Category Archives: My Process

Doing the prep work…

Anything worth doing takes preparation as well as determination. We all know this. That’s why people spend years in school getting a degree, a year planning a wedding, or even years writing a book. So it is no wonder that the release of a book also takes preparation.

I decided to take time to really prepare my space for writing success. I’ve realized that it is far too cluttered and hindering progress. So with my recent refund from the IRS, I decided to invest in my current set up to make my space both inspiring and condusive to progress and productivity. For me, that means installing shelves and various organizational items but also a bit of frivolous spending as well.

I upgraded my phone which was a much needed item. I chose the LG Stylo 3 Plus which suits me quite well. The size isn’t easily lost in my purse or bag. The camera is a much better quality than my last phone. Incidentally that was also an LG. Android has many options for me as far as apps and working on the go as well. The stylus is a wonderful touch for those times I want to write a note or even do a bit of photo editing on the go. Overall, I find that I love it. It seems to be a perfect fit for my life without breaking the bank the way an iPhone or Samsung would have on my budget.

I also went to Amazon to get new a new external hard drive. I opted for a 2 TB by SeaGate. Which I hope will serve my back up needs for video, photo, and manuscript projects. I made a trip to Target and got some new pens and various stationary items. All good things for a writer when they are facing a battle with writers block.

But my real prize in all of this is something most people will find perfectly silly.  I bought myself a mechanical keyboard with “clicky keys”! Yes, that means that I get the feel of the typewriter that is so nostalgic.

You have to understand that this makes me so giddy happy that I’m all smiles and laughs upon getting it out of the box and realizing that it really does have the sound and feel of the old electric typewriters I started out on. Yes, I’m extremely nostalgic at times. And I can’t really explain why this makes me so stinkin’ happy but it does.

I have a laptop stand and a dust cover for my laptop keyboard on its way too.  And I got those noise-cancelling headphones I have been talking about for quite some time now. Perfect for the gym and for when I need to eliminate the distractions of a noisy pup. I am just too excited about the overhaul on my space. I have big plans for this year and I think that all of these changes prepare me for a very productive year and all the wonderful things that come with spending your time doing something you love to do.

Now, to get all of the organization part done and find the time to take a writer’s retreat to focus on what I really want to be doing.

So what are you changing in your life to inspire you and help you be more productive? I would love to know.  Share in the comments below! And do let me know if you would be interested in seeing the completed workspace after I do some spring cleaning and set up.

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How to find your passion in life…

It is no secret that I’ve gone through a big process of reinventing myself over the past few years. The reality is that we’re always evolving into someone new. There is no stopping it. We’re shaped by our interactions with others, experiences that we have, and even what information we choose to feed our minds. Every decision we make is a catalyst for some sort of change in our lives. So, it is perpetual with time.

Living in the modern world is simultaneously easy and difficult. There are all sorts of expectations for how we are supposed to live, be, and even act. For most of us, we do our best to  simply fit in and go with the flow. We get a job after schooling. We work the set schedule with some overtime. We then draw a paycheck, pay our bills, have a little bit of fun with friends and/or family, and then we repeat the process. But for some of us that isn’t enough. Instead, we need to be doing something that truly allows us to be ourselves and to be involved in life.

So, how do you find what really sets your soul on fire? How do you discover that thing that you truly love to do?

This is where a journal becomes a necessity. You start in the past with what you loved to do as a child or a teen. No, I’m not talking about what all your friends were doing. That’s how you ended up where you are. I mean what did you truly love to do when no one was looking? I find that those are the best places to start.

You excavate what you once loved. Dig deep and then you try those things again. Did you spend a lot of time coloring as a kid? Pick up a coloring book and some crayons or colored pencils (if you choose the adult versions). See if it still gives you the same joy it once did.

Did you like to sing or put on puppet shows? Why not go try a karaoke or deliver a monologue at an open mic night somewhere? Pick out a new monologue to learn and practice in the mirror. Why not opt to take a drama or acting class?

Were you a poet or writer? Why not dust off old ideas and see what you can do with them now? There is a thriving writing community out there who would love to have you join whatever your level is.

From there you can explore new ideas that come up. Maybe that love of the dramatic has turned into a love of directing the stage or a film. Maybe a love of coloring turned into a love of feeling the paint slide over a canvas instead. Maybe you are interested in picking up a camera now. There could be any number of things that can help you find that passion in life. The key is exploration.

So pull out your pen, open a google doc, create a video log to talk to yourself so you can hash it out and figure it out. Try new things and explore the world around you through different eyes for a while. You may find that you learn more about yourself than you realize.

