When Good GIFs Go Bad: Sorry, Saved by the Bell

Writers don't have watercoolers to chat by at work, but we have Twitter and instant messaging. My friend Dawn Alexander and I use IM and the GIF keyboard probably a little too much during the day, but it keeps us sane. And the things writers end up talking about can either sound illegal (do you think you could murder someone with a shoestring?) to the wildly inappropriate, which is where things went today.

Today's topic: pond sex.

My verdict: Cold water does not make for hot scenes.

Dawn's verdict: No one wants pond scum in their special places.

Which of course meant I needed to respond with an appropriate GIF. I searched "gag" and got a Saved by the Bell GIF. Of course, being a Saved by the Bell fan, I chose that one. It seemed perfect. Until I pasted it in and the GIF looped and made the action repetitive. >.<

Yeah. So. I'll leave you with that for the day. 

What I'm Reading: The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Dr. Valerie Young

RWA always has fantastic speakers at the national conference, and I always leave inspired. This year was no exception. This past week I was lucky to hear authors Beverly Jenkins and Sherry Thomas give keynotes. Both women were amazing. But I had to miss the third keynote given by Dr. Valerie Young on "Imposter Syndrome" because I had another meeting. I'm usually a little skeptical about motivational speakers, so I didn't think much of missing it. Then, I started hearing from everyone how awesome and helpful it was. Cue me being sad I missed it.

However, lucky for me, Dr. Young has a book about Imposter Syndrome and the things she talked about. So though I'm sad that I didn't get to hear her speak, I was excited to order the book. I'm only halfway through, but already it's been worth the price. The basic premise is that a lot of successful women (and some men) suffer from "Imposter Syndrome" or always feeling like you're successful because you "got lucky" or were in the "right place at the right time" or that you "fooled everyone." In other words, for some reason, we feel like we're  frauds. That people are going to find us out. That we're not really that (insert adjective) as good/smart/capable etc. as people think we are. That resonated with me and I know it resonated with a lot of others. Writers tend to be a little neurotic anyway, lol, but I think this is more universal than that. We try to explain away success instead of owning it. This book is about fixing that kind of thinking. 

So even though I'm not done yet, I wanted to pass along the recommendation. If you think you might fall into this kind of thinking, it's worth a read: The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.

About the book:

It’s only because they like me. I was in the right place at the right time. I just work harder than the others. I don’t deserve this. It’s just a matter of time before I am found out. Someone must have made a terrible mistake. 
 
If you are a working woman, chances are this inter­nal monologue sounds all too familiar. And you’re not alone. From the high-achieving Ph.D. candidate convinced she’s only been admitted to the program because of a clerical error to the senior executive who worries others will find out she’s in way over her head, a shocking number of accomplished women in all ca­reer paths and at every level feel as though they are faking it—impostors in their own lives and careers. 
 
While the impostor syndrome is not unique to women, women are more apt to agonize over tiny mistakes, see even constructive criticism as evi­dence of their shortcomings, and chalk up their accomplishments to luck rather than skill. They often unconsciously overcompensate with crippling perfec­tionism, overpreparation, maintaining a lower pro­file, withholding their talents and opinions, or never finishing important projects. When they do succeed, they think, Phew, I fooled ’em again. 
 
An internationally known speaker, Valerie Young has devoted her career to understanding women’s most deeply held beliefs about themselves and their success. In her decades of in-the-trenches research, she has uncovered the often surprising reasons why so many accomplished women experience this crushing self-doubt. 
 
In The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, Young gives these women the solution they have been seek­ing. Combining insightful analysis with effective ad­vice and anecdotes, she explains what the impostor syndrome is, why fraud fears are more common in women, and how you can recognize the way it mani­fests in your life. With her empowering, step-by-step plan, you will learn to take ownership of your success, overcome self-doubt, and banish the thought patterns that undermine your ability to feel—and act—as bright and capable as others already know you are.

Has anyone else read this or did you see Dr. Young speak? Anyone think "YES THAT'S ME!" when reading the book description?

Unboxing the Inkwell Press Academic Planner (with VIDEO)

Earlier this week I featured 4 Gorgeous Mid-Year Planners. I've ordered the other two on the list that I didn't have, and the Inkwell is already in! So I thought I'd do a walkthrough video for those who may be interested in seeing what this planner has to offer.

Also, things you realize when you tape an up close video of your hands--how chipped your manicure has become. >.<  But anyway, here you go! If anyone is interested in buying one of these or anything else from Inkwell, I have a referral code that will get you 10 dollars off. :)

I know that I've had a lot of planner and organizational type posts lately. Be assured that in the background, I'm writing and planning new books for you guys. :)  But let me know if you like these kinds of posts and if you want more/less. Also, I'd like to know if you enjoy video posts. I'm just learning YouTube stuff, but I think it could be a fun thing to do a video a few times a month (on all kinds of different topics, not just planners), so let me know if you have any interest in that AND I'd love to know what you want to hear about in the videos -- about books, writing, office supplies, planning, etc. 

