My Walls Are Flannel

I subscribe to TheBookDesigner blog because I once entertained the idea of designing my own book covers. There’s just one wee problem. In the process of selecting images and putting them together, I discovered I don’t have an eye for design.

Even if I borrow the idea exactly as it is, it still looks home made…or at least, home made by me.

Yet I love to fiddle with colors and images. Even if the end result looks childish and unprofessional, I do it for my own pleasure. Or sometimes, I do it for the pleasure of pure procrastination. It’s kind of like the first draft. Nobody but me sees the mess. Plus, when I design stuff on the computer, there’s no cleanup and I don’t have to whitewash my flannel walls with a new coat of paint.

So when the latest TheBookDesigner post showed up in my mailbox, I was thrilled to discover three new tips on finding and using images.

Photopin.com is advertised as free photos for bloggers and creatives. It’s simple, easy, straightforward. It pulls data from Flickr and you can filter images based on the Creative Commons licensing.

If you don’t have image editing software like Photoshop, TheBookDesigner recommends FreeOnlinePhotoEditor.com. It’s fun, you can fiddle till you’ve procrastinated the day away.

Lastly, there’s Google images which now has a cool little camera in the search bar to help you search for images using other images. For years I’ve had the image of a grumpy creature holding a coffee cup on my computer desktop. On a poor-pitiful-me day, I pulled it from the internet and since then, have never been able to locate the source. Now, I’ve uploaded the image and Google supplied me with links so I can locate and track the owner.  Apparently it’s a popular image. If anyone knows of the owner, please email me at .

Do you love images and design and color? Or do you use them like I do, a procrastination technique masked to look like work? And what color(s) are the walls in your house?

UPDATED: There’s a new design site out there and I’m hearing some wonderful things about it! Canva’s Free Stock Photos. Just register on their site like you do with all of the other image sites, and you have access to not only images, but a whole host of design tools too. No more need for Photoshop!

Originally published at Women Unplugged.

 

Under the Microscope at Plotting Princesses

My good friend Vicki Batman, who writes funny and fabulous romantic comedy short stories and novels, convinced me to spend the day with the lovely gals at the Plotting Princesses website.

The Plotting Princesses are a group of north Texas romance authors who get together and brainstorm their plots. How cool is that? On their website, they talk about books, writing, interrogate interview guests authors, and more. Check it out.

So I’m hanging out over there today. Come join me at Under the Microscope: Sheila Seabrook – Wedding Fever.

 

Are You Directionally Challenged?

I once directed my husband to my sister’s house.  We didn’t have her address and my husband had never been to her house.

“That looks familiar. Turn left here. Oh, I’m pretty sure we passed the subway, went right, then crossed through the light…”

We ended up on the south-west side of the city instead of the north-east side.

My husband, who by then should have known better than to listen to my directions—I turn right when I should turn left and vice versa—finally stopped at a pay phone. Remember those?! My sister gave him the street address and directions. With those in hand and without getting lost, he drove right to her house.

To this day, my husband still listens to my directions. Trust is such a wonderful thing. 🙂

I come by my lack of direction skills honestly. Every year, when my Dad took us on vacation, he drove through Calgary on his way to Penticton. Back then, there was only one route through the city. It only changed if there was construction and a detour.

And yet every year, my Dad got lost. We’d end up in one of the residential sections, until my Mom took navigational control and directed Dad back to the main highway and out of the city.

These days, when I want to go somewhere I’m unfamiliar with, I do the following:

1. Address in hand, I head for Google Maps.

2. Locate my destination, preplan my route, then study the surrounding streets in case I mess up.

3. Print off the map, highlight the route, and write down the instructions.

5. Quiz my guys. Any traffic circles? Oops, need to find an alternate route because traffic circles confuse me. According to my mom, they confused my dad, too. Overpasses, merging lanes, or anything else out of the norm? Check, check, check.

When it comes to writing, I need a road map, too. I’m a panster at heart. I love to sit down and bang out the story. But by the time I type THE END, I’ve taken so many detours, the story is lost in a muddle of side trips. Even worse, the story has no structure.

These days, I do some extra planning. I have the end in sight and a general map of the story to guide me. Before writing a scene, I preplan it, using colored sticky notes for the different characters. I can immediately recognize when I’ve taken a wrong turn and I can fix it before I end up writing a totally different book than the one I started to write.

Or before I end up writing garbage.

By the time I type THE END, I’m happy because the structure is solid and I know the edit stage is going to be manageable.

So do you know your left hand from your right hand? Are you directionally challenged like I am? Or can you navigate on the road as easily as you can navigate your way through your story?

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)

The Ultimate Guide to Procrastination

These days, I’m meeting my writing goals, but it wasn’t always so. You see, I’m a procrastinator at heart and when the writing gets tough, I go do something else.

1. I loathe shopping for clothes and avoid it until my slippers are in tatters and my t-shirts are frayed at the edges. As long as I’m writing, who cares? But at the first sign of a stubborn scene, I head for the stores and Shop-Till-I-Drop.

To prevent this escape, put all debit cards, credit cards, and cash in a glass of water and stick it in the freezer. If you chose to shop instead of write, you’ll have to watch the ice melt before you can access your cards or soggy cash. This may take hours. In fact, if you use a big enough glass, it could take all day. Before the day is up, you’ll be bored by the melting ice and dying to get back to that stubborn scene.

2. Have you ever struggled with a messy first draft, found yourself mesmerized by the dust particles floating in the sunshine, and discovered it’s the perfect time to dust, vacuum, and wash everything in the house? You even have the energy to move all the furniture so you don’t leave a single speck of dust behind. And by the time you’re done, you’re delighted with your dust free house and too tired to resume work on your manuscript.

Except…the next morning, you sit down in front of the computer, glance out the window, and notice those dust particles are STILL floating in the air.

Next time you get the urge to banish the dust from your house, save yourself the back breaking work of moving furniture and keep your butt on your chair. If you must, stare at those dust particles. Watch how they dance in the sunshine streaming through your dirty window. Then ignore them because let’s face it. Dust particles win the housekeeping war every single time. In the long run, you’ll be further ahead if you tackle the messy first draft instead of the mess in your house.

Now, let me tell you about the ULTIMATE PROCRASTINATOR INHIBITOR, my new secret weapon to keep my butt on chair and my fingers moving across the keyboard.

I’ve started goal setting with my eldest son. It turns out the overwhelming guilt of motherhood helps me produce words because I know if I slack off, my poor example gives my son permission to slack, too. Simple, isn’t it?

So what are your favorite procrastination techniques? And how do you keep yourself from procrastinating in the first place?

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)

 

Are You A Cooking-Cleaning-Gardening Machine?

Whenever I come across The Good Wife’s Guide, I always wonder what life was really like for the women in the 50’s. Did they actually greet their husbands at the door with his favorite slippers and drink in hand? Or did they — the moment he walked into the house — shove the screaming kids into his arms so they could take a much needed break?

So check out The Good Wife Guide below and tell me which item you’re most likely to follow and which one you’re most likely to ignore.

The Good Wife’s Guide

1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.

5. During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

6. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

7. Be happy to see him.

8. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

9. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

10. Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

11. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

12. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

13. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

14. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

15. A good wife always knows her place.

Which is The Good Wife Rule you most often adhere to? And which one do you most often ignore? My reply will be below in the comment section. 🙂

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)
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