My chalkboard wall of goals

I like to see things. I need the visual set up. I’m a visual person and will re-write something that I already have digitally just so I can change the way it is laid out. I’ve got this big chalkboard wall in my office that is just begging for a chart or list or goal-setting visual of some kind.

Especially now that I have embarked on this ridiculous venture of writing novels, I find myself deep in the weeds of an enormous project with little idea where I am, how much I have left, what else is going on, etc.

So now I can just check my chalkboard wall:


The ‘titles’ on the left are obviously not the actual titles. The 3 stages across the top are obviously not the only things on my to do list. Admittedly there is WAY more to self-publishing a novel than these 3 steps, but seeing all the projects I’m in the middle of and where I am in the process definitely helps me schedule and be realistic about what I can finish in a given period of time.

Eventually, I may even fill in some of those blanks with target dates, but since I don’t yet have a handle on exactly how long something should take me that bit is for later.

I’m starting the first book in the Alterra series today. Hoping to finish the first draft by the end of October. And then after that we’ll see! But I know I’ll get to mark an X in the box on my chalkboard wall of goals!

How do you keep track of your projects?

P.S. My week long free productivity workshop

P.P.S. See also Sarah’s wall o’ goals


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P.S. How to clean your vinyl records with wood glue


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Creative small business resources

Plus, I have recently added over 100 resources (with many more to come) to the BUILD ecourse. Sign up here for access to the full course


in blogging, BUILD YOUR PLATFORM, resources

7 favorite creative business podcasts (+2 bonus)

I love podcasts. The End.

Honestly, it is getting to the point where if you tell me what kind of podcast you are interested in, I can probably make a recommendation. Only, now that I no longer have a long commute I am WAY behind on my listening. No matter. At least there is always something interesting for me to listen to!

Today, some of my favorite creative business podcasts for you to get started with. While you are driving or running or doing the dishes. I listen to one while I’m in the shower and getting ready for the day, even.

I know at least 1 of these will speak to you!

Elise Gets Crafty : One of my favorite bloggers, Elise Blaha Cripe, started this weekly podcast just earlier this year. Episodes are mostly interviews, but Elise also has jumped on the mic to just talk out what is going on in her own business. She does a great job of using each episode to learn herself, along with the listener, so each episode is highly engaging. Bonus: I was a guest on episode 6!

The Lede from Copyblogger: Lots of great copywriting tips. I mean, it’s from Copyblogger, how can they help it? But they also touch on content marketing, email marketing, conversion and other good nuts and bolts of running an online business.

Smart Passive Income: Pat Flynn’s first and most popular podcast. Weekly, hour+ long interviews with other entrepreneurs and experts. I love Pat Flynn’s story and I love how genuine he is always. He is not just someone who teaches about online business but is actually launching new sites and trying out strategies himself.2014-09-08 12.14.38

Ask Pat: Another Pat Flynn podcast. Daily, based on listener questions and much much shorter. Super consumable. I listen to 2 or 3 while I’m in the shower and getting ready for the day.

Entrepreneur On Fire: Daily podcast, hour-ish-long interviews with entrepreneurs. It’s all great, but it’s like a firehose of information so I just pick and choose which episodes I listen to.

Suitcase Entrepreneur: Weekly, roughly 30 minute, interviews with other entrepreneurs. Natalie is super smart, and I would *love* to be able to travel more and work from the road, so this is a great resource for me. I haven’t listened to a ton of these, but they are definitely in the queue.

Self-Publishing Podcast: Self-publishing-specific (you might have guessed), but all 3 hosts self-publish fiction so they are all talking from experience. If you want to publish at all (fiction or non), this is a great place to start and think about your options.

Bonus: Podcasts I am subscribed to but have not yet listened to yet:

Converge – The Business of Creativity: Hosted by photographer Dane Sanders. These episodes are interviews with photographers and other creative business people. I like Dane a lot and I think he is super smart.