Thanks, y'all! Hope you have a great weekend!

What's Your "Escape Hatch"? The Importance of Hobbies

Today,  author Jaye Wells did a fantastic post on burnout. Go read it. I'll wait. She explains how she got burned out when her passion and escape (writing) became her job and took over every aspect of her life.

I so relate to that article. I've talked a little bit about it here, but I definitely was burnt to a crisp by the end of 2015. I love writing. It is my passion. But when it became my job and my world became deadlines and constant writing and promotion and all the business that goes along with being a writer, I lost what Jaye calls the "escape hatch."

Writing used to be my escape hatch. I started writing in high school not just because I loved reading and creating stories but because it gave me a break from the angst of being a teenager. It was an escape from every day life. That's one reason why I went back to writing after I had my son. I was a new mom who had no idea what she was doing and was dealing with a very colicky, non-sleeping baby. When I needed to take a break from all that, I escaped into writing.

That was the best thing I could've done because that's the point where my passion turned into my career. I got my first publishing contract when my kidlet was three. From that point on, writing became my full time job. 

I love it. I feel lucky every day that I get to do this for a living. BUT, it means that writing is my job. It's what I *have* to do now. That takes some of the "escape" out of it. Where do I get to escape when writing gets hard or stressful or a book is fighting me? And books always fight.

That's what led me to my burnout. I didn't have that other outlet anymore. For a while at the end of last year, I didn't even want to read because that's tied to writing. And, believe me, if I'm not reading, that means there's a major problem lol. *cue warning sirens for meltdown*

So after turning in my book, I stepped back and evaluated and took a break. I read non-fiction since fiction wasn't calling to me. I painted and redecorated my office. And I got a planner--seemingly to be more organized--but it ended up being more than that. I discovered there was this whole planning community. And it was a crafty pursuit. There are pretty pens and washi tape and stickers involved! That has become my version of an escape. It's a hobby that will not make me money, that has no pressure attached to it, and that relaxes me. From the outside, it seems like a silly thing. I mean, how many pens do I really need? This many, btw:

My pen/pencil collection

My pen/pencil collection

 

But after reading that post, I realize--no, it's not silly or indulgent. It's necessary. It's self-care.  I found a crafty, creative outlet to be my little escape hatch when I'm not writing. And looking back, I've been doing this all along. When things get stressful, I seek out hobbies. Maybe I start cooking a lot. Last year, it was canning and pickling things. I took a photography course a few years ago when I definitely didn't have time for it. I rebuilt my website because I enjoy the process of taking things apart and putting it back together. It's even in my author bio:

"If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her cooking, watching reality television, or picking up another hobby she doesn't need--in other words, procrastinating like a boss."

But maybe it's not always procrastinating or a hobby I don't need, after all. Maybe it's making room in my head for the writing. It's giving my brain space to "breathe" and refresh. 

And I know that Jaye's post was specifically about writing, but I think it applies across the board if you're doing a job you love. Or being a parent. Or even a job you hate. We need that time to play. We need those things that don't have any stakes tied to them.

So, I'm curious. What's your escape hatch?

Introducing the #ListifyLife Spring Challenge!

Listify Life Spring Challenge - Join up!

I love a list. There's something about that little itemized structure that does it for me. It's neat, efficient, and gets to the point. When I'm brainstorming a new book, all my thoughts are in bulleted list form. Maybe the hero has this in his background. Maybe the heroine met the hero when she was a kid. Maybe the hero has a dog. 

And when I plan, lists are my go to structure, too. That's why the Day Designer works well for me. Half the page is dedicated to a long To Do list. 

So, when I bought a beautiful new gold Leuchtturm journal, I had a plan to keep lists in there. BUT I am a notoriously failed journal keeper. And this felt a lot like keeping a journal. So that got me to thinking--what if there was some structure to the lists I keep in there? A challenge to keep me excited and focused. I started chatting about it with my friend and fellow writer Sierra Godfrey and the Listify Life Challenge was born.

What is it?

There are lots of lists type challenges out there, but maybe are daily and most seems to focus on heavier topics like goal-setting and deep thoughts about life or yourself. That's cool but not what I was going for. I wanted this to be fun, a little silly, something to look forward to. No therapy needed! ;) So this challenge is going to be a WEEKLY list challenge where there is one topic a week. You write down your list on any day that week and take a photo of it to share (or you can type it into a blog or FB or whatever works for you.) Use the hashtag #ListifyLife if your chosen social network uses hashtags and join up with others. :) This is meant to be a fun way to document your year and meet others without being too time-consuming.

When is it?

