{friday mixing bowl} slow mornings, renewing of the mind, and unicorn cake!

Hi, friends! Is anybody else really glad it’s Friday? This is where I am this morning:

I know oatmeal is probably the most unphotogenic breakfast, but after a lifetime of hectic mornings, I’m grateful for a slow, lazy one. I’m going to post a monthly update and my goals for March next week, but one of my favorite things about February was my morning makeover. I’ve been waking up before my kids to get stuff done and have a slow breakfast with a giant glass of lemon water. It’s made all the difference in my day. ¬†ūüôā

My schedule has been somewhat unpredictable, so I have been using block scheduling to get things done and setting aside chunks of time to do them. (Like naptime!) As always, the 15-minute drill has also been my lifesaver. It’s amazing how much you can get done in one episode of Mickey Mouse if you focus on one thing at a time. I’m currently working on an editing job, writing a proposal of new book ideas for my editor, preparing for my book launches, and training for a 5K. Life is full and happy ūüôā

This week I got to meet singer-songwriter-podcaster Christy Nockels, whose music and gentle spirit have been instrumental¬†since I was a tween, pretty sure. But her Glorious in the Mundane podcast has been especially encouraging to listen to as I clean my house ūüôā

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    Source: ThePaperSpoon4U on Etsy

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  • The novella collection I’m part of releases next week, so things around here have been a giant pre-release party!¬†Here’s the book page with the playlist, the story behind the story, and all the behind-the-scenes info about¬†That’s When I Knew!
  • On The Writer’s Alley this week, I shared what I learned from writing my novella, celebrated the writing community, and shared a sneak peek!
  • The lovelies of Coffee Cups & Camisoles posted our interview today!
What have you been up to this week? Are you as excited about the weekend as I am??

monday morning announcements

I’m so¬†excited for today because I can finally let you in on a big secret!

Shortly before I signed my contract with Harlequin Heartwarming, I was approached by some author friends about writing for an inspirational romantic comedy novella collection to be released on Amazon. Of course I was all over that — especially when I saw the stellar lineup of authors.

I learned a lot while writing this novella. And rewriting the whole thing. I learned that there’s a huge learning curve when creating a story in about 1/4 or 1/3 of the word count. I learned (again) that things in storyworld rarely go as planned. I learned (again) the importance of letting go and writing alongside my Creator. ¬†And I learned that I can release a story even if it isn’t perfect.

If you’re signed up to my newsletter, you know a bit of this, but the novella is called¬†That’s When I Knew, part of the Love at First Laugh novella collection with seven other fantastic authors.

About That’s When I Knew

On most days, Chelsea Scott feels like her rapidly growing planner and stationery business should belong to someone else. Maybe if it did, it wouldn’t be hovering near the red due to one costly decision. But the collaboration that will save her company awaits her pitch at the trade show she’s keynoting. When her transportation falls through at the last minute, she accepts help from Nick Pearson, who’s unexpectedly come back into her life.

The last time Nick saw Chelsea, he told her he loved her, and she ran. Twelve years later, their lives are different, more complex than the summers they spent playing baseball and eating ice cream cones at their dock with their toes in the lake. But as they spend time together on the road, their feelings for each other become clear: all those years couldn’t take away how good they can be together.

When Chelsea‚Äôs past decisions resurface at the convention, her newly rekindled relationship with Nick ‚Äď and her business ‚Äď are in jeopardy. Will their love be enough to keep them together or will another summer end with them apart?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, you can pre-order the eBooks of¬†That’s When I Knew¬†and¬†this entire boxed set (8 novellas total) for only $0.99!¬†

Click Here to Order


It’s long been a bucket list dream to add a Books tab to my site, and that day is finally here with my May release and more books to be added in the near future. (Seriously. Pinch me.) You can find out more information about the novella, including character profiles, a¬†Spotify playlist, and more on the¬†That’s When I Knew¬†book page!

Thanks for sharing in my excitement, loves! To keep up with more bookish news, you can sign up for my occasional newsletter or follow my author page on Facebook.

february 2017 goals

It’s the first Monday of February, so now is when the fun begins, right?¬†I’ve been going through my Powersheets really slowly and deliberately to refine what I want to prioritize. So each month, I want to create a doable list with those bigger aims in mind.

I just returned from Christy Wright’s Business Boutique seminar in California AND had the chance to join an IF: Local gathering this weekend, so there’s a lot to unpack and many wheels to get in motion this month. Here’s what’s on tap for February:

Writing:

  • Write book proposal for next project(s)
  • Outline and begin writing next¬†novel
  • Work through one craft book: KM Weiland’s¬†Structuring Your Novel
  • Finalize pre-release marketing plan for spring
  • Create Goodreads author page
  • BLOG. Like I said, I have lots to process and share!