The Waiting Game…

We spend so much of our time waiting.

Seriously think about it for moment. We wait to grow up. We wait to have an education. We wait for appointments. We wait for payday, the weekend, our favorite shows to premiere a new season, movie releases, and other trivial things. I am currently waiting on that lovely refund from the IRS as a further example. Aren’t we all? There are things that are worth the wait, of course, like finding the love of your life before you settle down. You’ll just have to take my word on that one. I should know. But what truly baffles me is how we wait to take the steps to live our best lives.

We’ve all found ourselves stuck in the rat race. There are all sorts of ruts and traps to fall into. We settle into many roles in life without even realizing that we’re doing it. I know I did. And in some ways I still do. But, let me just say that a shift is happening for me. It is as much spiritual as it is mental.

In 2017 I spent a lot of time thinking about what sort of life I want to lead. And through my journaling and letters I discovered that I have been my own biggest obstacle in living that dream life. I’d almost be willing to wager a bet that, if you were to really think about this, you would find that you’re in a similar position.

I’m a plus size woman. That fact alone presents a whole list of obstacles in life. Society honestly treats plus size people differently regardless of the circumstances. I think that this, combined with conditioning by various life experiences, leads me to a place where I imposed many restrictions on myself as to what I could do in life. That eventually led to a bevy of excuses to procrastinate.

  • I’ll wait until I lose 50 pounds before I take new headshots.
  • I don’t want to do a book launch until I can wear that dress in the back of my closet.
  • I don’t want to film videos because I look awful.
  • I don’t want to spend money on my hair, makeup, etc until I am able to go out more.
  •  I’m not going to put myself out there because all people will see is fat
  • No one will take me seriously as an author, blogger, vlogger, speaker until I look like x, y, z….

Yes, I’ve said all of these to myself at some point. Some of them more recently than others. And they are all completely ridiculous reasons for not chasing my dreams.

I sit here tonight thinking about where I would be if only I had listened to myself and trusted my gut when I was young and full of confidence. At least, I could fake it when I needed to because I was angsty and rebellious in my own way. And yes, I could be a lot further along in this writing and promotion career. I’m not the spring chicken I was but it is never too late to start doing what you love.

So tell me what is holding you back from pursuing your own dreams? For me it is more than the weight or size issue. But, I’m telling you, I’m tired of excuses. I’m reading more, writing more, trying new things, and just going for it.

I want to cultivate some content for my Youtube Channel based on this issue: Overcoming Your Obstacles To Living Your Best Life. So your feedback will help me to really delve deep into how to deal with those issues and find ways to move beyond them so that you can do what will honestly make you thrive in life.

Don’t want to comment publicly? That’s okay! Email your feedback to me at annebellewrites@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to respond. I’m thinking I may even do a few interviews on the topic as well. So, let me know if you’d like to be included if you care to send me your story.

Start Where You Are… This Means You!

The biggest hurdle to any worthwhile endeavor in life is getting started. At 39 years old, I’ve learned this to be true of everything in life. Starting as a baby learning to walk or talk and up to now as I truly start to make a concerted effort to change careers to more artistic endeavors. Getting started is always the hard part.

I’ve started many new things in this budding new year. I fully intend to make this my best year ever. If it turns out poorly, it won’t be because I was slacking. There are three major areas of my life that are in a current state of overhaul.

  1. My career – I make no secret about wanting to eventually leave the day job in favor of working my author platform so that I can write books, help others do the same, and really do something I am passionate about in life. Starting where I am in this area means I am writing more, publishing new material, and working on this platform thing. The YouTube Channel is proving the bigger of those challenges. And I think I might have been a bit too ambitious when I said two videos a week. Fact is, I’m starting small here with the wrong computing power to do that. So, once a week is going to be it for a while until I can upgrade here.
  2. My Health – Last year was a challenge. But with heart surgery and things being back to “normal” for me, it is time to get my butt in gear and focus on getting healthier. So, I’ve joined a local 24 hour access gym and this week I start with the concerted effort to move more. I also bought healthy options for food throughout the week to make it easier for me to make healthy choices. So we’ll see how things go.
  3. My social life – To be perfectly honest, there isn’t much going on here. I’m content to be single for once. Focusing on that career and healthy lifestyle changes keeps me busy enough. I know that I should add more time with friends and maybe even try to date on occassion. I don’t really think that I have the time for that. I’m committed to my dog at this stage in my life. Yes, I am chuckling at the idea even as I write it. It is the truth though. I’ve been through the wringer with relationships. The only thing I am sure about is that my dog is loyal, fun, full of love, and super cuddly. I think we have a beautiful thing going on here. Since not many men can deal with the ambition and what it takes to be successful in this I think I’ll stick with the pup. Maybe I’ll add in a few more Saturday afternoons with friends though. I could use some fun in my life.