It starts next week. We're going to divide by seasons. So this first challenge is the Spring Listify Life Challenge and will run March 20 (first day of Spring) through June 19th (last day of Spring). If things go well, a summer challenge will start after that.

What are the topics?

Here's a beautiful graphic designed by Sierra Godfrey. Sierra has also made free printable cards with the individual list topics if you want to print and write your lists on those. (And feel free to post this graphic on your site or instagram to spread the word.)

2016 Spring Listify Life Challenge - Roni Loren

Where to post your lists?

This is the flexible part. This isn't going to be tied to a certain social network. Blog your lists, Instagram them, tweet them, Facebook them. Post in one place or five. It's whatever works for you. I'll be posting the photos of my lists across my networks. And I will blog them as well with added commentary.

Who can join?

Anyone! This isn't just for writers or a particular group. Two of the topics lend themselves more to people who love to read, but other than that, the topics should work for anyone.

Why should you join?

Um, because lists are awesome. And you get an excuse to buy NEW OFFICE SUPPLIES. That should be reason enough. AND you get one free day a week where you don't have to think about--what should I blog about? Or post on Instagram or FB? You have a built in idea. And did I mention the office supplies? New pens, people. Pens.

***

I'm really excited about this challenge and am looking forward to seeing everyone's answers for the different topics. I hope you'll join us and be a fellow list nerd with me. :) 

So, are you ready to play along?

Mechanical Keyboards and the Wonderful Sound of Clickety Keys

So on Monday I mentioned that I had driven myself slightly crazy researching mechanical keyboards online before I decided on one to buy. Well, today the one I chose came in and I think I'm in love.

It's deliciously clicky. Want to hear?

My husband and the neighbors will probably disown me, but I am writer, here me click! :) So, I thought I'd do a brief post on what a mechanical keyboard is in case I'm not the only nerd who gets way to excited by the sound of a keyboard.

First, why do people spend the money on a mechanical keyboard?

1. Did I mention it's clicky? (That seems to be a love or hate thing. There are models that are quieter if you're in the hate camp.)

2. It's supposed to be easier on your hands for fatigue and such because you can hear yourself hitting the key and that feedback gets to your brain quickly and makes you not have to hit so hard.

3. There's no "ghosting" so you can type more accurately and faster. - Modern keyboards can only handle one keystroke at a time, which means that if you're a fast typist, it can often skip letters even though you hit the key. Mechanical keyboards can handle more than one key at a time so it can keep up with you if you're a speed demon. 

4. They're supposed to be more durable. We'll see.

5. You sound like you're getting shit done on these things. That's way important. ;)

Okay, so how to choose?

There are a lot of technical aspects you can research (cherry blue switches/keys vs. brown vs. green vs. red vs. the apple alps style). And if you're using it for gaming vs. straight up typing, there are other things to consider. You can find some technical details in this post Dear Author did on mechanical keyboards a while back--which is what started me on this journey.

The big contender and the one I saw mentioned most is the DAS keyboard. This one comes with blue switches or brown switches. Blue are very clicky, brown are softer and more tactile. You can hear the difference here.

I was originally going to go for the DAS because I love the way it sounds and it has great reviews. But it only comes in black and is BIG. (There is a smaller tenkey-less version but not with Mac specific keys). I really, really didn't want black since I have a pretty new office and a sleek Mac computer. And I didn't really want a full keyboard with 10-key because I only need the 10 key like twice a year. I'd rather have the extra space on my desk and not have the mouse/trackpad too far away.

The DAS:


I also needed one that was compatible with a Mac. And though most are "compatible" (meaning they'll work if you remap some of the keys) not all have the Mac specific keys like Option, Command, Fn, etc. So I ended up choosing the Matias Tactile Pro Mini for a number of reasons. It's not that much bigger than my tiny Mac keyboard. Here's a size comparison:

Plus, it's white, which matches my decor better. And it's supposed to mimic the feel and sound of the old Apple Extended Keyboard. (The DAS, on the other hand, is going to sound like the IBM Model M keyboard. See how much I learned in all my research, lol.)

Obviously, I've just gotten it, so I haven't logged many miles yet. But I think I'm going to love it. I've typed this post using it. It's not too bulky on my desk. It's very loud and clicky (which is what I wanted), and it feels nice beneath my fingers. In addition, it was beyond easy to set up. Literally, plug it into the USB port and start typing. That's it.

It does have a wire (most of them do) which will take some getting used to since I've had wireless for so long, but it's not bad. And if you work in an office with someone else, this would be a no go. Office rage would ensue.


I'll report in after a few months to let you know how it goes. But for now, you can find me clicking away. :)

So how do you feel about the sound of old school keyboards? Comforting? Grates on your nerves? Did you ever have a favorite keyboard or am I the only nerd here? ;)


*Post does contain affiliate links to Amazon but no company has asked me to feature the product and I paid for it with my own money.