Work:

  • Set a¬†regular work¬†schedule and keep laptop in my office during the day
  • 5 pages a week of new web content
  • Set up accounting programs for business (including the Wave app, which looks amazing!)
  • Make a style guide and blogging/social media image template
  • Build a content database + content calendar¬†template
  • TAXES

Personal:

  • Establish a better sleep schedule and morning routine: I’d like to be in bed reading by 1030 with my alarm set using the new(er) Bedtime app on my iPhone!
  • Read two books for fun
  • Start 5K training app on my phone and run outside on warmer mornings
  • Meal planning every Sunday night and prep on Tuesdays
  • Set up meeting for CityChurch college women’s book club
  • Creative nonfiction once a week

There you have it! It looks like a lot, but a lot of it will be ongoing and some of it will take no time at all. Here’s to better habits,¬†changes in mindset, hard work, and healthy balance. <3

What do you have planned for February?

2017 planner favorites

My 2017 planner runs from July-June, so I’m good on that front. But if you’re still on the lookout, I come bearing ideas — not because I am being compensated in any way or form, but simply because I’m a huge planner nerd!

There are so many good ones that I could post about them all month,¬†but here’s what has caught my eye this season:

source: TheDayDesigner.com

The holy grail of planners =¬†the giant boutique planners like Erin Condren or the¬†Emily Ley Simplified Planner or the¬†Whitney English Day Designer, ¬†which run around $60. If you can make that investment in a planner, they are beautiful with brilliant, functional design¬†to help you make each and every day a work of efficient art. This model doesn’t work for my schedule or needs, but they are definitely helpful for busy people with many moving cogs in their lives!

source: BlueSky.com

For the last few years, I’ve been using the 10×8 horizontal weekly planner from Blue Sky, which runs anywhere from $9.99-$19.99. I love the way I can see a big picture of my entire week and plan work, writing sprints, and family things/meals accordingly. (Here’s a post with how I use it.) While most of their options in this format are July-June versions like mine, they have this one¬†for January! If you’re more on a Target budget, I would highly recommend checking out their Blue Sky collection in person. They have partnered with some really talented designers, and I can guarantee you’ll find a gorgeous one that works for you, whether you are a daily, weekly, monthly, vertical, or horizontal planner <3

I’m super proud of my friend Karen who created the Dreams by Design planner for people with big dreams and busy lives! It’s a beautifully-designed printable planner that’s super easy to email to a printer or office supply store to be printed and bound. If you click on the link above, you can see a little about Karen’s heart in creating the planner and its neat features!

source: CultivateWhatMatters.com

Since I already have a planner for this year, I just got¬†this six-month system from Lara Casey’s Cultivate What Matters shop¬†($40) for Christmas to help me organize huge goals for 2017. (Looks like they just sold out until next year. Boo!) Less of a planner and more of an inventory, this notebook is filled with Powersheets — worksheets with questions designed to help you identify your goals/strengths, what’s held you back in the past, and actionable steps to fulfill them. So if that sounds like something that would be beneficial to you in 2017,¬†I would recommend the printable¬†Dreams by Design planner above as it has that + a planner feature.

Last but not least, if a planner feels too confining for your tastes, you should really get into bullet journaling for the price of your favorite notebook. You can literally customize it any way you’d like. I got into bullet journaling this past year (remember the novella truck?) and absolutely love it during busier seasons. The Lazy Genius Collective has a guide to help make sense of it and show that it doesn’t have to be high maintenance at all. But you know that if it was super time-intensive, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole ūüôā You can search Instagram for more gorgeous spreads!

Are you a planner or a pantser in your own life? What system looks most appealing to you?

{2016 in review} highlights + discoveries

525,600 minutes. How do you measure the life of a woman or a man? (Two points if you started singing that song.)

2016 was a doozy for many of us. But I think it’s important to remember the good that happened and take it with us. Here are my favorite highlights and discoveries from the year:

2016 highlights:

  • My first book contract in June!
  • Realizing that rest/selah is important than¬†hustle
  • Too many firsts and memories with my children to name
  • Learning how much I didn’t know about justice and developing a passion for reconciliation and rehabilitation
  • Exploring one of my new favorite cities (Seattle) with my husband
  • Eating the best meal of my life at Silo in Nashville with my sisters
  • Listening to Allen Arnold¬†speak at the OKC Christian Fiction Writers Conference
  • Lake weekend retreat for quiet and writing
  • The Olympics. What? I was really into them!
  • Reading under an umbrella next to the ocean with my husband in Playa del Carmen
  • Celebrating my sisters’ book releases!