The bottom line here is that you have to start where you are. None of these areas are at an ideal time for me to start focusing on them. But, I’m making efforts where I can.

The one area that I don’t think needs to be spoken of is creativity. My life is creative by nature. If I am perfectly honest, I’m feeling it may be a bit too creative. I have too many irons in the fire and not enough space to do them justice. I need to give the space an overhaul and bit of a facelift I think.

I haven’t been at the easel in months. It is just taking up space at the moment. I need to try to find some way to organize the supplies so that I can stow it all away until I’m ready to just back to canvas. I’m in desperate need of functional bookshelves. I have research material all over the place that needs to be organized so that I can easily find it.

I need to set up recording space for the Youtube videos. I need better lighting to do that where I am at home. That takes space. So I’m going to have to get creative with that. On that note, I also need digital space and an overhaul in my set up. It is time to make the switch to Mac I think but that takes a big investment. I need a system that I can use for video production though. So, I’m going to have to find a way to make it happen.

I’ll make do until I can make changes though. I’m tired of using the excuses to stop my journey to being a success. I start where I am and with what I have. It can only get better from there. And that’s true for you as well.

What is it you want to do in and with your life that you’re putting off for the right circumstances? How could you just jump right in and get started this week? What small steps could you take to make those circumstances happen for yourself?

Food for thought readers.

Snow Days

Texas, oh Texas! You and your crazy weather.

So, it was in the 60s all day Monday. The weather stations kept warning of a winter storm coming our way. And so it did. My final hour at the office I saw the thermometer drop about 12 degrees. The rain began and I opted to come on home instead of making my planned stop off to sign up at the gym. Then, when I woke Tuesday there was all this white stuff that I hadn’t seen in two years. And there was no way my car was going anywhere in that.

You see, Texas so rarely sees snow and ice that they really never properly prepare for it. I drove professionally in Wisconsin in the middle of February. There were snow drifts above my head and temperatures well below zero. Try -30° wind chills, my friends. For a southern girl, that was pretty darn cold. I am no stranger to driving in the white stuff. But Texas doesn’t salt or really treat the roads for ice and snow. Instead, everything seems to shut down.

To be perfectly honest, I was happy with a couple of snow days. I spent them cuddling with my pup and writing for the most part. I made loads of progress on the WIP. And it was all good.

Today it was back to work though. The roads had cleared enough to be driveable again. There was really only one particular part that I was worried about on Wednesday. It still isn’t clear but, it is passable.  I tried to park in the driveway tonight. My car started to slide on me. So, I pulled up into the yard instead and proceeded to slip and catch my jaw with my car door. That’s gonna smart for a while. Glad I did my filming today.

I think I was starting to go a bit stir crazy though. I was ready to get out of the house again. So, I was off and running this morning with my travel mug of coffee in hand and gloves on. The experience this morning only solidified my belief that I would not do well full time in a colder climate. While I have a difficult time with the extreme heat we usually experience here, I’m not so sure that I could take months on end of this sort of snow and ice. I should really find something more temperate for when I retire.  Ha!

I was going to stop by the gym to finalize things there after work. I called only to be told that the manager couldn’t be there tonight but will be happy to meet me tomorrow after work to do all the paperwork. Ten minutes and we’re done and I can work out. So, I have my gym bag packed, my fitbit is charged, and I’m taking my water bottle with me along with my earbuds. I’m ready to get this thing started. I need to do it for myself.

Video Days…

Wow guys! I had no idea what an ordeal creating this content was going to be. I am still determined though.

As I write this, it is nearly 1:00AM and I have approximately 5 hours remaining on the rendering of my first video. I have no idea how long it is going to take to upload it to YouTube. But that will have to wait until I get up to be started. So, the video will go up at some point.

In the meantime, I did get my intro to load and I’m excited about that part. So I’ll be working on some other videos this week so I can get some content up but, so you can get the notifications and subscribe. Here it is!

I really wanted to show off the fun side. All the different things I do and I think I succeeded there. I may tweak it as I gather new experiences, clips, and images but for a start I think this is a good option.

I have learned a very important lesson though. I really need to invest in a better computer. This video editing is no joke. And I’m sure it will be a good investment. So, I’m already doing research. Glad this is coming up at tax time.

I know this is short but, I wanted to share what was accomplished. Now, I have to get to the day job in the morning so, I think sleep is a necessary component of my day.