The Fizzle Show: Hosted by 3 guys that are mentioned in several of the other podcasts or blogs I follow. Their tagline is ‘a podcast for creative entrepreneurs and honest business builders.’

What is your favorite creative business podcast?



A year to NURTURE: Spending money on my future


This year, I am focusing on making the small choices to bring my One Little Word into my life on a weekly-or-so basis.

This year I want to NURTURE my life and the things I already have, rather than fall into that rat-race-style trap of more, bigger, further, etc. I want to cultivate my existing business rather than stretching myself too thin. I want to take care of ME and all the little pieces that make up me.


I invested A LOT of money in my yet-to-be-launched fiction writing career. I have been writing all year (3 first drafts finished so far in 2014) and this opportunity came up that I had be be brave and take.

Here’s why this is remarkable: I am terrible at spending money. On myself.

I am overly cautious and constantly in planning mode and can always find a logical reason why I don’t need something. I don’t actually have that big of a problem getting treats for Andrew, or spending money on good food when we host guests or picking up the tab when we are traveling with friends.

It’s just that I much prefer to save money than to spend it, so when I am the beneficiary of said spending I talk myself out of it. Every time. I literally need to let Andrew make the decision for me.

But now, for the first time in years and years, I have decided to spend money on my future. I let Andrew talk me into spending the money that will help NURTURE my potential new career.

So … this weekend I will be in Austin, Texas, at a writing summit that I believe (if I put in the necessary work) could jump start my fiction-writing career. I spent weeks and weeks (and weeks) talking it over with Andrew. I put off actually registering as long as possible. Even now when it’s too late to do anything about it I wonder if I made the right decision.

But this is something for me, that 100% fits into both last year’s word BRAVE and this year’s word NURTURE.

Spending this much money doesn’t bother Andrew in the slightest and I am so lucky to have him on my team. There are so many things I would not do for myself if it weren’t for him.

I will report more on the weekend when I return. I really am excited, even though I am *super* nervous.

P.S. We also just bought tickets to see Wicked in December, even though we can’t really afford it. Because we both believe that experiences are worth spending money on. I can’t wait!


in Amy

Your job is to FINISH

“What you do for a living is not BE CREATIVE. Everyone is creative.
What you do for a living is SHIP.” — Seth Godin

‘Ship’ as in get it out the door. ‘Ship’ as in ready for customers. ‘Ship’ as in finished.

I don’t care how long you worked on that blog post if you didn’t finish it and hit ‘publish.’

I don’t care how much brainstorming you have done on your new fancy app if it’s not ever going to become available.

Creative work is fantastic. It is essential. And there is a lot to be said for the value of the process….

But if we are talking about work, business and making a living, your job is to FINISH. If you are building your online platform, you need to finish planning and get to work. If you are working on quitting your day job, you need to finish that first ebook, and release it so it can make you some money.

As creators we are constantly fighting against……apathy, the lizard brain, distractions, the Resistance, fear …. All of these things are fighting against us finishing our creative work. Arm yourself in order to finish your creative work.

The Finishing Manifesto will help you do that, of course.

But mostly you just need to look yourself in the eye and make yourself FINISH. Like it’s your job.


in BUILD YOUR PLATFORM, productivity, The Finishing Manifesto


P.S. This slight change into fall weather really has me craving rereading Harry Potter books. Read about how much I love them here.


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Why creators NEED a platform

Do you do custom illustrations for tattoos? You need an online platform.

Do you make historically accurate swords? You need an online platform.

Do you write compelling and effective landing pages? You need an online platform.

Example: My husband is a recording engineer and producer. His clients are mostly L.A. punk bands, members who have part-time jobs just to pay gas money to their gigs and live 9 to a three-bedroom Silverlake house. This description is a bit exaggerated, but nonetheless accurate. Andrew is heavy into the scene and almost all his clients are word of mouth. One of his bands plays a show with another band, his name comes up, someone texts him and finds out details.