Favorite 2016 discoveries:

  • Trader Joe’s in Tulsa (!!!) + their arugula pizza + Tahitian vanilla caramels
  • Bullet journaling
  • The zen of deleting Facebook from one’s phone!
  • Hand lettering videos on Instagram
  • Rediscovering my love of reading
  • Instant Pot = gamechanger!
  • The Quill for novel composition
  • How much easier it is to wash dishes with the help of podcasts
  • Google Keep
  • That my hair apparently wants to be wavy now (Whaaaat?)
  • A peaceful trail by my daughter’s school for morning walks with my cub
  • Spindrift Sparkling Water
  • Shawarma + cider
  • Tombow Dual¬†Brush Pens
  • Little Free Libraries!
  • The calm of coloring and painting

A good sign? Feeling like I’m forgetting something!

What will you remember the most about 2016? I’m still trying to narrow down all of the wonderful books and movies from this year, so¬†I will have to share more later this week!

{friday mixing bowl} 2017 on my mind

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Can you believe it’s the last Friday Mixing Bowl of 2016? It’s been a year, friends. Okay, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. How was Christmas?

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These cuties, my husband, and I had our most chill Christmas ever. It was SO nice! We did pasta instead of the traditional ham spread, had great conversation with both sides of the family, and that was the best gift of all.

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This was my book haul ūüôā I feel so loved and known. I am going to regift the extra cookbook (from one of my favorite bloggers) because it’s so awesome, but what should I exchange¬†Love & Gelato¬†for?

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In the meantime, I’ve been making progress on my novella rewrite! Such a relief now that I have this battle plan. The orange Post-Its are everything I need to rewrite, but it’s so nice having a vision and plan in place.

source: Cultivate What Matters

Speaking of plans, I just got my notification that my Lara Casey / Cultivate What Matters Powersheets have shipped! This planner nerd couldn’t be more pumped –> majorly geeking out over here. I have huge plans and dreams for 2017, and after watching enough people fill out their Powersheets on Instagram, I knew where to spend my Christmas dollars ūüôā The sheets ask questions designed to incite action and to plan ahead for success — right up my alley with all of the gorgeous elements that will help me as a visual thinker. (Definitely more on this to come.)

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source: Our Vintage Farmhouse

If you don’t follow Our Vintage Farmhouse on Instagram, you should fix that! She has literally curated my dream house, and I love the inviting, cozy, magical spaces she’s created — especially that porch. She posted this picture, and I took a screenshot immediately because it made me think of 2017. My word for the year is JOY, and I’m definitely not waiting until 2017 begins to get started on that mindset.

Here’s to a year that includes hard work, healthy rest, transformation, and the ever-present warmth of cozy sunlight on our shoulders. <3

What are you looking forward to in 2017?

{friday mixing bowl} current favs

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Happy Friday, friends! I know it sounds like a broken record when I say that I’m in the editing cave (at least, it does to me), so I’m just going to show you some things that have been my favorite lately.

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Mardel’s bargain shelves. I went into Mardel for kid Christmas party favors and came out with all of this. Oops. But you can get amazing books for $5!

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Loaded almond milk cocoa + brain breaks. I can make it to my specifics without having to endure the¬†after-drop-off soccer mom brigade at Starbucks ūüôā Let this toasty mug also symbolize the brain break I’m currently taking. It’s the best thing ever. My podcasts and blog queue are lining up, books unread (this week), and nothing but work and the very occasional Netflix rerun of¬†The Wonder Years¬†is going in my brain. Someone once said¬†there are seasons of input and output in life, and the¬†cycle for output is definitely upon me <3

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Fuzzy slippers. And wearing them everywhere — even to the grocery store. They are like a fluffy cloud for your feet, and I’m pretty sure they’re borderline socially acceptable in public¬†because they’re moccasins, right? My husband told me I was going to have to stop wearing them out or else they wouldn’t be allowed on the carpet, so I have a tough decision ahead of me. What would you choose?

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Little girls in their first soccer uniforms. Enough said. I’ve been enjoying time with my kids during this holiday season, including a quick trip to Branson. That’s what it’s all about!

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Luxurious working conditions. In my older age, I have become like a cat, curling up to work in patches of sunshine, except with a giant caffeinated beverage¬†in hand. And…without the naps so much. There are pluses and minuses to being my own boss, so I’ll take what I get. You know the novella I wrote in October/November? Well, I’m rewriting that. Completely. I’ve never felt so compelled to rewrite a project from scratch before, so fortunately it’s about 1/3 of the usual size of my work.

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My 2017 TBR Pile. Okay, y’all. Clearly you saw my paperback stack above, but this is what my Kindle looks like. Pretty sure my 2017 TBR pile is set. I’m going to do a new post about books soon because there have been some lovely and wonderful ones involved lately. Have you read any of these?