First Quarter Goals of 2018

Welcome back my dear readers!

I have to say, being back to the day job after the holidays is crazy and hectic. I feel all out of sorts trying to learn how to balance it all. But, I will find the right method and learn to do so. It is all a part of making some huge changes in how I’m approaching my life now. It is past time for me to really pour myself into the things I am passionate about. I’m so happy that you’re taking up the mantel with me or at least following my new adventure in life.

So, as the title suggests I am going to be talking about my goals for the first quarter of the year. I have to say that while I set a few last quarter as a trial there were a number of things that got in my way when it came to completing them. Although, I did manage to finish the first drafting of my WIP which was the big goal for me so, I’m super proud of that fact. Now it is time to go beyond that and really flesh out the story and add those details I think it lacks in places so that it can be ready for feedback before publication. Exciting stuff!

Oh and just wait until you see what happens next in Elora’s story! I’m so stoked for you to have it in your hands.

I digress though. So, back on track with goals for First Quarter of 2018

  1. Finish that revision phase for the WIP (Yep, that’s the second, as yet untitled, Slauson Cove novel.)
  2. Post twice a week here on the blog.  After this week, you’ll see posts coming up on Tuesdays and Saturdays here. So make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss them.
  3. Launch my Youtube channel and post two videos a week once that starts. – This one will be a learning curve and I’m not entirely expecting to reach it as it is written. But, I’m going to push to post some sort of creative living or writing advice video along with more of a vlog or day in the life video. More on the schedule as I see how it pans out. Trust me there will be links when it is ready.
  4. Grow my audience by a minimum of 250 new followers between my platform elements. That includes this blog, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and yes, I’m finally getting on the instagram band wagon. So, I’ll post links to all of those. Be a doll and share those links with people who may want to connect or learn more about some great reads.
  5. Answer all relevant comments on my blog and videos within 24 hours of them being posted. Yes that means interacting more with social media. This is definitely a new thing for me so, be patient with me.
  6. Build that email list for my bimonthly newsletter with the first 100 subscribers. Yes this is exclusive access to announcements before they are on the blog or on YouTube about the book, events, and giveaways etc. Keep an eye open for that. I’ll make a special post about it soon.
  7. Get that PO Box set up so I can post that for people to send mail to.

That’s it for this quarter. Of course there are plenty of other things behind the scenes like creating a launch plan for the new book, booking additional events, and making some other things happen. Cover art needs to be worked on, the book still needs a final title, and there is also formatting etc. So the work is never done. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So what goals are you setting for yourself in the first few months of the new year?

Want ahead of the rush? Here are all the links to my social media for you to share and connect with me.

Anne Belle on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/AnneBelleAuthor/

Anne on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AnneBelleAuthor

Anne on Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8063125.Anne_Belle

Anne on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/passionforwords/

And as always, you can find other contact details in the contact tab here on the blog.

Happy New Year Folks. May it be happy and successful for you!

December Days..

Woke up to a rather dreary day today. The overcast skies and rain didn’t help cure the urge to tell Alexa to snooze for a while.  I still had to get up and make the trek to the office. Like any self-respecting writer, I long for days when all I have to do is drink my coffee and put down my ideas on the page. Like everyone else in the real world though, I get up six days a week and do my duty at the day job.

The first part of the month is the hardest on me. Just a lot of people and only me to service the accounts in question. This is the only time of the month I feel that I need an assistant in my office. But, that won’t happen because I simply don’t have the volume to warrant it over all. This month is really no different. But, I will say that I am glad to have the first over with for the last time this year.

My days are typically pretty lax with this job. I answer phones, make calls, handle store reports, take payments and process loans. But it is generally spread out over the day and I can manage to take a bit of time to draft or plan at the very least. And there is a busy intersection just outside the window to keep me entertained when I am thinking.

Just a few weeks ago, I watched the very violent end of a high-speed chase from a neighboring city. I have no idea what the details of the circumstances are. However, I watched as a car was clipped and a pickup truck was launched into the air turning over twice before it hit the ground and rolled three more times. I was amazed that the driver and the passenger came out of it alive.

There are also several regular jay walkers who, I’m fairly certain, will meet an untimely end eventually. One elderly man in particular comes to mind. I have a tendency to hold my breath whenever I watch him crossing. I also am very happy on the Saturdays that the barbecue people are in the parking lot because their chef will go and walk him across to make sure he gets over okay.