Andrew works incredibly hard. Harder than I have ever worked. He personally hits up bands he wants to work with. He’s on email and text all the time hustling with potential new clients, or previous clients to maintain the relationship. He does this all personally and I am not sure he will ever get to the point where he hands off handling inquiries to anyone else.

He is skeptical of almost all my marketing ideas for him (he usually comes around eventually), but the 1 I would not let him veto is having a website. I know it seems so not-punk-rock to have a website with a contact form and everything, but have it he must.

And now that he has a website?

He gets inquiries from France. He had a Toronto band fly all the way across the continent to work with him. There’s an Oregon band coming down in the next couple months to make a record.

Andrew is creating really really great work. His name is in the credits on record sleeves everywhere, and if some kid in France googles his name, there NEEDS to be an online platform where Andrew can be found.

There’s not much on his site, but it is THERE. About, contact, credits. Enough of an anchor for his name, because when word spreads google is where most people will go.

I genuinely don’t even care if you have a blog (in Andrew’s case, his credits perform the same function a blog would), but if you are a creative person, you need an online platform.

Do it. No excuses.

750x100_amyquit_colorP.S. I had planned to add a bunch of content to the ecourse by the end of August and raise the price, but I ran out of time! Therefore, you still have until the end of September to register at the current price before it goes up October 1



August Book Report

Oh my goodness! SO many great books this month!

Here are some of them…

Eleanor by Jason Gurley: Lovely kind-of-time-travel story, but I would have edited it down a bit more. I read the kindle version, so I don’t know exactly what page, but the first 15% or so of the book should have been cut out and redistributed as flashbacks or exposition delivered in another way. It was all beautiful writing, it is just not where the story really began. I enjoyed the writing itself (I especially liked some of the water descriptive passages), but overall the book just not quite tight enough for me. There was a whole character that kept showing up that I didn’t really understand the point. It was not clear at all and if Gurley thought he was planting little hints at all, I didn’t pick them up. I just trusted it would all tie together (it did. Mostly. Eventually).

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith: I really loved Cuckoo’s Calling (and want to add a bunch of mysteries to my to-read), so I checked out this one from the library as soon as I could. I read it in 2 days — and I probably could have read it faster if it hadn’t also been the weekend before #30Lists registration opened. It turns out I really like Rowling’s writing style. I spent much of the reading vacillating between making notes to myself about how to improve my own writing and wondering who the hell the killer was. (sidenote: I have a seed of an idea for a mystery series to write, so I’m going to use that as an excuse to buy every Galbraith novel and re-read them)

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: I love books like this with very distinctive, unapologetic voices (The Magicians and Jonathan Strange and Jonathan Safran Foer’s books come to mind). It’s a fantastic combination of slang/street plus untranslated Spanish plus nerdy allusions plus Dominican history. Ex: “Don’t misunderstand: our boy wasn’t no ringwraith, but he wasn’t no orc either” (p 119). The book is written from the P.O.V of a family friend, but you don’t actually learn that specifically until about halfway through the book. It’s not really about this friend — it’s more a coming of age about this adorably nerdy Oscar and how all of his family for generations kind of came together to make up who he is. Reminded me a little bit of The House of the Spirits in that way. I really liked it.

Crash by David Wright and Sean Platt: Another from the guys at Sterling and Stone, but this is just a simple stand-alone novel so more my style. It’s a heart-breaking ghost story. Rather short; I think it is more of a novella, but I can’t be sure. One of the best 5-star reviews on Amazon says something like ‘This book will ruin your life’, but it is also the best I’ve read from this author so far so there’s that. I wasn’t able to guess the ending. I got it on kindle for $1 during launch week – deal and a half.

