awesome knowing that I can count on those involved to really give me an honest opinion and share their own experiences.

 

The BUILD Facebook group is a real Mastermind Group. It is amazing.

It’s a supportive place that you can come to bounce ideas off of other bloggers and micro business owners. It has been such a delight to see how the private Facebook group has developed.

Still have questions? Check out my interview with Megan about who the BUILD ecourse is for:

free blogging tips

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in blogging, BUILD YOUR PLATFORM

5 easy ways to blog better

Sometimes I repeat myself.

When I chat with my consulting students or answer comments or emails, a lot of the advice and encouragement I give is the same. Most of the time if a blogger is struggling to really find their groove or find their voice or blog consistently or just blog better in general …. I give them the same advice over and over again.

Which means that if it’s working for someone else, chances are it will work for you too.

Today, let’s talk about the top 5 easy ways you can be a better blogger. Easy. Really.

blog better

Use an Editorial Calendar

This is one of my soapbox preaching topics. I have written about the wonder and glory of having an editorial calendar and then also how to maintain your editorial calendar. I’ve written about how the limits of an editorial calendar actually help get through creative blocks. Beyond those posts, my most helpful tip is just try it. Give it a shot for a month. If you hate it I won’t be offended but I 100% believe an editorial calendar will help you be a better blogger.

If you use WordPress, this Editorial Calendar plugin is helpful.

Reduce the number of posts each week

Again with limits. Your readers will REALLY be ok if you don’t publish 7 days each week. If you are currently publishing 7x / week, and cut down to 5x/week all that extra time can be put into crafting even better content. Either longer posts or better DIY projects or even more effective marketing of those posts so you can be helping even more people.

In fact, one of my favorite bloggers publishes once a week? Maybe even once every other week. And you know what? I don’t even care because I know that EVERYTHING he puts out is amazing, instead of having to click past ‘filler’ posts.

Show-off your personality

Please don’t be a faceless corporation. Please don’t water down your opinions or quirks just to try to appeal to a larger audience. It’s not likely to work. You’re unique, fantastic, maybe slightly eccentric and you will find your tribe if you show off your personality. There are readers out there just like you, who share your Austen obsession or who will love to hear all your estate-saling tips week after week.

It’s only through showing off those peculiar facets of your personality that you’ll be able to find those other members of your tribe who will be thrilled every day to see your newest blog post.

Focus

Ok, on the OTHER hand from showing off your personality, you don’t need to show off ALL of your personality. For example, I love to travel but I don’t post my travel stories on this blog. That would not fit into my L&R content. I love to cook (and make up recipes), but that doesn’t fit here. I will write about creativity and reading and blogging and storytelling here at Lemon and Raspberry but I’m not going to nerd out about how much I love my dutch oven.

Be able to focus your blog content enough that you can describe your blog in 1 sentence. It will make you a better blogger AND help your readers be able to share how amazing you are.

Include a takeaway

Your readers need a REASON to read your blog. Yes, your workspace is gorgeous; thank you for showing it off. But why do I care? Maybe it’s because you have a tip for working in a mess. Maybe it’s because you want to show off this new tool you think I should buy. Regardless of what it is, your blog post should have a takeaway, a valuable piece of info that will make your readers’ lives better.

Extra credit: Sign up for BUILD ecourse!

Build an online platform ecourse

5 comments

in blogging, BUILD YOUR PLATFORM