Lessons Learned: Not Getting It Together

Today is one of those days where I’m having a hard time expressing my thoughts on paper. I have a few different topics that I can write about, but the words aren’t coming out on the post like they should. Parts of the last sentence I just wrote was deleted and then rewritten again. Three times. Okay, now I went back up and changed the first sentence. Ugh!!!

When I write my blog, I usually create a first draft on paper, type it to a Word document, and then copy and paste to the post. Usually it flows pretty smooth; however, tonight I’m typing as I go since my normal routine isn’t working. I’m still having a hard time thinking and writing at the same time. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s because last week was super busy at work with presentations, meetings, and RFPs. At home, I finished an on-line six-week class from the local university (which included a final test), visited my folks to bring them groceries and dispense their pills, and I worked on taxes. And to mention, I went to a fun 50th birthday party for my friend Dan. Another one of us has joined the 50 Club. 🙂 We also celebrated Stuart’s birthday at a local restaurant. Happy birthday to both!

I guess my ramblings for tonight is a hint for me to keep this short. Until next week…let’s hope my brain is back. Happy Monday!

Lessons Learned: A List of What We Do

For Valentine’s Day my husband made me a card. In the card, he listed all the things that I do. Some items on his list include: therapist, confidant, Skyper, parental caretaker, limo driver, financial advisor, bookkeeper, reminder service, back scratcher, morning hugger, temper calmer, exerciser, writer, and blogger.

His list was quite extensive, and he made it positive and fun. The card and the list gave me a chance to reflect on what I do for others. I never thought about some of the smaller things that he listed. Items like morning hugger or cuddler are automatics or routine that I just do. However, he took notice. And while some items on the list were things I did for me, others were based on demand or just some of my quirks. One of those quirks is being a restaurant selector. Mike will suggest a restaurant that he wants to go to and I’ll select a different one. We usually go to the one that I select. Yes, I’m bad but we both realize it’s how I roll. We laugh at my quirk.

I then thought this would be good exercise for others, like you, to do. In a given timeframe, whether a one-month or six-month period, write down what you do for yourself and for others. Write accomplishments, quirks, daily routines from work and home, and those unexpected events or tasks that you do. By making a list, you’ll have a visual of what you actually do (small or large) which can be a nice eye opener.

Once you have your list, ask your partner or a friend to write the same type of list about you so you can see what they see or think about you. Compare lists. You may be surprised at what your partner or friend has written down. Next, do the same exercise for them. It’s a good way to learn about him or her, share smiles, and to appreciate each other even more.

Lessons Learned: My Tax Process

Tax season is such a fun time of year—LOL. I am one who likes to get our taxes done as soon as possible. However, I am a procrastinator when it comes to the work involved, so I have created a process that’s evolved throughout the years. The annual process begins in January and may take over a month or two to complete. Here’s my process:

1. I gather the tax information forms that come in the mail and create a pile on the floor in my office. This gets the ball rolling.

2. In February, I decide that it’s time to go through the files in my cabinet. I go through each file and review all bills, receipts, and statements that I collected from the previous year. I make two piles. One is for me to recycle and the other is to shred. For the papers that I keep, I organize them by date and then place them in the tax pile on the floor. Just so you know, this is not one of my favorite tasks. Sometimes it takes one to three sittings to complete.

3. Now that I have my pile of required papers, they stay on the floor for a week or so until I realize that they’re not going to move without my help. So what do I do? I sit down and separate the documents into two piles that take up more space. One pile is for the records to keep on file and the other is for records needed to complete the tax forms.

4. Now I have to purchase the software program so between me and my husband, we find the best price and buy it. I do not download the software directly to our computer. I like getting the disc. Crazy, I know, but I just need to see the physical form of it. The software, once it arrives, sits on my file cabinet for a few days in its pretty little box.

5. I then wait. I know I need to get my taxes done. I see the piles and the software as a reminder. Yes, I’ll get to it later.

6. Finally I decide that it’s time to open the box and load the software to my computer. I also load in last year’s information since I don’t keep it on the computer. Enough for one day.

7. In the meantime, other tax piles start to accumulate on my office floor. I help three other family members do their taxes. I guess I should get started and work on the hardest one first.

8. I start by looking at my business expenses. I gather the information, compile what I need into my own type of general ledger, and then put it back on the floor. Okay, okay. It’s a start.

9. Next I enter the business information into the tax program. Since that’s done, I might as well work on the income section. I get that finished and decide it’s time for a break.

10. Two days later, I’ll work on the deductions. Our Federal return is complete. Now on to the States – I have to complete two returns. If I do one, I might as well work on the other. With both done, I can print. I’ll then compile the tax forms for me and my husband to sign. Our taxes are done. Yay!

11. But wait. I still have three more sets to do. I’ll get there.

Happy Tax Season!

Steps to ePublishing

This month is a heavy hitter for me in terms of getting my novel ready for publishing by the middle of March. I have a white board posted in my office with the following February tasks:

Week 1
Take author photos
Complete final edits

Week 2
Size cover photo and author photo
Format document to all eReader formats
Add cover, front and back pages, and author bio to document

Week 3
Scan the documents for a final quick read to make sure everything looks good
Order promotional materials

Week 4
Write book blurb
Finish what I hadn’t completed in the first three weeks.

I’m not sure if this will be a heavy load or not, but we’ll soon find out. I think back to the past year when I first started the process to publish my manuscript. In April, I wasn’t sure the route I would take, either solicit to agents or ePublish. I leaned toward ePublish and that’s why I went to the RT Booklover’s Convention in April, 2012, to learn more about it. I think I was overwhelmed because a little bird sat on my shoulder and pushed me in the direction of trying for an agent.

By June, a wise old owl swished that little bird off my shoulder and stamped “ePublish” into my forehead. I decided my goal was to publish by the end of the year. However, the first editor that I hired didn’t work out and caused a delay. In September I was extremely happy to find my new editor, and her first availability time to copy and content edit was in December. Her second and final round of reviews ended last month. Last month I also bought my ISBN numbers and created my cover.

I’m probably taken longer than the average new author to get her book out to the public, but I want to make sure that the final product is professional and polished as if printed by a distinguished publishing house. Next book will be a little easier.

And tonight, I introduce to you the cover to my novel Gitana – Life Plan.

Gitana-Book-Cover-Blue