It is a small town where people are friendly and yes, I know most of my customers by first and last name. I can also tell you how many kids some of them have, how many grand kids for others. I take pride in my customer service level. It has been a career for nearly 20 years as I have worked for various companies. And yet, I long for days when I don’t have to see people and deal with a million questions about payments, interest rates, and how people can’t make this or that payment.

Tonight, I’m putting some words into the WIP. I’m typing this blog about essentially nothing more than my day and I will sleep soundly for another night. I’ll get up and do it all over again tomorrow and hopefully avoid the numbers game with the boss. I’ll go through an early Christmas gift and start making a submission plan for 2018.

December is always a month of reflection and planning for me. So, I hope to share a bit of that with all of you in the next few weeks as we get ready for Christmas.

And Then Life Happens…

What’s the John Lennon Quote?

Yep, that would be the one.

Living creatively is as much about stopping and experiencing life as it is about creating things that will enhance it for yourself and possibly others. It is impossible to create constantly. If we do we deplete the well of experience and inspiration that we draw from. Once in a while, it is necessary to stop and smell the roses. Whether that is literal or proverbial is entirely dependent on the artist.

NanoWrimo is a huge undertaking even for published authors. 50,000 words in a 30 day span is a huge commitement. It takes planning and foresight. Not to mention everyone in your life being on the same page as you and willing to pick up the slack if you are working full time. Planning is a must if you expect your story to have any sort of flow or cohesion at the end of November. And sometimes, life happens and you know you aren’t going to make that goal.

For me, when it happens, as in previous years, I don’t just stop. Whether I finish a self-imposed ludicrous deadline, or not, isn’t the end of the world. We can’t plan for all the interruptions that can happen in a month.

For example: You get sick. Your attention is pulled away on a project at the office, requiring you to work late most nights. A dog that is persistent in his need for extra snuggles or play time. (Don’t laugh. Have you ever tried to write something with a chiweenie yapping at you from the end of the bed? Impossible! I really need some noise cancelling headphones.) Kids needing attention or homework help. Not to mention extra acitivities with them being off from school or prepping for plays etc. Spouses that want attention or need something from you when you’re in the middle of a huge plot twist. (Suddenly I’m very thankful for my single status.) Toss in a major family holiday to the mix.

The point is. Life happens. No matter how much you plan your schedule or think you have all the distractions in check, life will eventually find a way to pull you away from the projects in your head. And that’s okay.

When you find yourself completely flustered with all these things; sometimes all you can do is embrace them. Enjoy the moment. Be present with the people you care about and who care about you. Whether they be big, small, or furry. They won’t be there forever. They will eventually leave you to your thoughts and projects. And you may find something in those moments that adds just what you needed to your projects.

For me, it is all about embracing this journey we call Life.

How the heck do you form new habits anyway?

So, I admit that 2017 has been a lack-luster year in terms of productivity. I’ve been dealing with ongoing health issues that left me with little to no energy beyond doing the bare minimum required of me. My motivation went out the window too often in favor of just vegging out with Pip and watching t.v. while working on an embroidery project. To my credit, however, I did spend a tremendous amount of time working on cakes and cookies with mom. I suppose I can’t call it a total waste. Can I?

The final two months of the year, I’m trying to make up for lost time. As much as I love decorating cakes and cookies and working with my mom. My writing has always been my “thing”. And I’ve just let it sit for too long.

Happy to say that I’m at the halfway point of my 50K for NanoWrimo. Which means that I am ever closer to the finish of the first draft of the next Slauson Cove book.

Readers Rejoice!

Seriously loving the plot for this one. In fact, I think I may like it better than I did The Secret of the Storm. Which is saying something really. You always love your first “book baby”. But you also grow as a writer and I think your tastes grow with you. So, I think this is turning into a good one for you. I hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I’m enjoying writing it.

I digressed there didn’t I? We can just chalk that right up to being scatterbrained with NanoWrimo going on.

I know I need to create better habits with my time management. I don’t really have a lot of free time to work with when it comes to writing and working on my various creative endeavors. So I need to really focus on planning and structuring my day to make the most of what I do have.

Now, I’m a bit of a planning addict anyway. I’ve used Bullet Journaling. I’ve had the Erin Condren Life planner. I bought two of those actually. And I’ve tried various systems in the past. I suppose I need to work out which one is the best for me to use. Maybe some of my readers will have suggestions for what planners have worked well for them trying to create new habits. If you do I welcome the comments and suggestions. I know that the key is to do it and repeat but, getting used to that process is often a big challenge.

For me I want to create a more balanced and successful life. That means working hard and playing hard. It also includes making an effort to be more health conscious. So, I need something that will help me combine all of those things in one place.

What are your tips and tricks?