New fall TV. It’s been a few years since a new TV show captured my interest. With everything on hiatus right now, it’s the perfect time to go back and¬†give some new ones¬†a try while you’re recovering from Christmas ham coma. My first favorite is¬†Pitch.¬†The storyline is incredible, the issues explored important, and the characterization brilliant. Plus, it has Lumberjack Zack Morris in a baseball uniform, so you can’t go wrong.

My next recommendation is¬†Lethal Weapon. I was a little skeptical but had to try because 1) I love the Wayans brothers, and Damon is my favorite. And 2) Clayne Crawford (Martin Riggs) is one of my favorites from¬†Leverage, and I knew he could do wonderful¬†things with his former Navy SEAL turned wounded-crazy-cop role. I love the dynamic between Riggs and Murtaugh, but the biggest surprise is how much I love Murtaugh’s smart and fierce DA wife. Roger and Trish are MAJOR couple goals.

Last but not least, the winner of Lindsay Harrel’s new book is Kelly Blackwell. Congrats, Kelly!¬†

That about wraps it up. What are you reading and watching in between last-minute Christmas present buying and making? 

{giveaway} One More Song to Sing by Lindsay Harrel

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We are celebrating my award-winning author friend Lindsay Harrel and her debut novel this month! My copy of¬†One More Song to Sing¬†is on its way,¬†and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

About the book: ¬†More than two decades ago, Olivia Lovett left her old life behind in the red dirt of Oklahoma and forged a career in Nashville as a country music star. Now her voice is failing, forcing her to find a new dream just as the secrets of her past come knocking at the door. Long-time friend Andrew Grant agrees to partner in a new business venture–but would he stick around if he knew her whole story?

After the tragic loss of her father, twenty-one-year-old Ellie Evans headed to Nashville seeking more than just fame. For two years, she’s waitressed, strummed, and sung her way to what may finally be her big break when Olivia offers to sign her to the budding record label. More than anything, Ellie just wants to be seen: by her future fans, by Nick Perry–a fellow musician with a killer smile and kind eyes–and above all else, by the mother who abandoned her. If the spotlight never shines on her, will Ellie ever feel whole?

One More Song to Sing is a romantic drama about the power of forgiveness, second chances, and a God who never fails to see us.

Giveaway:¬†To win an electronic copy of One More Song to Sing¬†via Amazon, leave a comment below telling us your favorite song — or some of them if it’s too hard to pick!

Winning comment will be chosen via random.org next Friday, December 9.

glimpses + gilmore girls

I know it’s technically Christmastime now, but I’m still holding on to every ounce of autumn and enjoying each glimpse¬†that captures its coziness.

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{ Reading under the covers is much more convenient than in my day, when we read until our flashlights fell on our faces. Although covert iPhone photos are not as convenient these days, judging by the stone-like quality of my hand. Rest assured that my skincare routine hasn’t fallen by the wayside. }

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I so enjoyed spending time with my little family over the long holiday weekend. Hope you all are still full in every possible way after a delicious and wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by Amy Sherman-Palladino. I came, I saw, and I conquered the¬†Gilmore Girls revival. Let’s just say that Mrs. Kim’s perma-scowl¬†encapsulates my sentiments perfectly.

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Now that Thanksgiving is over, phase 30930 of editing cave action has begun. I turned in final edits on my May release last week and am reworking my novella now. Looking forward to starting a new project in 2017, celebrating my first book release, and more exciting things I can’t share quite yet!

Speaking of May, book title, backmatter, and cover sneak peeks are coming to newsletter subscribers soon. Head over here to be the first to find out! 

How was your Thanksgiving?

{friday mixing bowl} spa caves + a little bit of fancy

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Happy mid-November, friends! The high is in the 50s here after topping off at 85 yesterday, so I am wishing hot cocoa and campfire coziness on all the land! I’m back in the editing cave, finishing final edits on my May release…

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But not before escaping to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for a glorious few days with my husband! It was our first beach vacation with no kids since 2009 — nothing but reading a few feet from the ocean all day, exploring the city with ice cream cones at night, and finishing my novella at this amazing #beddesk on our balcony with the ocean waves as a¬†soundtrack.

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This spa cave may or may not have been involved too. I seriously stayed in there for a few hours because I didn’t want it to end and knew moving there forever wasn’t a viable option. But you know what? This is how I’m going to envision my proverbial editing cave. So if you need me, this is where I’ll be!

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It’s a good thing we had a few days to get that ocean chill in our bones, because real life hit hard with deadlines and stomach bugs and Daylight Savings sleep regressions when we came home. Things are finally back to normal … we hope. At least the natives are cute.

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And some of our neighborhood trees are changing colors. Better late than never!

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source: Taste and Tell Blog

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Back to the editing cave I go with 7 days until deadline! What are you working on, and more importantly, how are you relaxing this week?