Random by Tom Leveen: I love Tom (knew him when we lived in Phoenix) and I will buy every single one of his books (contemporary Y.A.). That said, Random was a bit too spot-on-after-school-special for me. It’s about a girl who is being accused of cyber-bulling and gets a random call from someone about to kill themselves. You can probably see where this is going. Maybe I’m just used to “YA” books that are plenty complex for adults, or maybe I’m just cynical, but this was not my favorite (even though I read the whole thing in 2 hours). Start with Party or Sick if you’re just checking out Tom’s books.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer: I adore books like this. Ensemble cast, lives interwoven over years, very subtle details and observations realizations. Wonderfully real and complex characters. Feels a bit meandering until it all ties in together. GAH! I want to write books like this. Loved it (reminded me of The Art of Fielding and The Marriage Plot). It’s just beautiful.

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman: The final book in this trilogy. I LOVED them all. I can’t wait to make Andrew read them. From the first chapter: “It didn’t matter where you were, if you were in a room full of books you were at least halfway home.” I mean, really. I’ve heard people describe these books as ‘Harry Potter for grownups’ … but they are not exactly. They’re much to close to literary fiction to be Harry Potter-y. But I love them. Literary fiction through a filter of fantasy.

(and others… )

This is a note for a totally different post, but if you are a voracious reader try following/making friends with self-published writers. SO many of them give away books in exchange for reviews (like here and here and here and Brush with Darkness in June). Eleanor was sent to everyone on Gurley’s email list. For free. OR at the very least, you can get on their mailing list and learn when sales are going, since indie authors have way more control over that stuff. Just sayin.

I also spent a lot of time this month editing short stories for an anthology I am part of! It should be free on kindle when it gets release so I’ll tell you all about it.

Read anything good lately?

P.S. I’ve added all of your recommendations to my To-Read list. But since there’s 1800+ books on there, please forgive me if I don’t get to them all right away.

P.P.S. I recently tried out Overdrive App at the recommendation of my friend Jessica and HOLY COW! I can now borrow ebooks from my local library so I may never do anything productive ever again! The 1 deterrent is I don’t have a kindle, just a laptop and it’s not exactly snuggly.


in Amy


This is just a quick post for your Monday morning. It is Labor Day in the United States so maybe you’re taking the day off from your day job and trying to get everything done for your side hustle. Or, it’s starting to feel like fall so maybe you’re gearing up for a new school year.

Whatever is going on with you this Monday morning …. don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. By all the options or opportunities or tasks on your to do list, or expectations you have for yourself or any of it.

If you’re overwhelmed with too many to-dos and too many options, try following Ramit’s Rules of Letting Go:

“Let go of “should do”s that you don’t actually care about: In the scheme of all the things you want to do, do you really care about this? When I went to my cousin’s wedding in India a few years ago, I saw one of my friends order his food in fluent Hindi, and I thought, “Hmm…I should take Hindi lessons.” But when I got back to NYC, I put it on my to-do list, only to skip over it for months. The truth is, I really didn’t care enough to do anything. It wasn’t important enough. When I acknowledged I wasn’t going to do it and crossed it off my list, I could focus on doing the things I wanted to do.

Let go of feeling guilty: STOP LYING TO YOURSELF! Do you really care about learning how to kiteboard? Or is it just because that random guy you met told you how fun it was, and you said, “Yeah, I need to do that”? Life is short. It’s OK to use this exact script: “That sounds really interesting, but I’ve decided not to tackle that right now so I can focus on a couple other things I want to do this year.” Nobody is making you feel guilty except YOU. We realistically have the time to learn maybe three new major things per year. Do you really want this to be one of them?

Let go of waiting for inspiration to strike: Inspiration is for amateurs. I wake up every morning, rain or shine, feeling great or sore, and I get to work. Not because I’m a machine, or a better person than anyone, but because I have systems that I depend on — not willpower or inspiration.”

I really think the best resource that I have come across recently is the SPARK ecourse from Campfire Chic (review here). I want to unsubscribe, resubscribe, and let the emails all come in day by day all over again. That daily reminder is exactly what I need to keep myself on track.

What are your best tips for not getting overwhelmed?

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